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#StopEcocideSL: An initiative to raise awareness 

2 years ago

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Sri Lanka is now facing an unprecedented rate of environmental destruction. Our future and the future of the generations to come are in grave danger, and we can no longer turn a blind eye to the mismanagement of resources and blatant ecocide happening on our beautiful island.  Protecting future life on Earth means stopping the mass damage and destruction of ecosystems taking place globally. We call this serious harm to nature “ecocide”. Unfortunately, at the present time, in most of the world it is legally permitted. As environmental activist Greta Thunberg said: “It’s time to change the rules.”  A movement that started with a single 15-year-old girl has now resonated with global communities. On 19 March, millions of activists all over the world will be stepping out to the streets to demand that governments take climate emergency seriously and to ensure that there are no more empty promises.   As Sri Lankans who benefit from the numerous eco-systems of this island, it is our duty to stand up against the ecocide running rampant in our country and save our forests.  Rally for Animal Rights and Environment (RARE), Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS), Extinction Rebellion (XR) Sri Lanka, The Pearl Protectors, Earth Guardians Sri Lanka, and Climate Action Now Sri Lanka invite all those who care, to join hands with them in solidarity with the Global Climate Action on 19 March at Viharamahadevi Park opposite Nelum Pokuna from 4 to 6 p.m. as we urge the Government to stop ecocide in Sri Lanka. The climate action will feature a mural painted by the WNPS Youth Wing to depict climate emergency, dance, and many other creative actions by volunteers. Speaking on the message behind the mural, WNPS Youth Wing Chairperson Zaineb Akbarally said: “We are trying to depict the increasing deforestation that’s happening in Sri Lanka, which is referred to as ecocide. We also want to portray the ongoing destruction that is brought on by man.” She added that this mural is purely to raise awareness and this will classify as the largest ever mural on ecocide done in Sri Lanka. “It will be painted on a cloth canvas which is 20 x 70 feet, and will be on display at Viharamahadevi Park on Friday (19).” She also added that everyone is welcome to bring a poster with a slogan or artwork depicting nature and ecocide. “We're doing this climate action in solidarity with the Global Climate Action happening on 19 March, to spread awareness amongst the public on the escalating incidents of deforestation and habitat destruction in Sri Lanka. This will be an event where we use creative mediums like murals, dance, and theatrical performances to educate people on the plight of Mother Nature. It's also a call to action for people to stand up against the ecocide happening in Sri Lanka. So anyone who cares about our ecosystems, our country, and the planet is welcome to join us on the 19th,” said XR Sri Lanka Member Ranmini Gunasekara.   What counts as ecocide?   Ecocide is an umbrella term for human activity that violates the principles of environmental justice by substantially damaging or destroying ecosystems or by harming the health and wellbeing of a species. The concept of ecocide began to emerge in the final years of the Vietnam War (1955-1975) when the scars of that war were more than evident and were having a devastating effect on the territory. Attacks with Agent Orange – a powerful herbicide used as a chemical weapon by the US Army – killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions of hectares of land barren. The first time the world heard the word “ecocide” was at the 1972 UN Environmental Summit in Stockholm, where Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme accused the US of ecocide for its practices in Vietnam.     Should ecocide be a crime?   Since the 1970s, environmental advocates have championed the idea of creating an international ecocide law that would be adjudicated in the International Criminal Court (ICC) and would penalise individuals responsible for environmental destruction. But the effort has gained significant traction over the past year, with influential global figures like Pope Francis and Greta Thunberg expressing their support. Once the law against ecocide is adopted, it becomes known as a crime. This gives it immediate moral power in people’s minds. Therefore, harming nature will begin to feel the same as harming human beings. This will help society grasp the fact of our connection with the natural living world. Without a healthy Earth, there can be no healthy human beings.    

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