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Tamils protest at asylum policy shift

Hundreds of people have protested in the Swiss capital Bern against the potential repatriation of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka.

Protestors called for a rethink of a decision in force since March 1, saying the human rights situation in Sri Lanka remained precarious.

At the start of the year, the Federal Migration Office said the situation in the country had improved and decided that most asylum seekers could return to the north and east of the country following the end of civil war.

But the Swiss Council of Eelam Tamils who organised Saturday’s demonstration fear Tamils will be arrested and tortured on their return to the country.

They said refugees should only be sent back if the Sri Lankan government authorises an international inquiry into alleged war crimes and ends the emergency rule. The International Committee of the Red Cross should also be given access to all political prisoners, they said.

The Federal Migration Office said there were 2,100 Sri Lankans whose asylum applications were pending in Switzerland by the end of last year.

  

Sri Lankans are one of the biggest migrant groups in Switzerland. There were 27,721 people of Sri Lankan origin in the country at the end of 2008. Since 1973 more than 11,000 Sri Lankans have acquired Swiss citizenship.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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