Press release of 15 Mai 2018

Switzerland takes a stand for solidarity with refugees – through dance

Using dance to break down barriers and pave the way for intercultural encounters: The third edition of the HEKS/EPER campaign «Taking a stand for a humane Switzerland» – following those of 2016 and 2017 – is again cementing a bond of solidarity and humanity between local people and refugees. To that end, various regional folk dance groups are inviting refugees to attend workshops where they learn traditional folk dances, which are a key component of Swiss tradition. This year's «Taking a stand» campaign will culminate in a huge folk dance fair (Volkstanz-«Chilbi») at Zurich's main train station.

Volkstanzen für eine menschliche Schweiz

Switzerland is justifiably proud of its humanitarian tradition. And of its centuries-old record of humaneness and solidarity towards refugees. These values must be safeguarded – all the more so at a time when over 65 million people worldwide are seeking safe haven from war, violence and destruction in their home countries. There is great need for civil society involvement, including in Switzerland.

Not only is our country marked by its humanitarian tradition, it also preserves cultural customs, which find expression in many folk dances, among other things. Once again this year, Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER) plans to use its campaign «Taking a stand for a humane Switzerland» to build a bridge of intercultural understanding and, in a recreational and light-hearted manner, pave the way for exciting and mutually enriching encounters between local residents and people seeking asylum in Switzerland. Some folk dance encounters of a very special kind will therefore take place over the coming weeks in the three regions of Basel, Berne and Zurich, where regional folk dance groups will invite refugees to attend several workshops and get to know these Swiss traditions and learn dances together.

A huge folk dance fair will be held on Sunday 10 June in the main concourse of the Zurich train station, where these culturally very diverse dance groups will be able to present what they have recently learned to a large audience. They will be supported by numerous eminent persons from the worlds of politics, sport and culture. Colourful fringe events will provide the opportunity for Swiss people and refugees to surmount all cultural barriers and strike up conversations, thereby reducing prejudices and reservations.

Further information

Launched in 2016, the campaign now has the support and backing of some 170 voluntary organizations, which have come on board with a variety projects and programmes for refugees, thus sending a strong signal of solidarity with refugees on the part of Swiss civil society. The online platform brings these organizations together and enables interested persons to learn about possibilities for volunteering to help refugees in their area and to network with relevant organizations.

In parallel to the campaign «Taking a stand for a humane Switzerland», HEKS/EPER and the Swiss Refugee Council (SRC) are making representations to the Federal Council regarding the petition «Safe escape routes save lives», with a view to the creation of safe and legitimate escape routes especially for vulnerable refugees. They are also making the case for increasing the relevant annual admission quota to 10,000 people. Some 18,000 people have signed the petition so far, thereby taking a stand for a humane refugee policy.

The petition may be accessed here


Dieter Wüthrich
Head of Media and Information Department
Dieter Wüthrich

Phone: +41 44 360 88 66
Mobile: +41 76 461 88 70