Switzerland

As long as Switzerland is tolerating the arms trade, financial investments into arms manufacturers and military research at universities, it will continue to bear some of the responsibility for the wars and conflicts of the world. 

Arms companies thrive on global instability and worldwide fearmongering since this enables them to sell more weapons and military goods and to make a profit. However, this logic can be reversed: it is the very existence and distribution of weapons and military goods that actually causes global insecurity. 

Swiss activists have been protesting against the purchase of war drones from the Israeli company Elbit Systems. On 25th May, activists blocked the entrance to one of Switzerland's biggest military bases, where members of the Swiss parliament planned to watch a demonstration of the Hermes 900 drone. This was just one of several actions Group for a Switzerland Without an Army (GSoA) took during the last session of the Swiss parliament.

Source: http://www.gsoa.ch/medien/02327/war-drones-activists-block-entrance-military-base-/

Swiss activists blockade entrance to military baseThun, Switzerland – Since 9:30am on Tuesday 25th May, activists have been protesting against the purchase of war drones from the Israeli company Elbit Systems. The activists have blocked the entrance to one of Switzerland's biggest military bases, where members of the Swiss parliament planned to watch the Hermes 900 drone.

Since 9:30 AM, activists from different organisations - Gruppe für eine Schweiz ohne Armee (GSoA), Boycott, Divest and Sanctions against Israel (BDS), Collective Urgence Palestine (CUP) and independent activists - have blocked the entrance to the planned presentation of the Hermes 900 drones, that Switzerland is planning to purchase. No vehicles can go through the main door of the military compound in Thun, which the members of the security committees of both chambers have been invited to.

In our last CO Update we reported on a Swiss referendum on the future of the draft. On 22nd September, 73% of voters opted to maintain conscription.

This is the third time the country has voted down similar proposals by the Group for Switzerland Without an Army: Both a 1989 idea to abolish the army altogether, and a 2001 referendum to replace it with a peace corps, were also rejected.

Swiss citizens will have the chance to vote on whether conscription will be maintained on September 22nd. The Swiss government has already come out against the proposals.

In Switzerland, all men between the ages of 19 and 25 are liable for basic military training. The length of basic military training is 21 weeks, and 18 weeks in some exceptional circumstances.

Nina Regli

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan arrived in Switzerland this year: a Swiss newspaper reported that Aegis Defence Service, one of the biggest private security companies, had opened a holding base in Basel. Aegis Defence Service, based primarily in London, employs 20,000 mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan who typically work on contract for the American defence ministry.

War Resisters' International's Swiss section GSoA (Group for a Switzerland without Army) has launched a new campaign for a referendum to abolish conscription in Switzerland. The campaign is aimed at changing article 59 of the Swiss constitution, which is the legal basis for conscription in the country. According to the present version of paragraph 1 of the article, "Every Swiss man is required to do military service.

On November 29, 2009, the Swiss people had the opportunity to vote to stop the export of arms. 31.8 % of the electorate decided to say yes to our proposition to ban all arms exports. This result is what we expected during the last months, but it’s less than what we hoped for after the latest polls.

Cheese or Tanks?

Placheolder image

Switzerland will vote on a constitutional amendment to ban all exports of arms on November 29. The Swiss electorate still hovers between its ideal of peaceful neutrality and the economic interests of the military industry.

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