Vigil in Zurich on Natallia Hersche’s birthday

In an open letter, 18 Swiss parliamentarians from the SP, Greens, CVP and EVP address the Belarusian Minister of Justice, Minister of the Interior and Attorney General and demand the release of the imprisoned Swiss citizen Natallia Hersche.

The Swiss-Belarusian dual citizen from St. Gallen was arrested at a women’s rally in Minsk on 19 September. On Tuesday this week, her 51st birthday, Swiss Ambassador Claude Altermatt was able to visit her in prison for the first time since her arrest.

Libereco regards Natallia Hersche as a political prisoner whose arrest is arbitrary and politically motivated. St. Gallen’s National Councillor Barbara Gysi has taken over the symbolic prisoner’s godparenthood for Natallia Hersche as part of the #WeStandBYyou campaign and initiated the open letter from the members of the National Council and the Council of States.

The open letter in its wording

Barbara Gysi has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Natallia Hersche

Release of Natallia Hersche

Minister of Justice Oleg Slizhevsky
Minister of the Interior Yury Karaev
Prosecutor General Andrei Shved
Republic of Belarus

Dear Sirs

On 19 September 2020 Natallia Hersche, a Swiss-Belarusian dual citizen from St. Gallen, was arrested in Minsk. She had travelled to her former home country on 11 September and participated in a peaceful women’s rally there.

She was accused of violent resistance to law enforcement officers because she allegedly took a policeman’s balaclava off when she was arrested. Natallia Hersche affirms her innocence. She faces up to 5 years imprisonment in Belarus under Article 363 of the Belarusian Criminal Code.

We consider the imprisonment of Natallia Hersche to be arbitrary and politically motivated and call on you to release her immediately and unconditionally and allow her to return to Switzerland immediately.

We have followed with great concern the violent attacks by police forces and special units on peaceful demonstrators in Belarus in recent weeks. We are dismayed by more than 14,000 arbitrary arrests since the beginning of August and by numerous reports of torture and ill-treatment in custody.

We strongly urge you, in your capacity as Acting Minister of Justice, Minister of Interior and Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus, to put an immediate end to the intimidation, persecution and detention of peaceful demonstrators, opposition members, human rights activists and media representatives and to guarantee the fundamental human rights to freedom of expression and assembly without restrictions.

Stop the use of violence by Belarusian security forces and release Natallia Hersche and all other political prisoners immediately.

As members of the Swiss National Council and Council of States, we stand firmly by the side of all people who are committed to and protest for democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Belarus.

Yours sincerely

Barbara Gysi, National Councillor St. Gallen, SP
Claudia Friedl, National Councillor St. Gallen, SP
Nicolo Paganini, National Councilor St. Gallen, CVP
Franziska Ryser, National Councillor St. Gallen, GREENS
Lilian Studer, National Councillor Aargau, EVP
Samira Marti, National Councillor Basel-Landschaft, SP
Marianne Streiff, National Councillor Bern, EVP
Nicolas Walder, National Councillor Geneva, GREENS
Lisa Mazzone, Councillor of State Geneva, GREENS
Laurence Fehlmann Rielle, National Councillor Geneva, SP
Jon Pult, National Council Grisons, SP
Martina Munz, National Councillor Schaffhausen, SP
Brigitte Crottaz, National Councillor Vaud, SP
Fabian Molina, National Council Zurich, SP
Nik Gugger, National Councilor Zurich, EVP
Céline Widmer, National Councillor Zurich, SP
Priska Seiler Graf, National Councilor Zurich, SP
Mattea Meyer, National Councilor Zurich, SP