Around 3,000 students from Flemish schools skipped classes yesterday to come to Brussels and take part in a march calling for action from the government on climate change. The protest was intended to take place on the square outside the Central station, but in time became clear that the numbers were too many, and they set off in the direction of Rue de la Loi and eventually Cinquantenaire. Some later made their way to the area of the European Parliament where they staged a sit-in.
“The only way for us to bring pressure to bear is to stay away from classes, like workers who decide to strike,” commented 17-year-old Anuna De Wever, one of the two organisers of the protest.
Amid slogans like “there is no planet B” and “politicians, get your shit together,” the march led police to close three tunnels in the area leading to the city centre, throwing morning traffic into chaos. There were no other incidents, and the protest ended peacefully.
De Wever announced her terms on VRT news: “I want to hear politicians say that they’re going to do something about the problem. I want the climate to be a priority in politics.”
And she had no fear of the consequences of playing truant: “My head teacher supports me, but of course she has to play by the rules,” she said. “In any case, I won’t let myself be intimidated. These are problems which will likely arise.”
Another march is planned for 27 January, with organisers calling on students to make the school strike a weekly event.