Coal protests in Lützerath: activists hide in tunnels

As of: 01/12/2023 9:26 p.m

Above ground, Lützerath has almost been cleared – but tunnels in which activists have holed up have now been discovered. The displeasure of many activists is increasingly directed against the Greens: there have been actions against party offices in various cities.

Some squatters in the lignite village of Lützerath have entrenched themselves in tunnels under the village. “There are people in at least one of these underground floor structures who have to be rescued,” said Aachen Police Chief Dirk Weinspach. The situation for the activists is not without danger: “We don’t know how stable these underground soil structures are. We also don’t know how the air supply is there,” said Weinspach – at the moment the police can’t get to the activists. Special forces from the Federal Agency for Technical Relief and RWE now took care of getting them out.

The squatters had alerted the police to the tunnels themselves: they reported on the corridors on social networks and warned the police not to drive into the area with heavy equipment. “It is not foreseeable how long the evacuation of the underground soil structures will take. It will also be important to proceed very carefully and not take any risks,” said Weinspach.

Despite protests from climate activists, the evacuation of Lützerath is progressing

Rupert Wiederwald, WDR, daily news at 5:00 p.m., January 12, 2023

Clearance almost complete

Except for the tunnel, the clearance of the village is almost complete. “We have cleared almost all the houses except for one. The meadow has been cleared, most of the tree houses have been cleared. In this respect, there is not much left,” said Weinspach. However, he did not want to make a forecast as to how long the mission would last. That depends not least on how the clearing of the discovered tunnels turns out.

One of the most important buildings for the climate activists – the yard of the farmer Heukamp – was cleared early Thursday morning. The officials sawed a hole in the gate of the occupied farmstead and thus gained access to the centuries-old Duissener Hof, where a large yellow banner with the inscription “1.5°C means: Lützerath stays!” hangs.

The energy company RWE reacts quickly where it has already been cleared: huts, tree houses and a hall were demolished, trees were felled.

The poor weather made things difficult for both activists and emergency services: the temporary tree houses shook in the continuous rain and stormy gusts with wind speeds of up to 63 km/h.

Neubauer carried away by police

According to police estimates, around 800 people took part in a demo from the Keyenberg district in the direction of Lützerath in the afternoon. Some of them also tried to get closer to the opencast mine and left the registered demo route. A police spokesman said this was dangerous and had to be prevented.

Climate activist Luisa Neubauer also took part in a sit-in with about 100 other people. She was carried away by police officers. According to Neubauer, the police had previously used pepper spray against activists in isolated cases. A police spokesman said he could neither confirm nor rule out that.

In a live video on social networks, Neubauer explained that if the government violated the Paris Agreement, peaceful protest would be necessary. At a press conference, she said it was not about a symbol, but “about 280 million tons of CO2 under the village”. Neubauer also confirmed that the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was expected in Lützerath at the demonstration on Saturday. The police assume up to 6000 participants.

Attacks on Green offices

Many of the demonstrators criticize the Economics Minister Robert Habeck and the Greens in North Rhine-Westphalia for agreeing to the clearing of the settlement. About 30 people occupied the NRW party headquarters in Düsseldorf, as a party spokesman confirmed.

“We are calling for a moratorium to stop the senseless and dangerous clearance in the Rhenish lignite mining area,” said the “Bündnis Lützerath Unräumbar” in a statement. The squatters demanded to negotiate personally with NRW Energy Minister Mona Neubaur. The activists criticize the fact that Neubaur agreed to coal mining under Lützerath in order to be able to bring forward the coal phase-out in NRW by eight years to 2030.

During a spontaneous demonstration in Leipzig, stones were thrown into the windows of a Greens office, and the panes broke. In Aachen, too, the stones of a party office were thrown in. In Flensburg, activists occupied the district office – it is the constituency of Habeck.

The Berlin debate about the Lützerath evacuation

Kai Clement, ARD Berlin, January 11, 2023 5:33 p.m

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