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NewsBurhanov: "Swiss Police used the oppressive methods of dictatorships"

Burhanov: “Swiss Police used the oppressive methods of dictatorships”

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My name is Hasanboy Burhanov, I am the founder of the political opposition movement Erkin O’zbekiston (Free Uzbekistan), which aims to build a secular, democratic, multi-confessional, multi-cultural, and legal society in Uzbekistan so that even the most vulnerable members of society could finally have the opportunity to realize their dreams.

On June 15, 2021, on the eve of the meeting between the US and Russian Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, a peaceful anti-Putin protest was organized in Geneva. I participated in it, with the slogan: “Putin, hands off Uzbekistan”.

It was my first time in Geneva. On June 16, I decided to walk around the city center. Little did I know that on that very day, I would face a flagrant violation of human dignity and would need to deal with serious misconduct of the police.

Around 11 am I was near Jet d’eau de Genève. There was a large gathering of people and quite a lot of press representatives with cameras were present.

As many other people were present there, I began to take pictures of the beautiful scenery of Geneva lake. I was not shouting out any slogans or attracting the attention of bystanders. However, I was approached by 5 or 6 armed police officers in black uniforms, who circled me and asked me to produce my documents. After taking my passport, they said that I would need to go with them.

We walked for 100-150 meters, entered a yard of a house through an archway, after which I was taken towards their bus and put against the wall. At that point, an unceremonious search procedure started.

I asked them the reason for my detention, and demanded an interpreter, as my knowledge of English did not allow me to speak properly. I was refused an interpreter.

The search and the interrogation lasted about 30-40 minutes.

As I am a physically disabled person and use mobility aids, it was very difficult for me to stand in one place. I leaned my back against the wall. I was tired and wanted to sit on the ground, but they wouldn’t let me do that either. It was a real mockery of a man with clear signs of disability.

One of the police officers demanded that I take off my T-shirt, as it bore a portrait of Vladimir Putin and the inscription “Hands off Uzbekistan”. I refused to comply with his demands.

After a while, a police van arrived with three more police officers in blue uniforms appeared. As I understood, they belonged to the Geneva police.

A crowd of about 10 policemen had already formed around me, and each one was trying to ask me something. I was puzzled that there was so much fuss over my T-shirt.

The next thing that happened was that some more police officers arrived and took me to the Geneva police station. At the station, they took me to a small concrete cell, where they searched me once again and took my belongings away. They also took away my orthopedic shoes and crutches.

After a while, an officer came in and said that they needed to take my fingerprints, but for that, I had to be taken down the corridor. I informed the officer that I needed my crutches and orthopedic shoes as I could not move around without them. I was only given my crutches and had to walk barefoot and with great difficulty.

I was kept in a cell for a few hours and then released without being shown any detention document.

I was devastated and could not imagine that all this was happening in one of the most democratic countries in the world.

I wanted to film the passage of the Presidents’ motorcade on my phone after all, and after a few hours, I went back to Jet d’eau de Genève. The place was just as crowded as in the morning. There were press, journalists with cameras and microphones, and ordinary citizens.

After about 15 minutes, a police bus pulled up and around 6 or 7 people got out. Just as in the morning, six policemen came up, surrounded me, and demanded my documents. The nightmare was repeating itself.

They took my passport and demanded that I step aside with them. After walking 15-20 meters away from where I was standing, I was again subjected to a search by police.

People around started to notice the police’s actions, some of them filmed the whole process on their phones. At that moment, I saw two of my colleagues I had met during the protest actions on the previous day, who were also filming this terrible scene. They asked me what was happening, so I gave them a brief account of the situation.

The police were getting nervous and aggressive. My colleagues were also detained by the federal police and searched in the same unceremonious way.

Surprisingly, for some reason, the police refused to speak German, and their personal police officer numbers were hidden behind white armbands.

The local police van pulled up again, and the police used brute force to drag me to the car.

I found myself in the police van, which was taking me to the same police station I had already known from the morning

At the station, I went through the same humiliating process again. After spending about two hours there, I was released; no one bothered to offer a ride to the hotel.

I was profoundly outraged at the lawlessness of the Swiss Federal Police. Instead of defending the democratic foundations of the rule of law, they proved to be in the service of dictator Putin.

If someone were to tell me my own story about that day in Geneve, I would not believe that person. But all this did happen!

On June 16, 2021, the Swiss democracy was slapped in the face by its own police. It is shocking to even think of it!

A crime like this must never happen again. The actions of the police officers who committed such a crime must be subject to legal review.

Otherwise, this case will set a precedent for further anti-human behavior of the Swiss police officers not only against people with disabilities but also against all free citizens of the country.

I, therefore, demand that:

1. That an official investigation be opened against the police officers, who have flagrantly violated my rights.

2. That Ms. Karin Keller-Sutter, Federal Councillor, Head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police of Switzerland, publicly apologizes to me for the actions of her subordinates.

I am now addressing the representatives of international humanitarian and human rights organizations, international human rights lawyers, and Swiss and other counties’ nationals who happened to witness the incident. I am appealing to you for help, I need your support in this case, your sincere assistance in establishing the rule of law.

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