PARIS: A woman sits on a high hammock as protesters block the road with hay bales and signs during a demonstration called by Extinction Rebellion on Monday.—AFP
PARIS: A woman sits on a high hammock as protesters block the road with hay bales and signs during a demonstration called by Extinction Rebellion on Monday.—AFP

BERLIN: Activists with the Extinction Rebellion movement blocked major roads across major European cities on Monday, kicking off a wide-ranging series of protests demanding much more urgent action against climate change.

In Berlin, around 1,000 people blocked the Grosser Stern, a traffic circle in the middle of the German capital’s Tiergarten park dominated by the landmark Victory Column. That protest began before dawn.

At Monday lunchtime, another 300 people blocked Berlin’s central Potsdamer Platz, placing couches, tables, chairs and flowerpots on the road. Police said the protests were peaceful.

Members of Extinction Rebellion over the weekend set up a tent camp outside Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office to prepare for the protests, reflecting dissatisfaction with a climate policy package drawn up last month by her government.

Demonstrators playing steel drums marched through central London as they kicked off two weeks of activities designed to disrupt the city.

London police said some 135 climate activists had been arrested. Extinction Rebellion said protesters from the XR Peace group were arrested as they blocked Victoria Embankment, outside the Ministry of Defence.

Among those arrested was 81-year-old Sarah Lasenby, a retired social worker from Oxford.

“It is imperative the government should take serious actions and put pressure on other states and global powers to radically reduce the use of fossil fuels,” she said.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2019