The lutzerath occupation becomes a test of endurance for the coal opponents.
Demolition excavator in Lutzerath – resistance crumbles. Wind and weather make the activists to create, the police is making rapid progress with the evacuation. But there is still resistance.
Emergency forces of the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) did not initially bring the activists out of their hiding place in a tunnel under the lignite mining town of Lutzerath on Friday night. The THW has finished the operation, said a police spokeswoman early Friday morning. When a new attempt will be made to get the activists out, initially remained unclear.
A police spokesman had previously stated you could not make eye contact with the individuals, but you could talk to them. On Thursday, it had become known that activists had apparently barricaded themselves in an underground passageway.
A spokeswoman for the group “Lutzerath lebt” said the people were a good four meters below the ground. The activists had been preparing for it and had actively decided on the action. “As soon as any heavy equipment moves here, as soon as demolition or cleanup work happens, it could be that the tunnel is in danger of collapsing and their lives are at risk,” she said. The tunnel action is one of many forms of protest that climate activists are using to obstruct the evacuation of Lutzerath.
According to a police spokesman, there should be no further evictions of houses or tree houses during the night. According to the report, however, the police will take action if activists – as in the tunnel action – have to be rescued from potentially dangerous positions. But that was not the case at first.
Although many Lutzerath defenders have already left voluntarily and police have partially evacuated houses and self-built settlements, activists continue to be on the site. “We are holding the place here for sure until the big demonstration on Saturday,” said a spokeswoman for “Lutzerath lebt”. “But even if Lutzerath, the village, goes away, we will still have the networking and the educational work that we have done here and that has connected us. We will move on and find new places of resistance.”
Numerous wooden huts and barricades of the activists were razed to the ground by excavators. The occupants usually let themselves be carried away without much resistance. Some were close to tears.
Also two symbolic houses of the former residents of Lutzerath were cleared. There, fireworks flew in the direction of the emergency forces, as a dpa reporter reported. One officer was slightly injured, according to police. On the political stage, the clearance of Lutzerath continues to test the Greens to the limit.
“The evacuation of the above-ground structures is largely completed,” Weinspach told WDR. “We have cleared almost all the houses but one. It is cleared the meadow, most of the tree houses have been cleared. In this respect there is not so much left over.”The problem is now the tunnels under the ground. “We don’t know how stable these underground ground structures are. We also don’t know what the air supply is like there,” Weinspach said. Special forces from RWE and Technisches Hilfswerk were now looking into “how the rescue can be carried out in a suitable manner”.
Protesters encircled on access road
The energy company RWE, which now owns Lutzerath and wants to extract the lignite under the village for power generation, built a massive fence around the entire village. This was to prevent the arrival of further demonstrators. Nevertheless, a demonstration procession set out from the neighboring village of Keyenberg on its way to Lutzerath. The police spoke of about 800 participants.
Some protesters were stopped and encircled by police, including climate activist Luisa Neubauer and Greenpeace executive Martin Kaiser. They were finally carried away by police officers. The protesters want to prevent the mining of coal under Lutzerath and warn of the consequences for the climate from burning coal.
Former farms cleared
On Thursday morning, the squatters had to give up the symbolic Duissern farm, which the owner, known as the “last farmer of Lutzerath,” had defended against expropriation until the very end. The building had become an iconic symbol of resistance to the Garzweiler open-pit lignite mine.
The eviction also began in a second building, the so-called Paulahof with a rainbow flag painted on its facade. As police advanced, smoke bombs and missiles flew toward officers. But attacks on police officers remain the exception, according to observers. By and large, the protest was nonviolent. Some activists had stuck themselves with glue in their wooden huts. Officials were able to quickly disperse them, however. Others chained themselves or concreted their arms to make eviction more difficult. “We have experience with lock-ons of all kinds,” said a police spokesman.
Even from the tree houses erected at heights of up to ten meters, occupants could be brought down by height rescuers without much resistance. Police officers then cut the tethers, causing tree houses to crash and break into many pieces, as a dpa reporter reported.
The stormy and rainy weather made life difficult for the activists. “We hope that the storm will not get any stronger,” said a spokeswoman for the initiative “Lutzerath lives”.
On Thursday evening, the eviction still continued in the darkness. “Objects that have been approached, we are still finishing work,” a police spokesman said. Activists who had cemented or chained themselves in place would also be freed despite the darkness. “In such cases, we have to provide assistance,” said the spokesman.
Activists occupy Green Party headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany
For the Greens, the evacuation is becoming more and more of a burden: both in the federal government and in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the party is part of the governing coalition and supports the expansion of the Garzweiler open pit lignite mine. In protest, some 30 activists occupied the party headquarters of the NRW Greens in Dusseldorf, a party spokesman confirmed. Party leadership stresses that in return, coal phase-out in NRW has been brought forward eight years to 2030.
On the sidelines of the operation, a civilian police vehicle went up in flames. “We are definitely assuming arson,” a spokesman said. The civilian emergency vehicle had been clearly recognizable as a police car by a blue light on the roof.