Greta Thunberg detained during coal mine protest in Germany

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has been carried away by police and detained during protests at a coal mine in Germany.

The globally renowned campaigner was detained on Tuesday while demonstrating against the planned destruction of the village of Luetzerath to make way for the expansion of the Garzweiler 2 opencast coal mine.

The 20-year-old, who addressed thousands of others taking part in the long-running protests last week, had been physically escorted away from the village by police on Sunday after refusing to comply with a request to leave.

But despite the village’s eviction by riot police and bulldozers, Ms Thunberg and other protesters reportedly continued to stage a sit-in at the site, which has become a flashpoint for tensions over Germany’s energy policies in the face of the climate crisis and Ukraine war.

Police officers in North Rhine-Westphalia were photographed carrying Ms Thunberg away from the mine on Tuesday, which is situated five miles from the village, and the Swedish activist was later seen sitting alone on what was said to be a large police bus.

According to reports, the initiator of the global School Strike for Climate campaign had been sat with a group of protesters near the edge of the mine – into which one activist is claimed by police to have jumped.

“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 said.

Aachen Police told The Independent that the group were not under arrest and would be released once their personal details had been taken. A police spokesperson said to Reuters: “There is no reason to hold them for days. It might take hours or they will go immediately.”

Thunberg gestures as she sits on a bus during a day of protest (Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay)
Thunberg gestures as she sits on a bus during a day of protest (Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay)

Footage showed a police officer telling the group: “We are going to use force to bring you to the identity check, so please cooperate.”

The government’s plans to demolish Lutzerath are part of a “compromise” deal reached with energy giant RWE last year allowing it to destroy the abandoned village in return for ending coal use by 2030, rather than 2038.

The Green Party, which has power both locally and in the ruling national coalition, argues that the deal fulfills many of the environmentalists’ demands and has saved five other villages from demolition.

But protesters have squatted in the village for two years, and violent clashes were reported at the village as police sought to clear it last week, with scores of people allegedly injured.

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Ms Thunberg addressed the roughly 6,000 protesters who marched towards Lutzerath on Saturday, calling the expansion of the mine “shameful” and 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, adding: “The most affected people are clear, the science is clear, we need to keep the carbon in the ground.

“When governments and corporations are acting like this, are actively destroying the environment, putting countless of people at risk, the people step up.”