Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was briefly detained Tuesday by police at a protest over the controversial expansion of a western Germany coal mine that has become a flashpoint for that country’s climate debate.
Protests at Lützerath, a tiny village slated to be cleared and demolished to make way for the nearby Garzweiler coal mine, have grown massive and contentious over the past week. At least 15,000 people demonstrated on Saturday.
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.
“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.
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.
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