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Calmy-Rey meets Tunisian rights activists

Tunisians went on hunger strike before and during the summit to plead for human rights.

(Infosud/Carole Vann)

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has told four Tunisian human rights activists that Switzerland is following the situation in their country.

The four, whom she met in Bern on Thursday, included two lawyers who went on hunger strike during last month's World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis.

Calmy-Rey received them after a request from a Fribourg human rights organisation, Vérité-Action.

The two hunger strikers - Abderraouf Ayadi and Samir Dilou - wanted to thank Switzerland for its stance at the conference.

"We are used to Swiss non-governmental organisations supporting the movement for freedoms and human rights in Tunisia," said Dilou after the talks.

Issues that annoy

"But on that occasion, it was official Switzerland which spoke about issues that annoy."

Calmy-Rey told them that Bern expected all states to "respect their obligations" concerning human rights, according to foreign ministry spokeswoman Carine Carey.

The activists explained during their meeting that they had formed a committee calling for the release of political detainees and for fundamental rights in Tunisia.

The two lawyers are to meet United Nations officials in Geneva on Friday as well as hold talks with the International Commission of Jurists in the city.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

After a first phase of the WSIS in Geneva in December 2003, the second phase took place in Tunis from November 16 to 18.

Swiss President Samuel Schmid was the toast of international civil society after being the only head of state to allude to human rights abuses taking place in Tunisia.

Communications Minister Moritz Leuenberger, who came to Tunis for the final two days of the conference, denied there was a diplomatic rift over Schmid's comments.

Switzerland was the only western country at the Tunis summit represented by two cabinet ministers.

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