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Climate Activists Charged with Forming Criminal Organization

Amidst a backdrop of escalating climate activism, five members of Letzte Generation, often dubbed Germany's version of Just Stop Oil, are facing charges of "forming a criminal organization." The legal maneuver has unsettled fellow activists, who fear it could establish a troubling precedent, potentially criminalizing future support for environmental causes.

The accused—Mirjam Herrmann, 27; Henning Jeschke, 22; Edmund Schulz, 60; Lukas Popp, 25; and Jakob Beyer, 30—find themselves charged under section 129 of the German criminal code, marking a notable application of this statute to a non-violent protest group for the first time.

Prosecutors in Brandenburg allege the charges stem from a series of attacks against oil refineries, the Berlin-Brandenburg airport, and the Museum Barberini in Potsdam between April 2022 and May 2023. These actions range from efforts to disrupt oil pumping stations to symbolic acts like defacing an oil painting by Monet with mashed potatoes.

The charges specifically target a subgroup of Letzte Generation, a nationwide movement that has encountered significant law enforcement scrutiny, resulting in thousands of arrests in recent years. Prosecutors contend that the accused conspired with other subgroup members in a sustained campaign of civil disobedience, arguing that their association was formed with the purpose of advancing a shared agenda.

However, activists maintain that their protests were transparent, accountable, and non-violent. They contest the use of such severe charges against their movement, asserting that it undermines fundamental democratic rights.

This ruling has sparked debate over the boundaries of peaceful civil disobedience. Critics argue that applying laws designed for combatting organized crime to climate protests stifles civic engagement and infringes on constitutional rights.

Amnesty International Germany has voiced concerns that a guilty verdict for any of the defendants could effectively criminalize any form of support for Letzte Generation.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 23 2024 said:
    Climate activists are becoming so desperate with their failure to engage the global public with their false claims that they are ready to go to any means to achieve their militant agenda.

    But they will fail miserably.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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