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Stretches in prison
- From 17 Nov 2021 to 14 Jan 2022 at HMP Thameside.
About Roman Paluch-Machnik
Roman gave the following statement on the day of his sentencing:
I want to start by saying that I am proud of what we did, and I stand by our actions. Incredibly proud of brothers and sisters here today, it’s incredible.
We are at the edge of losing everything, and anyone who understands this reality has an obligation to demand better from our society, from the political system, and all institutions, public and private, that are able to influence the trajectory of the UK and global population.
When I first started trying to write this statement, I broke down crying. I’ve been arrested before, and every time I have to reconnect with the reality of why I did what I did, I must again confront all of the despicable realities that frame the 21st century.
There is only so much that one person is able to do, and consider when it comes to contemplating the pain and suffering of the world. The longer people ignore those excruciating emotions, the more likely we are to lose everything. A small handful, some of us here, and some of us not, have decided to confront reality directly.
What you are judging me for today is my rational response to the science we now have in abundance - the world is on a collision course that will tear apart all life on this planet if we do not change our ways.
I came to this understanding a few years ago, not through any real interest in the science of climate change, but simply because the information and calls for action were literally ringing out everywhere.
This was 3 years ago.
There was nothing special about me coming to this realisation, I simply couldn’t miss it.
I feel it is important here to mention my Polish heritage. Both sets of my grandparents moved to the UK at various stages of World War II.
I never met any of my grandparents, they all died before I was born, but as I’ve grown older and learnt about the things they did during that era of war torn Europe, and Poland’s centuries of struggle to define itself as a nation, it’s increasingly shaping my approach to the world I live in as I’ve gotten older. The sacrifices they made to stand up for what they believed in have been an inspiration for the things that I’ve chosen to do.
If I did not stand up in this moment and challenge the failures of our elected representatives to make change happen, I would not only be betraying all future generations, but I would be betraying our shared history that saw people fight through unimaginable conditions to leave a world for us that was safe and secure.
What we are living through now is one of the most morally reprehensible periods in human history. REPETE. Governments throughout the world understand that we are facing the potential collapse of society as we know it, and they yet still choose not to do everything in their power to alter this course.
This is why we find ourselves here today. This isn’t one day in court, this has been centuries in the making.
In Britain we have institutions built up over centuries, run by a civil service populated with the smartest graduates this country has to offer. I’m sure my learned friends here are aware of this history. If the political will was there, their energies could all be redirected to face the difficult times we face, and begin the job of repairing what we have for so many years been abusing.
What I have done with the Insulate Britain campaign is follow in the tradition of all those people who fought using protest to help build these institutions in the image of democracy, representation, transparency, accessibility, among other things.
What we are witnessing now is unparalleled cowardice and laziness to properly use these institutions that have been hard fought for, and shaped the course of the world to ensure the safety, security, and freedom of people for the foreseeable future.
We took drastic action to better propel our simple question into the government’s consciousness.
The question was simple: do everything in your power to insulate people’s homes, that means ending people freezing to death this winter, providing many hundreds of thousands with new, worthy jobs that will help rebuild communities, providing decent living conditions for everyone, and pride in communities, as well as massively reducing our carbon emissions in the midst of a climate emergency which our parliament has declared.
Or: Punish us.
Punish us for daring to ask something in a way that’s not deemed to be polite or respectful, for the few people that would dare to ask such a thing in a way not deemed appropriate.
What we have done has been treated as if it is treasonous.
We’re not asking the government to depose itself. I’m not asking you to abdicate your station.
We’ve carried ourselves with dignity and calm conviction. What we receive is hatred and vitriol. All of the right wing press closing ranks and firing everything they can at us.
People who have dedicated their lives to god and serving others, people who have worked in the NHS for decades, biologists who care for the wellbeing of all life on this planet, students who have not yet had the opportunity to experience any of the world before putting their liberty on the line, have experienced regular character assassinations for what they are doing.
MPs have been tweeting about sending us to prison, that’s the reality that we’re living within.
Personally, I spent all of June to August travelling around the UK, holding free and open community events in some of the most deprived parts of the UK, from the collieries in county Durham, to Port Talbot south Wales, and many places in between, speaking to almost 10,000 people about what they think are the biggest problems we face in society, and what we can do in our communities to overcome those problems.
We are not enemies of the people. Everything we have done has been for the people. Here and abroad. Sending us to prison is an attack against those who are willing to fight for what is right, and who understand that a crucial aspect of our democracy is the right to peaceful protest.
And so, I will end by once again asking, will the government, the justice system, and pillars of our democracy, begin doing what is necessary to insulate people’s homes, start taking meaningful action to reduce our carbon emissions, and do what is necessary to provide freedom, safety, and security for all life on this planet?