Climate march Amsterdam: Suppressed speeches

This is an audio recording and accompanying transcript of part of a programme of speeches delivered as part of the climate march (klimaatmars) held in Amsterdam on 12 November 2023.

I’m providing this here because:

  • In the official broadcast the presenters talked over, and so blocked out, parts of the speeches. Those missing parts are included here.
  • The current recording will allow you to get a better sense of the surface-level aggression and booing that were tangible on the ground.
  • Amplification.

Why do I think it’s important for people to hear this? Because it’s a testimony to how, in 2023, in the Netherlands, a supposedly progressive organisation and movement ostensibly focused on ‘climate justice’ is willing to publicly silence and humiliate an Afghan-Dutch human rights lawyer and a Palestinian researcher who speak out about the practical reality of climate justice. To how similarly, supposedly forward-thinking crowds were booing as these people spoke. How crowds were cheering as they were silenced. How the organisers, after having just shut up this human rights lawyer and researcher, had the temerity to shout: “No justice, no peace!”

Language used in the speeches is a mixture of Dutch and English. Translation of the Dutch is provided in the transcript. The recording is in two parts, which in reality occurred about half an hour apart, but which have been stuck together here for convenience.

Stereo 🎧



Part I: Sahar Shirzad and Sara Rachdan address the crowds, get their mics muted


[00:00:00] Ja en op de mars voor klimaat en rechtvaardigheid, kunnen we natuurlijk niet stil blijven over de humanitaire crises die nu op verschillende plekken van de wereld zich tentoon stellen.1

[00:00:19] Het landschap is super gepolariseerd, en dat schreeuwt om empathie en nuance. En daarom zijn we heel dankbaar dat de volgende spreker hiervoor wil komen spreken. We gaan er van uit dat jullie naar haar luisteren met respect en openheid. Geef haar straks een warm welkom. Ze is jurist en ze heeft internationaal recht gestudeerd met een focus op mensenrechten. Ze is oprichter van Refugee Millennials en ze won dit jaar de Pax vredesprijs: Sahar Shirzad!2

[Applause and cheering]

Sahar Shirzad

[00:00:54] Wauw, wauw, wauw, wat een energie! Ik wil aller, allereerst een applaus voor alle kinderen die hier zijn. En ik wil jullie even toespreken, kinderen.3


[00:01:10] So Sahar Shirzad is the next speaker.

Sahar Shirzad

[00:01:15] Jullie zijn de volgende generatie. Ik wil dat jullie aanschouwen dat wij allemaal achter jullie zijn. Wij zijn toekomstige voorouders. Wij bepalen wat het voorbeeld is.4

[00:01:25] Ik ben Sahar Shirzad. En ik heb ook kracht van jullie nodig, want het is geen makkelijke opdracht voor mij om hier te staan. Ik sta hier als Afghaans-Nederlandse en ik heb nooit eerder bij een klimaatmars of klimaatbeweging een speech gedaan, omdat ik dan iedere keer mijn bestaan moet rijmen met een klimaatbeweging en Green Deals waarin de wapenindustrie nog steeds onder onze wetten tussenuit komt en bommen laat vallen in mijn land en dat mijn land in handen van terroristen is en dat ik niet op de bergen van mijn land kan leven!5


[00:02:03] Dus ik heb moed nodig van jullie. Ik heb moed nodig want het is geen makkelijk podium voor een Afghaan. Er zijn vier aardbevingen geweest in het dorp van mijn moeder. Er zijn twee miljoen Afghanen die op dit moment uit Pakistan worden geduwd, de grootste deportatie in de geschiedenis. Mensen die legaal daar zijn meer dan veertig jaar langer dan dat Pakistan bestaat.6

[00:02:33] Het is niet makkelijk om hier als Afghaan te staan. Maar laat ik jullie iets vertellen: het is nog minder makkelijk om hier binnen te komen op het podium als Palestijn.7



[00:02:47] So they’re talking about …

Sahar Shirzad

[00:02:49] I will switch to English because I want everybody to hear me. Wait. I will switch to English because I want everybody to hear me.

I was at a sit-in in Amsterdam Central [station] and someone [caught] my eye who said: “I am Sara with the megaphone.” A Palestinian who said: “All you need to do is amplify my voice. I have a voice.” She called the organization [to ask] if she’s allowed to speak. They let me speak. But I brought her on stage and she’s allowed to speak!

[Cheering and booing]

[00:03:35] It is a disgrace at a climate movement that we not let a Palestinian speak! A land that is being occupied, colonized in front of our eyes!


I want to hear you for Sara!

I want to hear you for Gaza!

Free, free Palestine!

[Crowd chants: Free, free, Palestine!]

