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   Posted by Robert on 07/19/01 at 6:06 PM

Subject:   Re: O Uoorzycah (Rogow Appeal part 1)


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In Reply to: O Uoorzycah posted by Robert Brytan on 07/15/01 at 5:45 AM:

?Background Paper

The Battle of Horno

?
The armies of economic miscalculation have convened in Horno. The eastern
German power and mining industries, having fought in vain against
competitors beyond their borders, are now directing their depleted strength
towards purported foes within. Yet a handful of villagers have proven equal
to their concerted attacks. Similar battles are mounting throughout Europe.
Wherever minorities are the intended victims, let the Sorb village of Horno
be a beacon of hope.

?
The early medieval village of Horno (in the Sorb language: Rogow) has been
part of the traditional settlement area of the Sorb people for a thousand
years. Their Slavic ancestors settled in Lusatia (German: Lausitz), near the
present Polish/Czech border, well before Germanization. Of some 60,000
Sorbs, two-thirds are predominantly Catholic and live in the southerly State
of Saxony, and one-third, predominantly Protestant and also known as Wends,
living in the State of Brandenburg. The Sorbs have experienced the
decimation of their settlement area and the dissipation of their language
and culture as a result of the ruthless strip-mining of lignite (brown coal)
during the course of the last century.

In the period from 1945-1989, 73 Sorb villages were destroyed and their
inhabitants resettled in high-rise tenements along with migrants from all
corners of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), who had flocked into the
Lausitz attracted by work in the lignite mining industry. Through this
brutal disruption of traditional rural life and the resulting enforced
assimilation, Sorb culture was dealt an almost mortal blow.

In 1989, political metamorphosis in the GDR conveyed the promise that no
further Sorb villages would be sacrificed to lignite mining. Apart from
energy imports and nuclear reactors from the Soviet Union, the GDR was
completely dependent on lignite mining for the generation of electricity and
heat. Quite different conditions existed on the West German energy market.
The Sorbs, and in particular the people of Horno (who had been informed in
1977 that their village was to be resettled in 1996), renewed their efforts
to ensure that no further Sorb villages be destroyed. Their expectations
initially appeared to be well founded. The protection of Sorb settlements
from further destruction by lignite mining was enshrined in the new
Constitution (Article 25) of the State of Brandenburg.

What they could not foresee, however, was that not only lignite mining and
electricity-production in the Lausitz would shortly be privatised, but also
energy policy itself. The destruction of Horno and the resettlement of its
inhabitants were stipulated in the purchase contract from 1994 for the
lignite-mining company, Lausitzer Braunkohle AG (LAUBAG). Thereafter, LAUBAG
and its new West German shareholders were able to dictate conditions to the
State Government, whose Environment Minister would admit to Horno
represen-tatives in 1997: "I'm being blackmailed!"

The solution to the problem of the constitutional protection of Sorb
settlements from further destruction was characteristic for the
morally-bankrupt State Government, whose mendacious dealings with the people
of Horno have consistently reflected the vested interests of the mining
industry and the mining union. The lie was propagated that the destruction
of Horno was necessary in order to save jobs in the mining industry. The
truth is, that more than 90% of jobs in Lausitz lignite mining in 1990 have
since been lost in a never-ending process of rationalization that has had
nothing to do with Horno.

The Brandenburg Government decided that Article 25 of the State Constitution
did indeed protect the Sorb settlement area, but not the settlements, that
is, the villages, themselves! Horno could therefore be sacrificed, and its
inhabitants forcibly relocated within the settlement area, without the State
Constitution being contravened! This shameful reinterpretation of the State
Constitution clearly revoked the intention of its founding fathers to
protect Sorb villages from further destruction by lignite mining; but this
was the only argument the Government could possibly put forward when the
matter came before the State Constitutional Court, as would inevitably
happen. The Government thereafter pursued a steady build-up of political
pressure to ensure that the State Constitutional Court judges - all
nominated by the political parties and elected by the State Parliament
(Landtag) - toed the line.

