Nearly 500 protesters at NATO headquarters held

March 23rd, 2008 - 8:22 am ICT by admin  

Brussels, March 23 (DPA) Belgian police arrested nearly 500 demonstrators at NATO headquarters in Brussels as peace activists from 17 countries tried to enter the grounds Saturday. A Belgian peace initiative had called the protest under the motto “NATO game over” to prompt a debate on the alliance’s role in the world.

Organizers and police put the total number of demonstrators at around 1,000.

“NATO is a relict of the Cold War,” said Hans Lammerant of the Belgian peace organization Vredesactie which has called for a reduction of military intervention forces in the run-up to the NATO summit in Bucharest.

“A fundamental reform of NATO is on the agenda there. They want to present a new, strategic concept on the 60th anniversary of NATO in 2009,” he said, adding military expenditure should be lowered.

Huge numbers of police took up positions around NATO’s headquarters early Saturday.

Police had been monitoring the situation from a helicopter and also used a water cannon to disperse demonstrators.

The peace activists had armed themselves with rugs in order to climb over the barbed wire fence uninjured.

Those arrested were later released far from NATO’s headquarters.

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