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BEGGING

Glance around Switzerland: Begging fines, cable car rescue and ID cards for illegal immigrants

Our round up of stories that you might have missed this week includes protests against begging fines, an emergency cable car rescue, continued construction strikes and more.

Glance around Switzerland: Begging fines, cable car rescue and ID cards for illegal immigrants
lostation/ / depositphotos

We have tried to give you a brief overview of each chosen story as well as a link so you can read more and follow up on it, if you want. 

Hundreds protest begging fines 

Photo: halfpoint / depositphotos

A crowd of around 250 people took to the streets of Lausanne this week to protest against a begging ban in canton Vaud, which came into effect on Thursday.

As a result of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) 2016 initiative, people caught begging could now face a fine of up to 100 francs. Anybody found organising begging rings or making minors/dependants beg will be fined 500-2000 francs.

Ada Marra, of the Social Democratic Party, said it was regrettable that the “protection of the weakest was no longer guaranteed” and that the “poorest are now being criminalised”. 

More on this story can be found on the Blick website.

 

Rescued from cable car nightmare

Photo: kamizz / depositphotos

Eight people had to be rescued from a stranded cable car in the Rhine Valley by the Alpine Rescue Switzerland team (SAC) on Wednesday. Trapped passengers had to rappel from the cable car to get to safety during the two-hour ordeal.

The accident was the result of an empty cable car, further down the hill, becoming dislodged from its support cable and falling 12 metres to the ground. It is said to have caused more than ten thousand francs in damages.

Alarmingly, the cable car involved was only opened in April this year. At the time it was heralded as a world first due to it being self-operated. In the event of high winds, the system is supposed to automatically stop cable cars from being active. Reports suggest it was very windy when the incident happened. 

Authorities are currently investigating the cause and cable cars have been stopped until further notice. Pictures and more information can be found on Der Bund website.

 

Zurich wants ID card for all

Advocates show support for the ID card. The placard reads: “No person is illegal. Photo: Züri City Card Facebok Page

On Wednesday this week, Zurich city parliament voted in favour of introducing identity cards for all residents – including the estimated 14,000 ‘Sans Papiers’ or people living there illegally.

Advocates of the ‘Zuri City Card’ say all citizens of Zurich – regardless of residence status – should be allowed basic human rights and that the card would allow people to identify themselves to authorities, in particular the police.

They also say the card should grant holders access to public and private services without the fear of being arrested.

Zurich’s city council was itself against the motion, suggesting that giving illegal immigrants an identity card “could give undocumented migrants a false sense of security”.

More on this story can be found on SRF.

 

Construction strikes continue

Photo: jekershner7 / depositphotos

Following on from earlier strikes in Ticino and Geneva, another 1500 construction workers in the French speaking part of Switzerland put down their tools this week on Tuesday.

Strikers are a fairly rare occurrence in Switzerland but have been more regular this year (including 18,000 people striking last June in Zurich) due to ongoing issues over a new union agreement in the construction sector – particularly related to retirement age.

Read more: Why are strikes so rare in Switzerland?

This week, was the turn of workers from the cantons of Freiburg, Neuchâtel, Valais and Jura. The strike saw 80% of construction sites in Neuchâtel closed. More construction workers across Switzerland are expected to follow suit next week.

More on this story can be found on Le Journal du Jura website.

 

Capsule hotel opens in Lucerne

One of the pods on offer at Capsule Hotel Lucerne. Photo: Capsule Hotel Lucerne Facebook page

Earlier we showed you pictures of the brand new M-Budget hotel which has opened in St Gallen. But if that doesn’t sound like your thing, you might want try the Capsule Hotel in Lucerne.

As in similar hotels in Japan, guests sleep in small, futuristic bunker-like rooms to maximise space. From November 5, guests will be able to choose from the 19 pods on offer there.

The new hotel offers four different types of ‘rooms’ – including a larger premium pod and an option for women. 

Read more: In Pictures: First ever M-Budget hotel room unveiled

 

Arnie allies with Switzerland 

Arnold Schwarzenegger with the University of Zurich's Christian Schwarzenegger. Photo: University of Zurich

The University of Zurich has forged an unlikely alliance with action movie legend Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Swiss university will work alongside the USC Schwarzenegger Institute and the non-profit organisation R20 – founded by Schwarzenegger – on the ‘Green Economy and Finance Initiative’.

“(We) will work together to accelerate the transition to sustainable clean energy and make the world safer and healthier for all its citizens,” said former Mr Olympia Schwarzenegger, in a statement on Monday.

More on this story can be read on the SwissInfo website.

 

UKRAINE

IN PICTURES: Thousands march in Switzerland against Ukraine war

Thousands of people braved a surprise spring snowstorm in the Swiss capital Bern on Saturday to demand an end to Russia's devastating war in Ukraine.

IN PICTURES: Thousands march in Switzerland against Ukraine war

In a sea of blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag, with a rainbow-coloured sprinkling of PEACE banners, around 10,000 demonstrators marched through the city, according to organisers.

“We are all Ukrainian civilians,” read one banner, held by a woman bundled up in a winter coat and wool hat marching towards the Federal Palace, which houses the Swiss government and Parliament.

A woman holds a placard during a national demonstration in Bern against the war in Ukraine.

A woman holds a placard during a national demonstration in Bern against the war in Ukraine. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

“I am Russian, I am against war. Putin is Murderer [sic],” one cardboard sign read, while another stated: “I’m Russian, I stand with Ukraine.”

People in Bern hold placards as they take part in a national demonstration for peace and against the war in Ukraine.

People hold placards as they take part in a national demonstration for peace and against the war in Ukraine. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Benoit Gaillard, a representative of the USS union which co-organised the march, told AFP that the fact that “10,000 people braved the cold” showed that “this war has left no one indifferent”.

Just over five weeks into the invasion, thousands have been killed and millions displaced as parts of Ukraine have been reduced to rubble.

“We need everyone to be in solidarity with us,” said Hanna Perekhoda, a Ukrainian student at Lausanne university and member of the Swiss-Ukraine support committee.

“Ukraine is protecting Europe, protecting democracy and the world against the authoritarian dictatorship of Vladimir Putin,” she told AFP.

Tighten sanctions
The demonstration was aimed at pushing Switzerland to actively engage in efforts to secure a ceasefire and a full withdrawal of Russian forces, organisers said.

The demonstrators were also demanding more support for Ukrainian refugees, and for further sanctions on Russia, including reducing dependence on Russian oil and gas.

“Peace now, No gas, No war,” one large banner read, while a woman held up a sign with a picture of Putin with a red handprint across his face demanding “Stop trade with terrorist [sic]”.

A woman holds a placard representing Russian president Vladimir Putin at a demonstration in Bern

A woman holds a placard representing Russian president Vladimir Putin. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Switzerland is not in the EU and has a long-standing tradition of neutrality on matters of war. It has nevertheless been aligning itself with the waves of EU sanctions imposed following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Switzerland said last month it had frozen the equivalent of 5.75 billion Swiss francs ($6.2 billion) in Russian assets since the invasion began.

But Kyiv has been pressing Switzerland, a favoured destination for wealthy Russians and their assets, to do more.

Participants hold placards against war in Ukraine in front of the Swiss House of Parliament

Participants hold placards in front of the Swiss House of Parliament during the national demonstration in Bern. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

“Russian oligarchs have their money here in Switzerland, in Swiss banks, so Switzerland is a key place to stop this war,” Perekhoda said.

“The Swiss government must take this responsibility and freeze all the assets of Russian oligarchs who finance this bloody war.”

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