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The Hambach Forest, near Cologne in Germany, is turning out to be a shining star in the fight against opencast coal mining. The forest used to cover over 50 square kilometres but large areas of this has been cleared to dig huge open cast pits, since the late '70s. The resulting enormous hole (33 square miles and 400+ feet deep and counting) has eaten up whole villages as well as most of the habitat of the rare Bechstein's bat, for example. Germany is continuing with opencast coal mining on a scale similar to the environment destroyers over in the US, since it decided to phase out nuclear in the wake of Fukishima.

A remaining part of the Forest was first occupied in April 2012 to resist the destruction. That occupation was evicted, over five days, by cops struggling to cope with Germany's first tunnel lock-on. But activists have repeatedly reoccupied sites in the area, using the usual protest site tactics like treehouses and tunnels. A site in the meadow is still running but at the end of March, the latest woodland site was evicted again, but this has not put off the dedicated treehuggers.

The mining company is RWE, part of the same psychopathic entity as n-power. They are using some of the world's largest diggers to extract lignite, a very low quality coal. Opencast mining destroys huge areas of land, endangers the health of local residents, and adds to carbon emissions.

The 26th April is the 28th anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. The campers explain: “We can­not se­pe­ra­te the strugg­les against Coal and Nu­cle­ar Power... It’s a com­mon re­sis­tan­ce against the de­struc­tion of na­tu­re and the on­go­ing grow­th wi­thout ques­tio­ning the re­sults. It’s a cri­ti­cism of ca­pi­ta­list thin­king, which just di­vi­des in re­sour­ces and ca­pi­tal. We can­not wait until the next big ca­ta­stro­phe opens the eyes of peop­le.”

Occupation Number 4 is already planned for the 26th April, with a march starting from the nearest station Buir, at 2pm then people taking to the trees en masse. If you are planning on being in Germany and were wondering quite how this will work, you might want to go to the skill sharing and planning camp from the 12th to the 25th, with the main organising meeting on the 13th. This camp is going to have a wide variety of theoretical and practical workshops, discussions and actions. Everyone is invited to participate, bringing your own skills and ideas to share. It's also about taking a step toward a world without hierarchy and discrimination, building instead on mutual aid and co-operation.

Of course the activists encourage people to come and join the occupation but also point out there's things to be fighting wherever you are.


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