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Human chain protests German weapons exports

December 5, 2020

Hundreds have protested Germany's rising military spending, forming a human chain that stretched from parliament to Chancellor Angela Merkel's office. Demonstrators gathered under the slogan "Peace, not armament."

Protesters form a human chain outside the Bundestag
The human chain stretched across Berlin's government districtImage: Fabian Sommer/dpa/picture alliance

Peace protesters gathered in Berlin's government district on Saturday as part of nationwide demonstrations calling for disarmament.

Holding ribbons to help with physical distancing, hundreds of people formed a human chain stretching from Chancellor Angela Merkel's office to the Bundestag, which houses the lower house of parliament.

Berlin police said 350 people took part in the protest in the German capital, while organizers said 500 people were there.

Smaller demonstrations were held in other German cities, including Bonn and Munich.

"Stop the bomb business" reads a banner at a protest outside the chancellery in Berlin, Germany
'Stop the bomb business' read a banner at the protestImage: Fabian Sommer/dpa/picture alliance

Military spending sparks ire

The protest, which was held under the slogan "Peace, not armaments," comes amid a debate over military spending in Germany.

On Tuesday, German lawmakers are set to discuss the country's budget proposals for 2021, which would see a hefty spike in defense spending.

Reiner Hoffmann, the head of the German Trade Union Confederation, said his association was demonstrating "against the global armament craze" and NATO spending targets.

"We have to break the spiral of arms buildup. Armament and violence are not solving any problems," he said.

"Make peace without weapons," reads one protester's sign at a demonstration outside the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany
'Make peace without weapons,' reads one protester's signImage: Fabian Sommer/dpa/picture alliance

Outgoing US President Donald Trump and NATO have been pushing Germany to increase its defense spending, which currently falls under the 2% goal the military alliance has set for its members.

Trump has frequently taken issue with Germany's military spending, announcing this summer that Washington planned to withdraw thousands of US troops from military bases in Germany.

US lawmakers took steps to block the plan in a defense spending bill that was finalized this week, though Trump could still veto the legislation.

rs/rc (dpa, AP)