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  • Call for support - mass protest and police violence in Stuttgart / Germany - please sign

    from JLauterbach on Oct 02, 2010 07:10 PM
    Call for support in the struggle against Stuttgart 21 – please circulate 
    widely
    
    
    Dear Friends,
    
    we, activists against “Stuttgart 21 (S21)” in Germany are asking for 
    your solidarity and support in our struggle to stop Europe's “largest 
    infrastructure-project”, to protect our city and to achieve true democracy.
    
    Two days ago, Thursday September 30th, the escalation began: a massive 
    police force - using water-canons, pepper spray and batons - pushed 
    aside over 10.000 peaceful protesters, who were trying to protect their 
    park and its trees with acts of civil disobedience, simply refusing to 
    get out of the way. The demonstration of state-power was shocking. Over 
    300 protesters were injured, some seriously, many of them 
    school-children, who had been participating in a students protest-march 
    officially scheduled for that day a long time in advance. Four people 
    had to have eye-surgery after being hit by the water-canon, one may 
    loose an eye. In the night the shredders moved in and began turning the 
    beautiful old trees into sawdust in front of thousands of shocked but, 
    strong and peaceful demonstrators. Yesterday, 100.000 (one hundred 
    thousand) demonstrated peacefully against this act of state violence – 
    the largest protest against S21 ever.
    
    Below we give some background-information on the project. But it is 
    important to consider that this struggle is not just about a railway 
    station in a German provincial-capital.
    It is about overcoming the arrogance of those in power, it is about 
    peoples voices being heard, it is about real democracy. And it will not 
    only affect people in Stuttgart or in Germany: if we stop Europe's 
    “largest project” in the centre of one of its most conservative and 
    economically powerful corners, we can change Europe from the bottom up!
    
    Please sign on the letter below (and attached) – asking for an end of 
    police-violence, a moratorium and to let the citizens of Stuttgart 
    decide – and send your signatures to
    johanneslauterbach@... and carol.bergin@...
    by Saturday 9th October.
    We will deliver the letter with the list of signatories to the local, 
    regional and federal government and also to the media.
    
    Please, also send messages of solidarity and support to the activists – 
    we will try to publish these and read them at the rallies
    
    In solidarity
    Johannes Lauterbach and Carol Bergin
    Colibri e.V.
    
    
    
    Background:
    
    The Stuttgart 21 project is advertised as part of the “Magistrale for 
    Europe”, a high-speed railway line from Paris/France to 
    Bratislava/Slovakia. As such, it is part of the neoliberal EU agenda, 
    which places infrastructure in the service of corporate interests above 
    the interests of local communities. It involves the building of an 
    entirely new railway station in the centre of Stuttgart, which will be 
    built deep underground as a drive-through station to replace the 19th 
    century terminus. To achieve this
    a large section of the city's central park with hundreds of beautiful 
    old trees will be destroyed
    one of the best working railway stations in Germany, with easy one-level 
    access to all trains, will be turned into a narrow tunnel, threatening 
    to become a bottle neck due to limitations in size of the tunnel and 
    forcing passengers to climb up and down long stairways
    parts of the railway building – a national heritage – are being 
    dismantled: this destruction has already started and roused the anger of 
    tens of thousands of citizens
    the tunnel is posing a potential threat to precious mineral-water 
    sources, which are located a few miles downhill
    a series of tunnels will be built into sensitive geological formations, 
    threatening the stability of Stuttgart's hillside, and likely going to 
    produce massive additional costs
    Estimates calculate the resulting gain in travel time at 1-2 minutes. 
    But then, this project offers huge real-estate deals and 
    billion-Euro-contracts for tunnel-building companies – which we now know 
    to have close ties to decision-makers.
    While billions of Euros (estimated costs officially are 4.1 billion, 
    critical sources estimate rather 10 billion) are lavished on this 
    prestige-project, urgent improvements in the local and regional railway 
    system – needed to help remove traffic from the roads to reduce 
    fuel-consumption and carbon-emissions – are being neglected in the name 
    of speeding up long distance-travel by a few minutes.
    
     From the early planning stages in the nineties, this project was 
    opposed by a growing citizens movement. A faked citizens-participation 
    was offered, in which the one issue not to be discussed was, if the 
    project should be built at all, or if there were any alternatives. 
    Demands for a referendum – backed by over 60.000 signatures (more than 
    10% of Stuttgart's population) – were denied by those in power. Opinion 
    polls show, that 54% of citizens are against the project (with only 35% 
    in favour). There were massive demonstrations, growing in numbers every 
    week. A new movement emerged: the “park-protectors” – who prepared 
    themselves for non-violent action with over 2.000 people having pledged 
    to chain themselves to the trees when the chainsaws move in.
    But building permissions were pushed through and this summer the 
    machines started to attack the old railway building.
    The authorities however, underestimated the peoples willingness to 
    resist. Immediately mass rallies with ten thousands of protesters took 
    place in addition to acts of peaceful civil disobedience, blocking the 
    streets for hours. Since July, people are guarding the park and the 
    building site around the clock, providing early warning. And an amazing 
    new culture has emerged in the centre of the city, with people holding 
    meetings in the park, sharing food and talk, joining in art-performances 
    and strangers having conversations in the public buses. With the state 
    now using massive police force against its own citizens this struggle 
    has reached a new dimension.
    
