BERLIN (TBEN) — A village in western Germany about to be demolished to make way for a coal mine expansion has been cleared of activists, except for a couple who have been trapped in a tunnel, said the police on Sunday.
The operation to evict climate activists who flocked to the site in the hamlet of Luetzerath began Wednesday morning and progressed steadily over the following days. Police cleared people from farm buildings, the few remaining houses and several dozen makeshift structures such as tree houses.
On Saturday, thousands of people demonstrated in the area against the eviction and planned expansion of the Garzweiler coal mine. There were clashes with police as some protesters tried to reach the village, which has now been fenced off, and the mine.
Environmentalists say bulldozing the village to expand the Garzweiler mine would lead to huge amounts of greenhouse gases. The government and utility RWE claim the coal is needed to ensure Germany’s energy security.
Regional and national governments, including the environmental activist Green Party, reached an agreement with RWE last year that would allow the abandoned village to be destroyed in exchange for ending coal use in 2030 instead of 2038.
Greens leaders claim the deal meets many of the environmentalists’ demands and saved five other villages from demolition, and that Luetzerath is the wrong symbol for protests. Activists reject that view.
Police said in a statement on Sunday that nearly 300 people have been removed from Luetzerath so far. They added that “RWE Power’s rescue of the two people in underground structures continues; furthermore, the approval by the police has been completed.
They said 12 people were detained in connection with Saturday’s incidents. The demolition of the buildings in Luetzerath is already underway.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who took part in Saturday’s large protest, took part in a smaller demonstration on Sunday, singing and dancing with other activists at the edge of the mine, the German news agency dpa reported.
Police said Thunberg sat briefly on an embankment at the edge of the mine and officers carried her a few steps after she failed to heed calls to move for her own safety, dpa reported, adding that she then moved on .
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