Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg looks on during an interview with the Associated Press in Erkelenz, Germany, Jan 14, 2023. (MICHAEL PROBST / AP)
LUETZERATH, Germany – Climate campaigner Greta Thunberg was detained alongside other activists on Tuesday during protests against the demolition of a village to make way for a coal mine expansion but was released after an identity check, according to police.
Thunberg was held while protesting at the opencast coal mine of Garzweiler 2, some 9 km from the village of Luetzerath, after police warned that the group would be removed by force if they did not move away from the edge of the mine.
The mine's owner, RWE, agreed with the government that it could demolish Luetzerath in exchange for its faster exit from coal and the saving of five villages originally slated for destruction
The village in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia is being cleared to allow for the expansion of the mine. The mine's owner, RWE, agreed with the government that it could demolish Luetzerath in exchange for its faster exit from coal and the saving of five villages originally slated for destruction.
Activists have said Germany should not be mining any more lignite, or brown coal, and should focus on expanding renewable energy instead.
Riot police backed by bulldozers removed activists from buildings in the abandoned village last week, with only a few left in trees and an underground tunnel by last weekend, but protesters including Thunberg remained at the site staging a sit-in into Tuesday.
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"We are going to use force to bring you to the identity check, so please cooperate," a policeman said to the group, according to Reuters footage.
"Greta Thunberg was part of a group of activists who rushed towards the ledge. However, she was then stopped and carried by us with this group out of the immediate danger area to establish their identity," a spokesperson for Aachen police told Reuters, adding that one activist had jumped into the mine.
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Thunberg was carried away by three police officers and held by one arm at a spot away from the edge of the mine and was then escorted back towards police vans.
The Swedish climate activist addressed the around 6,000 protesters who marched towards Luetzerath on Saturday, calling the expansion of the mine a "betrayal of present and future generations."
"Germany is one of the biggest polluters in the world and needs to be held accountable," she said.