Just to remind you about our new newsletter schedule, although not as regular as some years ago, we will have 2 newsletters each year. One in the spring that shares announced days of action for the summer; and one in the winter that shares a bit more content. We hope you enjoy the updates and feel free to send us ideas and content for upcoming newsletters. We’ve been reflecting a lot on what it means to be a network and how we can harness our collective power in exciting ways. So there’s an input from the Network Working Group here to help us all start visioning:) In 2015, Eyfa has been active in anti-fracking and therefore this newsletter will go a bit deeper into this content and how it connects to the wider antiextractivist movement. Thus, we’ll also share a report from Ende Gelände, this year’s big action of civil disobedience that shed light on hypocritical German greenwashing, and one from Rosia Montana, which gives us (maybe) cause to celebrate.
1 –> What’s Eyfa up to?
- Network Working Group
2 –> Anti-Extraction Struggles
- Basque Country
3 –> Anti-Coal Mining Struggle Report: Ende Gelände in Germany
4 –> Anti-Gold Mining Struggle Report: Update from Rosia Montana
What’s Eyfa up to?
Greetings from the dark and stormy underbelly of hipster paradise. We have a new phone number, so change your address books/contacts: +4915218178934
Eyfa is just back from an annual network/strategy meeting – coinciding with COP21 mobilizations in Paris. There was so much to be discussed – particularly how the changing political landscapes in fortress europe demand our solidarity to be expressed somehow wider and clearer. Clearly, we also emerged from the meeting with an articulated desire to clarify what we can be for each other as a network.
Eyfa Network Working Group
Some of us involved in the EYFA ‘network’ met in early December to exchange, strategize, and come up with plans for the future. One of the things that came out of the meeting was a feeling that although a lot of amazing relationships and collaborations have already grown out of EYFA projects, we want to further strengthen our abilities to work together in ways that don’t always have to rely on the EYFA office as a central hub.
A few people invited felt the process by which it had been decided they were a part of the EYFA network and invited to the meeting, while others were not, was a bit mysterious to them. By defining the network more clearly and creating the possibility for people to actively choose if they want to be a part of it, some people suggested they would feel more investment in collaborations and that this might also help break down some of the internal hierarchies in the network. So some of us at the meeting proposed trying to more actively define the so-called ‘network’ in order to get a bit more clarity on who is or wants to be a part of it. There are a lot of groups that have worked with EYFA over the years and we see this as an opportunity to strengthen our resistance by finding new ways of collaborating and mutually supporting each other.
During the meeting a network working group was formed which suggested that in order to decentralize our work and define more clearly our network, there was a need to define the shared principles that make us want to work together, and to get a better picture of which groups feel excited to work together, what our strategic visions are and to think organizationally about how we can imagine working together and better coordinating our resistance. For that reason we wrote down a few questions we wanted to pose to groups who have been involved with EYFA in some way over the years (or who the network sees a possibility of working with) in order to gauge whether the idea of defining more transparently as a network or at least of finding new ways of collaborating with each other is something other people are into, too.
Do you consider having a broader network as something politically useful to you?
Do you have a wish for more clarity in terms of what the EYFA network is or could be?
What would be your vision of a network?
**Contact us so we can put you in touch with the Working Group, in case you’re up for offering some feedback. Your opinion and input would be really helpful at this stage.
Also, It would be really cool if we found a way to utilize this very newsletter as a part of this network building/strengthening. So please write to us using this contact form or via email if you’d like to take part in the newsletter process, whether it be writing or just coming up with content proposals.
Until then, we want to take this moment to assess and express two important (not new) project practices (in order to work towards wider network consensus on them):
As a network, we stand in solidarity with many grassroots groups against the expansion of the aviation industry. Short-haul flying is the most environmentally detrimental form of transport, yet enjoys many excessive government subsidies. The ‘cheap’ prices for airline tickets continue to hurt other ground transportation alternatives and surely fail to take into account the environmental impact of inordinate noise pollution or of the millions of liters of jetfuel used daily. Not only is the marketing of the aviation industry all too often expressing exotifying and neocolonialist messages, but they feed into a disturbing pro-capitalist logic linking consumerism and escapism. The reappropriation of the people’s land for the use of the ‘developers’ represents further the destructive neoliberal logic of infinite growth, with the ongoing resistance in La ZAD showing how we can alternatively go about seeding and building a future without an aeroport with diversity and cohesion.
