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Le Courrier - Switzerland | Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Benito Perez warns against punishing social protest as a crime

Eight former employees of the tire manufacturer Goodyear were sentenced to nine months in jail last week. They had taken two managers of their factory - which was menaced with closure - hostage for 30 hours. Benito Perez, editor of the Christian-social daily Le Courrier, is worried that protest actions are being criminalised: "This gagging of social protest is all the more insidious in that it is based on a dangerous illusion: that of a society where only criminals commit violence. However violence is everywhere and can potentially surface in any social relationship. The task of society does not consist in getting rid of it, in controlling and properly channelling it. Social clashes, demonstrations, strikes, occupations, and pickets all have a more or less symbolic violence and a more or less physical violence to them. Just like the power relations between a boss and an employee, a landlord and a tenant, a police officer and a protester. In this context a zero-tolerance policy leads primarily to disarming citizens - who already are not sitting in the driver's seat."

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