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International Press Conference denounces NATO wars, supports Sunday march protesting NATO Summit

By Steff Yorek

Emmi de Jesus, a congresswoman from the Philippines

Chicago, IL – People from around the world are coming to Chicago to protest NATO and the G8 on May 20. On May 17, international spokespeople gathered at the 8th Day Center for Justice in the Chicago Loop for a press conference in support of the protest against war makers and bankers.

Joe Lombardo of the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) opened the press conference. He said, “There will be a large permitted rally and march on Sunday, starting at the Petrillo band shell in Grant Park. In addition, there will be solidarity actions with our protest from Stockholm to London to Tehran.”

Inga Hoeger, a member of the German parliament and member of a group called No to NATO, No to War said, “NATO is an organization of militarism. The NATO generals will say that they are talking about troop withdrawals from the war in Afghanistan while they are at their summit. The truth is that they intend to maintain at least 50,000 troops there for a long period.” She added that NATO’s plan for a missile shield in Europe is a plan to increase the arms race. She raised the demand for Germany to withdraw from NATO and for NATO to be disbanded.

Her colleague, Tobi Pflüger of No to NATO, No to War and a former member of the European Union Parliament said, “While the big banks in Europe are pushing to impose austerity, as well as cuts to social programs, on to average people, they continue to spend a trillion dollars on the NATO military machine.”

June Kelly of the People Against War Network of Ireland reinforced the high costs of military bases, like the one developing at Shannon Airport in Ireland.

Kazem Azin of Solidarity with Iran said that Iranian students fear a destructive U.S. or NATO-led attack on Iran. These students will march in Tehran on May 18 under the slogan “From Tehran to Chicago, No to the Wars of NATO”

Emmi de Jesus spoke as a congressperson from the Philippines and representative of GABRIELA, an organization of Filipina women. She actively opposes U.S. bases and was asked whether it was important for the U.S. to have military allies. She replied, “The Philippines has no external aggressors. It is the U.S. that gains from the bases and not the Philippines.” She added, “in fact the social costs of bases are high, in terms of ecological damage and the rape and abuse of women and children.”

Reinart Braun of Germany closed the press conference saying, “We are here protesting on Sunday with all of you because we can no longer afford to feed this cold war dinosaur.”

The rally against U.S. war and the NATO military alliance will begin on Sunday, May 20 at 12:00 noon, at the Petrillo Bandshell in Grant Park, Chicago. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Chicano leader Carlos Montes, Students for a Democratic Society and Iraq Veterans Against War will all speak. Then there will be a march down to McCormick Place to confront the NATO war makers and politicians. War veterans are planning to return their medals from Iraq and Afghanistan to protest the continuing occupations and to protest future NATO wars.

Tobi Pfluger of Germany's No to NATO, No to War group

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