Ceasefire now!

[Crowd chants: Ceasefire now!]

[00:03:59] Remember, I say this as an Afghan: It starts with liberating Palestine. It starts with liberating Palestine!

We’ve been witnessing this for over 75 years. The most historical, biggest, painful irony: the day that the Human [Rights] Declaration was signed was the day of the first Nakba. How is it possible now that these countries are vetoing a ceasefire? That these countries are committing the worst pollution because weapon industry is still the worst pollution to this day!


I want to hear you for Sara!

Sara Rachdan

[00:04:46] From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

[Crowd chants: From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free! Plus booing]

[00:05:03] My name is Sarah Rachdan. I’m a Palestinian. And I’m here to tell you about the environmental atrocities Israel has been committing over the last 35 days and 75 years.

[Cheering and booing]

Not only is Israel committing a genocide in Gaza by bombing hospitals and murdering nearly 11,000 Palestinians, over half of whom are children, it’s also committing environmental crimes, in an attempt to destroy any possibilities of Gazans sustainably producing their own food, by poisoning land with white phosphorus bombs.

[Crowds arguing]

[00:05:03] Israel is terrorist!

[Crowd chants: Israel is terrorist!]

Israel is accountable for the deterioration, deteriorating environmental conditions of Gaza. In Israel’s 16 year long siege on Gaza, the Zionist state has restricted fishing activities, the flow of goods in and out of Gaza, coupled with frequent bombings of civilians, and agricultural restrictions.

[Crowds loudly booing]

These restrictions and environmental atrocities make Gaza unlivable. This has forced 80 percent of Gazans, 70 percent of whom are refugees from the first Nakba, to rely on external humanitarian aid.

Free, free Palestine!

[Crowd chants: Free, free, Palestine!]

[00:06:53] In Palestine, it is meant to be the annual olive harvesting season now. This is meant to be a time of joy. A time of food. A time for the Palestinian families to gather and celebrate life. But instead, it’s become a time of death and mourning.

[Sara Rachdan’s microphone abruptly cuts out]

Voiceover, multiple people

[00:07:18] You’ve got to be kidding!

Are they really taking her off the stage?

[Crowds whistling]

They have taken the main speaker off the stage. Because she called against genocide. The climate march organisers have taken the main speaker off the stage.

[Crowds chant: What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!]

[Other crowds chant: Free, free Palestine!]

Let her speak. Unbelievable. They’ve taken the speaker off the stage. Let her speak!

Sara Rachdan

[00:08:02] Thank you. For Palestinians, the olive tree is a symbol of life. It’s a symbol of ancestry and fertile land.

[Crowds continue to chant: ‘What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!’, apparently in an attempt to drown out Rachdan’s speech]

In Palestine, families plant trees for their young and pass them down from generation to generation. There are olive trees that are over 4,000 years old. However, in an act of violent apartheid against the indigenous Palestinian people, the racist settler colony of Israel and its illegal Zionist settlers have been uprooting and burning our olive trees for decades.

[Combined chants of: ‘What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!’ and ‘Stop killing children!’]

[00:09:00] The state of Israel is an environmental atrocity being committed by European colonialists on indigenous Palestinian land.

[Sara Rachdan’s microphone abruptly cuts out, again]

[Crowds chant: What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!]


[00:09:02] They have muted the microphone and people are trying to outshout the speaker who calls for an end to genocide and who calls out the atrocious record of Israel on the climate front. It is an absolute disgrace. It is an absolute disgrace.

[Crowds chant: What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!]

What are you even doing here? What are you even doing here? If you are worried about future genocides and about future people being killed, pay attention to the current genocides.


They’ve muted the speaker because they called out Israel’s genocidal actions.

[00:09:52] Let her speak! Let her speak! Let her speak!

[Crowds chant: Let her speak!]

[Other crowd begins to chant: Let her not speak!]

[A verbal kerfuffle occurs between different groups.]

[Crowds chant: Let her speak!]

[A person from the ‘Let her not speak’-crowd begins to physically assault a person from the ‘Let her speak’-crowd. More kerfuffle follows]

Sahar Shirzad

[00:10:42] Maar totdat de wapenindustrie, de Green Deal … 8

[Sahar Shirzad’s speech abruptly cuts out too]

[Crowds cheering]

[00:10:52] They’ve again muted the microphone. It is an absolute disgrace. Like, what are we even here for? So, people are… People are willing to ignore…


[00:11:10] Stem tegen oorlog!

[Crowds cheering]

[00:11:15] No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! Iedereen: No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! Dankjewel, Sahar!

[Crowds cheering]

[Crowd chants: From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!]


[00:11:54] What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now! What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!

