Tens of thousands of protestors congregated in two towns in southeastern Germany and in Strasbourg, eastern France, yesterday to protest against the NATO summit on the 60th anniversary of the alliance.
Twenty-eight leaders including US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the two-day summit which began 3 April.
President Obama encouraged the European powers to recognise that the struggle in Afghanistan was one they had to own, rather than expecting the US to take sole responsibility.
But other analysts argue that his military surge in Afghanistan is the wrong response and will make matters worse.
This is particularly the view of protesters against NATO policy. Following the massive demonstrations at the G20 meeting in London, tens of thousands of demonstrators from across Europe, along with others from around the world including the United States, have beeen gathering in Strasbourg and Kehl.
In an effort to retain control, France has temporally reestablished control of its border with Germany for the meeting.
In Strasbourg, hundreds of anti-NATO protestors were detained at the end of one of the protests against the alliance. According to organizers, more than 2,000 people attended, but police figures placed them at 500. The police resorted to the use of force, including teargas, said reporters and observers. Most demonstrators were peaceful, but some threw missiles.
Gregorio Yong, a Colombian activist, said that NATO is “synonymous with war.” Meanwhile, another protestor, Daniel Mouray, who was covering himself with a rainbow flag, said that he expected very little from the summit. “We want them to stop the wars and for the United States to go home,” he added.
Some 15,000 German police, including 31 anti-riot squads, and 9,000 French police were positioned in the area.
Meanwhile , with more than 500 participants from 20 European countries plus the US and Canada, the International Congress of the Peace Movement gathered to focus on a political critique of, and alternatives to, NATO.
Speakers from NATO countries, Russia, Georgia, Afghanistan, and other countries criticized the policy of global militarization and demanded the dismantling of military bases, scrapping of the Missile Defense System and an end to the war in Afghanistan.
Following an international demonstration today (Saturday 4 April), the congress will continue on Sunday with a discussion among representatives of political parties and participants of peace and social movements from different European countries.