Bratislava, Slovakia — Greenpeace welcomes the Slovak General Prosecutor’s decision to release – due to ‘no grounds for detention’ – the 12 activists who were incarcerated for more than 146 hours after peacefully protesting against the coal industry in Slovakia. Although free to go home, they are still facing criminal charges.

Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe’s political advisor, Julia Sokolovicova, said:

“While we are happy for the release of these 12 brave women and men, it is absurd that they are still being held criminally liable for a non-violent protest against the coal industry. The real criminals are anyone that keeps us from a just transition away from coal, a main driver of dangerous climate change, not the 12 young people who stood up for our future. We thank them and continue to stand by them, just like the hundreds of people who peacefully protested for their release. We all know that freedom of speech and protecting the planet go hand-in-hand.”

“Slovakia has the potential to be a leader in Central Europe while sending a strong signal to world leaders at the UN climate conference happening right now by listening to what Slovaks and the rest of the world are demanding, looking to the future and phasing out coal.”

The activists are currently charged with “intentionally endangering the operations of a generally beneficial facility/enterprise”; referring to the coal mining operation. The 12 activists —  from Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Belgium — displayed banners on the mining tower of a Slovak lignite mining company calling for an end to the era of coal. The protest followed a UN report about the dire effects of unchecked climate change, and was in response to a bad deal between the Slovak government and the lignite coal mine. [1]

The climate science is clear: we have 12 years left to prevent catastrophic climate change. During the COP24 UN Climate Conference in Poland, global leaders will need to face this harsh reality. Several countries are already calling for faster action and responsibility, together with people all over the world who are peacefully protesting against harmful fossil fuels. In some countries, however, citizens who are calling for stronger commitments from governments risk detention and imprisonment. These governments are still bending to the interests of the coal industry and are seeking to silence critical voices, even when this means criminalising peaceful protesters who are standing up for the health of people and the planet.

ENDS

Photos and videos in solidarity of the detained activists, here

[1] The Slovak “lignite phaseout” plan, or government proposal LP/2018/872, developed between the Slovak government and the lignite mining company HBP can be read here in full (Slovak language only)

[2] Greenpeace International Press Release about the detention, here

Contacts:

Julia Sokolovicova, Political Advisor, Greenpeace in Central and Eastern Europe Mobile +420 608 071 134

Greenpeace International Press Desk: pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org, +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)