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Swiss MPs urge Belarus exclusion from Euro 2024

footballers in action
Should Belarus be allowed to play UEFA European Championship football when Russia has been excluded? Keystone / Zurab Kurtsikidze

A group of Swiss parliamentarians has written an open letter to the UEFA president, saying that the Euro 2024 football qualifying match between Belarus and Switzerland scheduled for 25 March "must not take place".

“That the Swiss national team should play in a European Championship qualifying match against the team of a country that is responsible for the most serious human rights violations and supports the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is something we cannot condone,” says the open letter, as cited by human rights organisation LiberecoExternal link. It is signed by 30 members of both houses of parliament and addressed to European football association (UEFA) president Aleksander Ceferin of Slovenia.

More than 100 members of the European parliament have also written to UEFA with the same call. Libereco and Campax, another Swiss NGO, had previously launched a campaign demanding that UEFA exclude Belarus from the European Championship, aka Euro 2024. While UEFA has excluded Russia from all football competitions, Belarus is still allowed to participate, notes Lars Bünger, President of Libereco Switzerland.

Belarus under its long-time president Alexander Lukashenko is an ally of Russia and allowed Moscow to use its territory for its invasion of Ukraine. It is also accused of serious human rights abuses at home.

UN points to possible crimes against humanity

On Friday, the UN human rights office in Geneva published a report on Belarus pointing to widespread and systematic violations of international human rights law, which it said could amount to crimes against humanity. They include unlawful deprivation of life, numerous cases of arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, violations of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and denial of due process.

“Violations appear to have been part of a campaign of violence and repression intentionally directed at those who were – or were perceived to be – opposing the Government or had expressed critical views,” the report says.

Belarus authorities launched a violent crackdown on opposition in the wake of disputed elections in 2020.

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