Geneva, May 20 (CNA) A health promotion event with some people in support of Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) on Sunday was disturbed by a man and the police who asked participants to drop placards, prompting an Swiss advocate to speak out against their intrusion.
Ahead of the 71st session of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the WHO on May 21, the “Walk the Talk: The Health for All Challenge” took place in the square in front of the Palace of Nations, the United Nations Office at Geneva, attracting more than 1,000 people from different countries to attend.
Of the participants, about 100 were Taiwanese expatriates in Europe and the United States and from Taiwan’s nongovernmental organizations advocating for Taiwan’s participation in the WHO.
As people began to gather, some Taiwanese wearing a T-shirt with “Taiwan” on it and waving placards that read “WHO for Taiwan” and “Taiwan for WHO” were suddenly stopped by a man who tried to take away their placards.
Nicola Spafford-Furey, Vice President of the Switzerland’s Earth Focus Foundation who was there to join the walking, stepped forward to ask the man to identify himself and argued with him before two police officers turned up.
Apparently wary of reporters within earshot, the police asked to talk to Spafford-Furey privately. After that, they told the Taiwanese that their T-shirts and the placards with “political slogans” were not allowed before they could join the event.
Spafford-Furey told CNA that the police asked her about the occasion of the gathering and said that they were worried that the event could turn into a demonstration.
(By Tang Pei-chun, Dai Ya-chen and Shih Hsiu-chuan)