Swiss recall ambassador to Syria

Switzerland is recalling its ambassador to Syria and has condemned the violence perpetrated by Syrian forces against civilians.

This content was published on August 18, 2011 - 20:55 and agencies

“The actions of the Syrian security forces are not acceptable. For this reason, the foreign ministry has recalled the Swiss ambassador in Damascus to Bern for consultations,” the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

It added that it had “repeatedly and publicly” called on the Syrian authorities to respect fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to life, the ban on torture, the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. 

Syrian President Bashar Assad has come under mounting criticism for his crackdown on a five-month uprising. Human rights groups and witnesses accuse Syrian troops of firing on largely unarmed protesters and say more than 1,800 civilians have been killed since mid-March.

The foreign ministry demanded that independent investigations be conducted immediately to determine the exact circumstances of this violence and identify those responsible for it. 

“In view of its humanitarian tradition, Switzerland wishes to send a strong signal to Damascus,” the statement said.

“The recall of the Swiss ambassador in Damascus is not, however, equivalent to a rupture of diplomatic relations. The Swiss embassy in Damascus remains open and fully operational.”

Also on Thursday, United Nations human rights investigators said that Syria may have committed crimes against humanity. They have prepared a report identifying 50 alleged perpetrators within the Syrian government.

The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session in Geneva on Monday.

On Thursday evening, about 200 people gathered in Bern for a peaceful demonstration against the Syrian regime. Syrian filmmaker Mano Khalil gave a speech, and some participants posed as corpses during a moment of silence.

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