Germany: activists take action against Rheinmetall AGM

A large number of people occupy a stage. Some are trying to hold up banners as security guards try to pull them down.
Activists inside the Rheinmetall AGM. Photo: Twitter/@RISEUP4R0JAVA

Activists in Germany have disrupted the annual general meeting of arms company Rheinmetall, holding banners protesting the use of tanks manufactured by the company by the Turkish military in Kurdish regions. A large number of activists occupied the stage during the meeting, as well as holding a large and colourful protest outside with banners and face masks on the theme “the dead are coming”. Greenpeace climbers hung a huge banner reading “Rheinmetall bombs kill in the Yemen war!”

Rheinmetall is a German defence and automotive company founded in 1889, and is Germany's biggest arms manufacturer. In the 2017 fiscal year, Rheinmetall's defence sales were €3.036 billion (the automotive segment were €2.861 billion), and the company employs a total of 23,726 people. The company is headquartered in Dusseldorf, and builds a range of different weapons, including vehicles, autocannons (a rapid-firing, automatic weapon firing armour piecing explosive shells), anti-tank systems, artillery, mortars, and ammunition. In 2018, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), listed Rheinmetall as the world's 25th biggest arms company.

In late 2018 it was announced that Germany had signed over 30 arms deals with Turkey in just two months, as concerns grew over the use of Rheinmetall Leopard tanks in Turkey’s assault on Kurdish fighters in Syria. In January 2019 Rheinmetall threatened to sue the German government, over the government’s decision to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

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