Person in crowd

[00:12:03] Jeej, nu zijn we ervoor! Jeej, nu is het het klimaat! Jeej! [sarcastische toon]9


[00:12:07] Dan ga ik nu switchen …

[Crowds chant: Let her speak!]

Dan ga ik nu switchen naar het Engels voor onze volgende spreker.10 I will now be switching to English.


[00:12:17] So this is exactly why we ended up in the current atrocity.


[00:12:17] Ik snap de commotie, maar ik kan mezelf eigenlijk niet meer horen. We gaan door naar de volgende spreker.11

[00:12:28] Five years ago, she was 15 years old, and she started a climate strike by herself.


[00:12:34] This is what everyone’s happy about. A celebrity speaker.


[00:12:40] Within one year, millions of kids and adults followed worldwide. She continues to fight for climate justice, and we are very, very honoured to have her with us today. Let’s hear it for Greta Thunberg!

[Crowd cheers]


[00:13:00] So this is what everyone wants. Celebrity speaker. Rather than actually… I mean, Greta Thunberg stands with Gaza and stands with Palestine just as well. Are you going to shut up Greta Thunberg’s microphone? Unbelievable.


[00:13:17] We are waiting on Greta. Let’s chant one more time. No justice no fucking peace!

[00:13:22] [Transition sound]

Part II: Enter Greta Thunberg; Sahar Shirzad and Sara Rachdan return to complete their speeches


[00:13:29] And I’m going to switch back to English because our programme was interrupted before. But we’re picking it up where we left it off. Here is Greta Thunberg!

[Crowd going wild]


[00:13:58] Greta Thunberg is entering the stage … bringing back the people who were silenced previously, the previous speakers who spoke out against the genocide.

Greta Thunberg

[00:14:08] Thank you for showing up. This is a sign it was a good march, my voice is gone. But yeah, first: some people were interrupted before.

[Crowd cheering]

And as a climate justice movement, we have to listen to the voices of those who are being oppressed and those who are fighting for freedom and for justice.

[Crowd cheering, some chants of ‘Free, free Palestine!’]

Otherwise there can be no climate justice without international solidarity.

[Crowd cheering]

So, give it up now for Sara and Sahar!

[Crowd cheering]

Sara Rachdan

[00:15:01] I’m not going to talk to you about the environmental crimes that Israel has been committing for over 75 years, because there is so much documentation about this, the world just needs to wake up and open their eyes.

[Combined crowds cheering, booing, and whistling]

But I am going to tell you what Israel has been doing for the last 35 days. They are committing a genocide in my country. They are murdering people in Gaza. Over 11,000 people have been murdered in the last 35 days with over half being children. They are targeting hospitals and they are targeting civilians and they are denying them of basic human rights and basic humanitarian aid. They’ve continued to bomb any trucks that carry any food or water.

We need your help. We need your help in calling for a ceasefire. Call for a ceasefire!

[Crowd chants: Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now!]

[00:16:10] Please, again, call for a ceasefire. That is the only way that aid can get into Gaza. And please, please, please, look into who you’re voting for on the 22nd of November. Please vote for a party that will help Palestine.

Please help.

There is no climate justice on stolen indigenous land!

[Crowd cheering, shouting]

Sahar Shirzad

[00:16:48] Thank you very much, Sara. I will keep it short and sweet. This is the first time in 25 years in the Netherlands that I’ve experienced that my mic was silenced. And I’ll tell you this: my parents did not flee Afghanistan for an Afghan woman to be silenced!

[Crowd cheering, applause]

[00:17:13] I am so sorry, because a man just now in front of the stage said: ‘Fuck the climate movement,’ when he heard Sara speak. And this is the reality that we are facing in the Netherlands. The division hasn’t been this big. But mind you, that from all countries in the world, we’re one of the only countries that can mobilize the most people for climate versus Palestine.

Just yesterday in the UK, there were half a million people on the streets for Palestine. And we are the only ones that have such a big climate movement in the midst of division still showing up and that is amazing.

And I salute you. But we are asking you: Let’s unite and let’s vote against weapons because children of war, like me, do not want to stay stand on stage and plead for this.

[00:18:07] Greta is a symbol these days because she was very young when she started her movement. Children look up to her. She is a symbol of the next generation. That’s why she conquered our hearts.

[Crowd cheering, applause]

But understand that the people of Palestine have become a symbol for the oppressed people just like me from Afghanistan. And when we say: ‘Free Palestine!’ it symbolizes all the oppressed people in the world.

[00:18:43] That’s why, and to close off, I would like to say one sentence: Heb uw naaste lief als uzelf.12 Love thy neighbor. Do not do to others as you would do unto yourself. If we do not… We don’t need to empathize and have compassion with Palestinians. We have to imagine that we are Palestinians. So say after me: We are Palestine!

