The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) has been following with great concern the events of recent weeks and months in Syria. It deplores in particular the large number of dead and injured, and extends its deep condolences to the families of the victims.
The FDFA calls on the Syrian authorities to immediately cease the repression and to respect the fundamental rights of the civil population, in particular the right to life, the ban on torture, the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. It especially condemns the use of force against demonstrators, arbitrary arrests and the use of torture.
The FDFA demands that independent investigations be conducted immediately to determine the exact circumstances of this violence and identify those responsible for it.
Due to the fact that the numerous calls from the international community to end the violence have been ignored, the FDFA has decided to recall the Swiss Ambassador in Syria to Bern for consultations. This decision was made because Switzerland cannot tolerate the systematic human rights violations perpetrated by the Syrian security forces against the civilian population. In view of its humanitarian tradition, Switzerland wishes to send a strong signal to Damascus. 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.
On 18 May 2011, the Federal Council adopted an ordinance with measures against Syria that correspond with the sanctions adopted by the EU. The Federal Council has extended these measures on 24 May 2011 and again on 17 August 2011. They include, in particular, the freezing of assets of individuals in the Syrian regime and persons associated with it, travel restrictions and a ban on the export of military goods.
The Federal Council is closely following developments in Syria. The Swiss Embassy in Damascus is in close contact with the embassies of other countries and with Swiss citizens in Syria.
The FDFA calls on the Syrian authorities to provide access to the foreign media so that they can report on the events.
Address for enquiries:
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47