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Just Stop Oil activists spray Stonehenge with orange powder paint

Image Credits: UnsplashImage Credits: Unsplash
  • Climate activists from Just Stop Oil defaced the iconic Stonehenge monument with orange powder paint, demanding the UK government commit to phasing out fossil fuels by 2030 to address climate change.
  • The act of vandalism sparked widespread outrage, with authorities condemning the damage to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and politicians criticizing the protesters' methods as disrespectful and counterproductive.
  • While the protesters justified their actions as a means to raise awareness about the urgent need for climate action, the incident reignited debates around the boundaries of peaceful protest and the protection of invaluable historical and cultural sites.

Stonehenge, the iconic prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, was defaced with orange powder paint by two climate activists from the group Just Stop Oil on Wednesday, just a day before the annual summer solstice celebrations. The act of vandalism sparked outrage from authorities and politicians alike, who condemned the protesters' actions as disrespectful and damaging to one of the world's most significant historical sites.

According to reports, Niamh Lynch, a 21-year-old student from Oxford, and Rajan Naidu, a 73-year-old from Birmingham, were arrested by Wiltshire Police on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument. The duo, donning Just Stop Oil branded T-shirts, sprayed a cluster of the iconic standing stones with orange powder paint from a small canister.

Just Stop Oil claimed that the paint used was made of cornstarch and would dissolve in the rain. However, English Heritage, the organization responsible for managing the site, expressed dismay at the incident, stating it was "extremely upsetting" and that curators were investigating the damage.

Demands and Reactions

The protesters demanded that the incoming UK government, expected to be formed after the July 4th general election, commit to a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030. Just Stop Oil stated, "Continuing to burn coal, oil and gas will result in the death of millions. Failure to commit to defending our communities will mean Just Stop Oil supporters... will join in resistance this summer, if their own governments do not take meaningful action."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the act as a "disgraceful act of vandalism to one of the UK's and the world's oldest and most important monuments." Labour leader Keir Starmer, whose party has pledged not to issue further licenses for oil and gas exploration if elected, called the group "pathetic" and described the damage as "outrageous."

Niamh Lynch defended the protest, stating, "Stonehenge during the solstice is about celebrating the natural world — but observe its current condition! We all have the right to live a life free from suffering, but the ongoing burning of oil, coal, and gas is leading to death and suffering on an unprecedented scale."

Stonehenge: A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most iconic and mysterious prehistoric monuments in the world. Built in stages starting 5,000 years ago, the unique stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period around 2,500 BC. Some of the stones, known as bluestones, are believed to have been transported from southwest Wales, nearly 240 km (150 miles) away, adding to the site's enigmatic allure.

The summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge attract thousands of visitors each year, who gather to witness the sun rising over the heel stone, aligning perfectly with the monument's central axis. This year's celebrations, scheduled for June 20th, are expected to proceed as planned, despite the recent act of vandalism.

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