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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Swiss shield China's PM from protests during visit

January 29, 2009

January 27, 2009

BERN, Switzerland (AP) - Switzerland restricted media and public access
around the Federal Palace during a visit by Chinese Prime Minister Wen
Jiabao on Tuesday in an effort to shield him from potential protesters
and awkward questions.

The square and streets leading to the Federal Palace in the capital,
Bern, were being sealed off completely by police, the Federal
Chancellery said.

Employees in the building and adjacent houses were advised to keep all
windows and balcony doors leading to the main square closed, it said.
The public in general and photographers in particular were ordered to
stay away from balconies and rooftops.

Heightened security for major state visits is not unusual in
Switzerland. But the restrictions on media and public access appeared
aimed at preventing a repeat of events 10 years ago when then-Chinese
President Jiang Zemin was angered by Tibetan protesters who had gathered
on the government square and the roof of an adjacent building.

"Don't you have the capacity to lead this country," Jiang Zemin asked
the Swiss government after being greeted by protests.

"You have lost a good friend," he told Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss,
who had openly spoken about the human rights situation in China.

Wen's visit Tuesday was to focus on economic relations between the two
countries, the Federal Chancellery said.

The Chinese premier would take no questions from the media after
delivering a brief statement following the talks, it said.

Later this week, Wen plans to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos,
where officials have authorized a small demonstration by Tibetan groups
on Wednesday.

Phuntsok Gangshontsang, a spokesman for the Community of Tibetans in
Switzerland, said he expected about 100 people to protest human rights
abuses in Tibet and call for greater freedom in the Chinese-ruled region.

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