Police arrest Greta Thunberg on January 17, 2023 in Erkelenz, western Germany. FEDERICO GAMBARINI v AFP
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and other protesters spent several hours in police custody on Tuesday (January 17) after protesting the expansion of a coal mine in western Germany, local police said.
The group of protesters were arrested after approaching the mine, a huge pit that produces brown coal, a particularly polluting fuel.
“They were transported out of the danger zone by bus,” their identities were checked, then they were released, said Agence France-Presse, a spokesman for local police, saying it took “many hours”.
Greta Thunberg, dressed in black, is shown in photos being held by police as part of her evacuation and then being carried by them.
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The Swedish activist has been in Germany for several days to support opponents of the expansion of the country’s largest opencast mine in the Rhine basin, which will soon engulf an abandoned hamlet called Lützerath.
This hamlet, occupied by climate activists who wanted to prevent its destruction, was evacuated by the police. Several hundred people who took refuge in trees and abandoned farms were evicted by the police.
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Despite the end of the multi-day police operation, the opponents are not giving up. They had organized a demonstration on Saturday that brought together more than 15,000 participants from all over Germany. Scuffles left dozens of activists and police injured. The police are accused of violence.
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The protest actions continued on Tuesday with occupations of railway tracks, blockades of streets and buildings, especially in the west of the country.
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The lignite mine of the German energy company RWE is located between Cologne and Düsseldorf. Its extension, planned for several years, is considered necessary for German energy security, which has to compensate for the loss of Russian gas supplies.
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Environmentalists consider the current lignite reserves to be sufficient and denounce a serious departure by the federal government from its climate protection obligations.