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Anti-WEF protest to go ahead in Bern

Police test the type of barrier designed to keep protesters away from the parliament buildings Keystone

The authorities in Bern have given anti-globalisation protesters permission to demonstrate in the city ahead of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos.

This content was published on January 11, 2005 - 12:08

Two years ago around 1,000 protesters went on the rampage and clashed with police in the city.

The city council said on Tuesday that protesters could gather in Parliament Square, but turned down a request for a march through the Swiss capital.

The demonstration is scheduled to take place on January 22, four days before the start of the annual meeting of the WEF, which will be attended by the world’s political and business elite.

Bern city council said it had approved the demonstration only after careful consideration of public safety and the basic right of freedom of assembly.

However, the authorities said the protest could only go ahead if organisers immediately called on their followers to ensure the demonstration would be peaceful.

The protest is being led by an anti-WEF coalition of leftwing groups and organisations critical of globalisation.

They include “attac”, an international movement supporting “democratic control of financial markets and their institutions”.

Enforce ban?

In a first reaction, organisers said it would be difficult for the police to enforce a ban on a march.

"The demonstrators will somehow have to get from the railway station to Parliament Square," said Daniele Jenni of the anti-WEF coalition, also a member of Bern's city parliament.

Jenni said a decision whether to accept the city's conditions will be taken on Sunday.

In 2003 hundreds of protesters travelled to Bern and caused up to SFr500,000 ($426,000) in damage after failing to get past police and army checkpoints set up around Davos.

Irresponsible corporations

Meanwhile, Swiss non-governmental organisations behind a parallel event, “Public Eye on Davos”, have announced they will hand out awards for “irresponsible corporate behaviour”.

The Berne Declaration and Pro Natura said they would announce the “winners” on January 26 to coincide with the opening of the WEF meeting.

Nominees for the “Public Eye Awards” include more than 20 global corporations that NGOs say have “failed in their responsibilities regarding human rights, labour rights, the environment or taxes”.

Nominees include companies such as Bayer, BP, Dow Chemical, and the Swiss multinational, Nestlé.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Approval has been given for an anti-WEF demonstration on January 22 in Bern.

The demonstration is headed by various leftwing groups and anti-globalisation protesters.

The annual meeting of the Geneva-based World Economic Forum attracts business and political leaders from around the globe.

It takes place this year from January 26-30 in the mountain resort of Davos.

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