Wuppertal. Germany. Till Hermann Iseke, one of the managing directors of the family business “Limeworks Oetelshofen”, announced on January 31st in the TV show WDR Lokalzeit that he wants to “show an attitude” against forest squatters. He refers to the criminal charges filed by himself for trespassing. On the eviction day, day X, he could rely on his extremely well-equipped executive. The state also shows “attitude”. Now the judicial power will pass judgement on companions who have fought for the preservation of a forest area.
Iseke generously announced in the broadcast that he would “probably forego civil lawsuits. Accordingly, we cannot be sure about this. In addition, he made it a condition that everything must remain calm. A perfidious form of blackmail to hold those affected by repression liable for what might still happen.
It has never been assumed that criminal charges for trespassing will be dropped. Shortly before the eviction, it was ensured that charges would have a chance of success. On day X, the area to be evicted was first “pacified” by erecting fences under heavy police protection. After that, the squatters were asked by Iseke himself, to voluntarily give up and announced that in case of refusal, charges will be filed.
The police themselves say that the eviction was essentially peaceful. Nevertheless, according to WDR, they filed several charges of resistance to state power. This offense, which was made more severe a few years ago, has recently been interpreted more strictly. It now also includes actions and threats that in the past would hardly have led to a conviction.
In addition, the police law in the German state North Rhine-Westphalia was changed at the end of 2019. Instead of being released from detention for a maximum of 48 hours, detainees may now be held for up to a week in order to extort their identity. The procedure is that the police apply for extended custody and responsible judges decide whether to agree. The governing parties CDU and FDP are even planning to extend this to 28 days for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Unofficially, the new law is known as “Lex Hambi” because it was the state’s reaction to anti-lignite protests when activists kept their identities secret to the police.
In relation to X Day, 32 people were taken into custody. Despite the risk, a week-long imprisonment, some have chosen to use creative measures to make the identification service treatment, such as taking fingerprints, more difficult. The legal team of Osterholz lists fifteen people as UP (Unknown Persons). Seven of them had to spend some time in long-term custody. They were spread out to police stations in Dortmund, Essen, Gelsenkirchen and Cologne. Since January 28, 2022, all of them are released.
In addition to the determined attitude of the squatters, their chosen form of action also deserves respect and solidarity. They are the ones who, by creating a free space, have delayed the eviction in Osterholz for two and a half years and have therefore been particularly targeted by state repression. Already on June 12, 2021, participants of the “Osterholz Bleibt” (Osterholz stays) demonstration were taken into custody, whom the police apparently linked to the forest occupation. They are accused of having violated Corona requirements and the masking ban.
Now it is up to us not to leave those affected by repression alone with the high price of their commitment. For their defense, considerable financial funds are needed for court and lawyer fees. Several supporters who, according to the law, were in the forest illegally, will also be prosecuted.
The call for a rally in Berlin on February 2 was a good example of practical solidarity worthy of being copied. Information was provided about the repression cases, funds were collected and there was a silkscreen printing offer.
Let’s show together what we think of criminalization of people who have fought for the preservation of a forest. Those who wish can donate money to the donation account. It is to be feared that in the future money will also be needed for anti-repression work. Other parts of the Osterholz forest are threatened with deforestation. The protests will continue.
Money that won’t have to be used for anti-repression work for the Osterholz forest, of course, will be used for other solidarity campaigns.
Bank account: Spenden und Aktionen
IBAN: DE29 5139 0000 0092 8818 06
BIC: VB MH DE5FXXX
Name of the Bank: Volksbank Hessen