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Thousands of protesters occupy German coal mine

Thousands of protesters occupy German coal mine
Copyright REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen
Copyright REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen
By Sam Cox
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Protesters near the RWE Garzweiler coal mine have set up camp in preparation for their occupation of the area.


The environmental alliance protest group “Ende Gelände” (“Here and No Further”) has set up camp for its protest at the Garzweiler open-pit coal mine in the Rhineland, Germany.

The coal mine is run by the RWE company, a European supplier of electricity and natural gas, who are heavily involved in the production of lignite — a form of coal — in mines such as Garzweiler.

The activist group said they have over 40 buses coming from all over Europe and expect numbers of protesters to be in the thousands. The protests are due to start on Friday and will remain on-site for as long as possible.

The group is a compilation of environmental movements calling for an immediate shut-down of the coal mine, as well as larger systematic changes to society and the economy.

RWE responded to the protests on Twitter with safety advice for protesters, addressing issues such as electrical shocks, steep slopes, and railway equipment. “Dear all coming into the Rhinish Lignite Area, your safety is important to us. Therefore we have prepared some information for you in the following videos.”

“Ende Gelände” also highlighted the importance of safety in their planning of the protests, running training classes and outlining their planned conduct in their action consensus. Planning a “mass blockade” in order to obstruct the site, they highlight that it is a completely non-violent protest, and it is of the utmost importance to them that “every human right is protected.”.

Speaking to Euronews, Georg Kössler, Green Parliamentarian in the Berlin State Legislation said: "these EndeGelände protests have evolved and become a massive act of civil disobedience and just last year the Federal government acknowledged that we have to face [this issue], but for all those people here it's just not fast enough.”

He acknowledged that while an immediate shut-down of the industry would be hard, it could be much faster than the anticipated 2038 goal the federal government has outlined, and 2025 or 2030 would both be achievable.

The protest group has conflicted with RWE before in October of 2018, occupying the nearby Hambach forest near the Etzweiler coal mine. The protest saw thousands of German police attempting to disperse the activists as many had chained themselves to the trees.

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