Since sunday, numerous caravans have occupied without authorisation a vaste private terrain at Collombey-Muraz (VS).
Society: Eight hundred gipsies are squatting on a terrain at Collombey-Muraz (VS) [Valais canton], to the great regret of the farmers. The population’s incomprehension and anger have led those elected to propose ways-out.
They have landed with some fifty caravans, sunday on a private land close to Collombey-Muraz (VS). Yesterday morning, ‘we have counted 77 of them, and more keep coming’, deplores Simon Turin, the farmer exploiting this field where gens du voyage [travelling people] of french origin have chosen their quarters in complete illegality. The gipsies should be more than 800 this weekend, in order to celebrate a wedding.
Irritated, Simon Turin and Paul Kunz, this land’s proprietor, have appealed to the forces of order, hoping to see the gypsies leave the place. But it won’t be that way. They will stay there until sunday, to the great regret of the farmers and the local population, all of them fearing for their security, and not understanding why these people’s presence is enforced upon them. With regard to police, officers – ‘bereft’ of the option to demand their expulsion – are in a bad position having to negotiate with the gipsies, according to Jean-Marie Bornet, speaker of the Valais canton police.
Contacted yesterday, the Valais security minister Esther Waeber-Kalbermatten is not envisaging an imminent solution. And does not appear to consider the situation’s dimension: ‘Police do their maximum to safeguard the population’s safety. They respond to the orders of the prosecution service.’ A Valais prosecution service whose role it is ‘to stop those infractions which persist’, explains Nicolas Dubuis, procureur général adjoint. ‘But this set of problems with travellers is complex. It is the politicians’ responsibility.’
In fact, several of those elected have – finally – reacted, after this illegal intrusion of travellers at Collombey-Muraz. Among them Yannick Buttet, very concerned as an elected council for Collombey-Muraz and an MP (CVP) . ‘This recent episode shines again the spotlight on this set of problems. What we must do now is assure that there is a legal basis preventing this type of situations from recurring. As this goes beyond the townships and cantons, it is the confederation that must take measures, in order to make the law respected.’
In his intervention which he will present this autumn, the Chablais representative will ask the federal government to act, ‘in order to prevent access to our territory to gipsies displaying inadequate behaviour, especially those who do not respect private property.’ A way-out which is also envisaged by the SVP, which will even propose the enactment of an intercanton, even international ‘Gipsy Alert’ plan. ‘That way, it is about giving our police officers a sufficient delay, in order to assemble adequate means on time’, indicates MP Oskar Freysinger.
What remains is the problem of those ‘transit areas’ for gipsies, required by the confederation for every canton. Valais has one only, at Martigny, while it actually would have to offer at least three. A working group has been busy with this issue for almost ten years. Reason enough to make caravans pass…
Beware of skirmishes
Self-invitation to the gipsies’ wedding
On Facebook, an invitation has been launched to go to the wedding, announced by the travellers for this weekend. More than one thousand people have been invited. The organisers promised to ‘test the gipsies’ hospitality’. The first initiator of the project has thrown the towel yesterday, overwhelmed by the dimension which this event appeared to assume. Announced as a participant, a Valais man declared towards the ‘Matin’ [this paper] to be ready to take the project on his account. He has expressed his wish to get an event where people of all horizons participate.
The Valais canton police asks those interested not to create trouble. ‘We do understand and share the population’s feeling of being fed up’, acknowledges Jean-Marie Bornet, chef du service information et prévention. ‘But you can’t call yourself democrate and then want to cross swords in a field.’ The inviatation is part of a rising animosity between the population and the travellers, adds Jean-Marie Bornet. ‘We are one spark away from a big explosion.’