Media Release 14 April 2021: Statement from the Original Cantons’ Action Alliance on the demonstration in Altdorf
Peaceful demonstrators enforce their constitutional right to assemble
Following the tradition of the legendary freedom fighter William Tell, peaceful demonstrators enforced their constitutional right to assemble in Altdorf UR (Canton Uri, Switzerland) on 10 April 2021. The government of Uri had forbidden a registered political rally under flimsy pretexts. The police were present with a massive contingent drawn from the surrounding cantons, with policemen in full body armour and riot gear.
Despite completely cordoning off all access routes, rigorously checking and turning away people, more than 1,000 Swiss citizens gathered in Altdorf in front of the William Tell monument in a symbolic manner. The canton of Uri is the cradle of the Swiss Confederation, William Tell the national hero and a symbolic figure of Swiss identity. The crowd was so large that the police had to retreat. One participant reports:
The crowd was led by the brave and fearless trychlers [men and women ringing huge cowbells], whom even the pepper spray of nervous policemen could not deter. The trychlers with the sound of their impressive bells awakened the elemental power of the Swiss Confederation. With every step through Altdorf's alleys, the movement grew not only in numbers but also in spirit. At the Tell monument, the spark of enthusiasm for the values of Switzerland embodied by this fabulous figure ignited, we all became Tells, peaceful fighters for the freedom that was taken from us even though it is ours. We stood up for what Tell stands for: Independent thinking and the courage to risk everything. We were indeed united as brothers and sisters of one people and everyone had this feeling in their hearts. Those who enslave the Swiss with measures have to reckon with the newly awakened courage of the people in the future.
The numerous trychlers (a respected original Swiss custom) paraded through the streets and circled the Tell monument to the enthusiastic applause of all those present. The impressive image of the Tell monument with the large crowd and a lot of Swiss flags waving went through all the media. Without being under pressure, the police shot pepper spray at trychlers and peaceful demonstrators. Several trychlers fell to the ground with their heavy bells and numerous injured people had to be treated, two of them in hospital. Many participants were completely horrified by the brutal police action, older people had tears in their eyes. The crowd was absolutely peaceful at all times, singing the Swiss national hymn, waving Swiss flags and chanting "freedom, liberté". Later in the afternoon, a unit of 80 heavily armed police stormed a farm where trychlers had previously been staying and drove away the seven guests still present. Apparently the government of Uri wanted to intimidate the population with the massive police operation and set an example.
The Original Cantons’ Action Alliance criticizes the un-Swisslike and completely disproportionate use of pepper spray against peaceful demonstrators who have only used their constitutional political right. They could be accused of demonstrating without a permit, but morally they are in the right, just like William Tell, who had violated an unjust rule of the authorities. They are the heroes of 10 April 2021.
On the other hand, shame on the government of Uri for using pepper spray against peaceful demonstrators! The Action Alliance calls on the public prosecutor's office of the canton of Uri to have this irresponsible action investigated by unbiased experts from outside the canton and to impose appropriate penalties.
The Federal Council, i.e. the Swiss government, recently reprimanded Belarus and called on the authorities there to "allow peaceful demonstrations". Can hypocrisy like that be surpassed? Since the demonstration in Liestal on 20 March 2021, one peaceful rally after another has been forbidden in Switzerland, thereby massively obstructing the free formation of an educated opinion on the referendum concerning the Covid 19 law coming up for voting on June 13 June 2021.
Josef Ender, spokesperson