    article in English about S21:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/rail-plan-could-be-terminal-for-merkels-coalition-2047321.html
    
    further info (in German only):
    www.kopfbahnhof-21.de
    
    videos from protest:
    blockades and police-action 30.09.10: 
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=c17cIyO3S4Q&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    killing trees 01.10.10 early morning: 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goXwtSKJNqU
    Demonstration 01.10.2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZgogP5jCCY
    
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    Open letter / Offener Brief
    
    To / an
    Angela Merkel, chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
    Stefan Mappus, Minister-President of the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg
    Wolfgang Schuster, Mayor of Stuttgart
    
    We, active citizens, civil-society organisations and social movements 
    from all over the world are deeply concerned about the recent events in 
    the city of Stuttgart related to the controversies about the 
    infra-structure project „Stuttgart 21“.
    We are shocked to hear that, police used water-canons, pepper-spray and 
    batons against citizens engaging in peaceful acts of civil disobedience 
    on 30th September, injuring hundreds of people, including many 
    school-children.
    Germany has a reputation as a democratic country, which owes its 
    existence to active citizens taking to the streets in the face of state 
    oppression. We are very disturbed to hear that, in this country today 
    police-force is used against its own people to implement a highly 
    controversial project.
    
    Given that:
    - the Park “Mittlerer Schlossgarten” and its trees have a special place 
    in the heart of the people of Stuttgart
    - opinion polls show, that over 50% of citizens in Stuttgart and 
    Baden-Wuerttemberg are opposed to this project
    - there have been increasing numbers of reports giving evidence of 
    potential technical problems and uncertainties in costs, some of of 
    which have even reached international media attention (see article in 
    The Independent from 09th August 2010)
    - people already have been severely injured and any further enforcement 
    would result in an escalation
    we call upon you
    - to stop the use of police-force,
    - to put a moratorium on the project, and
    - to let the people of Stuttgart decide
    
    We would highly appreciate to see Germany setting an example in peaceful 
    and democratic conflict resolution, that is giving priority to the 
    concerns of citizens
    
    (Germans trans.)
    Wir, aktive Bürgerinnen und Bürger, Organisationen der Zivilgesellschaft 
    und soziale Bewegungen aus der ganzen Welt sind tief besorgt über die 
    jüngsten Ereignisse in Stuttgart bezüglich der Kontroversen um das 
    Infrastruktur-Projekt “Stuttgart 21”.
    Wir sind schockiert zu hören, daß die Polizei Wasserwerfer, 
    Pfeffer-Spray und Schlagstöcke gegen Bürgerinnen und Bürger einsetzte, 
    die friedlich zivilen Ungehorsam ausübten und dabei hunderte Personen 
    verletzte, darunter viele Schulkinder.
    Deutschland ist im Ruf eine Demokratie zu sein, deren Dasein aktiven 
    Bürgerinnen und Bürgern zu verdanken ist, die im Angesicht staatlicher 
    Unterdrückung auf die Straße gingen. Wir sind sehr verstört zu erfahren, 
    daß in diesem Land heute Polizeigewalt gegen die eigene Bevölkerung 
    eingesetzt wird, um ein hoch umstrittenes Projekt durchzusetzen.
    
    In Anbetracht, dass
    - der Park „Mittlerer Schlossgarten“ und seine Bäume der Stuttgarter 
    Bevölkerung ans Herz gewachsen sind
    - Meinungsumfragen zeigen, daß 54 % der Bürgerinnen und Bürger das 
    Projekt ablehnen
    - es eine zunehmende Anzahl von Berichten gibt, die auf mögliche 
    technische Schwierigkeiten und Kostenunsicherheiten hinweisen, über die 
    selbst in der internationalen Presse berichtet wird (s. The Independent 
    vom 09. August 2010)
    - bereits viele Menschen schwer verletzt wurden und eine weitere 
    Erzwingung nur zu einer Eskalation führen würde
    rufen wir Sie auf
    - den Einsatz von polizeilicher Gewalt zu beenden
    - ein Moratorium über das Projekt zu verhängen und
    - die Bevölkerung Stuttgarts selbst entscheiden zu lassen
    
    Wir würden es sehr begrüßen, wenn Deutschland ein Beispiel für eine 
    friedliche und demokratische Konfliktlösung geben würde, bei der die 
    Sorgen der Bevölkerung im Mittelpunkt stehen.