The fight to save Horno has never revolved solely around the 300 or so
inhabitants of the village, contrary to the claims of the Government, LAUBAG
and the mining union ("Horno or 70,000 jobs!"). The village of Horno, atop
the Horno Hill (100 metres above the River Neiže), is the gateway to the
area around the border-city of Guben, a region rich in lakes and forests
that has up to now been spared the ravages of strip-mining. Respecting the
integrity of Horno would protect the Guben region from devastation. Such a
course would also provide the local population with some hope of economic
recovery in the future. The city of Guben, for instance, with some 30.000
inhabitants in 1990, lost 10,000 jobs after German reunification to plant
closures in the chemical and textiles industries.

Whereas it had once been official GDR policy to sacrifice the whole region
of south-east Brandenburg to strip-mining, the West German energy concerns
were given a free hand to carve up the East German lignite mining and
electricity-generating industry in line with their own interests. Their main
interest, of course, was in getting their hands on the high-voltage
distribution grid.

Of the 17 strip-mining sites in operation in 1989 only four - three in
Brandenburg and one in Saxony - were mining lignite in the year 2000. In
many traditional mining areas, strip mines - and the power stations they
supplied - were closed down. In the case of the Greifenhain mine, where
villages had already been resettled, 200 million tonnes of lignite might
still be mined today. The West German mining executives had early access to
the old GDR mining plans, and gave no consideration whatsoever to the
possibility of saving the villages still on the devastation agenda. Their
attitude was clearly spelled out: If you're against the destruction of
villages, then you're against lignite, and if you're against lignite you're
for the loss of jobs in the region. However, not jobs but profits were their
real motive. Bypassing Horno, for instance, might mean that profits would be
cut by 100-300 million DM spread over six years. As a result, no attempt at
all was made by either LAUBAG or the Brandenburg State Government to avoid
the destruction of centuries-old settlements.

Furthermore, the West German mining executives who arrived in the Lausitz in
the early 1990s patently knew nothing of the existence of the Sorb minority,
whose traditional homeland had been systematically devastated in the course
of the previous forty-five years of strip-mining. Local mining managers, on
the other hand, were well aware of the problem (in 1990 the J?nschwalde mine
was operating right in the middle of the Sorb village of Gr?tsch (Sorb:
Gro?s?causing unbearable hardship to the inhabitants), but their only
interest was in the continuation of strip mining, at whatever cost. And
politicians in the newly-founded Brandenburg Parliament (Landtag) turned a
blind eye to the problem, in the hope of outlasting it. The outcome was,
that while the Brandenburg Government was pushing through the new State
Constitution with its unequivocal protection of Sorb villages, at the same
time it was drafting lignite plans that foresaw the destruction of Horno and
other villages! With the privatisation of LAUBAG in 1994 it was announced -
and is maintained up to the present day - that five of the previous
seventeen strip-mines would remain in operation in the long term. But, as
with "job security", this too is a falsity.

At a meeting in Potsdam at the end of 1993 between representatives of the
State Government and the head of the Federal Government's Treuhandanstalt,
respon-sible for the sale of the East German lignite industry, it was agreed
that only three lignite mines should have a long-term future. This agreement
has never been officially acknowledged, to avoid arousing mining workers.
Yet in the LAUBAG purchase contract of 1994, details of which have leaked
out over the years, the new owners were given the option of rescinding on
two of the five so-called long-term lignite mines. One of the five mines -
the Reichwalde mine in the Saxonian part of the Lausitz - no longer produces
lignite and has officially been on "hold" since the late 1990s. A second
mine - the Cottbus-North mine in Brandenburg - is expected to be closed down
once the neighbouring J?nschwalde mine, now threatening Horno, has proceeded
over the Horno Hill in the direction of Guben.

The J?nschwalde mine, that supplies the nearby power station of the same
name, burnt 25 million tonnes of lignite in the year 2000 and thus emitted
23 million tonnes of CO2 into the earth's atmosphere! The reality of
continuing "disemployment" in lignite mining is amply illustrated at the
J?nschwalde mining site, where mining itself is totally mechanized, and no
more than a handful of people are directly employed on site at any one time.
Approximately 40% of LAUBAG employees work in administration, another
35-40%% in the service area (transport, drainage, maintenance). These LAUBAG
employees are being told - not only by their employer, but also by the State
and Federal Governments - that now that LAUBAG and VEAG (the power-plant
operator) have been acquired by HEW/VATTENFALL, their jobs will be safe. As
if HEW/VATTENFALL would not continue with rationalization! The truth of the
matter is that the miners and power-station workers have been consistently
deceived by the State Government, their employers and, not least, their own
mining union officials. Little more than 3,000 people are currently (2001)
employed by LAUBAG in Brandenburg (in the Lausitz as a whole the figure is
around 5,000). By 2006 the Brandenburg figure will probably be no more than
1,500.

