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German anti-war protesters kick off annual Easter marches

A few hundred Germans have taken to the streets in demonstrations against war and the arms industry. These were the first of dozens of marches for peace to be held over the Easter weekend.

Germany's

traditional Easter marches for peace

began with events organized in several cities on Friday.

The biggest rally on Good Friday was in the western town of Gronau, where around 350 demonstrators were reported to have gathered in front of the main gate of the URENCO uranium enrichment facility to demand that it be shut down.

A speaker at the rally said the plant should be shut down because it produced not only large quantities of enriched uranium but also a great deal of nuclear waste.

Around 100 people turned out to a demonstration in the central town of Bruchköbel to demand an end to the armed conflict in Ukraine and to protest against the deployment of German Bundeswehr troops to crisis regions abroad.

A few dozen peace activists attended a Christian service outside of the Büchel Airbase in the west of the country to protest against nuclear weapons. The airbase, located near the town of Cochem in Rheinland-Palatinate, is the only site in Germany where US nuclear weapons are stored.

Good Friday marches and rallies were also held in the cities of Dortmund, Saarbrücken and Chemnitz, among others, with activists protesting against a wide range of concerns, including arms exports, the conflict in Syria and the Islamist extremist group "Islamic State," which has seized large swathes of territory in both Syria and northern Iraq.

A total of around 80 events are to take place between Good Friday and Easter Monday, and the Bonn-based Network of the German Peace Movement said it

hoped that about 30,000 would participate.

Cold War peak

Germany's Easter marches, which began with a demonstration in Hamburg in 1960, actually have their roots in protests against a nuclear weapons research facility in Britain in the 1950s.

The Easter marches reached their peak in support between 1968 and 1983, when events throughout West Germany brought hundreds of thousands out onto the streets annually to demonstrate against things like Washington's military involvement in Vietnam and the nuclear arms race.

pfd/rc(EPD, dpa)

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