Easter marchers call for Afghanistan withdrawal after soldier deaths | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 03.04.2010
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Easter marchers call for Afghanistan withdrawal after soldier deaths

Peace demonstrators took to the streets across Germany in traditional Easter marches against war. A theme of the rallies has been fighting in Afghanistan and the deaths of German and Afghan soldiers on Friday.

Demonstrators carrying a banner that calls for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Participants called for the German army to be withdrawn

Fighting in Afghanistan has been the focus of peace demonstrations across the country following the deaths of soldiers in two separate incidents on Friday.

Three Germans were killed in an attack by the Taliban, while at least five Afghan government troops died in an incident of friendly fire by German soldiers.

Activists gathered at around 30 separate events on Saturday to call for peace as part of Germany's Easter march tradition.

Munich was host to one of the biggest events with around 1,200 marchers gathered in the city's Marienplatz, according to organizers. Participants held aloft banners carrying peace slogans such as "I like peace" and "Disarmament instead of militarization for the EU."

A man with placards against the Afghanistan conflict and nuclear weapons

Nuclear weapons were also an issue highlighted by marchers

About 750 people took part in a peace march through the center of Stuttgart, while some 500 campaigners gathered outside the city hall in Dusseldorf, according to police reports.

Deaths raise concerns

Peace campaigners said that the soldiers' deaths highlighted their concerns over the conflict in Afghanistan - a central theme of this year's demonstrations.

"The news this Easter reminds us of the suppressed but brutal reality of the Afghanistan war and its hopelessness," said the head of the peace network Friedenskooperative, Manfred Stenner, in a statement from Bonn.

The government's "cynical and unwise" Afghanistan policy was to blame for the deaths, according to the Easter march movement's central office in Frankfurt.

"The immediate withdrawal of troops must be started," it said in a statement, adding that development in the war-ravaged country was dependent on peace.

A German soldier displays arm badges

The government's Afghanistan policy was described as cynical

Other themes of the rallies were calls for nuclear disarmament and an end to German arms exports.

Controversy in Leipzig

Police reported a minor disturbance at a peace rally in Leipzig, where some 300 demonstrators were present. Six individuals wearing blue shirts typical of the former East German youth organization FDJ had wanted to take part, but were told they would have to hide emblems of the communist organization.

Almost 200 peace demonstrators gathered in Wiesbaden, while in Bremen there were about people 250 present.

Other peace rallies took place in Braunschweig, Ramstein, Saarbruecken, Kiel and Duisburg, with some 70 events to take place over the Easter weekend as a whole.

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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