(TibetanReview.net, Jan20, 2017) – Anxious to avoid any embarrassment to visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping, police in the Swiss city of Geneva on Jan 18 swiftly ended a small pro-Tibetan protest on the square outside the United Nations’ European headquarters, reported Reuters. The UN complex was rendered off-limits for everyone, making it resemble a ghost city, except for Xi’s 200-strong delegation and an audience of 800 for his speech there.
The report said Police stopped five activists outside the United Nations as they unfurled a Tibetan flag and signs reading “Arrest Xitler, Free Tibet”. It cited a police spokesman as saying the protest was unauthorized.
Oslo-based Voice of Tibet radio broadcast service reported Jan 19 that those Tibetans were arrested and seen taken away in a police van.
The Reuters report added that an authorized pro-China protest of about 100 people began later.
“This has just happened in Geneva, in the city of human rights, in the city of freedom, and this is very shameful,” the report quoted Migmar Dhakyel, spokeswoman for the association of Tibetan Youth in Europe, as saying.
Within the UN complex – which also houses the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and where the UN Human Rights Council holds its regular sessions twice a year – car parks, meeting rooms and shops were shut and declared off-limits as the UN complex largely emptied before Xi’s arrival and many of the roughly 3,000 staff went home early.
A UN spokeswoman was cited as saying employees, having been asked to return home early just before the arrival of Xi’s delegation and his audience, had been encouraged to work from home. It was “logistical, not political”, she was quoted as claiming.