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Statement: African organisations condemn violence against #StopEACOP protestors by Standard Bank and other fossil fuel financers

By The AACJ consortium

For immediate release: 28 September 2023

Allied organisations under the African Activists for Climate Justice (AACJ)* consortium, condemn the brutal handling and arrest of protesters attending an Extinction Rebellion-organised sit-in at the Standard Bank headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week. Amongst the protesters were members of the StopEACOP campaign, who were there to challenge Standard Bank’s funding of fossil fuel developments, which may include the controversial crude oil pipeline being built through Tanzania and Uganda. 

The AACJ consortium members, call for the immediate cessation of all reprisals against environmental and climate activists, which include those in South Africa and across the East African nations. 

The organisations also call out the actions of Standard Bank’s private security, as well the actions of the South African Police Services, who used disproportionate force against peaceful protesters, including indigenous activist and PACJA South Africa member, Angelo Doyle, StopEACOP coordinator, Zaki Mamdoo, and other Extinction rebellion members, as well as a journalist. The protesters were demanding a meeting with the bank to discuss the bank’s continued financing of fossil fuel projects. 

Natural Justice is currently in the East African Court of Justice to challenge the EACOP project. Since its inception, evidence of numerous arrests, threats and attacks have been documented by Natural Justice and partners in the affected countries. At the moment, the organisations are awaiting judgment regarding the jurisdiction of the court to hear the challenge. In the meantime, attacks against activists continue. 

We want to express our concern with regards to the conduct of private sector corporations in exacerbating violence against activists, as well as contribution to shrinking civic space which undermines constitutional guarantees on various rights and freedoms.

Angelo Doyle from PACJA upon his release. He was arrested for taking part in a peaceful protest at Standard Bank headquarters in Johannesburg. Photo Supplied.

Global Witness released a report showing that almost 2,000 environmental defenders were killed between 2012-2022. These figures do not take into account the arrests and threats of defenders, which are also occurring almost every day. The culprits are the fossil fuel and extractive companies as they often act with impunity within the country that is hosting them. 

At the recently concluded UN General Assembly’s Climate Ambition Summit held this month, Heads of States and the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, have once again called out fossil fuels as the primary culprit causing and accelerating the climate crisis. UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated in his speech at the Summit that…”my Acceleration Agenda calls for business and financial institutions to embark on true net-zero pathways. Shady pledges have betrayed the public trust. Shamefully, some companies have even tried to block the transition to net-zero — using wealth and influence to delay, distract and deceive. Every company that truly means business must create just transition plans that credibly cut emissions and deliver climate justice, in line with the recommendations of my High-Level Expert Group.”

Climate activists protesters have been ramping up their actions all over the world, as evidence of the impacts of climate change become apparent, while the financing of fossil fuels continues, and has even increased. Standard Bank, in a recent report, is shown to have increased its spending on fossil fuel development. This is a bank that has subscribed to the Equator Principles for managing environmental and social risks. 

Over the past few years, millions of people all over the world have protested in various ways to demand climate justice and an end to the era of fossil fuels to keep the survival target of 1.5 degrees celsius alive. Many have rallied around the #MakePollutersPay campaign, which drives a consolidated call to bring the private sector to account and tax the rich to acquire much-needed climate finance to combat the climate change crisis. #EndFossilFuels #FastFairForever.

“Our role in society is to safeguard communities from the impacts of climate change, not to persecute those fighting for these rights in the name of protecting private sector interests and profits.” #MakePollutersPay – Lebogang Ramafoko, Executive Director, OXFAM SA


*AACJ includes the following consortium members: Natural Justice, OXFAM, African Youth Commission, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance and the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET). 

28 September 2023


Environmental Defenders


South Africa

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