In press reports we lately read and hear quite often of violent riots in the Hambach Forest. Often they refer to attacks against RWE employees.
But how much truth is really in these allegations?
What are the backgrounds?
I want to try to clarify a couple of things of which often is given a false impression:
- We never intended to harm any employees of RWE personally, or to intimidate them in order to achieve our goals. That would be a very dubious strategy.
- In case of brawls it is always about security guards of RWE, who attack us! And certainly not about peaceful workers. This difference is usually concealed. (The exception was a tussle that emanated from the boss of a company, after activists climbed on one of his wheel loaders. Other exceptions may have happened, but I do not know any.)
The security guards are employed by RWE to prevent us by force from carrying out actions against RWE. But never these actions intend to hurt anyone, just to disrupt the functioning of the progressive extraction.
- The balance taken of the violent clashes speaks for itself.
On our side, there were during the last three years broken noses, knocked out teeth and broken fingers. Injured were put into custody and they did not get a medical treatment (e.g. after someone was struck by a security jeep).
To enforce “cooperation” in taking fingerprints, police officers threatened the activists – who usually only were involved in passive blockades – to break their fingers and arms. In addition, again and again are applied pain compliance, strokes and armlocks like the hammerlock. At least once an activist was knocked out at the police station to get his fingerprints, although a concrete accusation against him did not exist. Others were tied overnight to their bed in the police cell.
There are no known cases in which RWE security guards or police officers had to experience similar violence from activists as it occurs vice versa all the time.
I do not want to depict ourselves as victims. In most cases, we know what we were getting into. It is more about acknowledging, that many of us are paying a high price.
- Publicly known cases in which police lied, do not prevent the press to take their information unchecked.
In most cases, the press (KStA, Express, WDR, RTL) only takes the press releases from RWE or the police, who for their part takes unchecked information from the RWE security service. Our press releases are often simply ignored.
Rectifications by us are also rarely published, let alone inquired.
Here is an example: during the tunnel eviction in 2012, the police press officer stated that the activist in the tunnel had kicked over supporting pillars and so brought in mortal danger the “helping” forces and himself. Later the police had to take that back. But the image of a “madman in the tunnel” stuck in the public perception.
- It is true that the situation is escalating increasingly. Neither the police nor RWE with its security guards, nor the resistance as a whole are free of violence. However, we on our part are trying to protect the forest from deforestation – and by doing so some have to defend themselves against armed guards or police. But they use violence to secure the further destruction of the forest, the region and the climate. Of course it would be nice to be able to stop this superiority in a merely peaceful way. Most of our activities are concentrated indeed on a careful coexistence.
But when we face the police and security guards in the forest, then the RWE message is: “Don’t stop our destruction, else our minions will beat you up!”
But we can not let them just go ahead, because we want to leave this planet still livable for our children and grandchildren!
I suppose that on the part of the police this escalation is even wanted. Because if they can not make us keeping still, they at least can try to mask the political nature of the resistance with stereotypes. Pictures of fanatical, violence seeking idiots without serious motivations.
If the media can not report of violence, they mostly ignore us. Either way they ignore what is at stake in this struggle.
Namely to prevent the violence which is already manifest. Worldwide e.g. in droughts, wars and refugees, in this region in expropriations, diseases caused by the dust, broken families etc.
This violence is so much bigger than anything being discussed here! RWE is one of the many violent criminals in the world.
But they are here. And we are here. So we must try to stop them.
A discussion on the proportionality of the methods is always important. But we never should lose sight of what is at stake and of what is the price of our inaction, even if we are not the ones who have to pay for it.
An individual who has spent much time in the Hambach Forest.
Further critical voices about (non)violence in German:
Anti-Atom-Aktuell – Wir stehen dazu – Militanz
Schattenblick – Die Doktrin Mahatma Gandhis im Diskurs sozialer Bewegungen
Glasscheiben und Gitterstaebe … (ein älterer Artikel den ich auf dem Blog gefunden habe)