By Tom Miles
GENEVA (Reuters) – Anarchists claimed responsibility on Tuesday for an overnight graffiti attack on the Swiss headquarters of the World Trade Organization that has a history of attracting anti-globalisation protests.
The red paint on the facade of the building beside Lake Geneva was quickly cleaned off, but those behind the stunt posted pictures on the web, declaring it part of an anarchist campaign against capitalism.
One piece of graffiti read “OMCriminelle”, playing on the letters “OMC”, the French abbreviation for “WTO”.
“We attacked the International Headquarters of the WTO in Geneva, the World Criminal Organization, symbol of agreements between the powerful, of frantic free trade, destructive production, sly imperialism, anti-social capitalism,” the authors of the attack wrote on their blog.
At the WTO “food, oil, metals and human beings are just pieces of an equation whose sole purpose is the accumulation of capital. The pen-pushers from multinationals, states and financial markets decide the value of the world, who will live and who will die,” they added.
The WTO condemned the vandalism as contrary to its values of dialogue and respect for different perspectives.
“In a world as complex and tense as the world of today, the only way we can resolve the problems that confront us is through a multilateral approach,” spokesman Keith Rockwell said.
The graffiti protest came as neighbouring France grapples with “yellow vest” protests against the policies of President Emmanuel Macron.
There has been no such movement in Switzerland, but the WTO headquarters in Geneva, the most prosperous city in the French-speaking region of Switzerland, is just 15 minutes’ drive from the border.
Two decades ago, in what became known as the “Battle of Seattle”, nearly 50,000 protesters plunged the U.S. city of into chaos during a WTO ministerial meeting.
Subsequent WTO meetings have been less eventful, as the “Doha round” of trade talks gradually ran out of steam and protesters turned their attention elsewhere.
After years in the doldrums, the WTO is in the eye of a new storm this year, with U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariff wars and U.S. complaints about the way the it has referred trade disputes leaving the world body in an existential crisis.
(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)