On Saturday, several hundred people gathered in the Swiss capital Bern to express their solidarity with the Syrian region of Afrin under Turkish control. The police had to intervene after demonstrators indulged in acts of vandalism.
Around 400 demonstrators responded to the call of leftist factions to protest against the Turkish intervention in Afrin in northwestern Syria. They were also protesting against Swiss arms exports that they felt was fuelling wars all over the world.
After marching from the train station to the parliament square and back, the parade was surrounded by police near the Church of the Holy Spirit. The demonstrators, equipped with torches and pyrotechnic devices, started spraying building facades and causing damage. They then lit a fire and danced to Kurdish music.
The protesters ignored orders from the police to stop destructive behaviour leading to arrests. Rubber bullets were used and several people were taken to the police station. Public transport was severely disrupted and the police were busy into the evening, with smaller spontaneous demonstrations reported in several parts of the city. The details of a total of 239 protesters - 63 women, 136 men and 40 minors - were taken by the police. The damage to property amounted to hundreds of thousands of Swiss francs.
This is not the first time protests by Kurds in Switzerland ended in violence. In February 2016, activists threw stones, flags and other projectiles at the Turkish consulate building in Zurich.