Hindus have asked various religious groups in Switzerland to come out openly in support of Verdingkinder (contract children), whom the authorities reportedly coerced into horrible lives in the past.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that as religion told us to speak against the injustice and help the helpless, religious groups in Switzerland, especially the majority Catholic Church and Swiss Reformed Church, should openly ask Switzerland for an official apology and compensation for the Verdingkinder.
As love and compassion for the helpless, defenseless and downtrodden was the hallmark of religious ethics; we as religious groups should voice the maltreatment of Verdingkinder and it was our moral obligation to make efforts to see that they got justice for the human rights violations suffered by them in the past, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed while urging Swiss religious groups for support on Verdingkinder issue.
Rajan Zed quoted from The Bible: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)”. “Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth (Zephaniah 3:19)”.
Zed further said that it was a dark chapter in Switzerland history when children from poor urban families were reportedly forcibly taken away from their parents and sent to perform hard labor on farms and it happened till mid-1950s.
It is alleged that many of these children were frequently beaten and even sexually abused, given little food, and were not permitted to talk or receive Christmas presents.
Rajan Zed argued that it was immoral for Switzerland to steal the childhood of these children and subject them to a loveless life full of loneliness. Formal apology and adequate compensation would be a “step in the right direction”, Zed added.
Switzerland; the country of Albert Einstein, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jeremias Gotthelf, Max Frisch, Roger Federer, orphan girl Heidi, cosmopolitan Geneva, Lausanne cathedrals, Valais wines, Red Cross, World Economic Forum, International Olympic Committee, dozens of Nobel laureates, and mountain high life; should be more mature and transparent, Zed pointed out.
Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf is President of Swiss Confederation.