One Year On and the Swiss Authorities Try to Jail the Aubonne Bridge Activists they Nearly Killed
Three activists have been summoned to appear in court in Switzerland on June 28th while the internal “investigation” against the police officers involved is shrouded in uncertainty.
An anti-repression gathering in Geneva on the weekend before the court case (26th and 27th of June) is being held, bringing together support groups from incidents of legal or physical repression across Europe.
The Charges Against the activists
One year after an incident in Switzerland in which aggressive police actions nearly cost the lives of two climbers, three anti-G8 activists from the 17 people in the affinity group are now being brought to court by the Swiss Authorities. Ironically they have been charged with blocking traffic circulation AND endangering the lives of motorists.
On the 1st of June 2003, an international affinity group blockaded the motorway in order to stop an official delegation from reaching the g8 in Evian. At the point where the motorway turns into a bridge over the Aubonne valley, two climbers suspended themselves from a single rope being stretched across the street. Other activists erected a security barricade 100m before the rope and informed police and drivers. Nevertheless a police officer cut the rope and sent Martin plummeting 20 metres into a shallow, rocky stream beneath the bridge, while Gesine was saved by the quick reflexes of her support team who managed to grab hold of the rope.
As a result of his fall, Martin suffered extensive injuries to his spine, pelvis, and feet. He will never regain full mobility. Gesine has been receiving therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At least three other people on the action have suffered from debilitating mental trauma. After a year of mental and physical suffering, the two climbers and a third activist from the bridge action have been summoned to court in Nyon, Switzerland. Other people in the affinity group have been sentenced without appearing before the court to two weeks in jail, suspended for two years and ordered to pay 420 swiss francs (approx 300 euros) in court costs.
The Aubonne support group are inviting everyone to take part in a public presence outside the courthouse in Nyon on the day of the trial. They intend to use this obvious case (with clear video evidence) of police violence and subsequent impunity to highlight this and the many other cases of unreported police brutality. Furthermore we will be highlighting the link with the case in Genoa against the police for the indefensible attack on the IMC centre and sleeping space in the Diaz school.
Letter of Support
The activists are asking people to fax/email and letters condemning the trial and denouncing the human rights abuses that took place during the G8 protests to the relevant authorities in Switzerland. for sample letters and to sign the official letter, see www.aubonnebridge.net
The International Commission for Globalisation and Human Rights
The trial will be monitored by the International Commission for Globalisation and Human Rights, a panel of lawyers who investigated the incidences of human rights abuse against protestors during the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001. This investigation has resulted in the first such charges against Italian police being brought to court in legal history , which is coincidentally starting in Italy two days before the trial .
The investigation against the police
Gesine and Martin have filed a complaint against the police for endangering their lives, not assisting them in distress, and for inflicting severe bodily harm. The judge who was initially in charge of this investigation was eventually removed, after he refused to admit the testimony of any of the activists present at the incident, and only asked to get the video evidence after a month. The process is still very unclear and ambiguous, and it seems that the chances of any punitive measures being taken against the police officers involved seem to be very slim.
The anti-repression gathering
The weekend before the court case (26-27th June) will be used as an opportunity to bring people with different experience of repression together to discuss proposals to create a stronger and more effective anti-repression network in Europe, with a particular emphasis on raising awareness of and dealing with repression-related trauma.
The invitation has been sent to groups and organisations of different countries who are actively involved or interested in anti- repression work of different areas, such as solidarity networks, human rights groups, prisoners’ support organisations, refugee support groups etc.
There are limited spaces during this weekend, so please contact the organiser beforehand if you would like to attend.
The Aubonne Bridge Campaign and Trauma Awareness
One of the lessons learnt from the year of activities after the Aubonne Bridge incident is that we often focus exclusively on physical injuries and legal consequences at the expense of addressing how trauma can affect people after the event. From mild trauma to it more extreme forms such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the impact on ones personal life (not to mention one’s effectiveness as an activist) can be devastating.
An important part of the Aubonne Bridge Campaign, apart from providing a platform for victims of police repression and highlighting the rise of draconian, anti-protest legislation across Europe, is to raise awareness on trauma amongst activists; how to recognise it in yourself and others, what can be done about it and how activists can be more effective in emotionally supporting each other in such circumstances.
While the campaign is being run entirely by unpaid volunteers, there is a need for ongoing financial support, especially in the run up to the trial and the anti-repression gathering.
Top left hand corner from
Anti-rep gathering http://canmasdeu.net/aubonnebridge.net/meeting.php
Anti-Rep Gathering Contact email@example.com
Aubonne Bridge Campaign
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Support Letters http://canmasdeu.net/aubonnebridge.net/letters.php
Financial Help http://canmasdeu.net/aubonnebridge.net/finan.php