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Hundreds arrested after Schiphol climate protest
by AFP Staff Writers
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Netherlands (AFP) Nov 5, 2022

Climate activists hurl pea soup on Van Gogh in Rome
Rome (AFP) Nov 4, 2022 - A group of activists on Friday splashed pea soup onto a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece in Rome, in a protest they warned will continue until more attention was paid to climate change.

"The Sower", an 1888 painting by the Dutch artist depicting a farmer sowing his land under a dominating sun, was exhibited behind glass and undamaged.

Four activists were arrested, according to news reports.

The climate activists from Last Generation called their protest "a desperate and scientifically grounded cry that cannot be understood as mere vandalism".

"Non-violent direct actions will continue until citizens get answers from their government on the demands to stop gas and coal and to invest in at least 20 GW of renewables," they said in a statement.

Video images taken from inside a museum gallery crowded with visitors show two young women throwing a liquid substance onto the painting.

They and a third woman are then seen gluing their hands to the wall as shouting erupts in the room.

"For shame!" someone in the crowd can be heard shouting.

- 'Ignoble act' -

Climate activists have carried out a series of attacks -- using soup, cake or mashed potatoes -- in Europe in recent weeks.

They have targeted masterpieces such as the "Mona Lisa" by Leonardo da Vinci in the Louvre in Paris or "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer at The Hague's Mauritshuis museum.

In October, the group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup over Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" at London's National Gallery.

All of those paintings were covered by glass and were undamaged.

"Everything that we would have the right to see in our present and our future is being obscured by a real and imminent catastrophe, just as this pea puree has covered the work in the fields..." Last Generation said in its statement Friday.

Italy's Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano condemned the protest, calling it an "ignoble act that must be strongly condemned".

"Culture, which is the basis of our identity, should be defended and protected, certainly not used as a megaphone for other forms of protest," Sangiuliano said in a statement.

"The Sower" is on show at Rome's Palazzo Bonaparte, part of an exhibition of 50 paintings by Dutch master Van Gogh on loan from the Kroller Muller Museum in Otterlo in the Netherlands.

The exhibit organisers, Arthemisia, did not respond to a request for more information on the attack.

Dutch border police on Saturday arrested hundreds of climate activists who clambered over fences and gates at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport and occupied an apron for private jets, which they said should be banned.

The protesters ran onto the tarmac at around 1200 GMT before sitting in front of private planes parked on the apron, including a Royal Canadian Air Force C-130 transporter.

It was not clear if any of the jets were set to depart but protesters said they saw at least one pilot leave a plane and walk back to a nearby hangar.

Organised by environmental groups Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, activists also pushed dozens of bicycles on to the apron.

Shouting slogans like "Down with flying" and "Schiphol environmental polluter", they cycled around the apron to the cheers of onlookers on the other side of the fence.

"This action today is about Schiphol airport needing to cut its emissions which means we need to fly less," Greenpeace spokeswoman Faiza Oulahsen said.

"We are starting with those flights we absolutely don't need like private jets and short flights," she told AFP.

About three hours later, Dutch border police started arresting activists -- some of whom were dragged to waiting buses after passively resisting arrest.

Border police were also seen tackling several activists off their bicycles as they tried to escape their pursuers.

"We take this very seriously," Dutch border police spokesman Major Robert van Kapel told AFP.

"These people are facing charges relating to being in a place where they should not have been," he said, adding that prosecutors will now formulate the exact charge.

The activists were taken to various border police offices around the airfield where they were being processed and identified, Van Kapel said.

Van Kapel said no commercial flights were affected by the protest.

Greenpeace later said police were "far too heavy-handed against the activists on bicycles" and that at least one person received a head injury.

The protest comes as the world gears up for the UN climate summit that starts in Egypt on Sunday, and which activists said should also focus on air travel.

"This is a subject they have to talk about," said Tessel Hofstede, spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion.

"Planes are some of the biggest polluters on the planet," she told AFP.

Climate activists glue hands to Goya frames at Spain's Prado
Madrid (AFP) Nov 5, 2022 - Two climate activists on Saturday each glued a hand to the frame of paintings by Spanish master Francisco Goya in Madrid to protest inaction in the face of global warming.

