Activists opposed to the expansion of a coal mine in Germany accused, this Sunday, the police of having violently repressed a demonstration that on Saturday degenerated into clashes with dozens of police and injured demonstrators.
Around 15,000 demonstrators, according to German police – 35,000 according to organizers -, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, protested against the extension of an open-pit coal mine that led to the destruction of the village of Lützerath, on the Rhine basin. between Düsseldorf and Cologne, supporting activists who occupied the site and which the police have committed to evicting since Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for the protest organizers, Indigo Drau, accused the police of “pure violence” at a press conference, saying the agents had beaten the activists “without restraint”, hitting them on the head.
The collective “Lützerath lebt!” reported on Saturday that dozens of activists were injured, some seriously. About 20 of them were hospitalized, according to a nurse in the activist group, Birte Schramm.
Police said today that around 70 of their officers were wounded on Saturday and that legal proceedings had been launched against nearly 150 people.
The situation there is calm today, police said.
The evacuation operation in Lützerath is politically sensitive for the coalition of Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, who governs with the ecologists, accused by activists of having betrayed their commitments.
The Government considers the expansion of the mine, operated by the energy ‘giant’ RWE, necessary for Germany’s energy security, to compensate for the interruption of Russian gas supplies, a reason that opponents dispute in the name of the fight against fossil fuels.
Saturday’s demonstration was symbolically led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who criticized the sacrifice of human lives “for the benefit of a very few incredibly rich people” and questioned how it is possible “that in 2023 a path is followed that leads to nothing”.
The evacuation operation in the village that started last week mobilized police reinforcements from all over Germany, while several civil disobedience actions were registered across the country in recent days.
In Keyenberg, neighboring Lützerath, thousands of people also demonstrated on Saturday against RWE’s plans to reopen the coal mine.
A recent study by the German Institute for Economic Research questioned the government’s position after it was reported that other existing coalfields could be used, although the cost to RWE would be higher.
Another alternative would be for Germany to increase production of renewable energy, reduce demand through energy efficiency measures or import more coal or gas from other countries, according to the study.
On Saturday, the Portuguese environmentalist collective Climáximo expressed solidarity in a statement with the activists who defend Lützerath.