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(en) [Germany] Press Release, Tragic death in the Hambach forest By ANA (de, pt) [machine translation]

Date Sat, 29 Sep 2018 09:54:29 +0300

On Wednesday afternoon around 15.45, movement journalist, blogger and activist Steffen Horst Meyn died in the village of houses built on the top of Beechtown trees in the Hambach Forest. He fell when trying to document an ongoing eviction action by the Special Police Forces (SEK), from a suspension bridge about 20 meters high. The rescue workers tried to resuscitate him. But according to our information, in spite of everything, he died a little later, still in the forest, in a rescue helicopter. ---- We are moved and stunned by this tragic event. We deeply sympathize with the family and friends of the deceased and hope that they will have the privacy and peace they need in this situation. Also to many of us he was a friend whose loss is difficult to understand. Especially the people in Beechtown who, after weeks of stress due to eviction, now have to experience this terrible accident, we wish them much strength and peace.

With all the information we could gather at the Hambach Forest press office so far, this was clearly a tragic accident.

In our view, it would be a worthy agreement if all parties involved had a low profile for the time being. Today, on the other hand, as a reaction, the Interior Ministry and the police have required the voluntary removal of houses in the trees. In this situation, we consider that it is a strategic use of absolutely inappropriate death.

In the communication on the occupation, and now also on the accident, the government of North Rhine-Westphalia and the police resort to false reports. In fact, we wish we had not yet spoken at the political level about the accident. Unfortunately, after the spread of lies and the disrespectful attempt to manipulate Steffen's tragic death, we are now forced to make some corrections.

1. At the time of the accident, police and evacuation forces were in action in Beechtown. Attached here is a video and photographic material ( https://bit.ly/2xyVOy5 ). It is incomprehensible to us how the police can assert otherwise.

2. In six years of almost uninterrupted occupation of tree houses, this is the first and only comparable case. For six and a half years the treetops were inhabited, people came up and down every day and moved among the trees without a comparable case to this point. Now the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the police and RWE are trying to exploit this tragic accident to justify the alleged need for this violent eviction, we consider it unworthy and a mockery to those affected.

3. The question that accompanies us all these days is: 'Why?'. For weeks, the Hambach Forest was harassed to reach the underlying lignite. It is no coincidence, in our opinion, that this first fatal accident in the history of the occupation occurred at this time, during the eviction.

Everyone in the occupation stood for several weeks under constant stress due to the eviction campaign, which was launched at a crazy pace. Constant noise of forest clearing and cleaning, daytime and nighttime projectors and flashing blue lights, massive police presence on the ground, ultrasound with barking dogs and recordings of chainsaw noises, as well as information on the threatening and violent attitude of the Special Forces of the Police which undoubtedly leave physical and mental traces on all involved. Insomnia, stress and over stimulation are poisonous to the attention and tranquility essential for safe climbing of trees.

According to our information, there is no direct connection with the serious police action at the time of the accident. But we know firsthand that the deceased just climbed the trees because the police prevented him permanently from doing his press work on the ground.

" After the press has often been restricted in its work during the last days in the forest of Hambach, I am now 25 meters from Beechtown to document the evacuation work. There is no barrier range here that prevents me . " ( https://bit.ly/2MPh6NB )

The federal government of North Rhine-Westphalia, the police and RWE should also breathe deeply these days and reflect. The attempt to blame alleged security deficiencies on constructions is clearly a strategy in this situation and we consider it absolutely inappropriate.

What we need now is peace for the necessary duel. It is not enough to suspend expulsions until further notice. The night after the crash, Beechtown was still lit with a system of spotlights and the sound of dogs barking. The forest is still full of police forces, which we have only experienced from aggressions in the last weeks and years. Lifting platforms, eviction tanks, water cannons and chainsaws are still in the woods and await their use. This is not a considered break.

What is needed now is an immediate withdrawal from the police units and an interruption in expulsions and cutting[of trees]. The forest and people need rest to assimilate this accident. In addition, the police should fundamentally reconsider its strategy of implementing this crazy pace of eviction.

There have been too many incidents in recent weeks that have put the health and lives of activists at risk. Freedom of the press was massively restricted throughout the operation. Relevant safety material such as climbing ropes, climbing harness and fire extinguishers have been systematically seized or destroyed in large quantities. And the people in the trees expected a mental, emotional, and physical burden for this massive presence that is unreasonable for a safe climb or for processing a death.

All this has to stop. Therefore, we demand an immediate total cancellation of the operation and the release of all prisoners.

Mr. Weinspach and Mr. Reul: Let us cry in peace.

Source: https://hambachforest.org/blog/2018/09/20/press-release-09-20-2018-tragic-death-in-hambach-forest/

Translation> Sol de Abril

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