The protest at the famed Prado museum damaged neither painting, but the protesters scrawled "+1,5C" on the wall between the two artworks and both were detained, police said.

The United Nations warned last week that the world was nowhere near the Paris Agreement target of capping warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Saturday's stunt in Madrid was the latest increasingly daring action taken by climate activists to grab the headlines, including throwing soup on Vincent van Gogh paintings in London and Rome, and mashed potatoes on a Claude Monet masterpiece.

On Sunday, nearly 200 nations will kick off in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh the latest climate summit tasked with taming the terrifying juggernaut of global warming.

Climate activist group Extinction Rebellion posted a video online showing the two activists each with a hand fixed on a painting before museum security moved in.

The group said the two artworks in question were "The Naked Maja" and "The Clothed Maja".

The action was to protest rising world temperatures which will "provoke an unstable climate with serious consequences for all the planet", the group said.

Videos posted by Extinction Rebellion show the two young women pulling glue from their clothes and sticking their hands to the frames before addressing other museum goers.

Some of the crowd shout at the activists before security appears and asks those present to stop filming.

- 'Desperate cry' -

Spanish Culture Minister Miquel Iceta denounced the attack, writing on Twitter that it was an "act of vandalism" and that "no cause justifies attacking everyone's heritage".

It is the latest in series of protests by climate activists targeting famous artworks in European cities.

On Friday, a group splashed pea soup onto a van Gogh masterpiece in Rome.

"The Sower", an 1888 painting by the Dutch artist depicting a farmer sowing his land under a dominating sun, was exhibited behind glass and undamaged.

Four activists were arrested, according to news reports.

The climate activists from Last Generation called their protest "a desperate and scientifically grounded cry that cannot be understood as mere vandalism".

They warned the protest would continue until more attention was paid to climate change.

Other actions have seen cake or mashed potatoes used in recent weeks.

They have targeted masterpieces such as the "Mona Lisa" by Leonardo da Vinci in the Louvre in Paris or "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer at The Hague's Mauritshuis museum.

In October, the group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup over van Gogh's "Sunflowers" at London's National Gallery.

All those paintings were covered by glass and were undamaged.

Germany warns climate protesters against breaking law
Berlin (AFP) Nov 4, 2022 - The German government on Friday warned that escalating protests by activists ahead of the UN climate conference in Egypt must not break the law.

Deputy government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner said that while Berlin shared the goal of climate protection with the demonstrators, their protests "must not take place outside the bounds of our laws".

Climate activists in several European countries have targeted famous museum pieces to draw attention to their cause ahead of COP27, which will start this month in Sharm el-Sheikh.

In Germany, protesters last week threw mashed potatoes over a Claude Monet painting in Potsdam and on Sunday glued themselves to an exhibition of a dinosaur skeleton at Berlin's Natural History Museum.

But the issue gained urgency this week after a street protest in Berlin on Monday allegedly prevented emergency workers from getting to the scene of an accident.

An emergency vehicle was delayed in reaching a cyclist who had been run over by a cement mixer as activists had glued themselves to a nearby street.

The cyclist in hospital has since been declared braindead.

Buechner said he was "expressly" not blaming the demonstrators for the woman's fate, noting that the "investigation continues" into the accident and its aftermath.

But he said that "these types protests accept that they can create dangers for others", a fact the government "condemned".

Chancellor Olaf Scholz this week also chided the activists.

"I am very sad about what is happening and very glad that it has not come to the point where an irreplaceable artwork has been permanently damaged," Scholz told reporters.

"There are other ways to express one's opinion and perhaps a little creativity could be used."

Scholz also urged the activists not to create public risk.

Protesters trying to make a political point "should always bear in mind that there should be no endangerment of others", Scholz said.

Related Links
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COP27 summit racing against the climate clock
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt (AFP) Nov 6, 2022
The COP27 summit kicks off Sunday in Egypt with nearly 200 countries struggling to outpace increasingly dire climate impacts in a world upended by war and economic turmoil. Just in the last few months, a cascade of climate-addled weather disasters has killed thousands, displaced millions and caused billions in damages: massive flooding in Pakistan and Nigeria, deepening droughts in Africa and the western US, cyclones in the Caribbean, and unprecedented heat waves across three continents. "Rep ... read more

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