Rubber bullets fired as unauthorised women's march in Basel turns violent

Rubber bullets fired as unauthorised women's march in Basel turns violent

Police have confirmed that a number of unauthorised rallies took place across Swiss cities on International Women’s Day. Authorities in Basel detained 215 protestors on the night of March 8, with the emergency services firing rubber bullets into the crowd after they refused to disperse.

Queer Feminist Day of Struggle protests in Switzerland

According to 20 Minuten, a number of unauthorised protests calling for a “Queer Feminist Day of Struggle” took place from 7pm on International Women’s Day. While the aims of the protestors varied wildly - ranging from equal pay to violence and an overthrow of capitalism - most rallied behind calling for equal rights, opportunities and outcomes for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community in Switzerland.

While similar events were held in Winterthur and Bern - where the police in Winterthur used pepper spray to stop protesters from breaking through a barrier, while the event in Bern was mostly peaceful - the most prominent event was due to take place in Barfüsserplatz in Basel.

Swiss police in Basel warned of violent groups at protest

Before the event began, Swiss police informed the activists through social media that “violent groups” were expected to take part in the event and that they would be conducting identity checks on anyone entering the square - a reporter for 20 Minuten noted that police guarding Barfüsserplatz were dressed in riot gear and that the area itself was largely taped off. 

According to the newspaper, authorities in Basel wanted to be better prepared for the protest, as a number of unauthorised and violent demonstrations have caught Swiss police off guard in recent months. As a result, BVB, the local public transport provider, had even told commuters to avoid the area on the night of the protest.

Rubber bullets fired at protest in Petersplatz

With Barfüsserplatz practically out of bounds, around 250 protesters instead gathered at Petersplatz at 7.30pm, chanting slogans. Local police then surrounded this group and closed off the road.

While accounts of what happened next differ - 20 Minuten said its journalists were pushed back far away from the event - Basel police announced that they fired rubber bullets into the crowd after they refused to heed their warnings to disperse and had started marching forward.

After this, police ordered the group into the library of the local university, where they would have their details checked and then be released. A total of 215 people were registered by the police, and around 50 had to be led away by the emergency services.

Thumb image: NeydtStock /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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