Tibet activists arrested in Switzerland protest during Xi visit

Pro-Tibet protestors hold a banner reading "Free Tibet" during a demonstration, prior to the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bern, Switzerland, 15 January 2017. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Authorities said the protest was mostly peaceful

Swiss police have arrested 32 pro-Tibet activists who were protesting against a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The group, made up of Tibetans and Swiss nationals, were detained on Sunday for flouting restrictions set up by police in the capital, Bern.

One man was also prevented from setting himself on fire, said police.

Mr Xi is in Switzerland for a state visit ahead of the World Economic Forum which begins in Davos on Tuesday, a first for a Chinese president.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Protesters staged the demonstration amid heavy police supervision

Sunday's protest had taken place in Bern's centre and was scheduled by police to end at noon, before Mr Xi's visit.

City authorities said the demonstration mostly proceeded peacefully but a number of participants had continued to protest past the deadline, refused identity checks, and caused other disruptions.

Police spokesman Christoph Gnaegi told the Associated Press that those arrested were later released.

Doctors had taken care of the man who had tried to set himself on fire.

The demonstration attracted between 700 and 800 protesters, organisers said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Several were arrested when they exceeded the deadline for the protest set by police

China's policies in Tibet have frequently prompted overseas protests by Tibetans calling for freedom from China and acceptance of their spiritual leader-in-exile the Dalai Lama.

In 1999, a similar pro-Tibet protest took place during a visit by China's then-president Jiang Zemin, who was said to be angered when demonstrators threw eggs at the Chinese delegation.

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