The Lukashenko regime is being offered a stage for propagandistic image cultivation at the Bern Fernweh Festival with a cultural evening. Libereco and demand the cancellation of the event and call for protests against it if it takes place.

UPDATE 22.10.2021:

Thanks to public pressure on our part and yesterday’s reporting by WOZ and Tages-Anzeiger, the Belarus Embassy has now cancelled its cultural evening at the Bern Fernweh Festival. We hope that everyone involved will learn a lesson from this and that the criminal Lukashenko regime will no longer be offered a public stage in Switzerland. Our next goal: Natallia Hersche must finally be released and the Swiss Foreign Minister Cassis should finally take a firm stand for this – sign our petition to him now:


A Belarusian cultural evening is to take place at the Bern Fernweh Festival (Fernweh means Wanderlust) on 29 October 2021 – organised by the Belarusian embassy and the Belarusian honorary consul Hermann Alexander Beyeler, a known propagator of conspiracy theories and loyal supporter of the Belarusian dictator Lukashenko. Meanwhile, the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Switzerland represents a regime that lacks any democratic legitimacy and is responsible for the most serious human rights violations.

Libereco wrote to the organisers of the Fernweh Festival, G.U.S. Productions, and the venue of the cultural evening, the Best Western Plus Hotel Bern, on 11 October, asking them to cancel the event in order to send a clear message of solidarity with all those politically persecuted in Belarus. In their replies to Libereco, G.U.S. Productions and the Hotel Bern state that they will not cancel the Belarusian Cultural Evening because they want to remain politically neutral.

“With such an argumentation, one could also hold events of the Taliban or Nazi comradeships at the Fernweh Festival to promote trips to Afghanistan or Germany. G.U.S. Productions and Hotel Bern are not acting neutrally when they openly support a criminal regime like that of dictator Lukashenko and offer it a forum to cultivate its image,” criticises Lars Bünger, President of Libereco, the attitude of the festival organiser and venue.

Since the summer of 2020, human rights violations in Belarus have taken on outrageous dimensions: more than 40,000 arrests, at least 1800 documented cases of torture, currently more than 800 long-term political prisoners sentenced to prison terms of up to 18 years.

All relevant independent media in Belarus have been closed down, numerous journalists imprisoned. Since July this year, more than 270 NGOs have been banned – since the beginning of October, there is not a single legally registered human rights organisation left in Belarus.

7 staff members from the Human Rights Centre Viasna, Libereco’s Belarusian partner organisation, are also among the political prisoners – including Ales Bialiatski, the winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize 2020.

Thousands of people have fled Belarus because of political persecution. In the country itself, people no longer dare to take to the streets for protests because of the omnipresent state terror. In the last week of September, more than 130 people were arrested just because of their comments on social media. Similar shocking news from Belarus reaches Libereco almost daily.

There is an omnipresent climate of fear in Belarus. Even visitors from Switzerland run the risk of being arrested completely arbitrarily and without reason, as happened to SRF correspondent Luzia Tschirky in January 2021.

While the Lukashenko regime is being offered a stage to correct its image under the guise of an apparently apolitical cultural evening, at the same time hundreds of political prisoners are suffering inhumane conditions of detention, torture, abuse and forced labour in Belarusian prisons.

“Really no one has wanderlust for Belarus at the moment – on the contrary, many people have to flee the country due to political persecution. As democrats in Switzerland, we must not close our eyes to the terrible human rights violations in Belarus. The fact that G.U.S. Productions and Hotel Bern want to hide all this and hold on to the event until now is a moral declaration of bankruptcy and a direct support of the Lukashenko regime. Globetrotter and Bern Welcome, as the main partners of the Fernweh Festival, should also seriously ask themselves what kind of events they are actually supporting and promoting there,” states Libereco President Lars Bünger.

If the Belarusian Cultural Evening is not cancelled, Libereco and will call for a rally against this event and the Lukashenko regime in front of the Hotel Bern on 29 October at 5.30 pm.