Boykott von Produkten aus USA und England erfolgreich

Weltweite Protestaktionen gegen Irak-Krieg

Gegen neoliberale Multis als Profiteure

Nicht nur bekannte transnationale Nahrungs- und Genussmittelfirmen sondern auch Banken, Fluglinien, Computer, Software, Treibstoff und weitere Produkte und Dienstleistungen aus den USA und anderen am Irak-Krieg beteiligten Staaten werden boykottiert. Diese Kampagnen haben ähnliche Ziele wie jene in den globalisierungskritischen Bewegungen, die sich gewaltfrei gegen ökonomische und politische Unterdrückung und Ausbeutung wehren.

Matthias Reichl

IRAQ: Anti-War Groups Call for Boycott of U.S. Products


JOHANNESBURG, April 12, 2003 (IPS) - Anti-war groups around the world have called for a boycott of products made in the United States, but the response among consumers has been mixed.

In India, the boycott of goods imported from the United States and Britain began early on in the Iraq war. It was in response to a call from the People's Health Movement (PHM) in Bangalore, a city with a history of resisting "neo-imperialism" as seen by the attack on Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets some years ago by farmers' organisations. With the Iraq war, the boycott movement has deepened and Dr. B. Ekbal, the vice-chancellor of Kerala University, who is also leader of a popular science movement, says the days of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola in Kerala State are numbered. ''We plan to make Kerala Pepsi and Coke free and we have almost achieved our aim,'' says Ekbal.

In southern Andhra Pradesh State, members of the radical People's War Group (PWG) have smashed thousands of crates of soft drinks with U.S. labels on them and even set fire to a few go downs.

Cities like the western port of Mumbai, with large Muslim populations, have been observing the Pepsi-Coke boycott quietly and with a lot of active cooperation from shopkeepers especially those who are Muslim by faith.

While the religious parties in Pakistan are particularly targeting Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola and asking consumers not to buy the drinks through announcements on mobiles fitted with loudspeakers, the civil society groups with the help of students in Islamabad are focussing on American food chains.

Young people have been picketing outside KFC and Pizza Hut for more than one week. They are convinced that they are doing the right thing by persuading consumers not to go to these outlets as a means to register their protest against the American war on Iraq.

Thailand's Muslim minority, who held many pro-peace public demonstrations in the country's south, where they are predominant, also triggered a call for a boycott of goods linked to U.S. companies. Thirty products were identified in this list of goods to be boycotted. They included the ubiquitous fast-food chains such as KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Burger King to the coffee chain Starbucks to products from multinationals such as Chevrolet, Tesco Lotus, Caltex and Monsanto fertilisers.

''Most Thais were disturbed about the war,'' says Surin Pitsuwan, Thailand's former foreign affairs minister. ''Muslims felt it more strongly than others.''

''People want any attempt at peace to be a movement that seeks to resolve the outstanding conflicts in the region, rather than a selective effort,'' he adds.

In Portugal, the boycott began officially on Apr 12. "Human chain" of people linking hands to protest the war, stretched five kilometres through Lisbon, from the U.S. embassy to the United Nations offices, on Saturday.

The boycott is intended to coincide with the international campaign to show opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq by refusing to buy any products marked "Made in USA".

Among the slogans seen in Portugal is "Some day these criminals might come to your country to steal from you."

Some of the companies targeted for the boycott are Esso, Shell, BP, Coca-Cola and McDonald's.

The campaign also urges consumption of products made in Portugal and abstaining from tourism in the United States, Britain and Spain. The three countries, along with Australia, form the so-called "coalition forces" against Iraq.

In Argentina, where there has not been an organised, ongoing boycott effort, anti-war groups made it clear that they were against what McDonald's symbolises, but not against the restaurant employees or clients.

On Apr 8 a group of people attacked a McDonald's with stones and sticks, breaking the windows. That same day, students and leftist groups filled balloons with red paint -- to simulate blood -- and threw them at the facade of the IBM offices in Buenos Aires.

