Geneva mobilisation : where is the real violence?

Press Release

Via Campesina was present with an important delegation at the protest of Saturday 28 November against the World Trade Organization (WTO). The mobilization was strong with around 5000 people in the streets of Geneva. The objective of these people, as well as that of Via Campesina, was to demonstrate in a non-violent manner, but with a strong and radical message regarding the WTO.


Because of the dramatic consequences of liberalization on peasant agriculture around the world, we ask that the WTO get out of agriculture. We regret that material violence did not allow us to express this message in front of the WTO building in Geneva. Without minimizing yesterday’s events, we remark nonetheless that another form of violence – social, political and economic – is directed on a daily basis towards a large part of the world population, including farmers. Let us not forget that one billion people do not have access to sufficient food. That violent political decisions criminalize certain unions on a daily basis: this was the case for our three Korean delegates who were not able to join us for the various mobilizations and who have been detained at the airport since Friday November 27th, 11 pm.

Our delegates traveled several thousand kilometers to come testify here in Geneva and propose alternatives. Since they were not able to do this during the demonstration, we invite journalists to take advantage of their presence in the coming days.

  • Everyday from 12 to 2 pm from 30 November to 2 December, under the tent at the intersection of avenue de France and rue de Varembé, they will be available for interviews or meetings.
  • Tuesday 1st December has been dedicated to agriculture and the WTO by the organizers, so they will give a specific press conference from 10 to 11 am under the tent (rue Varembé / av. de France) to announce the actions planned in the afternoon! Various symbolic actions will be carried out starting 1 pm.
  • Wednesday 2nd December at 2 pm there will also be a press conference held with the World March of Women on the theme of women farmers. (the place will be communicated)

For any additional information, please contact:
Valentina Hemmeler Maïga, + 41 79 672 14 07
Solenne Piriou, La Via Campesina, +41 76 752 73 62

Complementary position of Uniterre on the Swiss aspects of the demonstration of 28 November:

  • We wonder whether it is opportune to welcome international organizations of this scale if the only response to yesterday’s violent incidents is – for some people – the plain and simple prohibition to protest. This could lead to the impression that the authorities are not capable of dealing with events of this size while at the same time letting democracy express itself.
  • We are also surprised that the Swiss authorities were able to obtain the names of three Korean delegates and detain them before a demonstration but that they are not able to identify 200 possible “rioters”.