Lützerath: Pinky and Brain give up – politics

The news comes around noon: Pinky and Brain have voluntarily left the self-dug tunnel in the village of Lützerath. “A thousand thanks for your life-threatening action against them Brown coal & capitalism,” says the Twitter channel Action sticker Lützerath. Pinky and Brain, whose real names are not known, had barricaded themselves in the tunnel for days in protest against the fact that the electricity supplier RWE wants to mine lignite under the settlement that was abandoned six years ago. The police had expelled the other demonstrators and squatters by Sunday, only the duo in the tunnel held out – and then gave up on Monday.

The negotiations with Pinky and Brain were not conducted by the police, but by RWE – supported by the Swiss consulting firm Schranner Negotiation Institute. Its founder Matthias Schranner was trained, among other things, by the FBI to negotiate with hostage-takers. The Technical Relief Agency and experts from the fire brigade were also involved, shared the Essen group with. In the end, the two activists “voluntarily ended their life-threatening situation after intensive discussions” and left the settlement. The action ticker Lützerath spread later, the two I’m fine. And: “Freedom for all political prisoners – even for those who are in prison because of Lützerath.” Which is not the case for Pinky and Brain.

The two later released a joint statement. It says: “The questions we’ve been asked most frequently (how we’re doing, what we’ve been doing down there, how we built the tunnel) are completely irrelevant and totally miss the point. The tunnel itself doesn’t matter, the more crucial question is why it was built and occupied.” In addition, the activists admit their defeat, but without completely resigning themselves. “This one fight is lost, but the fight for social justice must go on.”

The company did not want to force these last protesters out of the tunnel because it would have been dangerous for the duo and for the rescue workers. Instead, RWE secured the tunnel to prevent an accident. Among other things, the structure of a building above it was reinforced, the company reported. The car battery, which the activists used to drive a pump that supplied them with fresh air, was also recharged. Fortunately, the protesters dug the tunnel in stable loess soil, a spokesman said.

For RWE it was not the first experience with climate protection in tunnels. As early as 2012, an activist dug himself deep into the Hambach Forest to prevent the forest from being cleared for open-cast lignite mining.

The company is looking for duds

Around a hundred residents used to live in Lützerath, who were resettled by 2017 – mainly in Neu-Immerath, eight kilometers away. Most of the buildings have already been demolished, the rest is now following. Trees with their roots and pipes also have to go. Then the area is searched with metal detectors for duds from the Second World War. Only then will the two lignite excavators 258 and 261 start digging up the area. That could happen in March or April, a spokesman said.

First, the 65 and 70 meter high excavators will remove earth until they reach the first seam, i.e. a layer of lignite. It is transported away on conveyor belts and burned in the nearby RWE power plants in Neurath and Niederaussem. Since Lützerath is right on the edge of the Garzweiler opencast mine, the company does not have to install any new conveyor belts that the existing ones will do.

The end for Lützerath was sealed in October, as part of an agreement between RWE and the federal and state governments. According to this, the group will shut down the climate-damaging lignite-fired power plants as early as 2030 and not only in 2038, as originally planned. That is why RWE will leave more coal untouched in the ground in the Garzweiler opencast mine. But Lützerath still has to give way because the power plants should initially run at full speed so that Germany needs less of the scarce gas to generate electricity. And Lützerath is right on the edge of the mine; RWE can easily get to the coal. Nevertheless, some studies doubt that this lignite is really needed.

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