Thousands of anti-war protesters and peace activists attempted to block the entrance to the Pentagon's Ramstein Airbase near the German city of Kaiserslautern on Saturday. One US protestor explained the base is "absolutely necessary for the US drone wars that under German law are considered illegal." Another American taking part in the nonviolent protests added: "The drone killing that the US is doing is totally barbaric and immoral, and we need to stop it."
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (June 30, 2018) -- Protesters marched outside Ramstein Air Base's west gate on Saturday, demanding the base be closed and seizing upon a media report that the Pentagon is reviewing the costs of keeping troops in Germany.
About 1,500 protesters participated in the march, held annually by the Berlin-based "Stopp Air Base Ramstein" group, according to police.
Reiner Braun, one of the organizers, said that about 2,500 people showed up instead of the 5,000 they expected. Traffic was backed up outside Gate 5 during the demonstration, and the base security detachment was augmented with reinforcements throughout the event.
Police spokesman Michael Hummel said that groups of activists blocked traffic near the end of the protest. "Twelve or 13 activists did not stop blocking the street even after they were told several times," Hummel said. "The prosecutor's office will now investigate them."
Protest organizers had promised acts of civil disobedience by "specially trained" activists, but never elaborated on what those acts would be, other than blocking access roads to the base.
Organizers said they were encouraged by a Washington Post report on Friday, which said Trump was taken aback by the size of the US presence in Germany, according to unnamed officials. Trump has also assailed Germany for not doing more to contribute 2 percent of its gross domestic product to NATO, a benchmark agreed upon by its member nations.
However, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis applauded Germany on June 20 for its plans to hike defense spending 80 percent by 2024, which would bring its total to about 1.5 percent of its GDP.
Lucas Wirl, who helped organize the protest, said it could be "a step in the right direction" if Trump pulls US troops out. "But if the withdrawal of the troops from Germany means they will move to Poland, there is still a problem. Then we have the US troops right next to the Russian border," Wirl said, adding that the "politics of confrontation" needed to stop; instead, "we need demilitarization of Europe."
Base officials on Friday warned of traffic delays and asked personnel to avoid the protest for safety reasons. "We respect our rich history with our German partners and we fight for the right to safely voice opinions through the expression of freedom of speech and assembly," the base's Facebook page stated. Protesters Plan 'Civil Disobedience'
Near Ramstein Air Base in June Marcus Kloeckner / Stars & Stripes
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (May 23, 2018) -- Anti-war activists plan to block access to Ramstein Air Base and mount other acts of civil disobedience during their annual protest next month, organizers said Wednesday.
"Specially trained" activists will participate in the protest, scheduled to run from June 23 to July 1, organizers with the Berlin-based "Stopp Ramstein -- No Drone War" alliance told reporters.
The acts will include blocking access roads to Ramstein, said Reiner Braun, one of the event's organizers. The activities will be carried out by 200-300 participants divided into groups of 8-12 members, Braun said.
When asked what exactly the protesters would do, Braun declined to divulge any more details. "We do not want to make it too easy for the police," Braun said. Braun added that "everything will be peaceful . . . in the best tradition of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi."
At the group's last protest in September, traffic through the base's Gate 5 slowed throughout the afternoon and stopped when protesters blocked traffic for a few minutes. No arrests were made, base officials said at the time.
Base officials at Ramstein normally advise personnel to stay away from the protest area to avoid traffic delays.
About 30 members of the German and European parliaments -- all members of leftist political parties -- will take part in the final rally this year, Braun said.
The activists plan to focus their protest on what they describe as America's "illegal drone war" in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as the German government's plans to equip its army with armed drones, Braun said.
They will also demand the closure of the sprawling US air base because they say it would serve as a logistic hub for a theoretical war with Iran. About 2,500 people took part in the protest group's annual rally last year, according to police; organizers said as many as 5,000 attended the gathering.
Braun said that the group expects the same number of protesters this year. Demonstrators to Blockade US'
Ramstein Air Base to Protest Drone War Sputnik News
(May 23, 2018) -- Anti-war activists plan to block access to the US' Ramstein Air Force Base in southwestern Germany during their annual protest next month to urge the facility to end its support of US drone operations.
The protest, which is expected to take place from June 23 to July 1, will be organized by the Berlin-based organization "Stopp Ramstein -- No Drone War." According to one of the event's organizers, Reiner Braun, the protest will include other activities like blocking access roads to Ramstein, Star and Stripes reported Wednesday.
"Drones are very unpopular in Germany. It is killing. It is from our understanding against international law," Braun recently told World Beyond War, an organization that seeks to end war.
Around 5,000 people are expected to participate in the protest. In addition, 30 members of the German and European parliaments will also rally this year, calling for the end of what they call America's "illegal drone war" in the Middle East. The protest has support from multiple peace organizations, including Women for Peace and CODEPINK, which both work to end wars and occupation.
When Star and Stripes asked Braun to provide more details on activities that will be carried out by protesters, Braun declined.
"We do not want to make it too easy for the police," Braun said, though adding "everything will be peaceful . . . in the best tradition of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi."
Ramstein's role in the US drone war became public in 2013 after Brandon Bryant, who was a camera operator of unmanned drones of the US Air Force between 2006 and 2011, divulged that the Air Force drone program preached indiscriminate destruction in the Middle East.
In an interview with Roots Action in October 2017, Bryant said: "They [the US Air Force] put us into a theater and showed us a montage video of drone strikes and at the end they told us that our only job is to kill people and break things.
It went against everything that I had ever learned about honor and justice and training. It was terrifying how dismissive people were about the whole affair. We were safe in the US and those over there [Middle East] were not. We win. But that's not how it goes."
In 2015, Bryant was awarded the Whistleblower Award by the Federation of Scientists and the German section of the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms. Videos from the Stopp Rammstein Conference Gabriele Krone-Schmalz / RT Deutsch
RAMSTEIN, Germany (June 29, 2018) -- Moderation: Christiane Reymann (Autorin) Speakers:
Pat Elder (World Beyond War) Ann Wright (ehemaliger Colonel der US-Army, CodePink) Unser Verhaltnis zu Russland Kai Ehlers (Journalist, Publizist und Russlandexperte): Konfrontationspolitik gegen Russland -- Notwendigkeiten und Möglichkeiten von Kooperationen. Ekkehard Sieger (Mitarbeiter "Die Anstalt"): Medienkampagnen gegen Russland
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