“Although the anti-life protesters were out-numbered by pro-lifers at least ten-to-one, police had to take measures to maintain order, a few times resorting to water cannons and tear gas, because protesters were entering the plaza where pro-lifers gathered, and were behaving in a threatening way,” said Joannes Bucher, the European regional director of Human Life International (HLI), who participated in the march.
“Pro-lifers seemed unconcerned, and were certainly undeterred,” said Bucher.
HLI Switzerland, a co-sponsor of the September 17th march, issued a statement about the protests which read in part, “That a peaceful occasion for life and the protection of life was the scene of such a massive police operation is unthinkable.”
Photos recently obtained by HLI show well over a dozen police officers in riot gear on hand as gas filled the air, and water was shot at protesters from a police truck.
Video of the march posted on the event’s website shows pro-life advocates marching with signs, large crosses, and small white coffins representing lives lost to abortion.
“Over a thousand pro-life supporters calmly and with dignity braved the taunts and insults of vocal and disrespectful protesters to listen to calls to protect life, and to pray for our opponents in this worldwide battle to stop abortion,” said March for Life attendee Mary Longlois, an American, who advocates for pro-life issues on behalf of HLI at the United Nations. “This is truly an international battle, and pro-lifers all speak the same language.”
“Apparently [the protesters] had decided to disband the rally with violence,” according to a statement on the website. “Only a determined and forceful use of the Zurich city police were able to prevent the rally, at which many children, teenagers and seniors participated, from degenerating into chaos.”
“We find it regrettable that the deployment of dozens of expensive police in full gear has become necessary. An occasion that calls for the unconditional right to life should not impose exorbitant costs for personnel, emergency vehicles, water cannons and tear gas on taxpayers,” the statement continued.
“But the blame for these expenses is not to be placed on the organizers, but radical anarchists and selfish party-goers who repeatedly demonstrated their propensity for violence in recent days.”
Despite the actions of the protestors, HLI’s Bucher was enthusiastic about the experience.
“The march was inspiring and exciting,” said Bucher. “Pope Benedict is defending European Catholic heritage, and people of all creeds are fighting back against the culture of death. We are not separated by language or culture. We are united in this cause.”
LifeNews.com Note: Reprinted with permission from Human Life International’s World Watch forum. Adam Cassandra is a Communications Specialist at Human Life International.