There are many values in the ‘Unify to survive’ chants of XR and its family of peaceful protesters that occupied the streets around the Palace of Westminster, and other government departments for four days in April 2023.
Circa 60,000 attended the Big One March; walking the talk, standing up for their beliefs, and standing against those causing harm to our planet and humanity.
One child’s story embodied so many of those values, one could be forgiven for wondering why his face and story was not central to the cocktail of anger, shock, pain, courage, and hope coursing through every vein and sinew of the event.
The headlines spoke of Climate Change, social justice, government breaking its climate change laws, an environment where our children could live and play, Equitable society, anti-racism, flooding, weather, land use, public protection, love and compassion, protecting the natural environment and keeping it stable, people and citizen assemblies, etc.
There were even people under the banner of ‘Ecocide’, discussing chemicals, and treating people with decency. We heard loud cries of ‘political criminals’, decrying governments for their failure to address climate crisis issues, malfeasance in office, and being in the pockets of big business.
We heard from Bishops, religious groups, doctors, scientists, activists, farmers, TV personalities, charity leaders, members of the public, people representing first nation communities, people in low income countries already being displaced by climate change.
The Big One speakers called out members of the XR family whose head people did not show, WWF, National Trust, Friends of the Earth, David Attenborough! Though it is easy to criticise, a vital element of the movement is the speaking of truth to power, and calling things out. So, we reach out to XR leaders to follow their hearts, and highlight Zane’s death, not as what could happen in the UK, but as what has happened, and could happen to anyone, unless we address the issues.
I hear people ask, surely there cannot be a child that embodies everything XR and their family of activists fight for. If it were true surely all the campaigns would be talking about such a child, it’s just the way the British media and public respond!
The beautiful 7-year-old child whose story is silent is Zane Gbangbola. Zane was a little eco warrior killed in Surrey near London during the first storms attributed by a UK prime Minister to Climate Change in February 2014. To be clear, Zane is the first climate related death in the UK!!!!
The story of little seven-year-old Zane, is of a child, poisoned in his bed when floodwater entered his basement, infusing his Victorian home, with deadly invisible, odourless, Hydrogen Cyanide gas, detected multiple times, by fire service specialist HAZMAT. It is indicated the floodwater acted as a pathway between source and receptors; that were killed and injured. A government department report in 2010 states there is an ‘an unacceptable risk’ of migrating landfill gases, the consequences are serious injury and death. Zane’s death was preventable, there were years of forewarning.
What kind of a country do we live in where there is no investigation into the gassing, of a neighbourhood, by a chemical weapon of mass destruction (WMD) nerve agent, the gas that killed millions in WWII gas chambers?
Some people must look back to that fatal day in 2014, and think it beyond upsetting a child’s home could be infused with toxic gases, next door to land exploited for profit by opencast gravel extraction, and filled with unregulated waste. Then, that child die, justice be called for and denied, and the curiosity of NGO researchers and investigators, not be peaked. One would hope the campaign groups would unite, and call for proper investigations, as done in progressive countries, to protect and save the lives of their citizens.
The failure to properly investigate what happened to Zane, in what elected members of Zane’s Borough council labelled a ‘cover up’, has systematically stripped this little boy of his human rights to the
truth, which has resulted in TruthAboutZane (TAZ), the campaign for answers, ref
People need to wake up to the abuse, and injustice, staring them in the face and look at this child, what happened, and the risks to the 80% of people in the UK the BMJ state live within 2km of landfill. Zane’s father was rendered unconscious in cardiac arrest in the same incident; his diagnosis is Paraplegia due to Hydrogen Cyanide poisoning.
And now a bombshell, which probably seems like common sense, ‘the quality of land where we live, affects the health of human beings on and around it’, the award winning BBC Radio file on Four, in their programme ‘What Lies Beneath’, made this very clear.
The fact that landfill can be dangerous, is a truth in plain sight, yet government and those elected to protect the public refuse to act, deny the truth, deny the scientific and medical evidence, use false narratives, refuse to listen to and protect the people.
The four day festival of ‘The Big one’ hailed the voice and inclusion obtained from citizen assemblies as a mandate to operate; the governance gateway to determine where activism is needed. It was made clear activist groups hold ‘People assemblies’ which determine their purpose and values for action. Whilst ‘Citizen assemblies’ determine the national and international goals and targets to be prioritised.
Concretely we have established the ‘Citizens’ position for Zane ; over 117,000 people signed his petition, and growing. To this end we humbly call upon the ‘People’ in the 200 activist groups represented at ‘The Big One’ to hear the ‘Citizens’ and stand up for a little boy killed in horrendous climate change abusive circumstances. Anyone with children would look at them, and hate what happened to Zane, to happen to any child!
Whilst the UN points to environmental protection being a massive problem, we should ask ourselves what kind of a world are we handing on to our children? The answer should include how we fought for truth for children like Zane and Ella.
This is not about criticising anyone but it’s important that our big campaigning organisations, that complain of atrophy towards their purpose, do not display such behaviours to just causes like Zane’s. TruthAboutZane consisting of Zane’s parents fighting for their son, would love to hear from you, and what support and actions you can provide.
There are many injustices and one struggle, solidarity to all the climate and social justice campaigns. ‘Unite to survive and win’. Extinction Rebellion and the family must not be complicit keeping Zane’s story in the dark. Help us shine the light of truth on the wrongs.
Rest In Peace Zane Gbangbola, 2006 to 2014