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Climate action group announces series of protests, reports rise in membership

The Finnish branch of the Extinction Rebellion climate action movement has called the two-week series of demonstrations 'Overconsumption Rebellion'.

Elokapina activists on Mannerheimintie in downtown Helsinki, 6 May 2022. Image: Kristiina Lehto / Yle
Yle News

The Finnish branch of the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion, or Elokapina in Finnish, staged a demonstration on Tuesday in front of the main entrance to energy company Fortum's headquarters in Keilaniemi, Espoo.

The protest lasted until 11:00am and was attended by around 70 people. Ainomaija Mikola, Elokapina's media liaison officer, told Yle that the demonstrators chanted, shouted demands, and wrote slogans on the door and windows of the company's headquarters.

The activists are demanding that Fortum and other state-owned companies drop Russian oil and gas, while also curbing the general use of fossil fuels in Finland.

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The Western Uusimaa police department tweeted that the demonstration was for the most part calm, adding that no protestors were taken into police custody and the protest graffiti will be easily washed off.

"Most of the protesters stood calmly in front of the headquarters throughout the demonstration. However, some of them blocked access by standing in the vestibule," said Inspector Hannu Kontola in a press release.

The Keilaniemi demonstration is part of a two-week series of protests that Extinction Rebellion has dubbed the 'Overconsumption Rebellion'.

Fortum's demonstration part of wider campaign

Mikola said that the group have planned a number of different events and demonstrations for the Overconsumption Rebellion series of protests.

On Thursday, activists will hold an 'Animal Rebellion' event at Senate Square in Helsinki from 4pm to 6pm in support of more sustainable and equitable food production.

On Saturday, a 'Children's Rebellion' procession will move from Senate Square to the city's Kansalaistori Square between 1pm and 6pm, with children and families invited to take part in the march.

Additionally, on Friday and Sunday evenings, the group will hold demonstrations in Kansalaistori.

Elokapina further noted that it has welcomed more members into the organisation since the beginning of the Overconsumption Rebellion last week.

According to Mikola, the group is constantly gaining more active members, and Elokapina's "popularity is growing", with more than one hundred people participating in orientation sessions over the past two weeks.

"Orientation days are really popular. Some of them are already full, although of course there is still room for more," Mikola told Yle, adding that the group's aim is to organise the demonstrations in co-operation with the police.

'Overconsumption Rebellion' began last Friday

The first protest of the Overconsumption Rebellion series was held last Friday in the centre of Helsinki, when environmental activists blocked traffic on Mannerheimintie.

Police estimated there were about 500 protesters present.

On Saturday, the group staged a sit-down protest at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, when about 50 to 60 protesters were denied entry beyond a security checkpoint at Terminal 2. Police took about 28 of the protesters into custody.

Elokapina said that the aim of the Overconsumption Rebellion is to draw attention to Finland's over-consumption of resources and call for more sustainable consumption.

Before the latest series of protests began, the group worked with Greenpeace to protest at the Koverhar harbour in Hanko to stop the movement of coal shipments in mid-April.

Other environmental activist groups have also been active in recent weeks. Greenpeace also protested at Fortum's headquarters and the Helsinki Central Railway Station last week.

Activity increasing

The Finnish branch of Extinction Rebellion was founded in October 2018 and has grown rapidly in recent years.

Last September, Elokapina staged a series of protests called the Autumn Rebellion, with demonstrations staged outside the Government Palace and the Parliament building in the centre of Helsinki.

The group estimated that hundreds of protesters took part in the series of events.

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