Twenty four protesters entered the working area at Kárahnúkar, the controversial hydro-electric development in East Iceland, late Monday night and chained themselves to machinery to protest damage to the environment. According to media reports protesters were arrested and three British nationals were released last night.
Deputy Sheriff Helgi Jensson told Icelandic State Radio, RÚV, that the protests had been disruptive. The protesters accuse the police of being brutal and say the protests had been peaceful until the police came along.
The police ordered plant mangers to turn on the machinery that the protesters had chained themselves to. The police admit to turning on the equipment but say it was done after the protesters tried to spray and destroy the machinery and slash tires. Twelve police were at the scene.
Ólafur Páll, who runs the protesters camp at Kárahnjúkar, told the media that the police sexually assaulted a women being arrested and claims that the police held down a man while he was beaten.
According to media reports the police presence at Kárahjúkar will be increased, a special forces unit from the State Police Chief is already on hand. Landsvirkjun plans to file charges against protesters for damages. The police in the East of Iceland has asked that two of the protesters be deported. The immigration service, Útlendingastofnun, says however that there is no basis to do so.
The protesters have published a declaration on the web site savingiceland.org saying they will not stop the protests in spite of the actions of the police. According to news reports this morning the police have asked the protesters to leave the camp and notified them that they will be forced out if they have not left by noon today.