Climate protesters block Geneva’s private jet terminal

Dozens of climate activists blocked access to the private jet terminal at Geneva airport Saturday, demanding a halt to the "absurd" mode of luxury transportation.

Climate protesters block Geneva's private jet terminal
Photos: AFP

Around 100 people took part, organised by pressure group Extinction Rebellion, large groups sitting in front of three entrances to block access to the building for several hours.

Extinction Rebellion describes itself as an international movement using non-violent civil disobedience “to achieve radical change in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse”.

As musicians played, protesters wearing armbands with the Extinction Rebellion logo sang songs and danced around with white, cloud-shaped placards and banners with slogans like “Be part of the solution, not pollution”.

“We are facing a total climate emergency,” Extinction Rebellion spokesman Micael Metry told AFP.

“Private jets emit 20 times more CO2 per passenger than normal airplanes,” he said.

“It is very important for us to denounce this completely absurd and unjust means of transportation, which is used by a tiny fraction of the population.”

Sonia Ediger, who said she had come from Lausanne to take part in the protest, called on the “powerful people of the world” who fly private jets “to come down out of the clouds”.

“We are seeing the world collapse around us, we see catastrophe after catastrophe, ever bigger, ever more frequent, all around us,” she told AFP, insisting that “radical change” was needed.

A large number of Geneva police, some in riot gear, assembled to monitor the unauthorised protest, but kept their distance for several hours.

At mid-afternoon, police asked the demonstrators to identify themselves and then leave in small groups, which they did peacefully.

Police spokesman Silvain Guillaume-Gentil told the ATS news agency they had not yet decided whether to bring charges.

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Thousands take part in illegal protest against Covid measures in Switzerland

Thousands of protesters marched in an illegal demonstration in eastern Switzerland on Saturday against measures aimed at reducing the spread of Covid-19.

Thousands take part in illegal protest against Covid measures in Switzerland
A file photo of a man wearing a helmet, made to look like the common image of a corona virus, takes part to a protest on August 29, 2020 in Zurich. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

With hardly a face mask in sight, the demonstrators marched through the small, picturesque town of Rapperswil-Jona waving large Swiss flags and shouting “Freedom”.

Police in the St Gallen region said in a statement that around 4,000 people showed up for the demonstration, which was not granted a permit.

No violence was reported during the protest which was the latest in a string across the country organised by a group called Stiller Protest (silent protest).

The authorities said they had attempted to dissuade people from participating in the rally, stopping cars headed towards the town centre and explaining the illegal nature of the gathering.

They said however that they had chosen not to forcibly break up the event for fear the situation could escalate, insisting that “a tough crackdown would not have been justifiable under the rule of law”.

IN PICTURES: Inside Switzerland’s anti-coronavirus lockdown protests

Police said they had briefly detained two people and had expelled 45 people from the town for 24 hours.

They had also demanded that a crowded coach headed to the protest turn around.

The protesters accuse the Swiss government of using dictatorial powers to impose restrictions aimed at reining in Covid-19 transmission.

Switzerland is in the process of gradually loosening its Covid restrictions with sports facilities and outdoor areas of bars and restaurants for instance permitted to reopen earlier this week.

But critics say the return to normality is taking too long.

The wealthy Alpine nation of 8.6 million people has counted nearly 650,000 cases and close to 10,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Nearly 10 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

While the Covid-19 situation in the country appears fairly stable, it announced Saturday that it had detected its first case of the Covid-19 variant being partially blamed for the explosive outbreak in India.