In June 2003 the
G8 (G22) held a meeting in Evian, France. Thousands of people came to protest
against the undemocratic, unaccountable and elitist “global leaders”
and their politics. Direct Action was taken to blockade the delegates on their
way to the conference. As so on the motorway between Geneva and Lausanne where
a delegation was known to pass…
Switzerland, 1st of June 2003, Aubonnebridge (motorway
bridge over the Aubonne valley)
The action sees two activists suspend themselves from a single rope, either
side of the carriageway.
Many of the activists in the group are very experienced, and safety has been
a key part of the preparation.
The situation can only become dangerous if forced by either motorists or police.
The climbers descend only after the traffic is safely halted by a human blockade
and banners. This first blockade is a safe 100 meters from the rope.
Within the affinity group of activists is a doctor, and people are charged with
the task of police liaison.
The blockade is set, and within minutes the Swiss police arrive.
The senior officers car is first on scene.
The officer who will later cut the rope is the driver of this car.
Following the example of the senior officer, the police react aggressively.
Refusing to negotiate, or even stop and listen to the protesters responsible
for police liaison, they start to physically remove activists from the road.
Despite this reaction, the activists repeatedly inform the police, specifically
the senior officer, of the situation regarding the two climbers. Understanding
the threat to the climbers’ lives, they persistently return to the carriageway
to stop traffic moving forward.
Once they had finally dragged all the protesters from the carriageway, the police
order the traffic to advance to within meters of the climbers’ only rope,
despite the continuing explanations and protestations of the activists.
In continued reckless stupidity, the police proceed to lift the climbers’
rope, and direct the traffic to pass beneath it, an unbelievable dangerous act
Amidst this complete and uncontrolled chaos, one police officer, without any
warning at all, proceeds to cut the climbers rope.
Martin plunges over twenty meters into the shallow creek below, whilst the life
of Gesine is saved only by the quick reactions of her colleague, who manages
to cling to her end of the rope.
Despite the very obvious danger that Gesine continues to be in, and despite
the fact that Martin lies badly injured in the river below, the police continue
to prioritise opening the road to traffic. The majority fail to effectively
assist either of the climbers, whose lives are obviously in severe and immediate
Almost an hour later a helicopter arrives to take Martin to the hospital. Most
of the activists are arrested. Gesine although suffering from shock has to fight
to be brought to hospital and not the police station.
The Police again reveal their attitude of contempt, when the senior officer
only shortly after the cut calls for the immediate arrest of the “mafia
de merde” (mafia of shit), i.e., the activists.
Martin´s fall causes him to severely fracture a foot and ankle. He also
crushed two lower vertebrae, and fractured his pelvis. After several months’
bed ridden, he continues to recover, suffering severe mobility impairment.
Gesine suffered severe trauma. She is undergoing therapy recover from posttraumatic