In the end of september some people from all over Germany came together in Thüringen to fight for the Bettelmannsholz -a small forest which is the first one to be cut down for a new Motorway, the A71/A73 and a new ICE-Railway which shall go right through the forest of Thüringen, one of the last big forests here.
A 130m width pathway will destroy 11400000 m2 land, 160 bridges and tunnels will be built leaving 25 million m³ waste - to create the most expensive road scheme in the german history. At least 6 billion DM will be the cost for the motorway connecting Erfurt with Schweinfurt and Coburg.
Activists started to set up a tree-camp but were evicted on the third day by an SEK - a special anti-terrorist police unit. They got only 3 from 6 people down because their ladders were too short and their masked-up climbers were too scared! The others had to come down in the night because there was no place to sleep and no food up there.
Their reason for the eviction was our tree-house which was built without a permission by the police (!). The trees were reoccupied in a rainy night about two weeks later by a small group equipped with small nets and hammock slings, up 20 to 30 metres high in two 80 year old beeches. Police supervised the trees all the time, confiscating all climbing tat and tools they were able to get.
With about 50 policemen on the ground a 30 m wide corridor was cut through the Bettelmannsholz just next to the occupied trees for a construction-road.
At a day of action their work was stopped for 7 hours by two women who locked on to their machinery. Police reacted with an eviction of the ground camp and of th blockade in the afternoon, arresting people in hand- and feetcuffs.
The tree-people faced their second eviction a few days later. The policeclimbers again took a platform down but didnt manage to evict the 5 people who were locked on to the trees so they decided to steal blankets and food and wait for the cold night...
One stayed out of reach 30m high up in a tree watched by about 50 policemen who were not able to prevent a second activist from getting up in the early morning. They stood on the ground while the walkway was rebuilt and new nets spun up - but gave up their besiegment after a few days realising that their eviction was ineffective.
The third eviction followed soon and since then there was a massive police presence in the forest - day and night.
At a demonstration on the 17th of November with about 150 people, most of them very nice locals, the forest was surrounded by 200 Policemen with dogs.The days before watercannons and armoured wagons were seen in the area. - The police doesnt know how to react to this nonviolent protest and most of the time they went totally wrong with their reactions!
After the demonstration a pastor managed to make a god-service around one of the beech trees. During that, again people tried to get up the tree - the police went in, pushing and pulling people around and breaking the arm of one of the protesters (while twisting it !) - He is sueing them for an assault.
More than 50 policemen were in the forest day and night with "Dixie"-toilets, a tent and a lot of very strong lights.
The clearance for the rest was awaited on the 20th of november because of a trial and despite all the police 3 people managed to get up trees again. They got down later, because the end of the trial was moved to the 27th.
Wednesday morning at 4.00am four people managed to climb trees in the "Bettelmannsholz" despite 50-60 cops in the wood. The workers later moved their fence to tell the press the were off route. About 30 protesters gathered to await the end of the trial (it was lost).
Clearance work started at mid-day. We were totally outnumbered by police with about 100 of them. While the trees fell, 8 people got arrested while trying to get to the chainsaws. A woman made it to the digger and locked on but was cut off after a few minutes.
The policemen were very agressive and there were some injuries (nothing
REALLY big). They sized photos being made. Two people came down after the
day but two stayed up in the nets. It's snowing and freezing here, but they
were allowed to get blankets and food.
No one of us is allowed to get anywhere near the forest (No chance) and a policecar is glued to the tail of our van.
On friday the last two people came down. They cleared the trees until late at night with strong electric lights. It will be finished now - we could have done better with some more people!
Protest against this road is growing, especially more in the south of this route - in Schweinfurt was an argumentation with 10.000 objections! The companies are building like mad but a lot of mistakes were made in the planning and the whole road is very controversial - and money is rare !!!
At the moment we are waiting to get our seized stuff back (worth about 4000 Pounds - 20 Harnesses, Rope, Wood,...)- Then we'll have tat for more than one new tree-camp. In spring ...
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