Demonstration against expansion of Halle/Leipzig LEJ Airport

“The repression seen against the action of #CancelLEJ, affects not only the activist:s on the ground, but the entire climate justice movement and also endangers democracy.

We stand in solidarity with all activists involved and call for a demonstration on 16.7.21 in Leipzig under the theme “Deconstruction instead of expansion: CancelLEJ”.” read a demonstration call by the group Copwatch. Almost 600 participants* followed it.

The background was the police measures after the blockade of the DHL hub last Friday to Saturday night. Due to the refusal of the demonstration participants to reveal their identities, they were held in police custody for about 36 hours until they were brought before an investigating judge. Due to the threat of pre-trial detention, the participants finally gave their personal details. Criticism was voiced about the operation – also about the expansion of the airport itself.

False information by the police
In a first media information of the Saxony police on 10.07.21, the police stated that the action had caused damage in the millions to the logistics service provider DHL. In addition, the action is said to have led to delays in vaccine deliveries. This has since been refuted by research conducted by Spiegel magazine.

Sexual violence in police custody
According to witnesses, during the 36 hours of police custody there were insults, forced DNA sampling, inadequate toilet and food supplies, and sexual assaults by police officers. In a very emotional but factual speech, one of the victims described her experiences.

Political waves – Prime Minister comes under pressure
On the day after the blockade, Martin Dulig tweeted “The end does not justify all means! The demo at night at the #DHL cargo hub at @LEJ_Airport is unacceptable. The backlog dangerously interfered with road traffic and blocked free trade at the internat. Airport blocked. Protest is part of democracy, but not like this!”. Dulig is SPD chairman Saxony, Ostbeauftragter of the SPD, stellvetretender Prime Minister of the Free State and Minister of Economy, Labor and Transport.

Sunday, Prime Minister Kretschmer (CDU) spoke out in the LVZ. “The basis of our coexistence is that violence is not exercised against persons or property. Here, boundaries have been crossed. For this, the rule of law has reasonable instruments and steps, which are now also applied”

Against the background that even the police reported a peaceful assembly situation, resistance was directed against Kretschmer’s statement. Peter Richter of the citizens’ initiative IG Nachtflugverbot announced via MDR: “We will urge with an open letter to the ministers of state as well as to the prime minister that this is taken back at the same place and this story is cleared out of the world. That this was not a violent action.” From circles of right*lawyers it was announced that an injunction explanation is examined because of the ” consciously truthfully [insinuated] use of force”.

A speaker summed this up at the rally “You have managed to have a prime minister shoot himself in the knee with a double-barreled shotgun.” 


Petition delivery

In addition to speeches by CancelLEJ (speech contribution), Protest LEJ and Copwatch, residents* of the airport also had their say. The “Action Alliance against Airport Expansion” had handed over a petition with almost 11,000 signatures to the current president of the state parliament, Matthias Rösler (CDU), on June 23.

At the demonstration, Matthias Zimmerman, press spokesman for the citizens’ initiative “Against the new flight path” gave a speech, which we reproduce here in full text:

The history of the expansion of Leipzig/Halle Airport is the history of lies, half-truths and unfulfilled promises of politics and administration to the citizens.

Thank you very much for the invitation.

I have been asked again and again lately: Mr. Zimmermann, the “Citizens’ Initiative against the New Flight Route” comes, according to our experience, rather from the rather conservative bourgeois center. For some time now, however, we have found you to be increasingly – to put it mildly – unconventional, both in your statements and in the actions of the citizens’ initiative. How does that fit together?

Yes I answer then, I can confirm the fact and nothing has changed in our basic attitude. But there has been a process of recognition. And there is a reason for that:

The history of the expansion of Leipzig/Halle Airport is the history of lies, half-truths and unkept promises by politicians and administrators to the citizens. I would like to cite just three examples from a chronicle comprising more than two A4 pages.

When the northern runway and the new terminal were to be built in 1996, the then Prime Minister of Saxony, Georg Milbradt, announced that no one had any intention of expanding the airport. Those versed in GDR history may recognize parallels. The result is well known.