Planning procedures for lignite strip-mining are carried out on two levels:
the mining company submits outline mining plans (Rahmenbetriebspl?ne) for
each mine to the State Mining Office (Oberbergamt), which has to approve
them within the terms of the Federal Mining Act (Bundesberggesetz). Bearing
in mind that the Oberbergamt is subordinate to the State Ministry of
Economics, it is not surprising that it effectively colludes with the mining
company. This circum-stance is regularly reflected in the public statements
of its officials.

The second planning level concerns the integration of mining company plans
into the State Government's regional planning. The appropriate authority in
Brandenburg rests with the Environment Ministry, which oversees the
activities of the responsible Lignite Committee (Braunkohlenausschuss), a
regional, indirectly-elected body responsible for drawing up a lignite plan
for each mining site.

In 1994, Horno filed its first court suit against LAUBAG's outline mining
plan for the J?nschwalde mine, which had been approved in 1993. In a
scandalous disregard for the Federal Constitution, which guarantees the
right to be heard at court, the Horno suit was ignored - also because of its
political implications! - by the Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgericht)
in Cottbus for five years, being finally heard, and dismissed, at the end of
1998.

Horno also filed suit in 1994 with the Brandenburg State Constitutional
Court against the lignite plan for the J?nschwalde mine, which had been
passed by the State Government in the previous year. In June 1995, the
Constitutional Court declared the lignite plan to be unconstitutional and
thus null and void, because the plan foresaw the dissolution of the Horno
municipality. For such an act to be executed against the express will of the
village inhabitants, the State Constitution required a specific law to be
passed by the Landtag, that in fact did not exist. This was Horno's first
major success in its fight to save the community.

Two years later, in June 1997, the Brandenburg Parliament passed the
so-called "Horno Law", which robbed Horno of its municipal status and
incorporated it into the neighbouring community of J?nschwalde. Up to this
point, the Horno village council had steadfastly refused all demands to
discuss resettlement, maintaining that the destruction of Horno was
economically unnecessary, environmentally harmful and socially disruptive.
This policy had proven most helpful to the Horno cause. But the "Horno Law"
now forced Horno to give up its total refusal to talk, simply because the
"Horno Law" not only dissolved the municipality, it also laid down a
relocation site for "New Horno". The new site was just a few hundred metres
from the J?nschwalde power plant, and would have become mandatory were Horno
not to choose an alternative site. In a remarkable demonstration of
discipline and leadership the Horno representatives - led by the
indefatigable Bernd Siegert, who, with the overwhelming support of the
villagers, has spearheaded the campaign to save Horno since 1990 -
painstakingly carried out a number of polls of village opinion on the
resettle-ment issue. The government poll, laid down in the "Horno Law", was
first boycotted; but with a view to keeping the community together, 60 per
cent of the Horno people ultimately voted for a site 18 km south, near the
town of Forst, as a "backup site", should resettlement prove to be
inevitable. A number of people did not want to relocate to Forst under any
circumstances and instead chose the nearby town of Peitz for their enforced
relocation. The LAUBAG Company, which for years had sought by all manner of
means to split the Horno community and destroy the solidarity and resistance
of the population, seized upon this opportunity to put pressure on those
families not desiring to relocate to Forst, to sell out.

In the meantime, Horno had again filed suit with the State Constitutional
Court against the Brandenburg Government's "Horno Law". Furthermore, one of
the political parties in the Brandenburg Landtag - the democratic socialists
PDS, of whom a majority had rejected the "Horno Law" - also filed suit
before the State Constitutional Court, claiming that the new law violated
Article 25 of the Brandenburg Constitution ("Rights of the Sorbs"). The
central argument on the Government's part was, as already mentioned, that
the Brandenburg Constitution protected the Sorb settlement area but not the
settlements themselves, and that the "rights of the Sorbs" were not
subjective, basic rights but rather objective constitutional aims, such as
"the right to work".

