Voices From the Front Lines

At COP24 in Katowice, 14 accredited participants were stopped at the border and denied entry into Poland so that they would not be able to attend the COP. These people were from the Ukraine, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia.

After 1 year, it is still a mystery to ECO on how the Polish authorities identified those climate activists as a possible "threat to national security" of the hosting country. Most of them were newcomers at international climate change events, and did not have records of offences in Poland or any other country. ECO hopes it was not like in the movies when police officers make their investigations based off some paranormal perception of the future.

This year, we met Nugzar Kokhreidze from Georgia, who had been denied the right to participate in the climate negotiations by Poland and spent 4 days in the transit zone at the Katowice airport. He is a friendly, cheerful, and kind person and  it is still not been made clear why and how he was selected as a person who poses a potential threat to Poland’s national security. Now at COP25, Nugzar has become one of the 12 people who were physically debadged during a peaceful protest on Wednesday, December 11th. He has stayed optimistic throughout the whole process and already made jokes about what will likely happen to him at COP26. Although it helps to cheer each other up in these hard times, these issues are no joke. We see that the media at COP is not covering these stories widely enough. We see how negotiations are moving so much slower than the climate catastrophe. And, to be honest, we are a bit scared that this is the reality civil society will face from now on.

But we are also hopeful. We want you, the person who reads this article, to spread the word as far and wide as you can. We want you to support your local activists and maybe even join them. And we want you to cheer each other up in hard times, like Nugzar did. Because we need to be strong and we need each other in the forthcoming years.

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