Ludo De Brabander
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Letter to Swiss ambassador for visa refusal to Syrian participants of conference in Geneva

The letter below has been sent to the Ambassador of Switzerland to Belgium concerning the refusal of 66 applications for visas by those wishing to attend the Syrian International Conference that was held in Geneva 28-29 January 2013

The letter below has been sent to the Ambassador of Switzerland to Belgium concerning the refusal of 66 applications for visas by those wishing to attend the Syrian International Conference that was held in Geneva 28-29 January 2013

 

Mr. Bénédict de Cerjat, Ambassador of Switzerland to Belgium

The Embassy of Switzerland in Brussels

Wetstraat 26, Bus 9

B-1040 Brussels

 

Dear Mr Bénédict de Cerjat,

 

I am writing you, regarding the Syrian International Conference that was held in Geneva 28-29 January 2013, which was called to enable Syrians from inside the country and those outside to discuss a non-violent solution to the terrible situation in Syria. The Conference ended with an agreement in the Geneva Declaration, which I attach below. Thank you for your hospitality.

The purpose of writing is to ask if you can throw any light on the reasons for refusal of 66 applications for visas by those wishing to attend the conference including 57 from inside Syria. I understand that you are unable to go into detail about people’s personal circumstances, but the Conference was very disappointed that these Syrians were prevented from attending a conference being held in the country that hosts the UN and is well-respected for its human rights record. I know, for example, that these people have commitment to a non-violent resolution through dialogue despite losses they have suffered, but most were not able to engage in this Conference because they were denied a visa.

I know that over the time of the troubles in Syria and even recently, Syrians have been granted visas to attend conferences in Europe without being blocked on mass on the basis that they may not return home, which makes this a strange decision now.

We were fully aware that a Conference was also convened at short notice to be held in France on the same days as the Geneva Conference, bringing together the Syrian Coalition which is recognised by European Countries and which is calling for weapons as a means to resolve the conflict, with their potential backers.

I do not expect that you can disclose any internal political pressures exerted within the countries of the EU to create this situation which clearly reduced the capacity of those inside Syria to participate, although some were able to join us by Skype. It does seem that this may have been a deliberate effort to undermine the impact of the Geneva Conference.

I would however appreciate a response, and ask that you pass the letter to the Heads of your Federal Departments for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.

Yours sincerely

Ludo De Brabander

spokesperson Vrede vzw

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