Quakers in Switzerland have spoken out strongly against the "unethical behaviour" of banks and other financial institutions based in their country.
Geneva Quaker Meeting said that these institutions “are responsible for many of the practices that have led to the acute social and economic difficulties now experienced around the world”. They slammed "banking secrecy in Switzerland".
They made their comments in a statement today (23 January), in which they also expressed support for “Occupy”, “99 per cent” and “Les Indignés” protests around the world.
They accused governments of pursuing financial policies that are designed to preserve the current international financial system.
“It is the weak and vulnerable who pay the main price,” they said, "The richer individuals and large corporations largely escape their full share in these sacrifices. This gives rise to increasing social tensions.”
They also criticised bankers and other investors who speculate on food prices. This practice, which has grown in recent years, has been linked to rising food prices and hunger. It has been sharply condemned by the World Development Movement and other NGOs.
The Swiss Quakers added, “We believe that expressions of public protest are justified in serving to remind those in positions of financial, economic and political power at national and international levels that they have much to do to radically reform our societies”.
They said that reform should “bring about a transformation to a more just and sustainable world order that respects both basic human rights and the environment".
The 'Occupy' movement has been formally endorsed by Quakers in Britain and parts of the US, and by grassroots Quaker activists in a number of countries.
Quakers, also known as the Religious Society of Friends, grew out of radical Christian movements in seventeenth-century England. They emphasise that anyone can turn inwardly and experience the Holy Spirit in their heart. There have been Quakers in Geneva since at least the 1920s.
Religious support for the 'Occupy' movement has already led to more than 300 people signing up to join a 'ring of prayer' at the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp if it faces eviction by bailiffs or police.