“We must bring together the anti-war and climate movements.”
For the international days of action against the war on Rojava, the Munich Solidarity Alliance for Kurdistan has organized a demonstration against the German car producer Daimler. Specifically, it is against the supplying of military vehicles to Turkey and other dictatorships, but also against ecological destruction, for which the company is partly responsible when it comes to car traffic. The demo is a good example of how different movements can be united along the social and ecological question.
The star of Mercedes stands not only for the German car manufacturer Daimler, but also for Germany as an industrial centre par excellence. For many people, Mercedes is not just a car, but a status symbol. But the credibility of Daimler is increasingly being damaged, most recently since Fridays For Future began taking to the streets. The failed transport policy in Germany and elsewhere, and thus also the lobbyism of the car industry, has increasingly come under fire. This criticism is not only directed at the company’s bad CO2 balance. Another point of criticism is repeatedly raised in connection with Daimler: The sale of military vehicles to armies worldwide.
The Munich Solidarity Alliance for Kurdistan also takes the production of tools of war as an opportunity to take to the streets on Saturday, September 7, against the company’s corporate policy. “We are trying to denounce both the ecological destruction and the support of regimes like the one in Turkey,” explains a spokeswoman for the alliance. Even under Fascism, Daimler-Benz was not only a civilian company, but also a major player in the production of weapons for the German Army. Daimler-Benz profited from this armament as well as from the anti-Semitic and racist state terror of the Nazis. In fact, during Nazi rule thousands of forced laborers and concentration camp inmates were exploited at Mercedes. And, astonishingly, the company continued to produce war equipment after the Second World War. Under the label of Mercedes-Benz Defence Vehicles, Daimler-Benz exports military vehicles to half the world – including to dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
When last year the Kurdish/Northern Syrian canton of Afrin was occupied by jihadist gangs and the Turkish army, there were repeated criticisms and protests nationwide against German companies supporting the Erdogan regime. This criticism also hit Daimler – because the Mercedes star is emblazoned on many troop transporters and trucks of the Turkish army. Last year, Munich anti-war activists demonstrated in front of the Mercedes Centre in the city.
Daimler earns around half a billion euros a year from the sale of arms, but according to the company’s annual reports, which are several hundred pages long, this business has not taken place in recent years. But, of course, business has continued as usual. The company bosses have hidden these dealings and know exactly why: Profiting from war is not regarded well by the public. Daimler attaches great importance to its image and has recently been trying to appear “greener”. On Saturday, information stands on electric mobility will be set up in front of the Mercedes Centre in Munich. The Munich Solidarity Alliance for Kurdistan also takes a critical view of this: “Electromobility is just another attempt to save a system, and also a transport system, that will lead us further and further into the climate crisis,” explains the spokeswoman of the Munich Alliance. “The main aim is to save the sales and profits of the automotive industry. From an ecological point of view, electric cars are of little use, since most people now realize how CO2-intensive the production of electric cars is. What we need is the strengthening of public transport and the disempowerment of the car industry. What we need is a traffic turnaround and an end to capitalism.”
The Munich Solidarity Alliance for Kurdistan also wants to strengthen the cooperation between the Kurdish freedom movement, ecological movements and the anti-war movement with its demonstration at the Mercedes Centre. “Daimler is the perfect target for this,” explains the Alliance spokeswoman. “The company is jointly responsible for ecological destruction in Germany and also for wars such as the one in Kurdistan, from which it profits, and which destroys nature there. That’s why we want to unite and make clear to the people from the ecological and anti-war movement on the streets in our demonstration and beyond: The commitment to peace and ecology go hand in hand”.
Saturday September 7th, 3pm – Bahnhofplatz / Schützenstraße München