Easter marches focus on Afghanistan and nuke-free world | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 09.04.2009
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Easter marches focus on Afghanistan and nuke-free world

Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to the traditional Easter marches throughout Germany. From Good Friday to Easter Monday people will come together to call for world peace and an end to nuclear weapons.

Some 3,000 people form a giant peace sign during an Easter protest gathering near the eastern German town of Wittstock

The first Easter Marches were directed against nuclear weapons

Peace activists have announced Easter marches in more than 70 towns across Germany. Many demonstrations are taking place near military bases, such as the US airbase at Ramstein. This year's marches will focus on the western military alliance NATO and nuclear weapons. Peace activists are criticizing the results of the recent NATO summit in France and Germany which they say will lead to an expansion of the war in Afghanistan.

Thousands of peace activists with banners participating in Easter marches in Munich last year

Peace activists have long called for an end to the war in Afghanistan

"NATO out of Afghanistan"

The US has promised to send 21,000 additional troops to the region to fight al-Qaida and the Taleban. Germany has pledged to send an additional 600 troops this summer to secure the Afghan elections.

Germany currently has about 3,800 troops in Afghanistan and has a parliamentary mandate to send a total of 4,500 as part of the NATO mission.

A world without nuclear weapons

Peace activists are hoping that US President Barack Obama will continue along the path he outlined during his recent visit to Europe. In a widely acclaimed speech in Prague on April 5, Obama formulated his vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

Mushroom cloud rises from a nuclear test site in Nevada, United States

Activists march for a nuke-free world

The Easter March movement is calling on Washington to start working toward that vision by withdrawing the last remaining US nukes from German soil.

The demonstrations will also draw attention to social issues, such as poverty and the dismantling of the welfare state. Demonstrators are also demanding more democracy and the implementation of human rights. Critics says that while the Easter marches may have worthy aims they unfortunately have no workable solutions to resolve or tackle ongoing violent conflicts.

The Easter March movement started in Great Britain. Spearheaded by the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, some 10,000 people gathered in London on Good Friday in 1958 to call for nuclear disarmament. The first Easter march in Germany was organized in 1960.

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