Not only did the Constitutional Court have to decide the issue of Article
25; there was a clear constitutional requirement concerning the
parliamentary passage of legislation. In short, the Court had to be
convinced that during the legislative process all arguments pro and contra
the proposed bill had been accounted for and "weighed up" fairly. This
constitutional requirement, a central pillar of parliamentary democracy,
gave Horno supporters considerable cause for optimism, since the entire
legislative process had been little more than a farce. Before the Horno bill
had even been brought before parliament, two of the political parties - the
governing Social Democrats (SPD) and the Christian Democrats (CDU), who
together commanded a large parliamentary majority - had publicly declared
that they would vote in favour of the "Horno Law". In effect, the
legislative process was a mere formality, numerous hearings conducted just
for the record, the result a forgone conclusion. Such a procedure
constituted a flagrant violation of the constitution. The Constitutional
Court judges could not fail to gather what was going on.

Towards the end of the legislative process, a major scandal erupted
involving the SPD parliamentary leadership, which, in open contempt of
parliamentary procedures, was determined to prevent any development that
might hinder passage of the Horno bill. The parliamentary Environment
Committee had the task of supervising passage of the Horno legislation
through parliament; in particular, at the end of the legislative process,
before the final vote in parliament, it had to draw all the strands of
parliamentary inquiry together and make a recommendation to the Landtag.
Shortly before the Environment Committee was to vote on its recommendation,
the SPD leadership got wind of the fact that a majority of Committee members
would vote against the Horno bill, and that the Committee would therefore
recommend to Parliament that the bill be rejected. The result was, that the
day before the key Committee meeting the SPD withdrew those of its Committee
members, who intended to vote against the bill and replaced them with
"yes"-men. The SPD leadership had actually requested CDU leaders to do
likewise, but the CDU leadership had rejected this out of hand. The
following day the Committee then decided by a majority of six to four votes
to recommend the acceptance of the Horno bill. This scandal of the
manipulation of the Environment Committee was carried and criticized by all
newspapers, and could not escape the notice of the judges of the
Constitutional Court.

During the year between the passing of the "Horno Law" and the hearing of
the PDS case by the State Constitutional Court, political pressure on the
Court increased. The mafia-like alliance of compromised State politicians,
an unscrupulous mining industry that had a hundred years of experience in
West Germany of neutralizing and utilizing politicians, and a mining trade
union that had traditionally worked hand-in-hand with mining industry
bosses, seized every opportunity to insinuate that the future not only of
the mining industry, but also of the Lausitz region, and even of Brandenburg
itself, depended on the destruc-tion of Horno.

The Brandenburg Prime Minister, Dr. Manfred Stolpe - who had reneged on his
1992 promise to the people of Horno, that he would not act against their
wishes - was particularly adept at cultivating feelings of dependence, at
"pocketing" and manipulating those who found themselves within his sphere of
influence or who sought his confidence. This talent he had acquired in
former GDR times, when over a period of many years he shuttled back and
forth between the Protestant Church, which he served as President of the
Consistory, and the Ministry for State Security (the "Stasi") for whom he
was a trusted and highly-valuable informant; and not only the President of
the State Constitutional Court, Dr. Peter Macke, was under the "Stolpe
spell".

The Constitutional Court convened on March 19th, 1998 for the public hearing
of the PDS suit against the "Horno Law". Over breakfast that morning the
judges were able to read newspaper reports on a demonstration held the
previous day in J?nschwalde, a "human chain" from LAUBAG divisional
headquarters to the power station: "5,000 miners - shoulder to shoulder"
(Lausitzer Rundschau) ? "demonstrating for their jobs and the destruction
of Horno" (Berliner Morgenpost).

