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Greta Thunberg released after brief detention at German mine protest, police say

Greta Thunberg released after brief detention at German mine protest, police say
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a rally of climate protection activists near the village of Luetzerath, Germany, 17 January 2023. The village of Luetzerath in North Rhine-Westphalia state is to make way for lignite mining despite the decision to phase out coal. The Garzweiler open pit mine, operated by German energy supplier RWE, is at the focus of protests by people who want Germany to stop mining and burning coal as soon as possible in the fight against climate change. EPA-EFE/RONALD WITTEK

LUETZERATH, Germany, Jan 17 (Reuters) - 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 (5.6 miles) 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 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 RWEG.DE, 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.

(Reporting by Wolfgang Rattay and Riham Alkousaa, Writing by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Maria Sheahan, William Maclean and Rosalba O’Brien)

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  • Craig A says:

    She got what she wanted – publicity. She’s not going to change the world.

    • Marko V says:

      Publicity for what? Activists have already successfully sued the Dutch government for change. A group that Thunberg is part of is suing the Swedish state for inaction. If successful, then they will have to make changes. I would call that ‘changing the world’.

      • Craig A says:

        Really? Suing a government is a solution. Then what?
        What is her solution (like most activists, they are quick to complain but slow to find solutions). Where would we be without coal, petrol, plastic…..
        I would love to see her demonstrating against the real issue; PEOPLE! That is the problem. At the moment we have massive poverty, unemployment, food shortages, drought, floods, war…… This is all caused by one thing. And it’s not the polar caps melting.

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