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Politicians call for release of Swiss arrested in Belarus

The dual Swiss-Belarus national was arrested in September while allegedly taking part in a protest. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Sixteen members of the Swiss parliament have appealed to Belarus authorities to release a Swiss woman arrested on September 19 in Minsk during protests against the country’s embattled leader Alexander Lukashenko.

In the open letter, the parliamentarians denounce “the arbitrary and politically motivated” detention. The Swiss-Belarus double national from St Gallen in eastern Switzerland was arrested while participating in a protest of women.

She faces up to five years in prison for removing the hood of a policeman, according to the letter signed by parliamentarians from the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party and the Evangelical Party.

The letter was published on Thursday by the organisation Libereco and is addressed to the Belarus ministers of justice and the interior as well as the acting attorney general.

The signatories demand that they “put an immediate end to the intimidation, persecution and detention of peaceful demonstrators, opposition activists, human rights defenders and media representatives, and to guarantee without restrictions the fundamental human rights to freedom of expression and assembly”.

In September the Swiss foreign ministry confirmed the arrest and said it has repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to release all people detained in protests and to uphold democracy, rule-of-law, and human rights.

In August, another Swiss citizen was arrested for allegedly taking part in the street protests against the government. He was freed five days later following an intervention by the Swiss foreign minister, Ignazio Cassis.

Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since the presidential elections on August 9. Both opposition members say the vote was rigged, and the United States and the European Union condemned the election as neither free nor fair.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR