The Axis for Peace
By Adrienne Woltersdorf and Sabine Orde
"Axis for Peace" demonstrators don't see themselves as anti-Americans. They know they have allies in the US.
[This article originally published in: die tageszeitung, May 22, 2002 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, www.taz.de/pt/.nf/spText.Name,neoliberalismus, idx, 0.]
Downtown Berlin offered a foretaste for the security measures announced today. 10,000 police will arrive for the largest demonstration in Berlin's modern history. They should protect US (P)resident George Bush.
Just before the beginning of the demonstration of the alliance "Axis for Peace" comprised of over 200 groups, the men in green battle dress only had a reserved presence, waiting in the shadows of their emergency vehicles for troublemakers and rioters. However the 70,000 demonstrators were quiet. There were no incidents until the evening. Only individual bad-tempered disgruntled citizens attempted to discuss the security concept with officials. This was vain; no commentary occurred.
All those with something to say about and against American policy gathered this afternoon on the boulevard Unter den Linden. There was a balanced approach with the PDS where a book burning once occurred. "We know with whom we can be in solidarity in the US", an older man said at the lectern. He told how his activist group was provided with drinks by Afro-Americans on the march to Baltimore...
"This is not your world. Go fishing, Mr. Bush" declared one banner held high by a young woman dressed entirely in black. Beside her was a man against capitalism leaning on a cane. PDS head Gabi Zimmer levied sharp criticism at the Anti-terror policy of the US... Here there was no anti-Americanism, only criticism of the policy of US President Bush.
Everyone came, those for the Kyoto climate protection treaty, those struggling for Mumia Abu-Jamal sentenced to death, those protesting against war and capitalism, those against the atom and those against America. A short time later, the great march singing and drumming moved to Alexander plaza in the center of East Berlin. Protest honking of car horns greeted the only pro-Bush demonstration several hundred kilometers away. The Berlin CDU welcomed the President at Checkpoint Charlie.
The final demonstration was at 5 o'clock. At 5:15, the Attac block crossed the corner. "We are not 15,000; we are far more than in our wildest dreams", said Jutta Kausch, actress of the initiative Artists against the War.
At 5:30, the demonstration ended. Rolf Wischnath from the Berlin-Brandenburg Evangelical church spoke first. He said "No to all forms of terrorism. September 11 was not a turn of an era. The world situation did not completely change with this date."
Jean Ziegler, UN special correspondent for the right to food, also spoke. "The world could feed 12 billion people today. While we are only half that number, 826 million people in the world are permanently undernourished. Whoever dies of hunger today on this planet is murdered. The American empire, not the American people, bear the main responsibility for this murderous world order." He criticized the US for blocking Kyoto, the bio-weapons convention, an international criminal court and land-mines. "European subservience toward the US must end."