AFP. 31 January 2002. Centre of Munich to be shut down for international

MUNICH -- The centre of Munich will be closed off over the weekend when
200 international military and political heavyweights hold an annual
security conference here amid fears of violent protest.

Some 3,000 police officers will be deployed to control a protest which,
organisers say, will bring 3,000-5,000 protesters out on to the streets.

The authorities fear the protests could turn violent; extreme-left
groups have been calling for months for supporters to rally at the
February 1-3 conference in Munich under the slogan "From Genoa to
Munich: Stop NATO's Political War."

"It's resistance day -- at all levels, by all means," one German site
( proclaimed. Bavaria's interior minister
Guenther Beckstein has called for known foreign protesters to be refused
entry or interrogated by German border authorities.

The protest organisers say their demonstration is against "this meeting
of the planners of war," while stressing that the protests, which are
unauthorised, will be peaceful.

"Everything that has been said about predicted violence is a lie," said
protest spokesman Claus Schreer.

The "Munich Collective against the Security Conference," brings together
various pacifist and anti-globalisation organisations including ATTAC,
the militant movement which has been prominent in anti-globalization
protests elsewhere in Europe.

The US State Department on Tuesday urged Americans in Munich "to avoid
the protest areas if at all possible and bear in mind that protests in
other European towns have often turned violent."

Bavarian security forces will be backed up by 1,000 German police and
additional support will be brought into the southern German city from
other states. Buses and cars will be strictly controlled on the main
access roads to Munich.

The annual security conference will be attended by German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and NATO
Secretary General George Robertson.

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Barry Stoller

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