At the beginning of the hearing a change in procedure was immediately
apparent. The judge who had been chosen by the Court to formally prepare its
opinion, and who would normally present the facts of the case at the
commence-ment of proceedings, remained silent. In his place, the court
president, Dr. Macke, presented the case. It was an ominous foreboding. The
judge in question, the internationally renowned jurist, Professor Dr.
Karl-Heinz Sch?neburg, was the only one of the nine judges who was
unquestionably qualified to illuminate the intention of the founding fathers
of the Brandenburg Constitution, because he had been one of them! When the
Court's judgement was then later released, it was painfully evident that
Sch?neburg's unique insights into the history and substance of Article 25 of
the Constitution had been completely disregarded.

The Court had earlier announced its intention of hearing not only the PDS
suit, but also concurrently the complaints filed by Horno and the DOMOWINA
(Association of Lausitz Sorbs). Only on March 19th, however, did it become
apparent that the court intended to rule on the question of Sorb
constitutional rights without hearing the Sorbs themselves. The DOMOWINA had
not been invited to attend the hearing. At the end of the day's proceedings
the court President announced that the court's decision would be made known
on May 14th. Following the hearing, however, lawyers representing the
DOMOWINA strenuously protested to the court that the Sorbs had not been
given an opportunity to present their case. As a result, a second public
hearing was set for June 18th.

When the Court reconvened on June 18th, 1998 for the purpose of hearing
representations from the Sorbs, its 130-page judgement had already been
written. Ten hours of futile discussion ensued, in the course of which a
representative of the State government announced to the court - waving a
paper in his hand - that the previous day an agreement had been initialled
by representatives of LAUBAG and VEAG on the one side and the State
government on the other, "guaranteeing 4,000 long-term jobs at the
J?nschwalde complex - 2,500 at the J?nschwalde and Cottbus-North mining
sites and 1,500 at the J?nschwalde power station". It was the government's
trump card, but Dr. Norbert Kirch, from the Ministry of Economics, who
played it, lied! An agreement - legally-non-binding and therefore worthless,
as it turned out - had indeed been signed the previous day, but VEAG had not
been a party to it! In fact, just a week earlier one of VEAG's directors,
Dr. Dubslaff, had announced during a works meeting at the J?nschwalde power
station, that in the long run only two-and-a-half times as many people would
be employed at J?nschwalde as at the new power station at Schwarze Pumpe -
where just 300 people were on the payroll!

In the early evening the Court announced its majority (7 to 2) verdict: The
"Horno Law" did not violate the Brandenburg Constitution! Professor
Sch?neburg, in his minority opinion, described the court's decision as being
"in violation of the Constitution". His voice trembling with emotion, he
went on to say, that apart from himself, four other members of the
Constitutional Committee that had formulated the Brandenburg Constitution
were present in court that day, and that all shared with him the conviction
that Article 25 of the Constitution was expressly intended to prevent the
further destruction of Sorb villages.

Some time later one of the judges, Dr. Wolfgang Knippel, Vice-President of
the State Constitutional Court, said of the Court's scandalous decision:
"The important thing is that parliament remains capable of reaching
decisions" ("Das Wichtigste ist, dass die Politik entscheidungsf?hig
bleibt")! An incredibly comment - with which Knippel in effect disqualified
himself from office - bearing in mind that the Constitutional Court had been
called upon to rule on nothing less than the constitutional rights of the
Sorb minority; its implication, of course, was that nothing in the
Brandenburg Constitution was sacred, the Constitution being subordinate to
political expediency.

People who are well acquainted with the President of the Constitutional
Court, have remarked to the author of this Paper, that deep down he is torn
apart ("innerlich zerrissen") by the Court's decision. Rightly so! The
President knows very well for what he and his colleagues are responsible:
The Brandenburg legislature was white-washed, the Sorbs were betrayed and
their constitutional rights trampled under-foot, and the people of Horno
were left to their fate!

