Climate activist Greta Thunberg was arrested along with other activists on Tuesday during protests against the demolition of a village to make way for coal mine expansion, but was released after an identity check, according to police.
Ms Thunberg was taken into custody while protesting at the open-air coal mine Garzweiler 2, about 9km from the village of Luetzerath, after police warned the group would be forcibly expelled if they did not move away from the edge of the mine.
The village in North Rhine-Westphalia was cleared to allow for the expansion of the mine. The mine owner agreed with the government that it could demolish Luetzerath in exchange for it getting out faster from coal and saving five villages that were originally slated for destruction.
Police officers remove Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg off the edge of Garzwiller II’s exposed lignite mine. Source: DPA / Federico Gambarini
Activists said Germany should not mine more lignite or brown coal, and should focus on expanding renewable energy instead.
Riot police backed by bulldozers removed the activists from buildings in the deserted village last week, leaving only a handful of them in the trees and an underground tunnel by the end of last week. But protesters, including Thunberg, remained at the site staging a sit-in until Tuesday.
“We will use force to bring you in to verify identity, so please cooperate,” a policeman told the group, according to Reuters footage.
“Greta Thunberg was part of a group of activists who rushed towards the ridge. However, we stopped her and carried her and this group out of the immediate danger area for identification,” a spokesman for Aachen police told Reuters, adding that one of the activists had jumped into the mine.
Ms Thunberg was carried away by three police officers and held by one arm off the edge of the mine, then escorted to police vans.
The Swedish climate activist addressed some 6,000 protesters who marched towards Lützerath on Saturday, calling the mine’s expansion “a betrayal of current and future generations”.
“Germany is one of the world’s biggest polluters and must be held accountable,” she said.