In Mexico, a group of students and professors from the National Polytechnic Institute used street theatre to get spread the boycott message at a Wal Mart store in Mexico City on Mar 25. They blocked the cash registers for a half-hour by filling shopping carts with U.S. products but then said they would not pay "because every foreign item we buy is a bullet fired against an Iraqi civilian."

Afterwards, they distributed pamphlets explaining the boycott and urging consumers not to buy certain products, like beverages sold by Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, including mineral water and fruit juices, or to eat at restaurants including McDonald's, KFC and Domino's Pizza.

In Brazil, anti-war protesters are using the Internet to get their message out, showing a photo of Iraqi women crying over a dead child, alongside the logos of U.S.-based corporations, accompanied by a text.

"Remember these children and these crying mothers every time you drink a coke, or eat the poison of McDonald's, or fill your car's gas tank at Shell, Esso or Texaco. They paid for the death and destruction of the Iraqi people," says the text.

Some of the lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia publicly promoted the boycott effort, pouring bottles and cans of Coca-Cola down the drain.

Despite the boycott, McDonald's and Coca-Cola report that they have not seen a decline in sales in Brazil.

The Brazilian Association of Coca-Cola Manufacturers, however, is not taking its chances, declaring that its product is 100 percent Brazilian, made entirely in Brazil, and providing 25,000 jobs.

As soon as the war erupted, the Rio de Janeiro city council voted to declare U.S. President George W. Bush persona non grata in that city. The measure does not prevent Bush from visiting, but he would not be received with the honours usually accorded a head of state.

Some of the companies targeted for the boycott have taken countermeasures, launching their own publicity campaigns. For example, a McDonald's in Argentina shows a photo of a Big Mac hamburger under the title "Made in Argentina". And owners of McDonald's restaurants in Mexico are making public appearances to say that they are Mexican entrepreneurs, not from the United States and to explain that their businesses are franchises.

In Chile, the Platform for Peace, an umbrella for 80 organisations, is targeting U.S. products and companies: Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Esso, Texaco, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, General Motors, Ford, Chevrolet, Citibank, Boston Bank, McDonald's, Burger King and KFC.

The situation is similar in the United States where a ''few thousand'' people will mark the Apr 15 deadline to pay income taxes with civil disobedience - withholding their federal taxes because, say activists, almost one-half of that money goes to military spending.

''There's no doubt that there will be a lot more people (withholding taxes this year). The question is 'how many'? says Ed Hedemann, author of 'War Tax Resistance, A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military', and an organiser for the War Resisters League.

Hedemann, who has withheld his federal taxes since the Vietnam War, which ended in 1973, says the practice can trigger the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to track down and seize bank accounts and even money owed to resisters by their customers, as in the case of Hedemann, who is self-employed.

''Despite the inconveniences and problems of tax resistance, I think, there are a lot of people around the world who are suffering far more than I am because of the U.S. military. I don't want to contribute to their suffering and my inconvenience is minor compared to that,'' he explains.

Further north, the Adbusters group is working to transform its Brand America Boycott into 'Uncooling Brand America', says Kalle Lasn, editor in chief of 'Adbusters' magazine and author of the book 'Culture Jamming'.

Although 40,000 people pledged on the Adbusters website to boycott U.S. companies, ''boycotts have been by and large a disaster'', says Vancouver-based Lasn.

"This is more of a process. We're (now) asking people to look at their lives and in their own sweet way change their lives. Some people will decide that they still want to go to McDonald's but not drive an American car. Others will decide that they want to wear Levis jeans but not go to McDonald's.''

''I think a lot of people do not hate America, but they realise it needs a counter-balancing force,'' adds Lasn. (END/2003)

BERLIN (Reuters) -25 Mar 2003, Erik Kirschbaum: No more Coca-Cola or Budweiser, no Marlboro, no American whiskey or even American Express cards -- a growing number of restaurants in Germany are taking everything American off their menus to protest the Iraq war...

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Put on the internet by M. Reichl 22.04.03