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No Action Too Small: The Story of a Brave Single Striker

Yesterday, the European Parliament declared Climate Emergency. Today marks another day of Global Climate Action. We’ve seen millions of young people in the streets, calling for climate action, urging politicians to act as if their house is on fire--to act for their futures. Without this pressure put on politicians by the climate strikers, this could have never been possible. But, it doesn’t stop there, next week, it’s up to world leaders to answer their call and treat the negotiations at COP25, accordingly to the state of emergency and ecological breakdown that we are now in.

We need these brave voices of the youth that are holding decision-makers accountable and putting pressure on them to act. However, no action is too small. Like we’ve seen, it can start with one young girl standing outside of her school in Sweden, striking for her future. We’ve seen and heard countless stories of these from around the globe which have inspired others. We hope that this story of a brave climate activist in Belarus will inspire you to also take action this Friday and many more.

On the Global Climate Strike on the 27th of September, Veronica, a young green activist from Belarusian Young Greens took to the streets to strike… on her own. “I took part in the Global Strike on my own and staged a single strike, not because of the fact that I do not have link-minded people, but because of our legislation. I decided to at because the current climate policy could turn out to have disastrous and devastating outcomes for humanity and entire ecosystems,” Veronica explains. According to the laws in Belarus, to express your opinion publically, you have to apply for a permit. It is therein forbidden to demonstrate without permission from the government--even for a single strike. In addition to that you have pay countless fees. For a single strike, you could pay fees up to 100 euros. “What happened to us in September is that we didn’t get permission from the government, but decided to go on strike anyways, even if the consequences could result in big fines. It makes it difficult for us to carry out strikes or actions like in other countries where strikes are very big. It is also a matter of safety for our activists that we have to take into account. My friend who was with me on the 27th, could have risked being kicked out of university,” Veronica says.

No Action too Small

“I remember this moment very clearly and I remember thinking: the probability that I will succeed is minimal, but if we don’t do this, no one will. We should try to actively change the situation. Time is ticking and it leaves us no choice,” Veronica tells us.

An Act of Bravery

“It was difficult to explain to my parents why I did this. They were very worried about how this would be portrayed by the media, because this touches not just on the topic of climate, but also is a public statement about politics. A discontent. Many people are afraid to speak out with the fact that they are not satisfied with how things are currently going in politics,” Veronia recounts. “And of course there was a lot of harsh criticism online, but there was also a great positive response.”

She tells the story of a passerby: “After about 30 minutes of sitting there, a man came up to us and asked to take a photo for his Facebook account. That’s how it started. Then another came. At first, we were really scared of him. He seemed to notice and say: ‘relax, I’m just here to take a photo of you for our Instagram account’. See, they own a local market nearby and have more than 60K followers. People actually listen to what they have to say online and read their posts. They posted a photo of me and used the caption ‘Here, we have our own Greta’. Some hours later he came to us to say that lots of journalists had called him to talk to me. We met with the journalists and there were a lot of articles that appeared after that.”

This, however, is not the end of Veronica’s actions. “We are constantly looking for opportunities to go out and voice our opinions, but we are not always to do this because the laws and consequences are restrictive.” They have to find other ways to organise and also focus on organising educational and capacity-building activities for young people in collaboration with other youth initiatives.

Veronica calls for others to “Be Brave and fear nothing. The truth is on our side.” No action is too small or goes unnoticed. We hope to see many in the streets this Friday and we hope that the Greta’s and Veronica’s in this world can inspire others to also be brave and fight for their future, to vote for those who can’t and to support the climate strike movement.