Voices From the Front Lines

13 December 2019

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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