„Disarmament Instead of Rearmament“:
The Germany-Wide Day of Action on 5 December 2020 – a Prelude to Further Joint Engagement
With more than 100 events and several thousand participants, the day of action and protest organized by the Abrüsten statt Aufrüsten campaign (Disarm instead of Rearm) was a great success, despite the difficult conditions created by Covid-19.
Peace initiatives all over the country were joined by trade unions and – in a new showing of solidarity— environmental organizations who made this day theirs and, full of ideas and imagination, took to the streets for peace and disarmament while keeping with the nation-wide Corona-related restrictions. Human chains, rallies, vigils, public events, signature campaigns, and information stands characterised the more than 100 actions.
Signatures calling for “disarmament instead of rearmament” were collected prior to and during the day of action, reaching over 180,000 signatures to date.
The media response before and during the day of action, including in Switzerland and France, was certainly positive. It has also contributed to bringing the issue of disarmament back into the public eye.
This day of action encourages further activities and actions in Germany and beyond.
In Germany, the movement hopes to get involved in the federal elections in 2021. This election will be challenging and demands for peace, détente and disarmament must be prominent in the discussion. Peace and disarmament should become an election campaign issue and influence the election decision. Together with activists and committed people, we hope to develop an action-oriented campaign and agree on it together at an action conference in the spring of 2021.
Nevertheless, we are only at the beginning: in this confrontational world situation, peace does not yet have the status in society that it should have in view of the current acute political situation; disarmament is not yet central in the consciousness of the people of our country, and it is not an election-deciding issue. The interdependence of peace, social issues, and environmentalism, especially climate justice, is still not sufficiently understood.The Abrüsten statt Aufrüsten campaign will continue to make disarmament a social hegemonic challenge through diverse actions and thus decisively strengthen the peace movement.
The extended working committee of the campaign offers us a good basis for this. The members of the working committee are Peter Brandt (Neue Entspannungspolitik Jetzt!) | Reiner Braun (International Peace Bureau) | Barbara Dieckmann (former President of Welthungerhilfe) | Thomas Fischer (DGB) | Philipp Ingenleuf (Netzwerk Friedenskooperative) | Christoph von Lieven (Greenpeace) | Michael Müller (Naturfreunde, former State Secretary) | Willi van Ooyen (Peace Bureau) | Michael Müller (Peace Foundation, former President of Welthungerhilfe) | Michael Müller (Peace Foundation, former State Secretary of the German Federation of Trade Unions). ) | Willi van Ooyen (Federal Committee Peace Council) | Miriam Rapior (BUNDjugend, Fridays for Futures) | Ulrich Schneider (Managing Director Der Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband) | Ludwig Weigel (Deutscher Bundesjugendring) | Uwe Wötzel (ver.di) | Thomas Würdinger (IG Metall) | Olaf Zimmermann (Deutscher Kulturrat).
Allocating nearly 50 billion Euro to the defence budget is unjustifiable; new weapon systems are being procured and the militarisation of society continues to grow. We know that war does not solve any problem: armament does not create true security or a sustainable environment. Given the global pandemic that currently threatens everyone’s security regardless of nationality or military might, „Health instead of armament“ has been a core call across nearly all actions.
In a speech in Berlin, the Chair of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) Reiner Hoffmann elaborated:
„…we have ample reason to demand a change of course. The NATO goal that all allies should spend two per cent of their GDP on rearmament is still not off the table. For Germany, this would mean that its defence budget would increase to around 80 billion euros.
This must not be allowed to happen under any circumstances! That is why we must now stand up to all those who, after the election of Joe Biden as the new US President, are loudly demanding that the two-percent target be met. Across all parties, we are currently hearing the argument that this is a key to repairing the transatlantic relationship.
What nonsense! Much more urgent is the question of how we can talk to each other after the return of the US to the Paris climate agreement. Talking about how the new US administration and the Europeans can cooperate more closely in the fight against climate change.
Arms build-up and the force of arms do not solve problems. On the contrary! We should especially remember this this year. It is 75 years since the Second World War ended and the world was liberated from fascism.“
The Managing Director of the social welfare association „Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband“ Ulrich Schneider underlined his organization’s new commitment to peace with the words „in the future always with us“.
5 December 2021 was a start – we will continue together.
Reiner Braun, Executive Director of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) is a member of the working committee of Abrüsten statt Aufrüsten.