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Evangelicals help lead the “Alliance against exportation of weapons to countries in Civil War”. The popular initiative brings together people from all areas of society.
More than 130,000 signatures, a record number in Switzerland, were brought to the ‘Bundesrat’, the Federal Parliament in Bern.
The popular initiative has by far surpassed the 50,000 signatures needed to open the political debate about how the country exports military materials.
The “Alliance against exportation of weapons to countries in Civil War” was formed in 2018 thanks to the initiative of a wide range of people, including peace organisations, Human Rights NGOs, Christian groups, youth platforms and political parties.
Nevertheless, most signatures have been collected as a result of the action of individuals. The strong outcome shows that the Swiss “want to have a right to to speak into the debate of weapon export”, the promoters say. “We hope the Federal Assembly take this unmistakable call seriously”.
“The Swiss humanitarian tradition has to be defended and the democratic participation of the people secured”, they added.
Last year, the Federal Parliament passed a motion to increase the export of weapons, which later was overturned. The platform now asks to return “to the ‘status quo’ before 2014”, when the power of the arms industry was more limited.
EVANGELICALS HELP LEAD THE CAMPAIGN
A co-President of this Alliance is Marianne Streiff, leader of the Evangelical People’s Party (EVP). “Thousands of Swiss people were upset to realise that the authorities thought the increase of benefits of the arms industry is more important than the ethical action and our humanitarian tradition”, she said.
A majority of the population, she continued “does not to want to get rich out of the misery of people living in countries going through a civil war”. According to her, “Switzerland cannot offer to be mediator in armed conflicts on one hand, and on the other hand deliver weapons to such conflicts”.
War materials should be under democratic control, not just business strategies, the Alliance said in a press statement, among other reasons because weapons in war regions often fall in the hands of terrorist groups.
Reformed Pastor Johannes Bardill, also a member of the committee, added: “No one can serve God and money – and no one can serve war and peace. Niether can Switzerland. Let us make a decision”.
Watch video report on Swiss television SRF: