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Switzerland condemns violence in Libya

The Swiss foreign ministry has expressed concern about recent violence in Libya and in other countries in the region.

In a statement issued on Monday, Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey called on leaders in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa to respect the fundamental rights of their people.

Moammar Gaddafi’s regime has unleashed the bloodiest crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, which has toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. More than 200 have been killed in Libya, according to medical officials, human rights groups and exiled dissidents.

Calmy-Rey, who is this year’s president, condemned the violence against protestors “in the strongest terms”. She called on the authorities to show restraint, noting that the freedoms of expression and assembly must be protected.

The foreign ministry said it was aware from recent experience how brave the protestors were. Last year two Swiss were held hostage in Tripoli – one for almost two years – in retaliation for the arrest in July 2008 of one of Gaddafi’s sons in Geneva.

On Monday the foreign ministry said preparatory work for an international arbitration tribunal that would look into the arrest had been suspended.

There have been no reports of Swiss nationals running into problems in connection with the protests. Swiss nationals living in Libya are advised to monitor the situation closely and to avoid crowds. There are 46 Swiss registered with the embassy in Tripoli; most of them dual citizens.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR