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Europeans protest ahead of G20 meet
Demonstrators stage marches in call to world leaders to commit to economic reforms.
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2009 19:32 GMT
The 'Put People First' march in London was part of a global campaign to challenge the G20 [GALLO/GETTY]

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have marched through European cities to demand action on poverty, job losses and climate change ahead of a meeting of the world's 20 leading economies.

In London, the British capital, about 35,000 protesters gathered on Saturday as part of an alliance of more than 100 trade unions, aid agencies, religious groups and environmental organisations to call on world leaders meeting next week to commit to reforms.

"Never before has such a wide coalition come together with such a clear message for world leaders," said Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the Trade Union Congress.

"The old ideas of unregulated free markets do not work and have brought the world's economy to near-collapse, failed to fight poverty and have done far too little to move to a low-carbon economy."

'Death of capitalism'

The demonstration marked the start of nearly a week of protests in London and other European cities before the Group of 20 summit in London on April 2.

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About 15,000 people gathered in Berlin, the German capital, sporting headbands reading "Pay for it yourselves" and some carried a black coffin topped with red roses symbolising what they said was the death of capitalism.

A demonstration also was held in Frankfurt, Germany's banking capital under the slogan: "We won't pay for your crisis."

In Vienna, the capital of Austria, around 6,500 people gathered in the city centre with paper piggy banks, balloons or signs that read "Capitalism can't be reformed".

A group of around 200 protesters in Paris, the French capital, dumped a pile of sand outside the city's stock market to mock the use of island tax havens.

'Deepening recession'

Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri said the London demonstrators had united under the slogan "Put People First."

The protesters' main message was a call to world leaders to act on the deepening global recession, Moshiri said.

"There are a lot of ordinary people out here concerned about their jobs, about their homes, about their livelihoods," she said.

The protest remained relatively peaceful. British authorities have said they are spending $10m to ensure security at the summit.

World leaders, including Barack Obama, the US president, are expected to discuss the global economic crisis, among other topics at the summit.

The US is emphasising more public spending to stimulate the economy while several European countries are calling for new regulations to be implemented.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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