Climate activists need to be protected against harsh crackdowns, the UN has warned, after German authorities raided the homes of several environmental campaigners.
Police raided the homes of activists in seven German states last week.
170 officers targeted ‘Letzte Generation’ (Last Generation) – an activist collective which has disrupted traffic in German cities – searching homes, shutting down the group’s website and freezing several bank accounts.
Speaking to reporters in New York, a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres defended the role of climate activists.
“Climate activists – led by the moral voice of young people – have continued to pursue their goals even in the darkest days,”’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told newswire dpa.
“They need to be protected and we need them now more than ever.”
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Why are German police targeting Last Generation?
Founded in 2021, Last Generation protest climate law through civil disobedience. They conducted 276 road blockades in Germany last year, mostly gluing themselves to highways.
The blockades are a protest against the government’s climate policy, which they insist “protects business profits, breaks its own promises and our democratic constitution.”
Last week’s raids are linked to a series of charges police filed against the group in 2022. Seven suspects aged between 22 and 38 are accused of forming or supporting a criminal organisation.
Two of the group are suspected of planning to sabotage an oil pipeline running between Bavaria and Italy.
The suspects are accused of collecting at least €1.4 million to finance these ‘criminal’ activities.This money has been sourced through donations.
The group is controversial in Germany, where Conservative politicians have lined up to condemn them. Last Monday Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that he thought it was “completely crazy to somehow stick yourself to a painting or on the street.” Some have speculated his comments were in part to blame for the raids.
Responding to the raids, Last Generation tweeted #völligbekloppt (completely crazy), referring to Scholz’s comment.