Germany warns climate protesters against breaking law
The German government on Friday warned that escalating protests by activists ahead of the UN climate conference in Egypt must not break the law.
Deputy government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner said that while Berlin shared the goal of climate protection with the demonstrators, their protests “must not take place outside the bounds of our laws”.
Climate activists in several European countries have targeted famous museum pieces to draw attention to their cause ahead of COP27, which will start this month in Sharm el-Sheikh.
In Germany, protesters last week threw mashed potatoes over a Claude Monet painting in Potsdam and on Sunday glued themselves to an exhibition of a dinosaur skeleton at Berlin’s Natural History Museum.
But the issue gained urgency this week after a street protest in Berlin on Monday allegedly prevented emergency workers from getting to the scene of an accident.
An emergency vehicle was delayed in reaching a cyclist who had been run over by a cement mixer as activists had glued themselves to a nearby street.
The cyclist in hospital has since been declared braindead.
Buechner said he was “expressly” not blaming the demonstrators for the woman’s fate, noting that the “investigation continues” into the accident and its aftermath.
But he said that “these types protests accept that they can create dangers for others”, a fact the government “condemned”.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz this week also chided the activists.
“I am very sad about what is happening and very glad that it has not come to the point where an irreplaceable artwork has been permanently damaged,” Scholz told reporters.
“There are other ways to express one’s opinion and perhaps a little creativity could be used.”
Scholz also urged the activists not to create public risk.
Protesters trying to make a political point “should always bear in mind that there should be no endangerment of others”, Scholz said.