- Berlin (Germany), correspondence
His name was Steffen. Close to German environmental circles, he had already covered the lives of the inhabitants of Zad de Hambach for several months. These activists oppose the destruction of the thousand-year-old Hambach Forest in West Germany by the electricity company RWE to expand a giant open-cast coal mine.
This Wednesday, September 19, it was seven days that the young photojournalist followed the large-scale evacuation – 3,500 police officers, water cannons, horses, helicopters – of about 150 Zad militants and their 51 huts perched in trees. Shortly before 4 pm he fell from a suspension bridge between two huts, 14 meters high. Seriously injured, he was rushed to the Cologne hospital but could not be resuscitated and died.
In a press conference organized in an emergency, the spokesman of the regional police, Paul Kemen, assured him“ no operation was underway at the time in the area where the accident occurred “. According to him, a police officer came to the foot of the tree to give Steffen M. a camera memory card. The reporter would have fallen while trying to lift him via a system of cables and pulleys.
But the Zadist collective Hambi Bleibt provides another version of the facts. “ The SEK [unité d’élite de la police allemande] he was arresting an activist near the suspension bridge. Looks like our friend was on his way to film the arrest when he fell “, the activists write on their website.
- The photo Steffen took on Wednesday 19 September shows police chasing an activist.
Zad’s evacuation operations were immediately suspended. On the spot, mourning and amazement reign among activists and police, according to the reporter from Tageszeitung Malta Kreutzfeldt. “ We are deeply troubled, the activist group Hambi Bleibt reacted. Our thoughts are with his loved ones, his friends and everyone who cares. “
The Zadists are calling for a definitive halt to the evacuation. “ We ask the police and RWE leave the forest immediately and stop this dangerous operation. No other human life should be endangered. “ For its part, the company, Germany’s leading energy company, said on Twitter “ regret a tragic accident “.
- “ Hambi bleibt It is the name of the forestry collective. Hambi is the diminutive of Hambach. “ Hambi Bleibt It roughly means: the Hambach forest must survive.
The Hambach forest has in recent years become the symbol of the fight against anthrax in Germany. Occupied for six years by environmental activists, it is promised that it will be destroyed by its owner, the energy company RWE, which wishes to exploit its lignite-rich basement. Of the 4,100 hectares originally formed by the forest, today only 200 remain. After the green light of German justice, RWE intends to shave half of it from 1er October. The regional government of North Rhine-Westphalia last week launched the evacuation of the Zad, officially for “ high risk of fire “.
Source: Violette Bonnebas for Reporter