International Call for support in the struggle against Stuttgart 21

International Call for support in the struggle against Stuttgart 21 composed by Carol Bergin and Johannes Lauterbach of Colibri – please circulate widely!

Internationaler Aufruf!! Gegen Stuttgart 21!! Oben bleiben!!

Dear Friends,

we, activists against “Stuttgart 21 (S21)” in Germany are asking for
your solidarity and support in our struggle to stop Europe’s “largest
infrastructure-project”, to protect our city and to achieve true
democracy.

Two days ago, Thursday September 30th, the escalation began: a massive
police force – using water-canons, pepper spray and batons – pushed
aside over 10.000 peaceful protesters, who were trying to protect
their park and its trees with acts of civil disobedience by simply
refusing to get out of the way. The demonstration of state-power was
shocking. Over 300 protesters were injured, some seriously, many of
them school-children, who had been participating in a students
protest-march officially scheduled for that day a long time in
advance. Four people had to have eye-surgery after being hit by the
water-canon, one may lose an eye. In the night the shredders moved in
and began turning the beautiful old trees into sawdust in front of
thousands of shocked but, strong and peaceful demonstrators. Friday
night,100.000 (one hundred thousand) demonstrated peacefully against
this act of state violence – the largest protest against S21 ever.

Below we give some background-information on the project. But it is
important to consider that this struggle is not just about a railway
station in a German provincial-capital.
It is about overcoming the arrogance of those in power, it is about
peoples voices being heard, it is about real democracy. And it will
not only affect people in Stuttgart or in Germany: if we stop Europe’s
“largest project” in the centre of one of its most conservative and
economically powerful areas, we can change Europe from the bottom up!

Please sign on the letter below (and attached) – asking for an end of
police-violence, a moratorium and to let the citizens of Stuttgart
decide – and send your signatures to
johanneslauterbach@gmx.net and carol.bergin@gmx.net
by Saturday 9th October.
We will deliver the letter with the list of signatories to the local,
regional and federal government and also to the media.

Please, also send us messages of solidarity and support to the
activists – we will try to publish these and read them at the rallies

In solidarity
Johannes Lauterbach and Carol Bergin
Colibri e.V.

Background:

The Stuttgart 21 project is advertised as part of the “Magistrale for
Europe”, a high-speed railway line from Paris/France to
Bratislava/Slovakia. As such, it is part of the neoliberal EU agenda,
which places infrastructure in the service of corporate interests
above the interests of local communities. It involves the building of
an entirely new railway station in the centre of Stuttgart, which will
be built deep underground as a drive-through station to replace the
19th century terminus. To achieve this
a large section of the city’s central park with hundreds of beautiful
old trees will be destroyed
one of the best working railway stations in Germany, with easy
one-level access to all trains, will be turned into a narrow tunnel,
threatening to become a bottle neck due to limitations in size of the
tunnel and forcing passengers to climb up and down long stairways
parts of the railway building – a national heritage – are being
dismantled: this destruction has already started and roused the anger
of tens of thousands of citizens
the tunnel is posing a potential threat to precious mineral-water
sources, which are located a few miles downhill
a series of tunnels will be built into sensitive geological
formations, threatening the stability of Stuttgart’s hillside, and
likely going to produce massive additional costs
Estimates calculate the resulting gain in travel time at 1-2 minutes.
But then, this project offers huge real-estate deals and
billion-Euro-contracts for tunnel-building companies – which we now
know to have close ties to decision-makers.
While billions of Euros (estimated costs officially are 4.1 billion,
critical sources estimate rather 10 billion) are lavished on this
prestige-project, urgent improvements in the local and regional
railway system – needed to help remove traffic from the roads to
reduce fuel-consumption and carbon-emissions – are being neglected in
the name of speeding up long distance-travel by a few minutes.

From the early planning stages in the nineties, this project was
opposed by a growing citizens movement. A faked citizens-participation
was offered, in which the one issue not to be discussed was, if the
project should be built at all, or if there were any alternatives.
Demands for a referendum – backed by over 60.000 signatures (more than
10% of Stuttgart’s population) – were denied by those in power.
Opinion polls show, that 54% of citizens are against the project (with
only 35% in favour). There were massive demonstrations, growing in
numbers every week. A new movement emerged: the “park-protectors” –
who prepared themselves for non-violent action with over 2.000 people
having pledged to chain themselves to the trees when the chainsaws
move in.
But building permissions were pushed through and this summer the
machines started to attack the old railway building.
The authorities however, underestimated the peoples willingness to
resist. Immediately mass rallies with ten thousands of protesters took
place in addition to acts of peaceful civil disobedience, blocking the
streets for hours. Since July, people are guarding the park and the
building site around the clock, providing early warning. And an
amazing new culture has emerged in the centre of the city, with people
holding meetings in the park, sharing food and talk, joining in
art-performances and strangers having conversations in the public
buses. With the state now using massive police force against its own
citizens this struggle has reached a new dimension.

