Protest and nonviolent “go-in” actions at Büchel Air Base in Germany have increased over the last four years, and 36 resisters have recently been charged with civil offenses. Court hearings are held first in Cochem District Court, about 10 miles from the air base. Two appeals have been made from Cochem to the Regional Court in Koblenz, and one appeal has been made from Koblenz to the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, Germany’s highest court.
Following the 18-person go-in on July 15, 2018, “penalty orders” have been issued to at least 12 people. Four defendants were convicted of property damage and trespass on Jan. 22, 2020, and three more on May 11, 2020. Four of the seven have appealed, while three others go on trial June 10, 2020. I too have been charged for joining this large go-in, but no trial date has been set.
For two April 30, 2019 go-in actions,15 resisters are to be tried—five on June 3, and ten on June 24, 2020. In other cases, organizer Beate Körsgen has a June 8, 2020 trial for allegedly violating the Public Assembly Law. Another goes on trial Sept. 2, 2020 charged with illegally photographing the air base fence. Marion Küpker, coordinator of annual “20 Weeks for 20 Bombs,” goes on trial Sept. 7, 2020, charged with resisting arrest. This eye witness saw a policeman grab Marion who was on her phone, drag her from her car while she yelled in pain, force her into the grass face-down, and then kneel on her back.
Five German activists have appealed to the Constitutional Court where, like the US Supreme Court, judges first decide whether to hear a case or let stand the lower court ruling. It has yet to decide. The five were convicted after going in and occupying the air base runway Sept. 12, 2016. Another case against four resisters who made a July 23, 2018 go-in, is on appeal to the Regional Court in Koblenz, but no hearing has been set. Following a June 18, 2018 action, one physician/organizer is also waiting for an appeal date in Koblenz. This case also alleges the doctor violated the Public Assembly law.
The increased prosecutions can be seen as reaction to growing resistance, and the absurd “resisting arrest” charge as an attempt to intimidate and quash the protests. Having faced nuclear weapons for decades, these realists don’t scare that easy. —JL
—Martin Otto, a long-time volunteer with Nonviolent Action to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (NAAA), provided prosecution details for Nukewatch.