Striking to save our islands
This is a guest blog from Amnesty activist Méabh Mackenzie who lives in South Uist in the Western Isles. On Friday 15th March, Méabh and her fellow pupils at Daliburgh School went on strike to highlight the climate crisis for their own Western Isles and all island communities across the globe.
My friends and I decided to go on a student strike on Friday the 15 March for about an hour starting at 11am. We decided to strike outside Daliburgh School which is in South Uist in the Western Isles. We made a video to publicise it.
I decided to do this because I feel that the governments are ignoring what will happen to our planet if we don’t slow down global warming. In South Uist where I live, it is very low lying and it wouldn’t take much for it to disappear under the waves. I love this Island and I will do anything, anything at all so my children, my grandchildren and maybe even my great grandchildren see how lovely this place actually is! When I saw the picture of Greta Thenberg standing outside the Swedish parliament I knew that was what I needed to do.
Rising sea levels will have a catastrophic affect where I live in the Western Isles and other Island communities all across the world. In 12 years we can’t turn anything back and we and our planet will face the horrors of climate change. We need Governments and lawmakers to act now while we still have time and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that will help calm and slow down rising sea levels. We need our government to monitor our coastal erosions and for these Islands especially to have better flood defences.
We, the future generation, are now going to tidy up the mess and we will not stop till it’s done.
The day was brilliant and we had a good turnout considering the school has only 78 pupils. We had around 25 children and 18 pupils from Daliburgh Primary. We also had people from the community, mums and dads, grandparents, councillors and people who work for Storas Uibhist.
Everyone had an amazing time. We had a lot of really good interviews with the media and I was speaking live on BBC Radio Scotland in the morning and BBC Alba filmed all the children striking over two days for a programme on Friday night called An Là. We have had a great response on BBC’s Gaelic social media - twitter over 23,000 impressions for our video. The editor at Am Paiper, a local newspaper, has said that more than 12,000 people were reached on their Facebook (and thousands more on Twitter). It has got everyone talking!
All the children who were striking also did a good job making amazing banners and posters for the strike with the help of Fiona and Margaret Macisaac who work at Taigh Chearsabagh Arts Centre. Everyone was so excited and happy about the whole idea of going on the Global Student Strike. Lots put their name forward but unfortunately couldn’t go for other reasons.
We had the plan that people going on strike would go on a protest march for about a mile through Daliburgh and then back to the school. After the march we planted a tree in the school grounds to note the day and gave out seed bombs made from recycled paper and wildflower seeds. We also had two amazing pipers that were really good in leading the whole line of people who decided to come to Daliburgh school to support us.
I thank all the people that came along or gave us a quote or who supported us in other ways including the pipers, councillors and the people of South Uist with their words of encouragement.
I hope that people start reading about us or watching our progress and start to change. We need system change not climate change.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.