Anti-coal protestors accuse German police of 'pure violence' following demonstration clashes

Climate activists on Sunday accused police of "pure violence" after clashes during a demonstration at a German village being razed to make way for a coal mine expansion.

Police officers carry a demonstrator during a protest near the village of Luetzerath, Germany, on January 14, 2023.
Police officers carry a demonstrator during a protest near the village of Luetzerath, Germany, on January 14, 2023. ? Wolfgang Rattay, Reuters

In an operation that began on Wednesday, hundreds of police have been removing activists from the doomed hamlet of Luetzerath in western Germany.

The site, which has become a symbol of resistance to fossil fuels, attracted thousands of protesters on Saturday, including Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Protest organisers reported that dozens had been injured in clashes with police.?

Indigo Drau, a spokeswoman for the organisers, on Sunday told a press conference the police had gone in with "pure violence".

Officers had "unrestrainedly" beaten protesters, often on the head, she said.

Activists on Saturday had accused the police of using "massive batons, pepper spray... water cannons, dogs and horses".?

At least 20 activists had been taken to hospital for treatment, said Birte Schramm, a medic with the group. Some of them had been beaten on the head and in the stomach by police, she said.

Organisers said that 35,000 protesters demonstrated on Saturday. Police put the figure at 15,000.

A police spokesman said on Sunday around 70 officers had been injured since Wednesday, many of them in Saturday's clashes.

Criminal proceedings have been launched in around 150 cases, police said, including for resistance against police officers, damage to property and breach of the peace.

The situation on the ground was "very calm" on Sunday, the police spokesman said.?

As of Sunday evening only two activists remained in the village?holed up in an underground tunnel, according to the police. ?

Luetzerath - deserted for some time by its former inhabitants - is being demolished to make way for the extension of the adjacent open-cast coal mine.

The mine, already one of the largest in Europe, is operated by energy firm RWE.

The expansion is going ahead in spite of plans to phase out coal by 2030, with the government blaming the energy crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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