French government confirms shutdown of activist climate group SLT

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The French government issued a decree Wednesday outlawing an activist climate group it accuses of fomenting violence in a series of recent demonstrations, including one that saw fierce clashes with police over an irrigation project.

Uprisings of the Earth (SLT) condemned the shutdown and has called for protests in dozens of cities across France starting Wednesday.

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“Under the claim of defending the preservation of the environment... (SLT) encourages sabotage and property damage, including with violence,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said after a cabinet meeting.

SLT is part of a new wave of more radical climate activist groups, including Extinction Rebellion, that say direct action is needed in response to insufficient efforts to combat climate change and global warming.

The dissolution procedure for SLT was launched in March after around 5,000 protesters battled with more than 3,000 police officers during a protest against a giant irrigation reservoir near Sainte-Soline in western France.

Two protesters were left in a coma afterwards, while around 30 officers were injured.

But Darmanin has drawn fire from left-wing opponents and rights groups for branding the actions of some protesters “eco-terrorism,” noting that SLT’s dissolution is based on a new law targeting extremist ideologies.

“It should not be used in a context of civil disobedience, where the freedom of expression and assembly takes precedence,” Greenpeace France said in a statement.

Greenpeace added that it would support SLT if it contested the dissolution decree before the State Council, which rules on the legality of French laws.

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