German police remove Greta Thunberg from lignite mine protest

Berlin, Jan 17 (EFE).- German police forcibly removed Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and other demonstrators from a protest in Luetzerath, a western village that is being demolished to make way for the expansion of a lignite mine.

Police spokespersons confirmed that the 20-year-old Thunberg was among a group of activists who had entered the premises of the Garzweiler II open-cast lignite mine and were subsequently carried away from the area one by one, regional public broadcaster WDR reported.

Police justified their action by saying activists had placed themselves at risk by approaching the edge of the mine.

Police transported Thunberg and the other activists to a spot about 50 meters (164 feet) away from the edge and reviewed their identity documents, WDR said.

Activists had spent several days resisting the evacuation of Luetzerath, which has now been cordoned off after the bulldozing of homes, farms and various wooden constructions.

The eviction operation began on Jan. 11 and had apparently concluded on Monday when two remaining activists left a self-dug tunnel where they had been holding out under the village.

However, new actions were carried out Tuesday in other parts of the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, including the state capital of Dusseldorf.

And a group of around 70 activists, including Thunberg, protested in Luetzerath.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s administration on Tuesday criticized the acts of resistance over the weekend, saying they had turned violent and obstructed the work of the authorities.

Environmental groups, for their part, said the police had used excessive force and even accused them of striking activists in the head with their batons.

The police action began at the end of last week and by Friday had succeeded in clearing activists from all of the buildings they had been occupying.

Several groups of people, however, remained scattered in about three-dozen makeshift constructions, including tree houses.

On Saturday, a broad alliance of organizations opposed to the mining of lignite – regarded as the dirtiest form of coal, itself the most polluting fossil fuel – and the demolition of Luetzerath held a mostly peaceful march in which Thunberg also participated.

But some demonstrators tried to force their way past police barriers, gain access to the sealed-off town and approach the edge of the open-cast mine, prompting police to fend them off with the use of batons, water cannon and pepper spray and make a dozen arrests.

Police later defended their actions, saying the protesters had deliberately sought out a confrontation.

Luetzerath is being demolished as part of a deal reached with RWE, which will be allowed to mine the coal beneath the village in exchange for a commitment by the utility company to phase out coal production by 2030, eight years ahead of the previous schedule. EFE


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