A revealing light was thrown on this infamous judgement by a decision of the
Constitutional Court of the State of Saxony from July 2000 in a similar
case: The village of Heuersdorf, near Leipzig, had, like Horno, fought for
many years against devastation and enforced resettlement in the interest of
lignite mining. In March 1998, the Saxony Landtag passed the so-called
"Heuersdorf Law", which robbed the community of its municipal independence
and incorporated the 270 inhabitants into the town of Regis-Breitingen.
Heuersdorf filed a complaint against the new law with the Saxony
Constitutional Court, which in July 2000 declared the "Heuersdorf Law" to be
incompatible with the State Constitution, and thus null and void,
necessitating the reinstatement of Heuersdorf's municipal independence. Of
particular interest from the Horno point of view was the Court's reasoning
for throwing out the "Heuersdorf Law":

The court explicitly criticized the bill that the government had put before
the Landtag, which had "insufficiently taken account of changes made
possible by the liberalization of the European electricity market, which had
been evident at the time the bill was passed." The government's bill had
been based in part "on the model of a closed utility market", a basic
assumption that was "untenable". Increased electricity consumption in
eastern Germany as a consequence of forecast economic growth - itself a
matter of dispute between economists during the legislative process - "would
not necessarily result in an increase in sales of VEAG electricity". What
was missing in the government's bill - "an indispen-sable link" - was the
prognosis that would justify the devastation of Heuersdorf. Not only had the
consequences of the liberalization of the European electricity market been
inadequately weighed up during the legislative process, but also the
"uncertain chances of success regarding the introduction of an amendment to
the Energy Economy Act, providing for the protection of lignite production
and lignite-based electricity generation".

(Shortly after the Constitutional Court in Saxony had announced its
decision, the State Government summoned representatives of leading economic
institutes to Dresden, asking each of them to prepare an expert opinion
confirming the economic necessity of destroying Heuersdorf. All institutes
declined to do so!)

Faced, as it was, with the self-same arguments, the Brandenburg
Constitutional Court could and should have declared the "Horno Law" to be
unconstitutional, quite apart from the question of Sorb constitutional
rights! Throughout the two-year legislative process the Government had
repeatedly argued - in the face of contrary findings voiced by a number of
renowned economic experts, they themselves supported by a minority of
politicians from all parties - that the liberalization of the European
electricity market would have no ill-effect on the market for lignite or
electricity generated from lignite, and that the above-mentioned amendment
to the Energy Economy Act would produce the desired result, namely the
protection of the lignite market - which, in the course of events, it did
not! The Government routinely rejected all expert opinion that would defeat
its main purpose, namely the dissolution and devastation of Horno. The
Government based its whole argumentation on the opinion of a single economic
institute, which had been retained to provide the accommodating
argumentation that the government required to achieve passage of the Horno
bill. When Horno subsequently put the same arguments before the judges of
the Constitutional Court, the majority of them likewise turned a deaf ear to
any reasoning that weakened the Government's case.

The Brandenburg Constitutional Court could and should have declared the
"Horno Law" to be unconstitutional. There are two reasons, why it did not do
so: Firstly, the political pressure in the conservative State of Saxony was
less pernicious than in social-democratic Brandenburg. Secondly, the
majority of the Brandenburg judges lacked moral and professional integrity!

In December 1998, thirteen Horno citizens, together with the DOMOWINA, the
Association of Lausitz Sorbs, filed suit at the European Court of Justice
for Human Rights against the German Federal Government, claiming violation
of their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. They
maintained that there was no justification for the infringement of these
rights, in particular not on grounds concerning the public good, because
there was no urgent necessity for either the mining of lignite under Horno
or the production of electricity in the J?nschwalde power plant, that would
legitimise the destruction of their home village of Horno. Furthermore, the
supply of electricity was assured and jobs not endangered by bypassing
Horno.

In May 2000 the European Court rejected the Horno suit. The Court confirmed
a serious encroachment on the rights of the Horno people, but denied a
violation of their human rights, because the Federal Government justified
the devastation of Horno as being necessary to protect the well-being of the
State of Brandenburg. The Court also judged the encroachment on the human
rights of the Horno people to be reasonable, because they had been offered
resettlement as a community just 20 kilometres away. So far as the property
rights of the Horno people were concerned, the Court referred to legal
processes before German courts, concerning expropriation, which were not yet
exhausted. The Strasburg decision was a bitter blow for the people of Horno,
especially because the Federal Government's response to the Horno suit had
done nothing less than condone the Brandenburg Government's entire handling
of the Horno dispute. So far as the property rights of the villagers were
concerned, the Court's reasoning took no account of a key tactic on the part
of both LAUBAG and the State Government, namely to force through the
resettlement of Horno before the residents could fight against expropriation
in the Courts (this would be the essence of a later suit filed at both the
State and Federal Constitutional Court - see below).

