Peaceful protests have been held in Bonn, Germany, close to the venue of the G20 foreign ministers. Demonstrators called for “international solidarity” in the face of warfare and growing right-wing sentiments.
As G20 foreign ministers met behind closed doors at the World Conference Center on Thursday evening, a small group of protesters from various movements and NGOs marched through nearby streets in the western German city of Bonn, chanting slogans such as “Break the power of the banks and companies!” and “Let’s hear it for international solidarity!”
Among them were members from the Network of the German Peace Movement, German leftist party Die Linke, the German Communist Party (DKP) and the Bonn Kurdistan Solidarity Committee.
“We’re here because we don’t believe that the G20 represents us,” Nils Jansen from the Bonn Youth Movement told DW.
“They represent big banks and companies … war politics and militaristic politics. And we refuse to be silent any longer.”
A main concern among protesters was the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and the involvement of G20 states, particularly in the Syria conflict.
“On the one hand you have some G20 member supporting different parties and Islamist, so-called rebels, who are in fact militants like al Qaeda and al Nusra. Then on the other, you have Russia, China and Iran, who are supporting [President Baschar] al Assad’s regime,” Jansen said.
“It’s a war of different superpowers – Russia, USA, Germany and NATO – which has been brought upon the Syrian people. So we demand that the G20 get their hands off of Syria.”
‘Murderous’ G20 policy
In remembrance of the civilians killed as a result of the involvement of some G20 states in Middle Eastern conflicts, some protesters fell to the ground to represent corpses during a minute’s silence.
“Warfare over resources and raw materials is the reason why more and more people are becoming refugees,” one protester told DW, while others shouted that G20 policy was “murderous.”
Following the debut of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the G20 meeting, protest leaders over a sound system also warned against the recent increase in right-wing populism and the “Donald Trumps of Europe.”
“We have to stop a second Trump victory in Germany, and stop the AfD from succeeding,” one protester shouted from the designated vehicle. Germans are set to head to the polls on September 24, which could see the right-wing AfD (Alternative for Germany) enter the Bundestag – Germany’s lower house of parliament – for the first time.
Addressing closures of EU borders to refugees, another protester, Jaob, said it was “really hypocritical if people complain about Trump building a wall, while here in Germany we are building ‘Fortress Europe.'”
“Thousands of refugees are being left to die in the Mediterranean,” he said as fellow demonstrators chanted: “Brick by brick, wall by wall. Make the fortress Europe fall!”
Anti-Trump sentiment still strong
Americans were also among the demonstrators at Thursday’s protest, saying it was yet another chance to make their voices heard against the Trump presidency.
A month into Trump’s four-year term in the White House, Leigh Redemer, a 31-year-old teacher from Ohio said she has so far been “completely disappointed, appalled by Trump and his administration.”
“I think it’s a really wonderful opportunity to express my disappointment to global leaders or at least to make a public protest of one particular aspect of the Trump admin, which is its inappropriate links to Russia.”
Following his first face-to-face with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Tillerson told reporters that the United States stands ready to cooperate with Russia when it is in American interests, echoing US President Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric.
As the G20 ministers’ meeting continues on Friday, officials of leading industrialized and emerging economies are expected to discuss sustainable development goals, support for Africa, and how best to identify and prevent future crises. The meeting in Bonn is a lead-up to the group’s July summit of heads of state and government in Hamburg.