What can you do? ⛓ Letter from prison

Christian Bergemann | Photo: (c) Marlene Charlotte Limburg
Christian Bergemann
Photo: (c) Marlene Charlotte Limburg

Dear people from the Passau resistance group, dear people who sympathize with us and our protests (or with our goals*1), dear passively interested people!

I have been sitting in the Stadelheim prison since September 01st, in an unexpectedly large and bright cell, but behind bars. As do two other people from Passau, Svenja and Micha. We are sitting here because we want to be stopped from continuing to occupy street intersections in the Munich area, as we have done in the last few days. (The aim, according to the court order, is to avoid “risks to public safety and order” that a standstill in traffic supposedly entails.*2)

I probably don't have to tell you or justify the fact that we see this form of protest as appropriate to even remotely reflect the impending "risks to public safety and order" caused by the collapse of our climate and thus our society. You've heard this in lectures, emails or posts on social media. You probably share our points of view.

Now I would like to tell you that it is enough on your part if you keep your fingers crossed for us, talk about us with acquaintances, defend us or occasionally attend our meetings. I am grateful to you for all of this. Change also depends on (passive) support.

But above all, it takes people who actively stand up for a cause. Those who are willing to risk something, even if it is “just” a fine. Due to the number of protests I have already taken part in, I may now be risking a prison sentence without parole. The thought of sitting in a cell for an extended period of time is about the opposite of what I imagined my life would be like in my twenties. But it also feels meaningful: I stand up for what I think and not just in lip service. I'm in a group of people who do the same thing. This is the most impressive experience in my life so far, and maybe it will stay that way.

But that's not enough to bring about the gigantic changes we need. I don't expect anyone to risk a prison sentence. But I hope that you, the people who know how dramatic the situation is, will honestly ask yourself the questions that I asked myself a year ago:

What can I do while we can still avert the worst suffering? What contribution can I make to stand in the way of madness? Am I not being honest with myself if I am more concerned about my career, my short-term financial situation and my social position than about the consequences of a policy that, if development continues at the same level, will result in us having too little food in the future?

I don't know if what we're doing here will really make enough of a difference. But I do it with the best of intentions. I want to try something. Because we have a lot to gain. A fairer country, a fairer world. A future worth living for as many people as possible. The consequences of our inaction would be intolerable.

As I sit here and write, the morning sun shines into our cell, which I share with two other people. Their names are Lukas and Ruben. We spend the entire day together, which is why we have to be considerate of each other's needs. It works surprisingly well: we eat together, do sports together and play endless rounds of Wizard. In the morning our cells are open and we see the other people who live in the corridor with us. Life here in Stadelheim is really bearable for us.

Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to being able to freely decide again where I go, who I surround myself with and what I eat. Spending time here heightens my awareness of how fragile and valuable these freedoms are and that they are worth defending.

See you soon! Your Christian.

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