Dozens of Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists disrupted an aviation summit in Brussels on Thursday, breaking into a “heavily guarded” venue and cuffing themselves outside in protest of the industry’s plans for expansion.
Around 12 underage members of the environmental action group broke into the Eurocontrol headquarters, near Zaventem airport, on Thursday morning.
“The activists drove their bikes past security at high speed, straight to the main entrance of the summit and attached themselves to flagpost with handmade arm locks,” XR spokesperson Roeland Ghys said, speaking on the phone.
The protesters unrolled a banner with the message “our blood on your hands” and chanted slogans asking for change and action to fight climate change as leaders of the aviation industry arrived at the summit.
The protest was the first action organised by XR’s youth branch, which has been at work since the end of last year on plans to beef up the ranks of the climate action group in Belgium.
“Some [leaders] just walked past, completely ignoring the children who were attached to the poles, but others were intrigued and came to ask questions,” Ghys said, referring to the reaction of industry leaders to the protest.
Organised by Eurocontrol, the “must attend” summit on Thursday gathered airport and aviation bigwigs, including Ryanair CEO Ryan O’Leary, in a summit focused on reaching capacity demands for the year 2030.
“This cannot go on like this, these adults are very well aware of the current climate crisis but they continue to build and increase capacity,” Louise, one of the activists, told Bruzz.
“While they are flying with their family to the Caribbean, my own children will later have to look up these islands on the history books,” she added.
Ghys labelled the action a success since the young activists were able to negotiate with police, who were alerted of the protest by on-site security.
“There were no arrests, only an ID check, and the police allowed us to keep the banner up and the protest to continue until all the arrivals at the event were over,” Ghys said.
The Brussels Times