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Interview Limity, Code Rood and EGGE
Published in ak – analyse & kritik Nr. 639 vom 19.6.2018, www.akweb.de
Dora Heinamenn and Josef Patočka speak about the mobilisation of Ende Gelände Goes Europe to two actions in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
In 2018 the anti coal campaign Ende Gelände supports two mass actions of civil disobedience in Europe: Code Rood in the Netherlands and Limity Jsme My in the Czech Republic. Ende Gelände spoke with Dora Heinemann of Code Rood and Josef Patočka ofa Limity jsme about the collaboration between the groups.
Interview by Ilana Krause
Ende Gelände decided to mobilise to two European actions outside of Germany this year as part of “Ende Gelände Goes Europe”. What is the political motivation behind EGGE and why should German activists participate in those actions?
Dora Heinemann: Code Roode’s current struggle focuses on the region of Groningen. Even though the national adminstration claims to phase-out gas entirely until 2030 – due to public pressure – the struggle regards not only the gas extraction itself but also the struggle of the people living in Groningen. These people have been suffering from small scale earthquakes for years now. Some lost their houses and places where they grew up. They not only suffer the lost of their homes, but also through continuous stress and fear and many are not adequately compensated.
What are the demands of Code Rood?
Dora Heinemann: Code Rood requests that these people will be done justice and that the NAM (Shell/Exxon), the company responsible for gas extraction in the region, has to apologize and pays for violating these people’s rights and and causing damage the area. In October a new contract with NAM will be discussed that’s why we want to enhance the pressure on the negotiators with our action in August.
What kind of action are you planing?
Dora Heinemann: The action will be a sitting blockade on the streets leading to one of the gas deposits. Condensate or liquid gas is a side product of gas extraction and it is transported by trucks form the extraction site to the deposits. If this cant happen, then gas extraction has to stop. Further, CR pursues a sustainable society, not relying on fossil fuels. In 2017 we blocked the port of Amsterdam and we will continue our struggle against the fossil fuel industry – in the Netherlands and as a part of a global community. There will even be activists from Nigeria joining us in Groningen – an amazing feeling. We are very happy about the EGGE project, knowing that there’s such a strong support from such an inspiring group and we would like to invite everyone to join us in August. If we act alone, we’re a big wave. If we all act together, we’re a storm.
Josef Patočka: Czech Republic, along with Germany and Poland, belongs to this „coal heartland“ of Europe, where the great majority of all lignite mining takes place. The dirty coal industry, concentrated in the mining region of North Bohemia, is one of the greatest sources of Czech CO2 emissions, which are the fourth greatest among all EU countries. It has also caused the destruction of more than eighty different towns and villages. Our group has been founded in 2015 with the aim of stopping a looming decision to expand the mines, in which we have succeeded partly, stopping it where it would lead to more evictions of locals. But from the beginning, we knew that that‘s not enough. The climate crisis makes it imperative to phase out coal and stop the destruction it inflicts on people as soon, as possible. So what we are trying to do is to build a more bottom up, people-powered movement, that will stand up to it in concrete struggles.
What will happen next?
Josef Patočka: What we are dealing with now is an opportunity to get the oldest, dirtiest power plants to close down, if it is not privatised by rich coal company owners, who then get exceptions or permits to continue run them for decades to come. So this is a fight in which we hope to intervene, and in our analysis, that also requires to pushing a climate-justice narrative on the necessary exit from fossil economy to the center of the debate in society. Civil disobedience is a proven way for such a movements to operate and many of us were influenced a lot by participating in the mobilisation against coal in Germany. It obviously makes sense for us to cooperate with other such movements in the region. This solidarity gives us a lot of inspiration and strength – so we‘re looking forward very much to seeing German activists at our camp.
Code Rood and Limity Jsme My are inspired by Ende Gelände. What are the similarities and what are the differences between EG and those two actions?
Dora Heinemann: The structures are very similar to EG. Some working groups differ, but all in all, the organisational part is comparable. The main differences are that CR is focusing on gas extraction instead of coal, this is due to the geographical environment of CR, and that the people of the province are very welcoming towards us. Because they know that we want to support them in their struggle against the NAM. This is condition which facilitates the organisation of the entire camp planning process. The action strategy also differs, since we do not have a pit to occupy – but we will block the gas drilling and so, intervene in the extraction process. The movement is not as big as EG, since it was started only in 2016. Last Year (2017), CR started the first Action in the port of Amsterdam. It was the first mass action of civil disobedience in the Netherlands for 30 years!
Josef Patočka: I think that the Czech expedition to Ende Gelände in Lusatia in 2016 was a decisive moment for us to start thinking about organising a climate-camp in Czech Republic. It has greatly helped us to be able to draw on many experiences of the German movement. Also the form of action last year has thus been similar – hundred and fifty people in white overalls have occupied a pit, the largest action of ecological civil disobedience in years, something completely new for us. But important differences are in the political culture.
What are those differences?
Josef Patočka: The legacy of the state-socialist dictatorship, whose mindless obsession with growth and heavy industry has in fact created our coal-industry in the first place, generally makes it harder to pose a more comprehensive critique of the current society. There is strong anticommunism, also among the communities fighting coal today. So we are trying to be inclusive and facilitate a dialogue between different groups of people, and we purposefully refrain as a movement from some of the anticapitalist rhetoric and symbolic typical in the west. Personally for me, as a person from the radical left, this a fine line to walk on. But I know I can only effectively fight against fossil capital as a part of a wider movement, and I also have to make some concessions from theoretical purity in the interest of a common cause.
How can I participate, where can I get information and involved?
Dora Heinemann: In Germany you can approach local Ende Gelände groups. But also in Franc and in the UK local climate groups are mobilising to Code Rood. If you want to participate visit our website https://code-rood.org/index.php/en/get-involved/ or join the Newsletter.
Josef Patočka: Definitely from your nearest Ende Gelände group. Tthere are busses going from Berlin and Leipzig and a common cycling-tour from Dresden.Everyone who is interested in coming to the camp is welcome to join in, no matter if you want to attend workshops at the camp or if you have other plans. But also online at our website – limityjsmemy.cz. there is some basic info in German and English, and more will be added as the camp approaches (including the exact place in Northern Bohemia where it will take place).
Ilana Krause is active in Ende Gelände.
Dora Heinemann, active in Code Rood
Josef Patočka, from Brno, active in the “Limity jsme my” movement.”
Code Rode is a network in the Netherlands that successfully blocked the port of Amsterdam in 2017. From 24. of August to 31. of August 2018 there will be a climate camp in the region of Groningen. On the 28. of August there will be a big mass action of civil disobedience, on the day of the Groningen Ontzet. The focus lies on the huge injustices of gas extraction.
Limity Jsme My (we are the limits) is a grass roots movement that protests against reversing policies that limit coal mining in the Czech Republic. In 2017 Limity had organised the first climate camp.