Thousands of activists on Saturday occupied several opencast coal mines in eastern Germany, seeking to put pressure on the government to phase out the fossil fuel – a divisive issue in the country’s rust belt.
Wearing masks and dressed in white, hundreds of campaigners stormed into the Jaenschwalde Ost mine while another 450 sat down on a railroad connected to the site. Similar action hit the Welzow-Sued mine, also in the Lausitz basin.
Meanwhile, MIBRAG which operates another mine — the Vereinigtes Schleenhain site — south of Leipzig said about 1,200 protesters blocked a coal-excavator, forcing the group to halt operations.
Both MIBRAG and Czech-controlled LEAG which operates the two Lausitz mines said they were filing legal action against the protesters. Police were able to clear the mines only after several hours.
In these mining regions, thousands of jobs depend on coal. But some residents are also threatened with the loss of their homes over a planned expansion of mining.
Underlining the division over the coal industry, dozens of pro-coal militants also gathered in the Lausitz basin.
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