article in English about S21:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/rail-plan-could-be-terminal-for-merkels-coalition-2047321.html

further info (in German only):
www.kopfbahnhof-21.de

videos from protest: blockades and police-action 30.09.10:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=c17cIyO3S4Q&feature=youtube_gdata_player
killing trees 01.10.10 early morning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goXwtSKJNqU
Demonstration 01.10.2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZgogP5jCCY

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Open letter / Offener Brief

To / an
Angela Merkel, chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
Stefan Mappus, Minister-President of the federal state of
Baden-Wuerttemberg
Wolfgang Schuster, Mayor of Stuttgart

We, active citizens, civil-society organisations and social movements
from all over the world are deeply concerned about the recent events
in the city of Stuttgart related to the controversies about the
infra-structure project „Stuttgart 21“.
We are shocked to hear that, police used water-canons, pepper-spray
and batons against citizens engaging in peaceful acts of civil
disobedience on 30th September, injuring hundreds of people, including
many school-children.
Germany has a reputation as a democratic country, which owes its
existence to active citizens taking to the streets in the face of
state oppression. We are very disturbed to hear that, in this country
today police-force is used against its own people to implement a
highly controversial project.

Given that:
– the Park “Mittlerer Schlossgarten” and its trees have a special
place in the heart of the people of Stuttgart
– opinion polls show, that over 50% of citizens in Stuttgart and
Baden-Wuerttemberg are opposed to this project
– there have been increasing numbers of reports giving evidence of
potential technical problems and uncertainties in costs, some of of
which have even reached international media attention (see article in
The Independent from 09th August 2010)
– people already have been severely injured and any further
enforcement would result in an escalation
we call upon you
– to stop the use of police-force,
– to put a moratorium on the project, and
– to let the people of Stuttgart decide

We would highly appreciate to see Germany setting an example in
peaceful and democratic conflict resolution, that is giving priority
to the concerns of citizens

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Offener Brief auf Deutsch:

Wir, aktive Bürgerinnen und Bürger, Organisationen der Zivilgesellschaft und soziale Bewegungen aus der ganzen Welt sind tief besorgt über die jüngsten Ereignisse in Stuttgart bezüglich der Kontroversen um das Infrastruktur-Projekt “Stuttgart 21”.
Wir sind schockiert zu hören, daß die Polizei Wasserwerfer, Pfeffer-Spray und Schlagstöcke gegen Bürgerinnen und Bürger einsetzte, die friedlich zivilen Ungehorsam ausübten und dabei hunderte Personen verletzte, darunter viele Schulkinder.
Deutschland ist im Ruf eine Demokratie zu sein, deren Dasein aktiven Bürgerinnen und Bürgern zu verdanken ist, die im Angesicht staatlicher Unterdrückung auf die Straße gingen. Wir sind sehr verstört zu erfahren, daß in diesem Land heute Polizeigewalt gegen die eigene Bevölkerung eingesetzt wird, um ein hoch umstrittenes Projekt durchzusetzen.

In Anbetracht, dass
– der Park „Mittlerer Schlossgarten“ und seine Bäume der Stuttgarter Bevölkerung ans Herz gewachsen sind
– Meinungsumfragen zeigen, daß 54 % der Bürgerinnen und Bürger das Projekt ablehnen
– es eine zunehmende Anzahl von Berichten gibt, die auf mögliche technische Schwierigkeiten und Kostenunsicherheiten hinweisen, über die selbst in der internationalen Presse berichtet wird (s. The Independent vom 09. August 2010)
– bereits viele Menschen schwer verletzt wurden und eine weitere Erzwingung nur zu einer Eskalation führen würde
rufen wir Sie auf
– den Einsatz von polizeilicher Gewalt zu beenden
– ein Moratorium über das Projekt zu verhängen und
– die Bevölkerung Stuttgarts selbst entscheiden zu lassen

Wir würden es sehr begrüßen, wenn Deutschland ein Beispiel für eine friedliche und demokratische Konfliktlösung geben würde, bei der die Sorgen der Bevölkerung im Mittelpunkt stehen.

yours sincerely / Mit freundlichen Grüßen
(list of signatories / Liste der UnterzeichnerInnen)
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