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Activists block Leipzig Halle Cargo Airport in protest against planned expansion
Report on the action of “Cancel LEJ” and its effects
On the night of Saturday, 10 July 2021, 54 climate activists peacefully gathered on a lorry access road to the DHL hub at Leipzig Airport, thereby disrupting operations. In view of the climate crisis, the activists wanted to point out that Saxony and European infrastructure policy is contemptuous of the future.
The protest was staged in opposition to the Federal State of Saxony wanting to expand its cargo airport. Such an expansion would increase the number of take-offs and landings from about 80,000 to up to 130,000 per year. The protest also aimed to highlight that with the “Fit for 55” package of measures, the EU has failed to recognise cargo flights as a driver of the climate crisis. Freight flights remain exempt from the paraffin tax.
This behaviour shows that the profit interests of companies like DHL ruthlessly come before the well-being of the people. Residents in the region around Schkeuditz are suffering acutely from the far too high noise, as well as from fine and ultra-fine dust pollution. In addition, especially people in the global south lose the chance to live a good life in an intact ecosystem due to this form of politics. The protesters therefore demanded an immediate stop to the expansion of the cargo airport and an accompanying socio-ecological turnaround in the mobility sector.
Escalated repression and exposed lies
All participants in the meeting, which had previously been authorised without conditions, were handcuffed by the police and subjected to identification procedures. The apparent legitimisation of this behaviour was provided by DHL with the threat of a civil action. This was reason enough for the police to make false claims including that the protest caused millions in damage and blocked vaccine deliveries. In fact, according to DHL, no vaccines were blocked and the minimal damage was locally manageable.
At the detention centre the police deprived the activists of their basic rights. They were denied blankets, food, drink and phone calls. In addition, DNA was taken from them and they were not allowed to see the court order while information about the reason for the arrest was sometimes delayed. Under the threat of pre-trial detention, the last activists were released after more than 30 hours. In the meantime, they experienced a slander of Saxony’s Prime Minister, Michael Kretschmer, who accused them of violence.
The protests around Halle-Leipzig airport have led to a closer union within the climate movement despite resistance from the CDU, SPD, public prosecutor’s office, police and DHL. Representatives of the groups Aktionsbündnis gegen den Flughafenausbau Hal-Lei, Animal Rebellion, amBodenbleiben, Copwatch LE, EG Leipzig und Halle, fff-Leipzig, H4F, Kollektiv über Grenzen (Leipzig), Linksjugend Leipzig, linXXnet, Klimarat Leipzig, Leipzig nimmt Platz, Protest LEJ, and XR Leipzig organised a demonstration for about 650 people. In addition, citizens of the BI gegen Fluglärm and the BI gegen die kurze Südabkurvung explicitly showed solidarity with Cancel-LEJ.
Finally, the protest attracted a lot of attention regionally and nationwide, as evidenced by the following excerpt from the press review:
16.07.2021, MDR Sachsen: More than 600 people protest in Leipzig against
14.7.2021, MDR: DHL blockade: Protesters accuse Leipzig police of harassment
14.7. 2021, LIZ: After false reports about #cancelLEJ: Marco Böhme demands correction
police and expects apology from Prime Minister Kretschmer
14.7.2021, ND: Success despite hard landing
13.7.2021, SPIEGEL online: What really happened at the climate protest at the airport
11.7.2021, ND: Repression follows protest
10.7.2021, LIZ: Short appearance big effect: Occupation at DHL with alleged “damage in the millions
“damage running into millions”.
10.7.2021, Du bist Halle: Initiatives declare solidarity with protests against DHL at the
10.7.2021, TAZ: Protest against airport expansion in Leipzig :49 activists in custody