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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Tibetan activist sues Swiss authorities over unfair treatment at rally

April 17, 2017

SwissInfo.ch, April 13, 2017 - A Tibetan activist has filed a lawsuit against Bern’s cantonal police as well as the capital’s security director. He says that Tibetan demonstrators were treated unfairly during the recent visit of the Chinese president. 

The Swiss News Agency, reported on Wednesday night that the Tibetan man has accused the Bernese cantonal police and the city of Bern’s Security Director, Reto Nause, of abuse and coercion. The man was among the Tibetans who gathered for a rally in Bern during Xi Jinping’s state visit in January. 

The police presence was particularly strong, partly to prevent scenes such as those that accompanied the visit of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin in 1999 when Tibetan demonstrators unfurled “Free Tibet” banners on parliament square. 

So this time, Tibetans were not allowed to gather on parliament square – unlike a Chinese group that stood there to welcome their president with flags. Instead, the city of Bern permitted the Tibetans to hold their rally on a nearby square before Xi’s arrival on January 15.  Hundreds held a loud but peaceful protest. They called on Xi to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama and to stop the torture of Tibetan prisoners. 

Later in the day, a group of young Tibetans started a second demonstration without city permission. Police stopped the demo and arrested some of the protesters. Critics, including left-wing politicians, have complained that the Swiss desire not to offend the Chinese took precedence over the Tibetans’ right to freedom of expression. 

As Nause pointed out in January, the Tibetans had permission to demonstrate at Waisenhausplatz, the square on the opposite side of the street from parliament square. Police had been ordered not to tolerate any additional rallies.

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