Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Swiss police moments before cutting the supporting climbing rope visible in the foreground.
Swiss police moments before cutting the supporting climbing rope visible in the foreground. Photo: Anon

Life And Limb In Evian

UK activist severely injured at G8 summit

6th June 2003

As a result of actions by Swiss traffic police against protestors at the Evian G8 Summit on Sunday 1 June, a UK national, Martin Shaw, has been severely injured and hospitalised.

The protestor, part of a 15 person international collective blockading a bridge in Switzerland to prevent G8 delegates passing from Geneva to Lausanne, was participating in a banner drop with the slogan 'G8 Illegal'.

Martin and another protestor - who doesn't wish to be named - were hanging from both ends of the same rope from a 30m high bridge over a small stony riverbed alongside the banner. Two traffic police arriving at the scene panicked about the build up of traffic and cut the supporting rope holding the two protestors despite repeated warnings about the danger of this from everyone present. The police later admitted their actions in a press statement. Following this, there will be a judicial enquiry.

Martin who is a very experienced and careful climber fell 20m into a stony river bed and was left there with spinal injuries, pelvic damage, an injured spleen and two broken ankles for an hour before emergency services arrived with an ambulance helicopter to take him to the hospital. Other people present managed to rescue the second climber by holding on to the other end of the rope for 15 minutes although she was later delivered to the hospital suffering from shock.

Whilst Martin lay collapsed on the ground and demonstrators rescued the second climber, police continued to direct traffic over the bridge as if nothing had happened.

A second UK national was badly injured when German riot police shot a concussion grenades at a crowd of protestors who were heading home away from the main demonstration. Guy Smallman, a photographer who has contributed pictures to SQUALL in the past and who was working with the Indymedia Collective in Evian, had the back of his left leg calf torn off when German riot police fired the grenade at close range. He was taken to Geneva's main hospital and underwent a two hour operation to graft nerves, muscle and skin back onto his leg.

Medics in the hospital confirmed that there had been a large number of hospital admissions due to injuries caused by concussion grenades. The proactively violent German riot police had been brought in by the Swiss authorities especially to deal with protestors at the G8 summit.

The fallen climber, Martin Shaw, currently remains in hospital in Geneva where he has undergone an emergency three hour operation. Doctors have stated that his back will slowly recover, but it looks unlikely that he will be able to walk properly again as a result of his leg injuries.

Anyone concerned about the actions taken by the Swiss Police and the German riot police should write to their respective Swiss embassies. For convenience there are some addresses of embassies in Switzerland printed below.

UK Embassy of Switzerland 16 -18 Montagu Place, London W1H 2BQ Tel: 00 44 (0)20 7616 6000 Fax: 00 44 (0)20 7724 7001 E-mail:
France Embassy of Switzerland 142, rue de Grenelle Paris - 75007 Tel: 00 33 1 49 55 67 00 Fax: 00 33 1 45 51 34 77 E-mail:
Spain Embassy of Switzerland Calle Nuez de Balboa 35-7 Edificio Goya Madrid Tel: 00 34 91 436 39 60 Fax: 00 34 91 436 39 88 E-mail:
Germany Embassy of Switzerland Otto-von-Bismarck-Allee 4 Berlin 10557 Tel: 00 49 (0)30 390 40 00 Fax: 00 49 (0)30 391 1030 E-mail:
USA Embassy of Switzerland 2900 Cathedral Ave, NW Washington DC 20008 Tel: 001 202 745 7980 Fax: 00 1 292 387 2564 E-mail:
Italy Embassy of Switzerland Via Barnaba Oriani 61 Rome 00197 Tel: 00 39 06 8083641 E-mail:
The Netherlands Embassy of Switzerland Lange Voorhout 42 Den Haag 2514 EE Tel: (+31) (0) 70 - 3642831 Fax: (+31) (0) 70 - 356 12 38 E-mail:

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