Then, when the southern runway was to be rebuilt as part of the 2003/2004 zoning procedure, citizens were promised that “Leipzig would be flown around.” “No one should wake up at night”. In fact, with the commissioning of the SLB South and the DHL cargo hub, large parts of Leipzig are also affected by the nightly DHL approaches. According to the 2019 citizens’ survey, citizens in about 1/3 of Leipzig’s urban area feel aircraft noise pollution. 

The planning approval decision at the time actually also specified an even distribution of runways. Nevertheless, at the same time, the state government conceded in an unpublished letter of comfort from 2005 to the company DHL that both DHL itself, as well as all airlines operating on behalf of DHL, could use the southern runway close to the city up to 40 aircraft movements per hour !!!! can use. Today, more than 90% of night take-offs are handled by the southern runway close to the city.

In 2017, the Petitions Committee of the German Bundestag determined unanimously and with the highest vote, the request of the citizens is right, the short southern deviation must be abolished. The German Bundestag, confirmed this moreover with a unanimous and party-spreading Bundestag resolution. This Bundestag resolution has not been implemented to date, because the responsible Minister of Transport simply refuses to do so. Even the Leipzig members of the Bundestag, who have actively campaigned for the implementation of the Bundestag resolution several times across the party landscape for the sake of the cause, tell me they are at their wits’ end. What a gloomy outlook for German democracy.

As far as the coalition agreement of the state government is concerned, it gave hope. It states that “in the interest of the people in the Leipzig conurbation … we will work to further reduce aircraft noise pollution.” So times regardless of the fact that the adjective “further” is completely disinforming, because there was also in the past no reduction of aircraft noise at all, since 2019, aircraft noise pollution and CO2 emissions have continued to rise steadily and none of the points addressed in the government program on the subject of aircraft noise or airport have been implemented to date.   

And now we come full circle to the starting point of my remarks. As you know, our citizens’ initiative launched the petition “No further expansion of Leipzig/Halle freight airport” in the middle of last year and recently submitted it with over 10,000 signatures. In addition, well over 5,000 individuals have so far filed objections to the zoning procedure currently underway for the expansion of the airport. The opinions of most municipalities on the project have been devastating. The procedure is still ongoing and the comments have yet to be evaluated – but nevertheless, I read in the newspaper that the airport management declares, “The expansion will be approved.” Mind you, Leipzig/Halle Airport is in fact a state-owned company. So I ask myself, who is “dictatorship socialized” here and who is lobby-driven?

Let’s move on to the blockade of the airport and the related quick fixes from business and politics with regard to claims for damages.

One may well ask the following questions:

– Who pays for the health damages and costs of the demonstrably sickening aircraft noise?

– Who will pay for the climate damage?

– Who will hold the election fraudsters accountable?

– Who will replace the creeping loss of high-quality labor potential, which will inevitably occur – indeed has already occurred – as a result of the intended new Chinese Silk Road, as it is to be installed at Leipzig/Halle Airport as an essential point?

– And why should the taxpayer also pay for all this? As is well known, the airport is running a deficit.

At this point, by the way, it should be noted that even the KlimaUnion, a group of CDU politicians, is calling for “all air traffic subsidies to be eliminated piece by piece.” That should then probably also apply to Leipzig Airport. Or should it?

Democracy is not a one-way street with desired results for the economy and politics controlled by it, if necessary. 

If factual and professional argumentation is not heard or does not count, then so be it – unorthodox, creative demos and protest actions.

Let us therefore ask:

If the Federal Environment Agency is calling for a general ban on night flights for airports near cities, why should an airport like Leipzig-Halle, which has an unrestricted night flight permit, be expanded?

Let us ask:

If the World Health Organization recommends that night flight noise be reduced to less than 40 dB, why expand an airport where noise peaks of up to 70 dB and more are measured even outside the so-called night protection area?

And let us ask:

From whom do Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Kretschmer actually feel legitimized to disregard the fundamental right to health?”