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Detention on probation and fines for crane blockade

Mediaeval measures against road protestors 
  - Environmentalists imprisoned on remand after peaceful crane occupation against the "Waldautobahn" ("forest-motorway") in Thüringen, Germany, autumn 1997

Police starves out tree occupation 

The tree occupation 

Zella-Mehlis, Thüringen, 16.08.97, Saturday - about 50 road protestors occupy several beeches in "Schneidersgrund" in order to protest against the construction of the massively destructive and most expensive motorway in German history. With its 120 bridge- and tunnelconstructions, the project will cost 8 billion DM (about 2.7 billion pounds) and it will go straight through the "Thüringer Wald". The road protestors, known as "WaldpiratInnen" ("forest pirates"), are building several platforms, nets and walkways up to 30m between the occupied beeches. First of all they demand the stop of the work at the motorway and other major road-building projects.

Sunday, 17.08. - 14 people in the trees - the police begins to starve out the tree people. They cordon off the area around the trees and refuse any supplying with food and water.

Monday, 18.08. - in the evening two people leave the trees, report on circulatory problems and faintnesses of the protestors. Chief of the police Gerd Lang rejects all reproaches, pointing out that the people aged between 19 and 25 would be free to descend at any time.
  Tuesday, 19.08. - criticism of the police operation increases. 15 persons get arrested in handcuffs and kept in prison for several hours. They had tried to supply the tree people with food and water. The activists point to the ignorance of human rights and "mediaeval" methods of the police and condemned the deliberate endangering of the peaceful protestants lifes by the chief of the police. 

Wednesday- Friday, 20.-23.08. - the tree occupation and as well the siege of the police continues, with increasing danger for the road protestors. They manage to collect some rain water for drinking. 

Saturday, 24.08. - a special police unit evicts the last protestors from the trees. 

Members of the Green Party from Bavaria bring a charge against the police operation and announce further juridical measures. The "BUND Thüringen" (largest German environment federation, like FoE) condemns the police`s disproportionate proceeding against peaceful environmentalists. 

The crane occupation 

Tuesday, 26.08. around 6.00am- 9 road protestors occupy 3 cranes at the motorway construction site "Steintalbrücke" ,where the solemn start of building had already been accompanied by protests in November 1996. They manage to delay work for 6 1/2 hours. The contractors estimated the damage at 20.000 DM (about 6700 pounds). - When the police arrives, they arrest at once three people on the ground, who are there to negotiate with them. Chief of the police Gerd Lang, who has already made experiences at the "Startbahn West" in Frankfurt (huge protests ag. a runway expansion in the early 80es), says that a dialogue with the protestors is not wanted by the police and announces a violent eviction "if necessary": "We will do anything to cleanse the situation quickly." - a special police unit is brought in by helicopters, although the crane occupators had announced to climb down voluntarily after six hours. 

12.30 - protestors voluntarily leave the cranes - immediate arresting by the police 

Wednesday, 27.08. 
The police creates an example of the protestors: 
- 7 days prison for road protestors and environmentalists 
- 7 days in prison for non-violent protest 

Detention on probation and fines for crane blockade 


Birgit Henkel, member of of the "BUND Thüringen" (FoE) called the methods used by the police "dispropriate and mediaeval".

The demonstrators themselves judged this "in its sharpness unique action against peaceful protestors " as "an act of revenge by the responsibles", for the criticism that arose after the siege of the tree occupation. Apart from this it was meant to be an "exemplary operation in order to deter people from resisting in an effective way". They pointed to their democratic basic right to resist with non-violent civil disobedience against such destructive projects."

What you can do 

- The people in Thüringen could urgently need for solidarity actions and declarations of solidarity (e.g. German embassy, ...)

Urgently needed is money for solicitors and the trials !!! - Donations to: Alexandra Zimmer; "Rechtshilfe"; Raiffeisenbank Arnstadt; No.: 5732263; Blz.: 82064128

Protest by letter
Write to the Home Secratary of Thüringen, Richard Dewes; to the Chief of the police, Gerd Lang; and to the public prosecutory Meiningen (+ please one copy to the activists)

1) Thüringer Innenministerium (Minister of Interior)
Innenminister Richard Dewes, Tel.: 0361/3982335
Staatssekretär Dr. Krämer, Tel.: 0361/3982438
Schillerstr. 27, Psf 261, 99006 Erfurt

2) Polizeiinspektion Suhl (Chief of Police)
- Leiter: Herr Gerd Lang -
Bahnhofstr. 2
98527 Suhl
Tel.: 03681/320 oder 03681/422623

3) Staatsanwaltschaft Meiningen (public prosecutory Meiningen)
- Leitender Oberstaatsanwalt: Herr Trost -
Friedenssiedlung 14
98617 Meiningen
Tel.: 03693/4620
(Sachbearbeiterin: Frau Schienke)

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