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Graz, Austria: A new stage of struggle against the water power plant

Text about the ongoing fight against the water power plant (“Murkraftwerk”) in Graz, Austria. The original is German and it was published in the anarchist newspaper REVOLTE in Vienna in the septembre-issue.

A new stage of struggle against the water power plant in Graz (Austria) start of clearance season: 1st of October

The fight against the water power plant in Graz (“Murkraftwerk”) is highly visible since the beginning of this year. There were various
actions like squatting of trees and excavators, camps and direct action at the river bank against this object of prestige. It’s also a
discussion about so-called “green energy”. Thousands of trees got already cut down and thousands of others are supposed to follow in
autumn…

The construction of the power plant and the attendant central storage channel (“Zentraler Speicherkanal”) are going to change the city of Graz drastically. Until now the inner city was consisting mainly of savaged river banks, where thousands of trees were giving cover for different groups of people: people doing sports or walking, animals, youngsters hanging out. They all should give way to the restructuring of the area, so that the needs of the financially strong middle class can be met.

One of these projects is for example the construction project “timber in town”, developed and realised through the company “Hohensinn
Architektur”, “Kovac Immobilien” and the help of the Technical University of Graz. New and expensive flats and workplaces should arise,
where since decades there are people with low income living in small cottages – at the Grünanger, which is known as “a place of social
conflict”.

This restructuring is happening in a violent way. Not only are getting people displaced by the common logics of economy, but also physically
things are getting dug over – a whole ecosystem is getting destroyed. And since months people who fight against this construction projects are
confronted with physical violence. The main actor is though the “KLS Security Company”, that got directly hired by the building promoter
“Energie Steiermark” and that employs a lot of former cops. The police is then looking away in the right moment, when there ex-colleagues want to finish off these damn activists. So for example during the occupation of a excavator on February 27th activists were dragged down on their hair head first. Also the securities try to attack the activists in a psychological manner, following them home at night.

These behaviours do not only try to enforce the violent territoral claims of a business location in a repressive way, also the cooperation
between the authorities is beeing proved and according to their interests being strengthened, because KLS and the police were working
also together during the illegal eviction of the second camp on July 3rd. The camp was on common ground and registered as a legal
manifestation. The police shows us again, that they are interpreting the so-called legal situation as they please. There was an appeal against
the eviction, which also included illegal video recordings (by police) as well as destruction and theft of infrastructure of the camp by
police.

To proceed with the actions against the power plant in accordance with the rule of law would be quite limiting – and that’s not only when we
look at how the police goes well with despotism and the securites with physical violence. Resistance and contrary opinions are tolerated in
this liberal system as long as they are not a real danger to it. If the protest is getting to strong, it will be stopped violently.

The end of legalistic struggling

The attempts of Energie Steiermark in pacifying the conflict with their ad hoc “dialogue office” to speak about the power plant, but also the
many sponsorings of culturals festivals like “steirischer herbst” or “laStrada” are cheap tricks of self-appointed PR-assholes like Urs Harnik in order to fake the population in a state of democratic participation. The faked readiness to engage in dialogue is supposed to serve as means of breaking the resistance down into arranged channels and to manage it within the common political modus operandi.

The latest low point of these activists who believe in this kind of dialogue was reached just recently with another call to the authorities to stop the power plant; a letter to the pope in Rome, he should work it out. After all the institutions of the state rejected their help, now it’s time for them to beg the churchy ones for help. Even if it is indeed important work against the power plant that’s done by these legalistic groups concerning gathering of information, we clearly see that this part of resistance has come to its end. The illusion of a pluralistic fight in order to stop the construction by all means necessary has failed.

A new stage of the struggle

The first intense phase of struggle started with the start of construction on February 6th 2017 and for the investors and politics this meant building freeze and actions in order to show the ecological and capitalist false conclusions. There also were attempts to work with the national socialist past of the city, because the labour camp Liebenau was at the construction site, through which there was a “death march” during the nazi period.

Now in autumn the second phase of forest clearance is starting and with it also the next phase of struggle. The third protest camp on the
westbank next to the slaughterhouse will be a central place of resistance. Starting with October first, individuals and groups who are orientated towards action will meet there for planning actions and helding workshops. The first of October is at the same time the earliest
possible date for forest clearance.

The days of construction and workshops are meant to build the infrastructure of resistance and to discuss new forms of action in order to make them happen in the area. On the one hand it is a try to get international support to Graz in order to prevent the construction, on the other hand it is about something greater. In the collective fight we can develop new methods of resistance and intensify our relationships.

If there is people who won’t make it to Graz, we kindly want to remind you that there are involved companies and institutions to be found
everywhere: for example the construction company “PORR” (purchaser and contractor at the same time!) and the also involved “Verbund”. The ones fighting in Graz against the plant would certainly be glad, if solidarity in forms of actions would be shown…

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