The court rejected the activists’ claim that they acted in self-defence, citing their belief in an impending climate catastrophe and convicted them of “disruption of public administration”.
The Stockholm District Court has charged ten people belonging to the Swedish phalanx of the global climate organisation Extinction Rebellion, which uses civil disobedience as a tool to force their respective governments to act upon the climate change, with a disturbance attack on the Swedish parliament.
The activists claimed that they had acted in self-defence, citing their belief in an impending climate catastrophe, yet failed to sway the court, which imposed-30 day-fines as a penalty upon each of the convicts for what it ruled to be “disruption of public administration”.
The activists also cited their freedom of expression.
“Our constitutionally protected freedom of expression was weighed against one minute of politicians’ time. The court has come to the conclusion that the latter weighs heaviest. It is a democratic joke”, one of the convicts, Stella Hagman, said.
“I am studying to become an elementary school teacher and will spend my adult life preparing young children for their future. If I then didn’t do everything I can for them to have a future to live in, I would feel like the world’s greatest hypocrite,” Stella Hagman added.
The attack occurred on 10 June last year, when the XR members barged in during a parliamentary debate, disrupting its order.
The group’s announcement sparked divisive reactions on social media. While some slammed the group for failing to stick to strictly democratic methods and resorting to disruptive tactics, others hailed it for its efforts and decisiveness.
“You have not understood what freedom of speech is,” one user wrote.
Ni har inte förstått vad yttrandefrihet är.
— Tomas Gradin (@TomasGradin) April 9, 2021
“So good that democracy works in our country, you should all be ashamed. You don’t take what you say you believe in seriously with these nonsense actions of yours,” another one mused.
Så bra att demokratin fungerar i vårt land, ni borde skämmas allihop. Ni tar inte vad ni säger er tro på på allvar med dessa slödderaktioner.
— Anna-Mi Wendel (@annamiwendel) April 9, 2021
While some bluntly told the climate activists to “grow up” and instead of Sweden focus on China and India, which are much larger pollutants, others hailed the activists “civil courage”.
“The world’s collective climate science says that the situation is extremely acute. The Swedish Parliament does not act. Court instead protects the Riksdag’s passive bubble. Thank you for your fight. Now more people must do the same,” Johan Ehrenberg, founder and editor-in-chief of the left-wing newspaper ETC, tweeted.
Världens samlade klimatvetenskap berättar att läget är extremt akut.
Svensk riksdag agerar inte.
Domstol skyddar istället riksdagens passiva bubbla.
Tack för er kamp. NU måste fler göra samma sak.
— JohanEhrenberg (@JohanEhrenberg) April 9, 2021
The group was also supported by Fridays for the Future, an international movement inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and her weekly protests in front of the Swedish parliament.
Thank you Champions!https://t.co/aRkg5A1hRg
— 💧Fridays For Future Australia 💧 (@FFF_Aus) April 9, 2021
Extinction Rebellion (abbreviated as XR) is a global environmental movement started in 2018 in order to spur government action mass extinction as a result of climate change and ecological collapse.
Citing inspiration from grassroots movements such as Occupy and the civil rights movement, Extinction Rebellion rallies global support, sparking controversy over its methods that include public disruption that causes arrest and imprisonment.