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A village to be evicted for coal – the defense of Luetzerath in Germany

Freedom provides a transcript of an interview on A-Radio Berlin with an activist of Radio Aalpunk from Luetzerath on January 7, 2023. The interview has been edited for clarity.

2023 arrived only a couple of days ago, and we already have to deal with the first eviction of a radical space in 2023, what a shitty start. Or maybe a powerful one because it’s not only one squat that is being evicted, but the whole village, in the coal mining area in the west of Germany, close to the Dutch border. We spoke with a media activist from Radio Aalpunk who can tell us more about the fight for Luetzerath.

What and where is Luetzerath and why is it being attacked by the police?

Luetzerath is a village next to a lignite mine in Germany, it’s next to the lignite mine Garzweiler II in Rhineland. Maybe people know this region from the protest at Hambach Forest which is next to another mine, which is in the same region, it’s one of the biggest lignite regions in Europe.

Luetzerath has been occupied by activists to prevent its destruction, for the expansion of the mine, for two years. It started as a civil protest, because the company that owns the mine RWE, wanted to destroy a road, and people from the region were against this, and started a vigil there. Then later people started to occupy the abandoned houses and started to build tree houses. Luetzerath is so important because it’s in a very strategic position and the government decided they will not destroy any more villages for the lignite mining apart from Luetzerath.

Luetzerath is located on top of a lot a lot of lignite and if it gets destroyed and the whole area around Luetzerath gets mined, then Germany will for not be able to reach its climate targets that it set in Paris. The amount of brown coal lignite under Luetzerath is more than the CO2 that the whole of Greece emits in a year so it’s a lot of CO2 and it’s important that Luetzerath stays so that this lignite stays in the ground.

Apart from this ecological fight that we have in Luetzerath, it has become a space where people live and live politically together. Luetzerath is explicitly an anarchist occupation where people try to live together according to anarchist values so it’s also a communal living experiment, so i would say it’s both this symbolic and also very concrete fight against lignite, but also this where we are living together and trying to build our utopian alternative way of living.

It’s getting attacked now because the green party signed an agreement with RWE, that they have to stop burning coal earlier, but that they can destroy Luetzerath to expand the mine. This is the typical bullshit ‘far in the future’ goals in the fight against climate change which doesn’t really help because we don’t have the time to wait more and more years.

So Luetzerath’s getting attacked by the cops because they want everyone out so they can tear down the village and then take everything away to get the lignite that’s under the the village.

I think getting attacked by the cops says it all. What’s happening now, maybe can you expand a bit on what just happened in the last couple of days?

So what happened, starting from the 2nd January, is that a lot of police arrived in Luetzerath and they have already started destroying the outer barricades of the village. They’re trying to set up the infrastructure that they need for the eviction and to be able to cut the village off to stop more people coming in. So they want to build this whole fence around Luetzerath.

I think what’s also happening is that it’s just a show of force, intimidation tactics, because there’s been some confrontation and they’re there in their riot gear and just showing their force and already trying to discourage people by just destroying stuff.

For a lot of people in Luetzeratht it was kind of clear that at some point there might be a confrontation with the police that will try to evict the village. Can you tell me a bit more maybe about how the people prepared for an eviction how are people planning to defend
their utopian place?

I think when it comes to preparation that’s always the obvious very visible part and then the less visible part. By the visible part, i mean everyone who comes to Luetzerath can see, we have some very beautiful barricades. There there’s been a lot of barricading going on a lot of getting your eviction food, getting enough glue and glitter, just getting all the material we need which is very important.

The more invisible part is also very important, and by this I mean the whole psychological preparation; we had talks where people shared their experience of previous evictions so we could psychologically prepare. We also need a whole communication strategy for this eviction, which has also been a lot of work, and in a way, the whole two years of living there has also been a preparation for eviction because you live together, you care for each other, you form strong connections, you make affinity groups, which are then the people you defend Luetzerath with.

When it comes to like how exactly we want to defend Luetzerath there’s not really one answer I can give to this. We realized that having a consensus about action level doesn’t really work because everyone kind of thinks different things are good strategies. We really want to promote diversity of tactics. We also want to defend by getting as many people as possible to Luetzerath; already there’s a lot of diversity in Luetzerath. We have pictures of people standing with a Christian cross and then linking arms with people in full black bloc, so we’re very open to different tactics. I think it’s up to everyone to make their autonomous decisions that fit with their morals and decide what they think is a a good way of doing action.

