Numbers down at German Easter peace marches

18th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

18 April 2006, BERLIN - The German pacifist movement, which has greatly diminished over the years, wound up Monday its annual Easter marches, with predictions that war might break out over Iran's nuclear programme high among the pacifists' concerns.

18 April 2006

BERLIN - The German pacifist movement, which has greatly diminished over the years, wound up Monday its annual Easter marches, with predictions that war might break out over Iran's nuclear programme high among the pacifists' concerns.

Organizers said parades in 83 cities over the four days of the long weekend had attracted "tens of thousands" of activists.

At a closing rally in Germany's business capital Frankfurt, a leading trade unionist, Horst Schmitthenner of the IG Metall factory-workers' union, contended that Washington was preparing an air attack against Iran "to expand its supremacy in the Middle East."

"Even if Iran does seek to acquire nuclear weapons, which we naturally oppose, Iran cannot threaten anyone with nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future," he told a crowd that police said numbered a little less than 1,000. Organizers claimed 2,500 were present.

Police and organizers differed in other cities in their counts of attendance Monday. In Berlin, police counted 650 participants while organizers, who had catered for 4,000 to attend, spoke of 1,000 present.

"We're not giving up, but we are surprised that so few people are concerned," said Jutta Kausch of Berlin's Peace Cooperative.

The marches are an offshoot of anti-nuclear protest marches first launched in Britain during the Easter holiday in 1958 by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). In Germany, Easter marches became a well established part of the anti-war and anti-nuclear movements during the Cold War.

Attendance has declined since then. Last year more than 10,000 people took part in the rallies in 65 cities. Three years ago the figure was well over 100,000 when protesters voiced their anger at the US-led invasion of Iraq.

DPA

Subject: German news

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