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G-8 violence overshadows peaceful protests

The Swiss media condemned this weekend's anti-G-8 violence

(swissinfo.ch)

The Swiss press has widely condemned the weekend's violence in Geneva and Lausanne, which took place on the sidelines of the main anti-G-8 demonstrations.

Newspapers warned that the violent protests not only threatened fundamental freedoms but could also short-circuit the debate on globalisation.

The French-language "Tribune de Genève" said the actions of a few violent protesters had stolen the thunder of a peaceful and necessary political action.

Geneva's only local paper warned that legitimate political opposition could fall prey to repeated acts of violence carried out by just a few people.

The Zurich-based "Tages-Anzeiger" said the behaviour of activists in Geneva had put paid to the anti-globalisation movement's chances of being taken seriously as a political force.

The paper said the actions of small number of hardcore protesters had justified the biggest security operation in Switzerland since the Second World War.

Groups rampaged through Geneva over the weekend smashing windows and hurling Molotov cocktails at shops and public buildings.

Fundamental rights

The German language daily, the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung", agreed the extra security had been justified, but warned against weakening the fundamental right of freedom of expression.

Instead, more should be done to identify and isolate the leaders of violent movements.

Swiss security forces needed to be "as well connected as those leading the violent protests", the paper said.

Police state

The "Blick" German language tabloid blamed the violence that tarnished the weekend demonstrations on "beer-fuelled rowdies" from Bern and Zurich.

The mass-circulation paper added that the anti-globalisation movement was now being equated with vandalism in citizens' minds and called on demonstrators to find new ways of voicing their disapproval.

The "Berner Zeitung" said a small minority had led the perception of French-speaking Switzerland as a police state.

Bern's other daily, the "Bund", said that while the authorities had been successful in protecting the foreign leaders attending the summit in Evian, the Swiss government had agreed much too quickly to help the French.

Political voice

Aside from the protests, the Swiss media was also critical of the meeting taking place on the other side of Lake Geneva.

The German-language "Basler Zeitung" claimed the summit was essentially about power and suggested Switzerland would be better off working with the United Nations, rather than cuddling up with the powerful members of the G-8.

G-8 states should learn a lesson from the demonstrations, said the "Neue Luzerner Zeitung". "With their pompous summit, they have only succeeded in creating a stage for the anti-globalisation movement and its more violent members," the paper said.

"Le Temps" pointed out that calls from the Brazilian and Algerian presidents for more aid for poor countries would have not been out place during the weekend's demonstrations.

The Geneva-based daily also criticised President Bush's early departure from the summit, which it said showed that the American leader was arrogant enough to follow only his own agenda.

Foreign media

International media paid little attention to the violent incidents that took place in Geneva. They were however far more interested in the accident that seriously injured an anti-globalisation protester.

The French paper "Libération" said the man's fall into a river, after a police officer cut the rope he was hanging on to off a motorway bridge, was no surprise.

The left-leaning daily said the incident was symptomatic of the way the Swiss authorities panicked when they could no longer control a demonstration.

Spanish and Italian newspapers also focused on the incident, drawing parallels with the death of an Italian demonstrator two years ago in Genoa.

British media highlighted the fact the police showed restraint in dealing with a minority of violent protesters. The "Guardian" added that France got all the glory from the G-8 summit, while Switzerland got to pick up the pieces.

swissinfo with agencies


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