Highlighting repression and fighting police impunity.

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The Facts

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 itself.
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 danger.
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.

The Consequences

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 stress disorder.