Peaceful start to anti-WEF demo season

Demonstrators in Chur on Saturday Keystone

Police say demonstrations in three Swiss towns ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit in Davos passed off peacefully on Saturday.

This content was published on January 16, 2005

Several hundred anti-globalisation protesters gathered in Delémont, Chur and Winterthur, where a similar event ended in violence last year.

This weekend’s protests came ahead of a major demonstration scheduled to take place in Bern on Saturday.

Last week the city council said protesters would be allowed to gather in Parliament Square, but turned down a request for a march through the Swiss capital.

Two years ago around 1,000 demonstrators went on the rampage through Bern, clashing with police and causing up to SFr500,000 ($424,000) in damage.

On Saturday around 300 protesters marched through Winterthur in northeastern Switzerland, bearing banners such as “Build solidarity, destroy capitalism” and “Wipe out WEF”.

Before setting off, one of the organisers urged demonstrators not to resort to violence, to observe the ban on balaclavas and to stick to the route pre-arranged with the authorities.

Closed ranks of local and cantonal police blocked access to the old town. Officers searched around 70 people and seized a number of items.

In Delémont in northwestern Switzerland, up to 200 people protested against the deployment of local police officers at the WEF summit, which gets underway on January 26.

Over in Chur in eastern Switzerland, police sealed off the old town as around 350 demonstrators voiced their opposition to the annual WEF meeting.

“The demonstration in Chur, like the one in Winterthur, shows that supposed troublemakers can protest peacefully so long as they are not pushed into illegal acts by the authorities,” said Arnaud Bouverat, spokesman for the Young Swiss Socialists.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

This year’s World Economic Forum summit takes place from January 26-30. The army is sending 6,500 troops to maintain security.

Last week Bern city council said anti-WEF protesters would be allowed to gather in Parliament Square on January 22.

But they have banned an anti-globalisation conference from the city centre for security reasons.

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