Press release: Civil disobedience against nuclear weapons in court. Hearing and judgement (02.12.2020)

Press release of the group “Büchel17″:

On December 2, 2020, the social pedagogue Ria Makein (68 years old – to be seen on the photo) from Bedburg-Hau stood in front of the district court in Cochem to explain why she stood up for the withdrawal of the US atomic bombs stored there on April 30, 2019 in an action of civil disobedience on the military grounds of the Bundeswehr airfield in Büchel (Eifel). Like her sixteen fellow activists in the Büchel 17 group, she had received an indictment for “trespassing,” which she appealed against.

Within the framework of Germany’s “nuclear sharing” of the U.S. nuclear bombs, the German Armed Forces regularly practice nuclear war with Tornado planes, for example also within the framework of the annual NATO maneuver “Steadfast Noon”. The German government refuses to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which will come into force on January 22, 2021. On the other hand, it plans to procure new fighter planes certified for nuclear war for several billion euros.

Ria Makein, who has worked with people with disabilities in her professional life, considers this a waste of money. She criticizes that she is being accused while the Bundeswehr can count on impunity during its nuclear war exercises:

“The law is used to protect the preparation of mass murder and war. Those who point out this injustice by peaceful means and interrupt it for a short time should be punished”.

The group Büchel17 had overcome the fencing of the military area at two places with banners and posters and successfully disrupted the military training operation with an assembly.

At the end of the hearing on December 2, 2020, Judge Zimmermann at the Cochem Ria Makein District Court sentenced Ria Makein to a penalty of thirty days’ imprisonment, or alternatively imprisonment, for “trespassing”. In retrospect, the condemned woman and sixteen other peace activists had entered the nuclear bomb site in Büchel on April 30, 2019 without permission from the German Armed Forces. Thus the group “Büchel17″ briefly interrupted the nuclear war training operation.

“We will only get the opportunity to appeal against this in court if we ourselves are on trial as the accused,” Ria Makein explained her commitment at the time. It is the judiciary that must ensure that their lives are not threatened by the weapons of mass destruction, said Makein, “When these things are sent off, it is too late, then there is no longer a constitutional state.”

The defendant also pointed out the damage already being done by the consumption of energy and resources and the environmental destruction caused by the practice of bombing flights. “I am extremely grateful to the youth of Fridays for Future for scandalizing the consumption of resources in our rich countries.”

Prosecutor Sterczyk acknowledged the defendants’ honorable motives, but pointed out that the criminal case was not intended to deal with the socio-political dimension.

Judge Zimmermann followed the prosecutor’s plea because the US nuclear weapons stored in Büchel represented “no present danger” and therefore there was no “justifying emergency”. Ria Makein expressed her disappointment that her motion to discontinue the proceedings and open an indictment against the landlord of the Büchel nuclear weapons site for preparing for mass murder and war was not granted.




Thanks to the authors for the right to publish the article.


Picture source:© Stefanie Intveen.


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