Anti-poverty concert drums home message to G8

8th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

8 June 2007, Rostock, Germany (dpa) - Rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof joined bands from Germany and other countries on Thursday in an anti-poverty concert staged to send a musical message to the G8. Some 70,000 fans crammed into a park in the city of Rostock to listen to the music and political demands addressed to the leaders of the world's richest nations meeting in nearby Heiligendamm. Humid summer weather, shiny happy people and sound of drums and guitars combined to give a Woodstock-like atmosphere to

8 June 2007

Rostock, Germany (dpa) - Rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof joined bands from Germany and other countries on Thursday in an anti-poverty concert staged to send a musical message to the G8.

Some 70,000 fans crammed into a park in the city of Rostock to listen to the music and political demands addressed to the leaders of the world's richest nations meeting in nearby Heiligendamm.

Humid summer weather, shiny happy people and sound of drums and guitars combined to give a Woodstock-like atmosphere to an event that had a serious political undertone.

The main demand of the Raise Your Voice Against Poverty concert is for France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, Britain, the US and Russia to live up the aid pledges they made two years ago.

At their 2005 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, the G8 leaders pledged to double their assistance to Africa and add 50 billion dollars to global aid by 2010.

"We need to put pressure on the politicians," said veteran German singer Herbert Groenemeyer, a former actor who played the role of a war reporter in the successful 1981 feature film, Das Boot.

"Time is extremely short. We only have 24 hours," Groenemeyer told a press conference shortly before the concert got under way at mid-afternoon.

G8 leaders hold their final session on Friday when the subject of aid to Africa and ways to halt the spread of AIDS ravaging the continent are the main items on the agenda.

"Carpenters have their planes, painters their brushes. We only have only our public, and it would be irresponsible of us if we do not take advantage of that," he said.

U2 frontman Bono, who along with Geldof discussed the plight of Africa with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday evening, said he respected her position that she cannot promise more than she can give.

"But Germany has to live up to its commitments," he said, adding that he felt dejected after his chat with the chancellor in Heiligendamm and for a moment thought about throwing in the towel.

But he decided to carry on fighting for Africa. "I'd even give the devil a hug if I thought it would further our cause," he said.

In between the musical acts, which kicked off with a performance by Berlin band Seeed, speakers from eight nations calling themselves the P8, or Poor Eight, spoke to the fans.

Bangladesh's Mohammed Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, called on the G8 leaders to work for the creation of a new world order.

The economist, whose Grameen Bank provides microcredts to the poorest of the poor, said he was confident the UN Millenium goals of halving poverty by 2015 could be achieved.

"If the right decisions are taken in Heiligendamm, they we might even reach this target sooner," he added.

South Africa was represented by Kimi Naidoo, spokesperson for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, a massive alliance of trade unions, community groups and other organizations from 100 countries.

Referring to the "passive genocide" taking place on the African continent, he said: "Every day five times as many people die from hunger as those killed in the September 11 attacks.

"Why isn't there the same kind of solidarity as there was then?"

Poverty in Africa is a result of the division of the continent by its former colonial masters, he said, adding: "We're not coming here to beg, we're coming for justice."

Begging was also far from the mind of Senegal singer Youssou N'Dour: "Africa doesn't want charity. We believe that help should come in the form of investment," he said.

"The G8 has 24 hours to say what it is going to do. Africa is listening," he added.

DPA

Subject: German news

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