[Crowd chants: We are Palestine! We are Palestine! We are Palestine!]

[00:19:20] We live in a Christian Europe. When they say: ‘Heb uw naaste lief als uzelf,’ imagine: Wij zijn lotgenoten. Allemaal! Ongeacht kleur. Ongeacht afkomst.

Stem op een partij die groen is en tegen oorlog. En dan heb ik het niet over GroenLinks! En niet over PvdA!13

[Combined crowds cheering and booing]

Person in crowd

[00:20:08] Wat denkt ze wel niet? Foei! Flikker een end op.14

Greta Thunberg

[00:20:16] Thank you.

[Crowds booing]

[00:20:21] We are destabilising the biosphere and the very systems we depend on to survive as a civilisation. We are not standing on the brink of a catastrophe, we are living in it. People on the frontlines of the climate crisis have been experiencing the first-hand consequences of it for decades now. And they have been sounding the alarm, but we have not been listening. The people in power have not been listening.

Random person who jumped onto the stage15

[00:20:43] Hé I come here for a climate demonstration not a political view.

[Crowd goes wild]

Greta Thunberg

[00:21:00] Calm down. Calm down. Calm down.

[Crowd chants: Let her speak! Let her speak! Let her speak!]

Greta Thunberg

[00:21:24] No climate justice on occupied land! No climate justice on occupied land! No climate justice on occupied land!

[Crowd chants: No climate justice on occupied land!]

Greta Thunberg

[00:21:49] I think we are running out of time. But many of you have heard me speak before. You know my message, it’s still the same.


And it’s going to be the same for the coming years as well. So we don’t want to take up too much of your time. Thank you.

[Applause, crowd cheers]


[00:22:12] Hoe laat is het? Solidariteit!16

  1. Translation: Yes and at the march for the climate and for justice, we cannot remain silent about the humanitarian crises that are now manifesting themselves in various places around the world. ↩︎

  2. Translation: The landscape is super polarized, and that demands empathy and nuance. And that is why we are very grateful that the next speaker wants to come and speak to us. We assume that you will listen to her with respect and openness. Give her a warm welcome. She is a lawyer and she studied international law with a focus on human rights. She is the founder of Refugee Millennials and she won this year’s Pax peace prize: Sahar Shirzad! ↩︎

  3. Translation: Wow, wow, wow, so much energy! First of all, I would like to give a round of applause to all the children who are present here today. And I want to speak to you, children, directly. ↩︎

  4. Translation: You are the next generation. I want you to know that we all support you. We are future ancestors. We set the example. ↩︎

  5. Translation: I am Sahar Shirzad. And I also need you to give me strength, because it is not an easy task for me to stand here. I am standing here as an Afghan-Dutch woman and I have never given a speech at a climate march or to a climate movement before, because every time I have to reconcile my existence with a climate movement and Green Deals in which the arms industry still evades our laws and drops bombs in my country and that my country is in the hands of terrorists and that I cannot live in my country’s mountains! ↩︎

  6. Translation: So I need you to give me courage. I need courage, because this is not an easy stage to be on for an Afghan. There have been four earthquakes in my mother’s village. Two million Afghans are being pushed out of Pakistan right now, the largest deportation in history. People who have been there legally for more than forty years longer than Pakistan has existed. ↩︎

  7. Translation: It is not easy to stand here as an Afghan. But let me tell you something: it’s even harder to get on stage here as a Palestinian. ↩︎

  8. Translation: But until the arms industry, the Green Deal… ↩︎

  9. Translation: Yay, now we’re in favour! Yay, now it’s about the climate! Yay! [sarcastic tone] ↩︎

  10. Translation: Then I will now switch … Then I will now swith to English for our next speaker. ↩︎

  11. Translation: I get the commotion, but I actually can’t hear myself any more. We’ll move on to the next speaker. ↩︎

  12. Translation: Love your neighbour like yourself. ↩︎

  13. Translation: We are in this together. All of us! Regardless of colour. Regardless of origin. Vote for a party that is green and that is against war. And then I’m not talking about GroenLinks! And not about PvdA! ↩︎

  14. Translation: What is she thinking? Shame! Fuck off. ↩︎

  15. Turns out to be Erjan Dam from the organisation Water Natuurlijk. Thnx to @joene for investigations. ↩︎

  16. Translation: What time is it? Solidarity! (A worldplay on the Dutch words tijd, ‘time’, and solidariteit, ‘solidarity’, where aurally it sounds like the word solidariteit already contains in itself the word tijd.) ↩︎