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Swiss overwhelmingly oppose referendum ban on weapon exports
anti-war / imperialism |
Monday November 30, 2009 01:37 by iosaf
A referendum was held in Switzerland on 29 November 2009. Three questions were put to the voters:
* a ban on the construction of new minarets;
* a ban on exporting weapons and war materiel;
* a prescription that money raised from taxes on aviation fuel should be used for aviation matters.
not really just about incoming minarets - the swiss have a few missiles outgoing too.
For the third time since 1973 Swiss voters were asked in a referendum to oppose weapon exports. The question which was bundled with two others had been proposed by a network of several pacifist groups. The other referendum celebrated the same day proposed by the far right saw a ban on minaret construction enshrined in the constitution. The Swiss government had itself opposed the arms ban arguing that jobs would be lost in Switzerland if the Swiss didn't continue to play a part in the global arms trade. One Helvetian wag put it rather succintly quipping that If there are no weapons sales, thousands of Red Cross employees will be unemployed and billions of francs will be needed to fund their unemployment payouts. Thus might we muse is the utility of the global arms trade "making a killing as always". ignificantly the decision by the Swiss to reject such a proposed ban will not be jumped upon by journalists and thinktankers as evidence of any new step in global animosity. Nope- they're talking minarets.
Weapons export ban rejected by voters
".....A proposal to ban weapons exports and other war materiel has been overwhelmingly rejected in a nationwide ballot on Sunday. Official results show 68.2 per cent of voters against the initiative and 31.5 per cent for. Turnout was above average, at 53 per cent. The proposal was launched by a broad coalition of peace groups and centre-left political parties. However, the government and a majority in parliament recommended a no vote, saying approval would cost thousands of jobs and jeopardize the country's defence capacity. It is the third time since 1972 that a similar proposal has been rejected by voters....."
Questions are being raised in Switzerland over exports of weapons and war material – and not only by the pacifists behind the nationwide vote on November 29. (by Urs Geiser - swissinfo)
"The government in its official information brochure for voters describes its policy of trading war material as restrictive, transparent, tough and not open to frequent abuses. Throughout its campaign the pacifist group for a Switzerland without an Army has tried to undermine the clean Swiss image. It has published a report by Human Rights Watch about the export of machine guns to police in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The security forces, which are fighting Maoist rebels, apparently have children in their ranks. The economics ministry has rebuffed allegations that it has blatantly violated international standards. Reports say the sale was approved by the cabinet, despite opposition by the foreign ministry. Last month the ministry also dismissed accusations of inconsistencies in Switzerland's policy levelled by 70 law professors. In an open letter to the government they criticised arms deliveries to the United States and Germany, which are both involved in armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legal experts also highlighted exports of war material to India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, despite internal conflicts and a questionable human rights record in Saudi Arabia's case."
"Economics Minister Doris Leuthard has repeatedly said Swiss controls of the annual 2,000 – 2,500 exports are the tightest in Europe. "The protection of human lives is crucial for us," she is quoted as saying. Leuthard speculated that the open letter "was not free of propaganda", but
indicated she would seek legal clarifications which will specifically permit weapons exports to countries taking part in United Nations peace missions. Simon Plüss of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), a unit of the economics ministry, added that the government last March decided to suspend the exports to Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But he said it had to honour valid contracts. "Deliveries continue for deals which were approved earlier," he said. Plüss ruled out business deals with systematic and serious human rights violators as well as with poor countries in receipt of humanitarian assistance. A ban on exports also extended to regimes stockpiling weapons, and those suspected of using the weapons against their own citizens."
"Jörg Künzli, professor of law at Bern University, did not sign the open letter to the government, but he points out that there are loopholes which allow weapons exports. "Sales of simulators, night sight devices or Pilatus aircraft are subject to approval by cabinet but they cannot be banned as such, only weapons exports can be stopped," he said. The proliferation of weapons is banned, but regulations can be sidestepped, according to Künzli. "High-tech elements are manufactured in Switzerland and then exported to a subsidiary abroad where they are assembled and built into a weapon." He also says it is relatively easy to escape the eyes of the law by sending construction plans abroad electronically.
Consistency However, there is no major difference between the arms exports of Switzerland and those of the European Union, according to Künzli. He mentions Israel as an exception. The Jewish state presently cannot purchase weapons from neutral Switzerland. "What is lacking is a consistent policy by the cabinet," he said. "In the past economic interest had the upper hand over political considerations." Künzli calls for a stricter application of the law and improved transparency to stop abuses. "The list of countries which are not supplied with arms is not made public," he pointed out. Despite apparent doubts, particularly among the younger generation and women, voters appear unlikely to follow a coalition of 35 peace groups and centre-left political parties, according to an opinion poll by a leading research institute."
resources on Swiss arms exportation
here's an interactive map where you can see swich bichs of the planet get smasched into schmithereens courtesy of the Helvetians.
.:. for surely the people of the papal guard and john calvin and dying with dignity know a thing or too about blowing up minarets +
they aint just about holy cheese, penknives & purple bovines.
the Swiss Law on Weapons export . German version.
Swiss anti army group "switzerland without an army!
the Swiss Electoral office for detailed analysis :
Wikipedia focusses more on minarets.