Call for support - mass protest and police violence in Stuttgart / Germany - please signfrom 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.