Police start clearing anti-coal activist camp in Hambach Forest
Police in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) have started clearing the anti-coal activist camp in the embattled Hambach Forest, the Rheinische Post reports in a live blog. Police set up a perimeter around the forest and started moving into the camps where activists have held out for years to prevent the expansion of a nearby lignite mine. In what is described as “one of the biggest police operations in recent NRW history,” security forces began pulling people out of their self-made tree houses and removing barriers to vehicles that had been constructed throughout the forest, the newspaper says.
Local police said on Twitter that the tree houses had to be cleared due to “fire protection requirements,” and called on activists to cooperate with the security forces and leave the forest peacefully. Police said they would use “coercive measures” if need be, adding that “we don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
3/3— Polizei NRW AC (@Polizei_NRW_AC) September 13, 2018
Andernfalls werden die Baumhäuser im #HambacherForst durch die #Polizei #Aachen unter Einsatz von Zwangsmaßnahmen geräumt. Beachten Sie, dass aufgrund der Baumhöhen ein besonderes Gefahrenpotenzial für ALLE besteht! Wir möchten nicht, dass Menschen zu Schaden kommen.
Environmental organisation Greenpeace criticised the operation in a mailed statement. “The government of NRW makes itself complicit with [energy company] RWE’s dangerous strategy of escalation,” Greenpeace spokeswoman Gesche Jürgens said. “While the coal exit commission negotiates a compromise for a socially acceptable coal exit, the federal government looks on with hands in their pockets as RWE pours oil on a social conflict in Hambach Forest.” She called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to step in and halt the forest’s clearing until a compromise has been reached.
Read the live blog in German here.
See CLEW's Coal exit commission watch for background.