Three months after the Constitutional Court decision from June 1998 the
Brandenburg Government, as expected, passed a new lignite plan for the
J?nschwalde mine. This time, in order to illustrate that it was not only
Horno that had a vital interest in halting the J?nschwalde mine, it was the
village of Griežen (Sorb: Gres?2 km to the north of Horno, which filed
suit with the State Constitutional Court. The threat to Griežen posed by the
J?nschwalde mine is in a way even greater than that for Horno; for it is
planned to narrowly bypass Griežen with the strip-mine, with the effect that
the village with its two-hundred inhabitants will be forced to live in a
narrow corridor between the strip-mine to the west and the River Neiže and
Poland to the east. The J?nschwalde lignite plan is Griežen's death
certificate. If the mine proceeds over the Horno Hill, Griežen will whither
away, its inhabitants forced to leave their homes without any form of
compensation, and without even the "opportunity" of resettlement. This was
the basis of the Griežen lawsuit, but it was also claimed that the State
Government's Lignite Committee was not democratically empowered, the
Government having usurped the power of Parliament.

In June 2000, the State Constitutional Court granted the Griežen claim and
declared the second J?nschwalde lignite plan to be unconstitutional and thus
null and void, on the grounds that the Lignite Committee was inadequately
democratically legitimized. But the Court failed to rule on the vital
question of whether the lignite plan infringed Griežen's constitutionally
guaranteed right of self-determination.

As a result of this latest ruling, in the absence of a legally-binding
lignite plan for the J?nschwalde mine, there is no legal basis for either
the resettlement of Horno or the effective isolation and slow death of
Griežen. It is the Horno viewpoint, that without a legally-binding lignite
plan, which takes account of constitutional provisions concerning Sorb
settlements and regulates the expulsion and resettlement of the people of
Horno, LAUBAG's outline mining plan is without legal basis. The problem is,
that the scandalously-long delays in dealing with cases before the
Administrative Court - the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe has
described such delays as unconstitutional, because the constitutionally
guaranteed right access to court is violated - effectively deny the people
of Horno the right of having this matter decided at the highest level, the
Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht).

The Administrative Courts bemoan their high workload and complain that they
need more judges. This is undoubtedly true, but not the whole answer. When
one considers that it took five years for the Administrative Court in
Cottbus to hear Horno's suit against LAUBAG's outline mining plan, it is
interesting to reflect upon the fact that after the CDU was fined 41 million
DM by the President of the Federal Parliament (Bundestag) in 2000 because of
illegal financial transactions, the appeal filed by the CDU with the Berlin
Administrative Court was heard and decided within a couple of months! The
Brandenburg Government, which has not only refused to appoint
urgently-required additional judges, but even plans to reduce their number,
is of course quite happy with the situation that its policies, such as in
the case of Horno, cannot effectively be challenged at court. The President
of the Brandenburg State Constitutional Court described the situation in an
interview with the Berliner Zeitung on March 10th, 2001 as follows: "In no
other Land in the new federal L?nder [formerly the GDR] is the judiciary
treated so badly as in Brandenburg". The State of Brandenburg was
"threatened with a judicial crisis".

In the meantime, the Brandenburg Government has been working for a year on
new legislation to comply with the Constitutional Court's ruling, and
sometime in 2001 a lignite plan for the J?nschwalde mine will be approved
for the third time. Under the proposed new law, however, parliament would
delegate the decision on whether or not the resettlement of villages is
"unavoidable" to the government, in contravention of the established
principle (in German: Wesentlichkeitsprinzip), that far-reaching political
decisions have only to be taken by elected representatives. As soon as the
government again passes the lignite plan, Griežen will once more file suit
at the State Constitutional Court, as will Horno as soon as the new law
comes into force. For Horno, however, the situation is difficult, because it
is dependent on the municipality of J?nschwalde, in which it is now
incorporated, for support in filing suit, and in J?nschwalde both the State
Government and LAUBAG exert considerably pressure to undermine support for
Horno.

The situation in Horno in March 2001.

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