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WEF opponents say no to "demo in a cage"

The anti-WEF alliance is calling for "imagination" during Saturday's planned protest Keystone

Opponents of the World Economic Forum’s summit in Davos have abandoned plans to stage a demonstration in Bern on Saturday.

This content was published on January 17, 2005 - 16:47

Instead, they intend to carry out “imaginative acts of civil disobedience” in the city centre.

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

Last week the city authorities said protesters could gather in Parliament Square but would not be allowed to march through the capital.

But organisers of the demonstration said on Monday that they were not prepared to accept the offer.

They complained that the city government wanted to cram demonstrators behind barriers on the square – a move, they said, that was likely to provoke trouble.

“We do not want to demonstrate in a cage,” commented Andre Siegenthaler, one of the organisers of the demonstration, which was expected to attract about 5,000 people.

Escalation

Organisers said, however, that there would still be some form of protest against the Geneva-based WEF, which has been holding its annual summit in the alpine resort of Davos for more than 30 years.

The Anti-WEF alliance has called on sympathisers to protest on Saturday afternoon against the “abolition of the right to demonstrate”.

It plans to organise “imaginative activities” to make the heavy police presence look ridiculous.

Bern city police have prepared for Saturday’s planned demonstration well in advance, fearing that the potential for violence is high.

Daniel Blumer, head of the force, said last Wednesday that there would be more police in Bern than ever before.

The city has requested reinforcements from cantons Basel City, Basel Country, Solothurn and Aargau.

Four days ago, an anti-globalisation conference known as “The Other Davos” was banned from a cultural centre in Bern next Saturday for security reasons.

The event’s organisers – attac Switzerland – strongly condemned the authorities’ decision.

Peaceful protests

Anti-globalisation demonstrations in three Swiss towns passed off peacefully on Saturday.

About 300 demonstrators marched through Winterthur in canton Zurich, carrying banners with slogans including “Build solidarity, destroy capitalism” and “Wipe out WEF”.

In Delémont in the northwest, up to 200 people protested against the deployment of local police at the WEF meeting, which is due to run from January 26 for five days.

And in Chur, the capital of canton Graubünden, about 350 demonstrators voiced their opposition.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Opponents of a mass demonstration planned for Saturday in Bern have called off their large-scale protest.

But they still want to protest with acts of civil disobedience in the city, four days before the WEF annual meeting in Davos.

Anti-WEF demonstrations over the weekend in Winterthur, Delémont and Chur went off peacefully.

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