Swiss human rights defenders support civil society of Belarus
Amnesty International’s Swiss branch calls Belarusian authorities for “fair play in the field of human rights” within an advocacy campaign coinciding with the World Ice Hockey Championship in Minsk
Human rights defenders from the Amnesty International inform different groups of the population about gross human rights violations in a country hosting a global sport event, and collect signatures under a petition calling for immediate and unconditional release of the Belarusian prisoners of consciousness – Mikalai Statkevich, Eduard Lobau and Ales Bialatski, and for the abolition of death penalty and all repressive laws.
“Our campaign is continuation of the last year’s campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Belarus, and continuation of our work to support prisoners of consciousness”, country coordinator of Amnesty International’s central office in Switzerland Iris Bischoff says. “Amnesty International often avails of the opportunities provided by big sport events to attract attention of the mass media and general public to the situation in host countries, in particular, to the human rights situation. This was the case with 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, and during the Olympics in Beijing… Besides, it is important for us to disseminate information about the situation in Belarus; Belarus is one of major direction of activities of the Amnesty International’s Swiss branch.”
In their address to fellow citizens, Swiss human rights defenders stress that in Belarus human rights defenders are persecuted and being sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, repressive laws curtail freedom of expression and assembly, and NGO activists face permanent intimidation and persecution.
“It is also very important to us because there is a movement against European Convention of Human Rights in Switzerland. And we take Belarus as an example of a European country which has not signed the Convention to expose gross human rights violation there”, Iris Bischoff says.
Belarus is the only European country which is not a member of the Council of Europe, and is not a party to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which protects such rights as the right to life, right to fail trial, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and others.