DHARAMSALA Jan 16: Swiss police prevented a Tibetan man from self-immolating and detained 32 pro-Tibet activists protesting against Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the country on Sunday.
A large number of Tibetans and Swiss nationals staged a peaceful protest in Bern’s center on Sunday during Xi Jinping’s state visit ahead of the World Economic Forum scheduled in Davos on Tuesday.
To prevent the kind of confrontation received by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin during his visit in 1999 – the last Chinese president to visit the country, Swiss authorities had limited the duration of the protest in the center of Bern to two hours before noon (1100 GMT). The police have arrested the pro-Tibet activists for failing to obey with police instructions and prevented a Tibetan man from setting himself on fire at noon, Reuters reported.
“Thirty-two people were detained to secure safety,” the report added quoting a spokesman as saying.
According to the Association of Tibetan Youth in Europe, out of the 32-activists, 14 were detained near the Swiss parliament building in the afternoon as they waved posters which read “Free Tibet” and “Don’t Deal With Killers” past the time restriction.
Around 700-800 pro-Tibet activists had gathered in the city center and protested peacefully against the repressive Chinese policies in Tibet as Xi arrived in the Swiss capital for a gala dinner on Sunday afternoon.
Xi Jingping will hold talks with Swiss officials on Monday, following which he will attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday, a first by Chinese president.
In 1999, during a visit by China’s then-president Jiang Zemin, he questioned Swiss leaders’ control over their country and remarked that they risked ‘losing a good friend’.
During Jiang’s visit, activists took to roofs overlooking the Swiss parliament with banners demanding “Free Tibet”. Police intervened in time to stop activists from throwing eggs at the Chinese delegation.