We do have some like camp-wide common practices; for example, identity refusal is something that we often see in the movements to take up police capacities but it’s not really anything you have to do it’s more something that’s often done and that you can get information about.

In the last years there were quite a few big evictions; Hamburg Forest when the police evicted the tree houses in the forest and also ZAD in France. What do you think is is going to happen in Luetzerath in the next days or weeks?

The timeline we kind of have right now is there is a legal protest registered in Luetzerath on the 9th so people should be able to come in until then. Then we think on the 14th of January the cops will start entering Luetzerath. I have to put a disclaimer here that this is based on information we have from the cops so I can also not guarantee that this is correct because as we know cops tend to lie.

The strategy we heard about is that they want to separate Luetzerath into different parts, so put fences between the different barriers. A barrier is basically just a smaller part of the occupation that kind of organizes itself and that the police then wants to put fences between, then part by part evict and then destroy the barrier. They will come with cherry pickers to try to get people out of the tree houses. The estimate is that this will take about four weeks but of course we will try to make it as long as possible and preferably we want to make it impossible to evict. I think that if we are enough people this might work we’ve done it before, if you look at the Hambach, there is still the forest, so i think i think there’s a chance that we can win if we’re enough people.

So you are part of an independent media collective, what’s your task or role in all this eviction struggle?

I’m part of Radio Aalpunk, which is the eviction radio team of Luetzerath. Our task, or the task of indie media/ independent media in general, is to show a more nuanced way of making news about Luetzerath, because we’re on the side of the activists. When you read the big media, they often focus on little details that they think funny, for example, when the newspapers talk about the Hambach Forest, they always talk about the fact that someone threw a bucket of shit on the cops. This is funny of course, but I would like independent media to talk more about why we do this fight; what do we fight for; why RWE is a shit company; why it is important to focus on the whole anarchist aspects of Luetzerath – this whole community we have there, and not only focus on a big scandal, like, someone threw a stone.

I think our task is double edged – we want to get the information out to as many people as possible and to the people who are in Luetzerath, give relevant updates about police movements. But also keep the people in the eviction entertained because eviction is either very boring or very stressful. You’re just sitting and waiting or you’re getting evicted. We want to offer people good night stories, or they can request songs, or they can request podcasts, so they have like nice things to listen to while they’re inside in an emotionally difficult situation.

For myself, what I would really like to do is get the love I have for Luetzerath and the love I felt inside of Luetzerath to the outside world. I want to support my friends who are in the eviction, and to also be able to transfer some of the beauty of Luetzerath so people also understand why people feel so strongly about this and why this is such an important fight.

So if people would want to support Luetzerath what can people still do and where can people find more information?

If you want to support Luetzerath first of all you can always come by. If you want to be in Luetzerath during eviction, we recommend to come before the 9th of January.

If being inside an eviction is, for whatever reason, too much the Luetzerath eviction is not only happening or being made possible inside of the village Luetzerath. In the village next to it, Keyenberg, there will be a backup camp and from there we will organize support for the people inside of Luetzerath. So you can always also come there and just help in the kitchen, for instance, because cutting carrots, so there’s food for everyone, is just as revolutionary as gluing yourself to your tree house. I think it’s very important to not make a hierarchy in this. So yeah, come support us in the backup camp if you think that being in Luetzerath is not the best for you.

We can also always use donations; money; eviction foods – just food that doesn’t go bad fast; batteries – because we don’t know how long there will be electricity; power banks; battery powered radios – I’m talking from the radio perspective. Also just nice things like chocolate – if you’re sitting in the cold in the rain it’s nice to have some chocolate.

Sharing messages about Luetzerath on social media is very important, there are a lot of very strong pictures out there – if they reach more people there can be a big impact. It’s important to inform as many people as possible about the fight going on so that’s something easy everyone can do from home.

If you want to find more information about Luetzerath we have the website where you find a lot of legal information, also what should you pack when you come to Luetzerath, and the links to all our social media channels.

For more information go and check the webpage

Also listen to Radio Aalpunk.

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