While we cannot practically support an all-out boycott, as we do not want to exclude comrades located greater distances away, for eyfa projects, short-haul flights inside europe are to be avoided when at all possible.
Compare environmental impacts of different modes of transport with this online toy
**veganism means… an intersectional struggle for justice. Because as long as cages exist, none of us will ever be free**
As activists concerned with environmental and social justice, we want to destroy all the cages for multiple reasons. Western meat-based diets are taking up too much space. Because of the demand for animal feed and the large amount of fresh water required in the industrial production of animal products, meat-based diets in the West use four and half times more land than what is necessary for a vegan diet. This land is often deforested or reappropriated from land that produced grains for human consumption in the global South. Let’s demand climate justic – now. Furthermore, we stand in solidarity with animal liberation and refuse to accept the commodification and abuse of animal’s bodies by corporate exploitation. Let’s smash speciesism – now!
Therefore, cooking vegan meals together or consuming plant-based snacks at an action training together are such simple and exciting ways to express a clear anti-oppressive and liberatory stance. And, yes, there are of course many ways that elements of vegan diets can also be problematic. But we want to continue to orient ourselves towards autonomy, and to work towards liberating ourselves from the misogynist-capitalist paradigm that animals exist merely for human consumption. For this reason, please note that EYFA chooses to support vegan kitchen projects and to offer only vegan food at our events.
- Please send tasty recipes for vegan people’s kitchens (aka cooking for mass mobilizations or big gatherings). We want to share them on skillsharing[dot]net !
- Vegan cookbook pdfs
- Knowledge to share about creepy food additives
- Prison support for vegans
Yeah, it seems that ‘fracking’ is a sexy word that can garner quite a bit of media attention. And maybe that was a key factor that aided in the mobilization this summer for the anti-fracking international camp “Frackanpada” in the Basque Country. And it was also evident that the anti-extractivist movement feels confident in utilizing this buzzword to strengthen its wider resistance movement. We certainly felt the momentum of several recent victories, sending shockwaves through Europe’s fracking industry, at the week-long Frackanpada in July. For example, while we were putting up the tents, preparing for the camp to begin, we received word that the government in the Netherlands declared that they will not renew drilling permits – effectively stopping all fracking activity for the next five years. A few more updates to follow:
- Basque Country
Just one week before we were set to mobilize for an action camp on an important proposed drilling site, the Basque Country passed their fracking ban. The legislation was originally drafted as a citizen’s legislative initiative with the support of 103,000 signatures and is, thus, a collective victory to be celebrated. However, the timing was likely intentional and somehow disrupted the way in which the camp could have served as a rallying point for radical land occupations and such resistance struggles.
Yet as the slogan of the camp was ‘No fracking, here or anywhere’ local activists are moving on in solidarity to support the anti-fracking struggles in the nearby regions of Burgos and Cantabria. “Taking collective action is the only way we can confront the fossil fuel industry to protect our water, air, communities and climate from this destructive technology.” – according to Fracking Ez, whom you can contact for more information about the anti-fracking movement in the region. You can also see a map of locations where permission for drilling or exploration has been granted here.
Frackanpada hosted several activists from Reclaim the Power, who shared a bunch of battle stories. Through persistant direct action and thorough grassroots mobilizations, they’ve been able to push back against some of the more prominent fracking endeavors in the region. On 29 June 2015, Lancashire denied permission for the most important fracking test drills to date in the UK. But keep an eye out for Cuadrilla Resources, the oil and gas extraction company that suffered this denial and much recent controversy, as they might very well seek more permissions outside the UK.
Journalists keep the frackers in check in the UK via this platform.
Reclaim the Power posts about the latest actions and mobilizations against the frackers and other oppressive corporate landgrabs here.
