Hundreds of activists break into coal mines in eastern Germany

Hundreds of activists broke into several coal mines in eastern Germany on Saturday to call for an immediate end to coal use, according to organizers and energy firms.

Protesters ran into the Jaenschwalde and Welzow-Sued open-cast mining sites in the eastern state of Brandenburg, as well as the United Schleenhain lignite mining area in neighbouring Saxony.

The Ende Gelaende group organized the action to protest the government’s climate policies. The German government aims to phase out the use of coal by 2038, which activists say is too long.

The roughly 500 activists in Jaenschwalde had left the site of their own accord by the afternoon, a police spokesman said. Some were driven out in vehicles belonging to the mine operator, Leag, while others left on foot. Police had taken down their personal details.

Scuffles between police and activists in Jaenschwalde had left three officers slightly injured. Coal supporters had also held a morning vigil at the mining site to call for the preservation of the mines.

At the other mining site in Brandenburg, nearly all 500 protesters were still on the grounds. Police were on hand to prevent the demonstrators from occupying large equipment, such as excavators.

Ende Gelaende spokeswoman Sina Reisch said that the activists weren’t planning to spend the night at the sites, with temperatures in the single digits, and would leave once police allowed them.

At the mine in Saxony, police were recording the identities of about 1,200 activists, who were taken off the site in stages. In a process that would take hours, the identities of the protesters had to first be established before they could leave the site, said police.

No one had been held in custody at the United Schleenhain mine.

Protesters there had violently broke through a police barricade with punches and kicks, despite statements by Ende Gelaende that there would be no violence against people. Ende Gelaende’s Reisch, on the other hand, accused the police of being rough with activists.

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