The Attempted Murder of a G8 Protester

7 Irish Activists at the G8 Summit, 6th June 2003ce

At the G8 summit in Evian - as has become usual at meetings of the rich and powerful - violent police protected politicians from peaceful protest.

Police repression at the G8 protests included:

*Guy Smallman, a freelance photographer, was severely injured when a stun grenade exploded directly on his leg. He has not yet fully recovered.

*Police attacked marchers with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets. Several people were hospitalised with burns, and injuries from bullets and grenades hitting them.

*Police groups disguised as black block ran through the city, beating and shooting rubber bullets at demonstrators and passersby. The Geneva legal collective has gathered over 50 witnesses to these events.

*Police illegally detained over 400 people without charges in Bourdonnette, the activist campground in Lausanne for several hours. People refused to identify themselves and were held in a police circle for several hours in the heat. Several people were arrested and all the tents and bags were searched.

*In Geneva the social center, l'Usine with the IMC office was raided by a police black block group.

*Police shot stun grenades directly at a pregnant woman. One grenade exploded under a child's stroller.

*Street medics were directly targeted and nearly all were arrested.

*Human rights observers also suffered violence and unjust treatment; one suffered a sprained elbow under a German policeman's baton, another was handcuffed and forced to go home. They shot another in the leg. Police
tore off armbands and badges that identified human rights
observers as such.

*Journalists were also targeted by police. They were stopped, IDed, and film confiscated or destroyed.

* Some arrests were very brutal with painholds, fingers in eyes, ears and noses, and rough handcuffing.

*Police refused during the whole time to give out lists of detainees, as agreed prior to the demos. They refused to give their badge numbers and denied phonecalls to detainees. Cells were overcrowded. In prison some people were illegally filed, insulted, in some cases women had to
piss in front of male soldiers, several were kept handcuffed in policevans for hours, refused toilets and water.

The fact that no-one was killed this time is down to luck.
Police repression in all its forms must be challenged, and the individuals and police forces themselves need to be held responsible.

The wider repression of acitivists shows an alarming trend, with these incidents becoming commonplace. Recent targeted killings of demostrators and human shields from the Israeli-occupied territories to Papua-Guniea or Argentina together with the killing of Carlo Guiliani in Genoa show that around the world the political enclosure and violent repression of the anti-globalisation social movements continues to escalate realively to the
level of police impunity.

There was another action at the G8 where the p[olice acted with wilful disregard for human life. A motorway along which the politicians motorcade was travelling was blocked by protesters. The section of motorway was a bridge high over a river. The protesters stretched a rope across the motorway, and dangled one of their number at each end over the side.

Swiss police arrived and - knowing what they were doing, cut the rope - letting British protester Martin Shaw fall 20 metres on to the shallow river below.

He was eventually airlifted to hospital where he was treated for a broken pelvis, two broken ankles, broken vertebrae and spleen injuries.

Here is an eyewitness report of the action on the bridge over the Aubonne, published 1.37pm, 3 June 03.

There is a lot of misinformation on various indymedia sites and in the mainstream press about what happened- this is as clear and accurate report as we could make, by 7 Irish activists who participated in the action.

We arrived at the bridge at about 5am. It is a motorway bridge over the river Aubonne on the Geneva- Lausanne motorway.

We stayed under the bridge, preparing our banners and climbing equipment. Everything was ready by about 7 am. We were waiting to hear,by mobile phone, when the convoy of G8 delegates were leaving from Geneva.

The plan was to suspend a rope across the bridge with one person attached to each end. This would make it impossible for traffic to continue on from Geneva to Lausanne. The other side of the motorway was not blocked.

The others involved in the action were to go up onto the bridge first, stop the traffic and give the climbers time to get in place.

At about 10.30 we got the news that the convoy was on its way and the motorway exits and entrances at Geneva and Lausanne had been blocked off by police. 10 people went up onto the bridge and ran along the hard shoulder to the Geneva end of the bridge.

We had three banners: One said "Vous arretez ici ou vous tuez deux personnes" (Stop here or you will kill two people) Another said "Ne Tirez pas" (Don't shoot) and a third said "G8 Illegitime" . We stood across the road with the banners clearly visible to the traffic and stopped the traffic. We also went up to the cars and explained to the drivers what was happening and the importance of not driving through the rope.

Once the traffic had been stopped 3 people assisted the climbers to get the rope across the bridge and themselves into position. The rope had brightly coloured material and strips of foil paper attached to it to make it visible.

This was NOT a banner drop - all the banners were held in people's hands and were only there to alert the traffic to the fact that there were two people suspended by the rope under the bridge.

Some of the motorists who we had blocked were quite angry and got out of their cars to argue with us. Some tried to drive through the banners and we had to sit on the bonnet of one car to prevent it from doing so.Motorists started to turn their cars around and drive back down the motorway along the hard shoulder. The police arrived quite quickly and tried to get us off the road. The police tried to break our line and were very agressive with us. They did not want to listen to our explanation of what was happening and seemed only interetsed in getting the traffic through. They tore up our warning banner and took half of it away.

We lay down on the road to slow them down, and when they removed us we ran up the road towards the rope. More police arrived from the other side.The police lifted the rope on the left-hand side of the bridge, where the British man was suspended, and started letting traffic pass under it. There was also a motorist, who was very angry, standing there with them. Suddenly, we heard screaming and realised that the rope had been cut. None of us saw exactly who cut the rope, but it was later confirmed that it was one of the policemen. Some people managed to catch the other end of the rope before the woman climber also fell, and we all ran to the cut end of the rope and hung onto it to prevent her from falling too. There were 7 or 8 people holding onto the rope. One policeman helped us hold the rope too, and though he asked his colleagues to help us on 3 occasions, it was only very reluctantly, after about 5 minutes that one of them did. This policeman was also the one who called the ambulance. The others remained on the bridge.

Meanwhile, one of the activists who is a doctor had gone down to the river to attend to the fallen climber. She splinted his leg, made him as comfortable and warm as possible and assissted him in every way she could. At no time was she helped by the police in doing this. After about ten minutes, we managed to anchor the broken rope and set up a new rope. The new rope was let down to the other climber and she abseiled down it into the river.

At around this time, first the fire brigade and then the ambulance arrived. There was an ambulance car and an ambulance helicopter; the latter was used to take the injured man to hospital, so previous reports that the police blocked the ambulance from coming through are untrue.

The climber is badly injured but will be ok. The other climber was treated for shock in hospital, but is now out and is doing OK.

The activists on the bridge were taken to a police detention center and told on arrival that we were just witnesses and they wanted to take witness reports from us. We were later charged with blocking traffic on a motorway and being pedestrians on a motorway.

We don't know if the climbers or other people involved have been charged. There is a criminal investigation into the incident going on and I have heard, though not had it confirmed, that the policeman who cut the rope has been arrested.

Photos taken by protesters at the action

BBC report of the incident

if you want to get any messages of support, solidarity or love to Martin, you can email them to [email protected]

You can also write snail mail, which in fact is much nicer.

His postal address is :
Martin Shaw
Rue de Plaisante 26