In recent decades, the Turkish government has taken to wielding water management as a form of political control in the areas of Kurdistan that it attempts to keep under oppressive state rule. Through several large dam projects on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the Turkish government has been flooding villages, supporting the imposition of large-scale, industrial agriculture, and pushing hundreds of thousands of Kurdish people out of their villages and into overcrowded cities. More recently, Kurdish ecology activists have discovered that these dam projects are linked to the marketization of fracking in the region. Further land dispossession and contamination will undoubtedly ensue, and in anticipation of Kurdish resistance, the Turkish government has set up large, military-style fortresses near the dams. Activists believe these sites would likely also serve as “secure” facilities for fracking refineries and for storing trucks and equipment. For more information, check out this article and/or contact the Mesopotamia Ecology Movement.
Any localized attempts at finding responsible or sustainable energy solutions in Ukraine are inevitably thwarted by the neo-colonial interference of international banks, mainly with their investments into dirty energy monopolies owned by Ukrainian oligarchs. And one particular oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov, continues to buy up state-owned coal mines, with the support of his corporate friends, Deutsche Bank, Uni Credit Bank, and ING Bank. With over 300,000 hectares of forests and fields destroyed during the War in Donbass and the wider Russian invasion, this Western bank-sponsored Coaligarchy has become only a tiny blip in the wider destruction. Exploitative companies like Shell greedily brush aside the rubble and are currently seeking permissions to frack in Kharkiv oblast, which neighbors war-torn Donbass.
Anti-Coal Extraction Struggle Report: Successful Mass Action in the Rhineland’s Browncoal Fields (germany)
In an announced mass action this August, 1500 people entered the Coalmine „Garzweiler“ in germany. In the heart of europe’s biggest CO²-Emitting area, climate justice activists from all over europe prevented the energy corporation RWE from carrying on with its mining for a whole day.
Friday evening, more than a thousand people sat in their affinity groups, spread all over the Climate Camp to make final preperations for the mass action the upcoming day. For almost half a year, the alliance „Ende Gelände!“, consisting of a large number of grassroot groups, different NGO’s, and leftist networks, had announced entering one of the three active opencast mines of the Rhineland’s browncoal (aka lignite) fields on the 15th of August in order to stop the company RWE from carrying on their destructive work. Declared as a form of civil disobedience, the action’s aim was to promote direct action as an legitimate and necessary form of resistance against the causes of climate change.
At 6:00am the next morning, 1500 people formed four big groups. As the police blocked the four bridges and tunnels that pass the highway running between the Camp and the opencast-mine a few kilometers away, the activists decided to split up, in so called fingers, trying each different ways to enter the mine. The plan was to spread the force of the police which came in large numbers to hinder the people from entering the mine.
Soon after, the people that stayed in the camp, involved in the extensive background work as press, medics, activist trauma support, activist kitchen and many more heard the first good news of the day: The green finger, the international one, managed to pass the three police lines that were trying to block the tunel under the highway. After passing numerous further lines of police, private security and mine-workers, the green finger managed to be the first group to enter the mine.
At same time several people came back to the camp, (some severely) injured by the massive use of pepperspray and batons by the police. Medical and emotional firstaid was provided.
The early media-reports on the radio describe not only the violence that the police used against the activists, but also that the traffic on the highway had been blocked by climbing activists abseiling from a bridge. Then the other three fingers also manage to pass the highway and to enter the mine.
One of them climbed an excavator. Spread in numerous groups, more than 1000 people explored the huge area of the mine, and successfully haulted the workers from carrying on their work in the whole mine for the rest of the day.
The big media-echo reports mostly quite positively about the action and criticizes openly the massive use of violence that police and private security had used against the activists – and the journalists. The use of embeded journalism worked out well. Not only that from beginning, there were several journalists reporting, filming and taking pictures of violent cops and private security, but in numerous cases the journalists themselves (even the ones from state media) got peppersprayed, handcuffed and told to leave the area by police.
Even the ARD, germanys biggest state-owned media, reported that day about „ police officers in corporate SUVs chasing down protesters together with members of RWE’s own security service“ and critized „the attempt to criminalize some 800 activists and journalists by filing proceedings“ as „disproportionate and utterly absurd“.
