Climate activist Greta Thunberg and other activists were jailed on Tuesday (January 17, 2023) during demonstrations against the demolition of the coal hamlet of Luetzerath, but authorities said the entire group will be released later that day.
“There is no reason to hold them for days. It might take hours or they will go immediately,” a spokesperson for regional police in Aachen said, speaking about the whole group of demonstrators.
Thunberg was held while protesting at the opencast coal mine of Garzweiler 2, some 9 km (5.6 miles) from Luetzerath, where she sat with a group of protesters near the edge of the mine.
RWE and the government reached an agreement to clear the village in the western North Rhine-Westphalia state, allowing the energy giant to destroy Lutzerath in exchange for speeding up its exit from coal and rescuing five towns that were initially earmarked for destruction.
Activists have said Germany should not be mining any more lignite and should focus on expanding renewable energy instead.
By last weekend, just a few of activists were still present in the village after riot police and bulldozers cleared out the buildings, but protestors, including Thunberg, remained and staged a sit-in there through Tuesday.
Thunberg, was seen sitting alone in a large police bus after having been detained, a Reuters witness said.
“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 one activist had jumped into the mine.
Thunberg had earlier been sitting with the group when three cops picked her up and brought her away, holding her by one arm at a location further from the edge of the pit.
She was then escorted back towards police vans.
The Swedish climate activist addressed the around 6,000 protesters who marched towards Lutzerath 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.