Patrice Riemens on Tue, 23 Jun 1998 18:34:05 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> more weirdness from Switzerland

Don't misunderstand me, I am not on a Cheese-Burghers bashing party here,
in fact I love every minute I spend in this very nice place, its very nice
people (visit my friends at ) and fantastic transport
system (glimpse at ).  In fact, if the first news
item is tragic enough (but note that the Swiss do go clean their mess up,
now would the Dutch (government) please get its act together too?), the
second (and last) one is on more light-hearted note...

1. Jenisch (Roma) children kidnapped by the Pro Juventute Foundation tell
   of their year-long plight of persecution. (Le Temps)
2. Fribourg (Canton) up in arms against 'mycological tourism'. (Le Temps)

"We, the Gitans, we have paid dear the right to live in Switzerland"
Discrimination: Jenisch children, taken away from their parents by the Pro
Juventute foundation, with the collaboration of public authorities, tell
of a tale of persecution over tens of years.

"I was eight years old, when Pro Juventute came and took me away from my
parents.  My eight brothers and sisters were also kidnapped. I think I was
five, it was around X-mas time, when i first asked about my parents.  The
religious sisters, at the Zug orphanage were extremely strict. They hit me
when I asked that question. And every time I asked it again, they hit me,
again and again."  Martha Minster is 57. She sits in front of a homemobile
at the Jenisch campsite in Aarau, and she sobs sometimes "It's just too
painful"  May Bittel, the Roman (i.e. from French speaking Switzerland)
office bearer of the association of travelling people adds "We, the
Gitans, have paid very dear the right to live in Switzerland"

On June 5, a committee of historians chartered by the federal Swiss
governent, has submitted its finding about the persecutions suffered by
the Jenisch people: they were deemed to be 'subhuman' by the Pro Juventute
Foundation, which had decided to take their children away from their
parents, and this with the full assent of the authorities. "If you want to
stop nomadism, you must scatter the community of the travelling people. 
As harsh as this may sound, there is no other way than to terminate their
familly structures." Thus wrote Andre Siegried, the initiator of these
policies with pro Juventute.

Like Martha Minster, at least 600 children were legally 'kidnapped'.  In
order to stay united, some famillies made their way to neighboring
countries. With tragic consequences, when a number of them died in Nazi
concentration camps.  This policy of kidnapping lasted from 1928 to 1972.
Pro Juventute, the extremely powerful all-purpose foundation in the social
sector, saw the light in 1912.  It carried the more weight since its
preseident was always a retired federal councillior (member of the - just
7 people strong - Swiss federal governemnet).

In its kidnapping procedures, Pro Juventute acted in concert with the
federal, cantonal, and local authorities, the childcare agencies, the
orphanages and correction houses, the asyleums and the psychiatrists. A
whole sector of Swiss society was willingly participating in these
practices of opressing a given segment of the population.  Psychiatrists
played a major part in the whole scheme noted the historians.

(excerpts from the article by Pierre Hazan)

Le Temps adds:

There are 35.000 Jenisch in Switzerland, of which 5.000 only are not
'sedentarised'. Jenisch started moving from Pfalz after the Thirty Years
War and transited via Alsace, Baden and Swabia to Switzerland.  They speak
Rotwelsch, a mix of German, Roma, and Yiddisch. the name 'Jenisch' is
variously linked to Ionian Greek, or Sanskrit.  The Nachet Yeniche
Foundation puts the total number of children taken away from their parent
in the 1928-1972 period to above 3.000. The Swiss federal authorities have
payed SFr 11m between 1988 and 1993 as compensation with claims still
spending. Grown-ups have got between SFr 3.000 and SFr 7.000 each, up to
SFr20.000 in case of the worst abuses.

(Le Temps, June 22, 1998. In the Human Right Folio, bizariously labelled
"Human Rights: International")

FRIBOURG: The authorities are now clamping down on mycological tourism,
especially because of increased numbers of 'mushroomists' from
neighbouring Bern.

"The Solitary war of Fribourg against Mushroom Plucking"

Conflict is rife now between the neighbouring cantons of Bern (German
speaking) and Fribourg (French speaking) about plucking of mushrooms. The
German speaking cantons are severely limiting the period in which people
are allowed to pluck wild mushrooms in the forests (a number of month, +
the first 8 days of every month).  The French speaking cantons,
unconvinced of a link between plucking and the diseapearance of certain
species of mushrooms (up to 3.000, some 60 of them fit for eating, and a
few more, well guess...) are loath to legislate. Results: a 'mycological
tourism' is developing from German to French speaking cantons, and the
first touring-buses have emerged in the popular lore.  Deputies from the
Singine region in Fribourg have made a rumpus in the Cantonal Great
Council about the 'proliferation of cars immatriculated in other cantons
on our mountain roads on Sunday', and are demanding 'Allemanic' type of
legislation. According to Marius Acherman, a scientific researcher at the
Public Works department, such outcries "are not coming from the side of
environmentalists, but from parochial people belonging to the xenophobic
fringe of the population."  Also, this type of questions tabled in the
Grand Council is very popular since it is "eminently suitable as maiden
speach by young representatives of rural constituencies." 

>From Le Temps, June 22, 1998.

Let our Swiss friends (not) check it out at:
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