Even so, more than 700 activists had succsesfully left their passports at home and refused to declair their personal data to the police, RWE has since filed proceedings against the remaining 800 people, accussing them of trespassing.
Which is indeed „utterly absurd“ as it is the company itself that is since decades trespassing on the peace of the whole region: Already more than 20.000 people were forced to leave their homes, and 52 villages and the largest forest of the region (Hambacher Forst) has been essentially destroyed. RWE polutes the whole region with its mines and 5 gigantic coal-power plants, dumping poison and radio-active fine dust.
But not only are the local impacts immense: Known as the „biggest climate killer of europe“ the excavation of the Rhineland’s browncoal fields contributes massively to climate change by which mostly people from the global south are affected. Already by now millions of „climate refugees“ have lost their means of existense due to climate change and have had to leave their region.
Thats why the anti-coal/climate justice movement is first of all not an environmental, but a social movement, highly driven by the aim of „system change – not climate change!“
Links und Upcoming events:
Text about the social aspects of the ‘climate crisis’.
Press Review and videos of the action Ende Gelände!
For more than three years, there has been an ongoing occupation of the hambach forest, which has hosted numerous digger and railway-blockades. Three activists of the hambach forest occupation are currently being held in prison.
Climate-Camp that prompted the described Mass Action in 2015, and had been going on for the past six years in a row.
Anti-Gold Mining Struggle Report: Update from Rosia Montana
After more than 15 years of civil resistance, direct action, legal action and worldwide networking, the struggle to save Rosia Montana seems to have come, if not to an end, at least to a point from which the community can start building a better future.
An important event in the battle for Rosia Montana was the occupation of the former Conti hotel (#OccupyConti) in Cluj-Napoca in November 2011. This direct action tried – and succeeded – to break the mainstream media silence on the subject of Rosia Montana gold mining project. More demonstrations followed and, in 2012, the Save Rosia Montana campaign used the anti-presidential protests to underline the problems of Rosia Montana and to put them in the public political agenda. August 2013 saw the biggest civic protest in Romania ever, for an environmental cause, as the government tried to pass a special law for the gold mining project and tens of thousands took to the streets all over Romania and Europe. The law was subsequently rejected by Parliament. In 2014 and 2015, the company left the village, firing most of the employees (almost 400 people). In the second half of 2015, the company decided to give up on the lawsuits in which it was involved against the state in the Romanian courts. The only lawsuit it remains involved in is the process for financial damage against the Romanian state at the Washington International Court Of Arbitration. In November 2015, a court in Alba county gave an irrevocable solution to a lawsuit between the activists and the local authorities, stating that Rosia Montana will no longer be considered a “mono-industrial zone”; therefore, allowing any type of economic activity to take place there, tourism and agriculture included. In the last day of 2015, the Ministry of Culture signed a directive reinstating Rosia Montana as a “class A” type of historical monument (the highest) and widening the area protected from the central square to 2 km around it – basically, the entire village. That means that Rosia Montana is considered “of national importance” and no mining activities can take place there. Moreover, the minister made several penal complaints to the DNA (Anti-corruption National Office), as he said many irregularities were found regarding the past processes of downgrading the historical and cultural site of Rosia Montana by the authorities. A legal investigation has been opened. The last notable act is the firing of the National Institute Of Patrimony’s director by the Ministry of Culture and his replacement with a historical and archaeological restoration professor who is actually part of the resistance movement against the gold mining project.
Now is the best moment to start the social and economic reconstruction of Rosia Montana on the principles of solidarity, equality, respect towards nature and self organizing. There are people who fought for Rosia Montana and who feel that the struggle would not be complete without the effort to secure the future of the community – a clean, meaningful and sustainable future. Also, the environmental movement in Romania feels that now is the moment to push for a permanent ban on the cyanide use in mining, as other gold mining projects are emerging in Certej, Rovina and other areas.
For donations: https://eyfa.org/
For more info or if you want to spread a callout in the next newsletter for a mobilisation for action in summer 2016, let us know on eyfa-AT-eyfa.org
Well, looking forward to hearing from you again soon!