Amnesty International says a sexually suggestive image of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg that spurred outrage last month raises wider human rights concerns. Thunberg is shown attending a rally at the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)

Amnesty International raises Greta sticker in letter to Trudeau, premiers

Secretary general decries ‘troubling pattern of … attacks against human rights defenders’

Amnesty International says a sexually suggestive decal appearing to show teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg raises wider human rights concerns.

The secretary general of the group’s Canadian arm mentions the decal in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all premiers ahead of this week’s first ministers’ meeting in Ottawa.

Alex Neve says he wants Canada’s political leaders to commit to protecting human rights defenders, particularly women and Indigenous people.

Alberta’s premier, provincial cabinet ministers and members of the House of Commons have all panned the image on a sticker bearing the logo of Alberta company X-Site Energy Services.

The RCMP has called the decal distasteful but determined that it does not constitute a criminal offence, and X-Site has promised to do better.

ALSO READ: Albertans react to explicit decal of energy company logo, girl resembling Greta Thunberg

Neve writes that those responses can in no way be the end of the matter and urged the Alberta government to take further steps to investigate.

Neve had sent another letter to Kenney in September flagging human rights concerns about the government’s inquiry into the funding of environmental groups and war room challenging oil and gas industry critics. In it, he urged the Alberta government to hold industry players accountable for their human rights responsibilities.

“This is an important opportunity to do so,” Neve wrote in the March 5 letter to the prime minister and premiers.

But Neve said concerns the sticker has brought to light are not limited to Alberta, Thunberg, X-Site or the oil and gas industry.

“This is in fact reflective of a deeply troubling pattern of increasing levels of threats and attacks against human rights defenders worldwide … The nature and levels of threats and attacks against women and Indigenous human rights defenders is particularly disturbing.”

ALSO READ: Greta Thunberg hitches low-carbon ride across Atlantic

The sticker stirred global outrage when an image of it began circulating online last month. At the time, Thunberg said it showed critics of tougher climate action are becoming desperate. Former U.S. secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told CNN she was “appalled” by it.

Alberta’s minister for the status of women, Leela Aheer, also called the graphic “completely deplorable, unacceptable and degrading” and Premier Jason Kenney called it “odious.”

When asked Wednesday about Neve’s latest letter, Kenney’s spokeswoman Christine Myatt said: “The premier and other members of the government denounced the sticker at the time.

“The government is preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic and related economic consequences for our province.”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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