On Sunday 1 June Martin Shaw was severely injured as a result of actions by the Swiss traffic police. A 15 person collective was blockading a bridge in Switzerland to prevent G8 delegates passing from Geneva to Lausanne, and Martin was participating in a banner drop with the slogan "G8 Illegal". Martin and another protester were hanging from both ends of the same rope from a 30m high bridge over a small stony river bed, alongside the banner.
Two traffic police panicked about the build up of traffic and cut the rope that the two protesters were hanging from despite repeated warnings about the danger of this. Martin who is a very experienced climber, then fell 20 metres into a stony river bed and was left there with spinal injuries, pelvic damage, an injured spleen and two broken ankles for an hour before the emergency services arrived with a ambulance helicopter to take him to the hospital. Eye-witnesses report that the police were much more concerned with immediately restoring the flow of traffic than they were with getting medical attention to Martin.
Other people managed to rescue the second climber by holding on to the other end of the rope for 15 minutes so that she also didn't fall.
Whilst Martin lay collapsed on the ground police continued to direct traffic over the bridge. Martin currently remains in hospital in Geneva. Doctors are unable to say whether or not he will ever regain full mobility in his ankles.
Write to the Swiss authorities:
"I am writing to express my anger and wish to register my protest of this terrible incident and of Martin Shaw's near fatal treatment as a result of the actions of the Swiss police. I condemn the gratuitously violent repression of people exercising their democratic right to protest at global summits like the G8. I demand a full and transparent enquiry into the behaviour of the police involved, an unreserved apology on behalf of the police authorities, compensation for the injured climber and a promise that this brutal behaviour will not be condoned or tolerated by the Swiss authorities at any time now or in the future."
Swiss embassy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Messages of support can be sent to:
email@example.com. They will be copied and sent to him in hospital.
Legal and medical costs account details:
Dr J Bonnet, HSBC Bank plc, 274 High Street, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 1RU sortcode 40 09 03, account no 61666517
Journalists in the line of fire
Three reporters were injured during the clashes between police and demonstrators in Geneva. The worst off was Guy Smallman, a reporter for Indymedia and the South London Press, who was caught on the calf by a concussion grenade and has probably suffered permanent injuries.
Guy is being supported in his protests against the Swiss police by the NUJ, the Federation Suisse des Journalistes and the International Federation of Journalists.