Extinction Rebellion attempt Zurich blockade

Zurich (AFP) –

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Around 300 Extinction Rebellion activists, some dressed as clowns, attempted to blockade central Zurich on Monday in a bid to force the Swiss government to heed the environmental movement's climate demands.

XR urged its activists to return every day at noon to block traffic at three key strategic points in Switzerland's financial capital, including a bridge and the crossroads of the city's main shopping street.

Students and senior citizens were among those who descended on Zurich from across the wealthy Alpine nation, unfurling banners and stretching out large sheets of blue plastic symbolising the oceans suffocating with rubbish.

Others installed a ship daubed with climate crisis slogans, "because we are all in the same boat", one activist said.

Students and senior citizens were among those who descended on Zurich from across Switzerland
Students and senior citizens were among those who descended on Zurich from across Switzerland FABRICE COFFRINI AFP

"We have children and are worried about their future," said Genevieve, a teacher from Neuchatel who came with her physicist husband.

"We are a little afraid of being arrested because this is the first time we have taken part in civil disobedience."

A retired humanitarian, who did not wish to give her name, said that the prospect of being arrested "does not scare me", adding that "everything else, at the political level, did not work".

In June, XR petitioned the Swiss government asking it to "officially" recognise the climate emergency and mandate a citizens' assembly on "climate and ecological justice", warning that its activists were otherwise prepared to engage in civil disobedience.

After an hour, the police ordered activists to retreat to designated areas to clear the way for trams on Zurich's main shopping street.

After an hour, the police ordered activists to retreat to designated areas to clear the way for trams on Zurich's main shopping street
After an hour, the police ordered activists to retreat to designated areas to clear the way for trams on Zurich's main shopping street Fabrice COFFRINI AFP

They were eventually let out, one by one.