10 years of occupation of the Hambach Forest

Ten years ago, the Hambach Forest was occupied for the first time. The forest occupation continues to this day and has become a memorial for climate justice.

The occupation in Hambach Forest celebrates its tenth anniversary today. Until this anniversary, it was a long way with many evictions and ad hoc reoccupations. After the large-scale protests in September 2018 and the successful reoccupation, the forest was first spared from clearing by a moratorium and then the expansion of the open pit mine towards the forest was legally prevented by the coal phase-out law. Nonetheless, the forest occupation continues to this day, and has become a memorial for climate justice.

An activist from the occupation says: "Ten years of resistance are still far from enough. We have created a free space where we can show how utopias can be realized, a place of living together in resistance. As long as RWE's bucket wheels keep turning and the pumps keep taking groundwater away from the trees, we will remain active and here. The forest is far from being saved and neither is the climate!"

The press statement marking the 10th anniversary of the occupation includes the following:

“There is reason to celebrate the forest occupation in the Hambach Forest on April 14, 2022,
because on this day the forest has been occupied for exactly 10 years.

On April 14, 2012, a new phase in the anti-lignite resistance began. At a forest festival, with the participation of various people and groups, the first trees were occupied and tree houses were built.

It has been a long and arduous journey to this day. With a lot of repression from the state and a lot of violence from the police. With attempts to criminalize the entire protest movement. Since the beginning, there have been repeated evictions. But every eviction was always followed by a reoccupation, so it can rightly be said: The forest has been occupied for 10 years!

Why is the tenth anniversary of the forest occupation a reason to celebrate? Because we endured for so long, although there was no end in sight. Stamina and perseverance are celebrated here as well as the connections that have been made over the years. We want to reflect on what happens when people get together and become active together. But we don't want to forget, so also the memories of loss and pain are being remembered.

The fight goes on.

A fight for climate justice, for anti-fascism and for the future of coming generations, a fight against life-hostile corporations, against corrupt political institutions and against an outdated economic philosophy that exploits living beings.

The resistance in the Hambach Forest has always been more than just a local struggle. It is about dealing with the mechanisms of oppression and making visible the power relations of capitalism in patriarchy.

Even if it has become a bit quiet about the forest occupation, we are far from finished here. The Hambach Forest is far from being saved. The neighboring villages of Manheim and Morschenich continue to be destroyed and speculated by RWE.

As long as RWE is still pumping out groundwater here, the excavators continue to excavate in the opencast mine 50 m from the forest and RWE is considered the owner of forest and land, the fight is not over yet.

Whether the Hambach Forest or other (forest) occupations are a necessary means is beyond question. Because despite the increasing pressure from below, there does not seem to be a quick exit from fossil energy production in sight. Meanwhile, the EU classifies natural gas and nuclear energy as “green”.

The global injustices caused by colonialism have still not been corrected. Refugees from war, hunger, persecution and the consequences of climate change continue to die while fleeing, e.g. in the Mediterranean or vegetate in camps. The polluter states in the Global North continue to refuse to take responsibility.

It is therefore necessary and legitimate to protest in a variety of ways. And that's why the Hambacher Forest remains occupied!

As a place of resistance against coal and the prevailing (mis)conditions.

As a meeting place for people who are not willing to accept business as usual.

As a place of exchange with those who suffer from climate change, global injustice, patriarchal structures and post-colonialism.

As a free space to try out new ways of human coexistence.

We'll remain unevictable and here until something finally changes!”