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Climate Protesters Arrested for Painting Stonehenge Monument Orange, Sparking Controversy

Photo : Reuters

In London, two climate activists were arrested on Wednesday for their involvement in an incident where orange paint was sprayed on the iconic Stonehenge monument in southern England. This act of vandalism, carried out by members of the group Just Stop Oil, drew swift condemnation from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Video footage captured the scene as two individuals approached the 4,500-year-old stone circle, spraying orange pigment while a third person attempted to intervene. Several stones at the UNESCO World Heritage Site were smeared with the bright paint. Just Stop Oil later clarified on their website that the pigment used was an "orange cornflour" intended to wash away naturally in the rain.

The incident occurred just one day ahead of the summer solstice celebrations, an annual event that draws thousands to Stonehenge to mark the longest day of the year. English Heritage, the organization responsible for managing Stonehenge, expressed deep concern over the damage caused, describing it as "extremely upsetting." Curators were immediately dispatched to assess the extent of the harm.

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Local authorities, specifically Wiltshire Police, swiftly apprehended the two suspects on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument, which holds immense cultural and historical significance. Stonehenge, constructed in stages beginning around 5,000 years ago on Salisbury Plain, features massive stones, some of which were transported from southwest Wales, over 150 miles away. The origins of these stones remain shrouded in mystery, adding to the monument's allure and archaeological importance.

Just Stop Oil is part of a broader environmental movement in Europe known for its direct actions aimed at highlighting climate change concerns. These actions have often included disrupting public events, defacing prominent artworks, and obstructing traffic to raise awareness about the environmental impact of fossil fuels. The group's recent protest at Stonehenge was reportedly in response to the Labour Party's stance on oil and gas exploration. Labour, ahead in polls for the upcoming election, has pledged not to issue further licenses for oil and gas exploration if elected on July 4th. However, Just Stop Oil contends that these measures are insufficient and has called for more stringent policies, advocating for a treaty to phase out fossil fuels entirely by 2030.

Identified by the group, the activists responsible for the Stonehenge incident were Niamh Lynch, a 21-year-old student from Oxford, and Rajan Naidu, a 73-year-old from Birmingham. Their actions have sparked debate about the balance between environmental activism and historical preservation, as well as the appropriate means of protest in addressing urgent global issues like climate change.

June 20, 2024 11:26 a.m. 530

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