Swiss Court Upholds Right of Palestine Solidarity Action to Hang Posters in Train Stations

Wednesday, 13 April 2011 11:29 Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

The Swiss Federal Administrative Court has ruled that SBB, the national rail service, violated freedom of speech of the Palestine Solidarity Action group when it refused to allow the group to hang posters.


Main train station in Zurich, where a Swiss court says Palestine Solidarity Action may hang posters


The Palestine Solidarity Action first put up posters in several locations in the main Zurich train station in 2009. The posters stated things like “ Sixty-one years of Israel, 61 years of injustice,” and “Israel was established with violence on Palestinian land. The injustice demands resistance!”

After three days, the group was ordered by the station’s management to remove the signs, and were told they could not hang up their material.

The Palestine Solidarity Action group did now allow this discrimination to go unnoticed, and appealed to the Federal Administrative Court in Berne, claiming the measure violated their freedom of speech.

The court has ruled in favor of the activists and ordered that SBB allow the group to distribute their materials.

According to the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, SBB, the Swiss train service, argued in court that its policy prohibits the distribution of materials on sensitive foreign affairs issues. The court rejected the claim, stating that a train station is a public place and as such, it is a place for exchange of opinions. By banning the posters, the judges asserted, the station prevented citizens from being exposed to different opinions on international affairs.

The court said the posters, while controversial, did not pose a risk to railway operation or public safety, also noting that they did not include graphic pictures, and did not incite to violence or other illegal activity. “Resistance does not mean violence,” they said.

The Federal Railways now has 30 days to appeal the decision.


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