Demonstrators demand Siemens end Iran dealings


BERLIN (JTA) — Demonstrators at a protest in Munich marked Holocaust Remembrance Day by demanding an end to German business with Iran.

The campaign is focusing on one of the country’s largest companies, Siemens, to make its point.

Members and supporters of the Stop the Bomb campaign flocked to the Munich Olympic Stadium Tuesday to press leaflets into the hands of shareholders arriving for the annual general meeting. Up to 20,000 people were expected at the meeting, and protesters who are also shareholders will be among those to speak there, according to Stop the Bomb spokesman Michael Spaney.

According to an open letter to Siemens CEO Peter Loscher and supervisory board chairman Gerhard Cromme released Tuesday, protesters want Siemens to "disclose all business relations with Iranian partners and … suspend these relations" until the Islamic Republic halts its nuclear program and ceases threatening Israel with words and weapons. 

Spaney, in a telephone interview with JTA, said that queries to Siemens representatives about the firm’s dealings with Iran have yielded no specifics, but that arriving shareholders appeared receptive to the group’s message.

In the open letter, the Berlin- and Vienna-based campaign said Siemens had  "concluded contracts for various large projects in Iran in the last few years" and employs more than 350 people in its Iranian branch while knowing that "one of the Iranian government’s declared goals is to erase Israel from the map."

How can it be, they asked, that a company that "profited from slave labor in Auschwitz" is "acting as an important mainstay of an anti-Semitic and terrorist regime" that suppresses minorities and women, and that presents "the main obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the [Mideast] conflict through its support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

Protesters also demanded that Siemens shareholders disclose all current and planned trade and projects with Iran; determine whether Siemens is doing business with companies controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, some of which are sanctioned by the European Union; and clarify whether seemingly benign technology, such as that used for electronic monitoring systems, is being used to intimidate and suppress opposition.

Last August, Stop the Bomb and other pro-Israel groups demonstrated in the German town of Siegen to protest a $156 million deal between the SPG Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec company and Iran.

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