Covid-19 unrest: youth parties demand government action

St Gallen Mayor Maria Pappa speaking with young people on Friday night. The city in eastern Switzerland has had problems with youth violence recently. Keystone / Michel Canonica

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and the riots in St Gallen, the youth branches of five Swiss political parties are calling on the government to provide better prospects.

This content was published on April 5, 2021 - 18:30

On Monday they published an open letter [pictured below] demanding that young people have more of a say in crisis management. It was signed and posted online by the leaders of a range of parties asking for an exchange with the executive branch of the federal government.

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Among other things, they wrote that young people should not face discrimination if relaxed measures favour those who have already been vaccinated. For young people with mental health problems, there should also be sufficient support.

In addition, they suggested reintroducing face-to-face schooling immediately, saying it should be possible with a rigorous testing strategy and appropriate protection concepts.

“Our generation urgently needs prospects again,” the letter said, noting that more and more young people feel misunderstood, and the increasing number of young people with serious psychological problems is a cause for great concern.

The impetus for the letter was Friday night’s riots in St Gallen, where youths attacked police officers with bottles, firecrackers and a Molotov cocktail. Police responded with rubber bullets and teargas. Two people were injured, and the police temporarily expelled over 500 people from the city.

While condemning the violence, the young politicians wrote that reports of the event had drowned out the voices of the young people who have been complying with pandemic measures for over a year now.

Also on Monday, St Gallen Mayor Maria Pappa told news agency Keystone-SDA that the police response was “very proportionate” and that the damage was limited. A trained social worker, she was on the scene on Friday night before the violence escalated.

“We have a social conflict situation,” she said, noting that the management of the Covid-19 crisis is causing resentment and fear among many.

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