Thunberg: Germany 'embarrassing itself' by clearing coal mine activists

BERLIN (Reuters) - Climate activist Greta Thunberg condemned the forced removal of protesters from an abandoned village in western Germany as outrageous during a visit to the site, where demonstrators have dug in to try to stop the expansion of a coal mine.

"Germany is really embarrassing itself right now," said Thunberg, who said the expansion of the Garzweiler lignite coal mine run by energy firm RWE was absurd in 2023.

"The science is clear: we need to keep the carbon in the ground," she told reporters in Luetzerath on Friday.

She said "police violence" used in the removals was outrageous.

Thunberg said she plans to join a demonstration on Saturday that will "show what people power looks like, what democracy looks like - that when government and corporations act like this, destroying the environment ... the people step up."

For over two years demonstrators have occupied Luetzerath, a village in the brown-coal district of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, to stop the expansion of the mine.

Following a court decision allowing RWE to proceed with the expansion, hundreds of police in riot gear moved in on Wednesday morning, clearing barricades erected by the activists.

Police have said that it could take weeks to resolve the standoff over the coal mine expansion, which activists see as a symbol of Berlin's failing climate policy amid an energy crisis in Europe's biggest economy.

(Reporting by Petra Wischgoll and Stephane Nitschke, Writing by Miranda Murray, Editing by William Maclean)