An estimated 320,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Germany on Saturday in mass protests against an Obama-backed transatlantic free-trade deal between the EU, US and Canada.
Germans are afraid of losing their rights to big corporations who are merely seeking profits at the expense of the environment and people.
Rallies against trade pacts with Canada and the United States – CETA and TTIP – drew 70,000 in Berlin, 65,000 in Hamburg, 55,000 in Cologne, 50,000 in Frankfurt, 40,000 in Stuttgart, 25,000 in Munich, and 15,000 in Leipzig, according to the organizers.
Berlin police confirmed the attendance figure for the Berlin rally. Hamburg police said some 30,000 people assembled in the city center in the afternoon. Police estimates for other cities were reportedly somewhat lower.
The demonstration was organized by 30 civil action groups, including environmental watchdogs like NaturFreunde Deutschlands and Greenpeace, together with trade unions and political parties.
“We are here because we want to strengthen democracy…CETA is based on the ideology of deregulation… in the interest of the economically powerful and at the expense of the socially vulnerable, the nature and the third world,” NaturFreunde’s president Michael Mueller said.
EU’s 27 trade ministers will gather in Slovakia’s Bratislava on September 23. They are expected to negotiate an annex to the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which aims to establish a free trade zone.
A similar deal between the European Union and the United States, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), was pronounced dead last month by German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel.