Monday, March 19, 2007

Terrorist Law Used Against Anti-Automobilists

At Geneva's Automobile Salon, a protest action against cars was repressed with unusual violence. Frisking of naked subjects, DNA testing and seizure of cell phones were implemented to prevent a dozen militants from unfurling a banner. Does criticism of the automobile ideology threaten public order to such a point?

On the occasion of the Geneva Automobile Salon, which closed its doors Sunday, March 18, a dozen associated militants had planned to organize a protest action by unfurling a banner denouncing the hypocrisy of automobile manufacturers inside the salon.

The judicial police for the Canton of Geneva preventatively arrested all the militants and cameramen present and placed them in custody for over eight hours. Stéphen Kerckhove, delegate for Agir pour l'Environnement, and a participant in this action, was handcuffed and taken to the judicial police station for questioning. The arrested militants were blamed for being the "presumed authors of threats alarming the public" ... and that before any action took place!

Handcuffing, frisking of naked subjects, seizure of video materiel and cell phones, DNA testing and fingerprinting, telephone bugging and stalking of the militants were consequently the rule for muzzling the activists present. The disproportion in the means used to forestall a nonviolent action is such that the militants wonder about the deep reasons that motivated the Geneva police. Agir pour l'Environnement's delegate will have to appear before a Geneva magistrate again in the coming weeks.

Stéphen Kerckhove protests the methods of the Swiss judicial police, using anti-terrorist laws to try to intimidate and muzzle anti-4x4 militants. The association's delegate observes that "denouncing climate risks amounts to alarming the public and consequently falls under the hammer of Swiss law. Only automobile manufacturers have the right to 'inform' the public through climate-killing advertising."

Even though climatic disruption is, in fact, a "threat that could alarm the public," the European associations that come together in the collective 4x4network will continue, in spite of intimidations, to demand a binding Community regulation limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer traveled by 2012.


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