What’s really happening at the anti-coal protests in Germany

German media claim that protesters are just a fringe group. But as our people on the ground report, people from all demographics are showing up… and they’re not happy

DiEM25 members joined the anti-coal protests in Germany in response to the government’s intention to plunder the small village of Lützerath.

Our people in attendance revealed what is really going on, contrary to German media and politicians who seek to demonise the environmental activists taking a stand against the mining campaign.

The village of Lützerath has become the centre of a hotly-contested battle between protesters and government forces in the last couple of weeks.

Despite chancellor Olaf Scholz‘s centre-left coalition, including the Green party, pledging to protect the environment when they came to power in 2021, quite the opposite is happening now.

The German government claims it now needs fossil fuels to ensure energy security due to the war in Ukraine. However, it does not seem to connect the dots that its own support for another endless war by increasing its defence spending is contributing to this energy crisis.

On top of this, the German media and government are engaged in misinformation campaigns used to demonise those protecting the environment, labelling these protesters with terms such as ‘extremists’ and ‘climate terrorists’, and claiming that the protests are ‘violent’.

Our members on the ground in Lützerath, Keyenberg, Erkelenz and the surrounding areas, however, tell a very different reality to what is being reported.

Protesters from all walks of life

Contrary to what the German media will have many believe, rather than a fringe group of trouble-making environmentalists, the protests were full of people from all walks of life and age groups, and were in excess of 10,000 people.

A DiEM25 member present at the protests noted that a German military officer picked up protesters from the train station in nearby Erkelenz and drove them to Keyenberg. The officer wanted people to know that people across society are bothered by the way the German government is handling the issue of climate change.

In Keyenberg, there was a positive yet serious atmosphere. A group of people created signs, while others played and sang songs, with many young people coming together to protest for something they believe in.

Shortly after, people gathered and started marching through the streets of Keyenberg. The streets were so full that many had to sit on walls. Flags of Die Linke (The Left), Die Grünen (The Greens), KPD (Communist Party) and LGBTQIA+ could be seen among the crowd.

Police blocked view of mining and beat protestors

Conservatives in Germany make the case against wind turbines due to the fact that they ‘disfigure the landscape’ yet the glimpse that our member on the scene caught of the open-cast mining was described as “frightening”.

As protesters looked to get a viewpoint, the police quickly intervened and blocked any access.

Far from a small protest described by some media outlets, there were tens of thousands in attendance, and they slowly headed to Lützerath.

Eager to silence the dissenters, police pulled out their batons upon their arrival. Anyone who got too close was beaten by the police. The sheer number of protesters forced the police to retreat and many were able to slip through their barricades.

Yet behind the second barricade of police was a series of water cannons, causing most people to head back after they saw them pulling up. Some who sought to leave the protest via a side route back to Keyenberg were beaten with batons and some were arrested, despite not threatening or provoking the police.

“It was really shocking to me that the police acts like a private army for this [mining] company,” said one DiEM25 member who attended the protest.

Coal in Lützerath not needed

This company referred to is RWE, the energy giant that plans to raze the settlement and dig up the coal that lies beneath the surface in Lützerath.

Yet, as our member indicates, there is no talk about the fact that RWE has been proven wrong when it comes to the need to dig for the coal under Lützerath.

The University of Flensburg, the Technical University of Berlin and the German Institute for Economic Research have proven that, even if there would be a rise in coal consumption in 2025, there would be no need for the coal in Lützerath.

Out of touch minister

Herbert Reul, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia said in an interview with the public broadcaster STRG_F that just “a few people” think they are saving the world by saving Lützerath.

Such a statement demonstrates how out of touch he is with the reality, and the climate justice movement in general.

Rather than just a few people, it was tens of thousands of protesters and hundreds of scientists who wrote an open letter calling for an end to the mining in Lützerath. Rather than “saving the world” it is a call to stop contributing to something that will have disastrous consequences on the country and the planet as a whole.

Photo: Lützi lebt/Unwisemonkeys CC BY-NC 2.0

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