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Anti-war protesters take to streets over escalation fear

By Xing Yi in London | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-24 10:11
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People rally during a demonstration against war and the supply of weapons to Ukraine, in Cologne, Germany, on Sept 4. PANAMA PICTURES

As the US and its allies supply more weapons to Ukraine, peace activists have voiced their objections and are organizing demonstrations across Europe to call for a halt to the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Stop the War Coalition, an advocacy group in the United Kingdom, is mobilizing people to go to the streets in central London on Saturday to demand peace talks and oppose warmongering in the name of military support.

The coalition said the London demonstration will be part of a Europe-wide weekend of action, starting in Italy on Friday with a 24-kilometer march from Perugia to Assisi.

Rafaella Bolini of the Italian peace movement estimated that there will be protests in at least 100 towns and cities this weekend. "Feeling in Italy is running high against supplying arms to Ukraine. The movement is mobilizing everywhere," she said.

According to the coalition, demonstrations are planned for seven cities in Portugal. In Vienna, there is a protest on Saturday and another in Zurich on Sunday. Protests will be staged in 20 cities, including in Berlin, with action in Brussels on Sunday and protests across France throughout the weekend.

Lindsey German, a convener of the coalition, said at an online rally ahead of the planned demonstrations that Europe is "sleepwalking" into a much wider conflict by sending more weapons to Ukraine.

The UK hosted a program to train Ukrainian soldiers, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that it will train Ukrainian jet pilots.

Opposition voiced

On the other side of the Atlantic, Medea Benjamin, founder of the peace group Codepink, has been on a 50-city speaking tour of the US, trying to stoke opposition to supplying weapons.

"What comes after that? Is it troops? Is that nuclear weapons? So-called leaders in the West are taking us directly into either a wider world war or a nuclear war," she said.

Many peace organizations are coming out to oppose the escalation of the conflict.

Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said arms manufacturers are benefiting from this conflict at the cost of the people, not only those of Ukraine and Russia, who are dying, but also people in the countries sending weapons.

"Untold billions are being spent by governments who then also say there is no money for public services or for decent wages," she said.

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