A French television reporter and his crew were arrested while filming protesters trying to blockade a coal part in Queensland, Australia on Monday.
Queensland police stated that seven people were arrested, four of which were French men aged 29, 30, 32 and 39. These men have been charged with trespassing on a railway at the Abbot Point coal terminal.
The group that is leading the protest at the port against India’s Adani Enterprises, a major multinational conglomerate that is currently digging a coal mine in Queensland, Frontline Action on Coal, stated that the reporter, Hugo Clément and his crew were filming an environmental documentary for France 2. The aim of the documentary was to raise even more awareness over what giants in such industries are doing to hurt the environment.
Pictures released by the protest group show Clément sitting crouched in a police van, whilst two others, one holding a video camera and another with a normal camera, are being guided by the police to the van.
Following the events, Clément and his crew have been released on bail, yet are still due to appear at Queensland’s Bowen magistrates’ court on September 3.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation released the police charge sheet that illustrated Clément’s bail terms, including bans from going within 20 km of the Adani Enterprises mine site, as well as being banned from going within 100 metres from any other Adani Enterprises site.
The Carmichael mine and rail project by Adani has been the target of several protests for almost a decade, but protesters finally lost the battle when the project was approved of in June and the company started construction.
The French television crew was filming protesters blocking the way to Adani’s Abbot Point terminal, the place that is set to be the area from which it exports coal to other places, according to a member of Frontline Action on Coal.
According to the same member, the police simply arrested the television crew because they were blocking the way, rather than just telling them to get out of the way.
The French consul-general based in Brisbane refused to make any comments of the incident.
The owner of the coal port, Adani Enterprises, claimed that whilst it was aware of the protests, it refused to comment on there being any arrests.
Through an email statement, Adani stated that “We encourage people to base their opinion on the facts, and to conduct any protest activity legally and safely, without putting themselves or our employees, contractors or other community members at risk.”
The biggest concern is that the mine will be quite close to the Great Barrier Reef, which has experienced a massive amount of bleaching over the past few years, with there being a drop of 89% in new corals in 2018, according to a report published in Nature, the leading scientific journal dedicated to the natural world.
This recent turn of events shows how the authorities are not willing to let freedom of speech take over and inform others more and more of what is happening to our beloved world. Whilst many people depend on the coalmine as it provides plenty of jobs to both Australians and foreigners, it is also a great hinderance to the environment, fuelling ongoing debates on Global Warming.
This also brings into play the Freedom of Information Act, which entitles the public to know about what is happening to the environment.
If the French television crew faces further punishment, it will be a strong indication that the government does not favour the environmental at all, but just focusing on what is driving the amounts of exports from Australia.