Headlines 14 March, 2014
French right-wing in shock at secret Sarkozy tapes
France's right-wing opposition is reeling after the publication of secret tapes made at the Elysee palace during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.
8/3/2014- The recordings - in which Mr Sarkozy is heard discussing confidential affairs of state but also joshing with his wife Carla Bruni - were made by one of his closest advisers, Patrick Buisson. A highly controversial figure whose political origins lie on the far-right, Mr Buisson is credited with engineering Mr Sarkozy's 2007 election by pushing him to toughen his stance on immigration, crime and national identity. After the election Mr Sarkozy said of him: "There are very few people of whom I can say, 'It's because of him that I am here'. Patrick is one of them." But Patrick Buisson, now 64, accumulated enemies. Many in Mr Sarkozy's UMP party resented his influence. They disliked his shadowy, scheming personality, and feared he was taking the president into populist territory normally reserved for the Front National. It now appears evident that throughout his time as top presidential adviser, Mr Buisson was obsessively making recordings. He made them on a dictaphone, often (judging from the poor sound quality) simply kept in his pocket, and in total they add up to hundreds of hours. President Sarkozy was in total ignorance.
Patrick Buisson initially denied the existence of the recordings. He then claimed that they were made "for work purposes" - with an eye to a possible future book on the Sarkozy years. But few believe him. For some, the tapes are emblematic of a far-right political culture that is congenitally paranoid. Others say they were a form of protection. "I believe he made the recordings as an insurance policy," says Jean-Sebastien Ferjou of the right-wing news website Atlantico, which has broadcast some extracts. "He was originally from the far right. A lot of people in the Elysee wanted his head. So he wanted to keep things up his sleeve in case later there were attempts to bring him down." The affair is a huge embarrassment to the opposition UMP party, which should be - but right now is not - capitalising on the record unpopularity of the Socialist Francois Hollande. It is also demeaning for Nicolas Sarkozy, whose bid for a political comeback is seen as a near certainty ahead of the next presidential election in 2017.
To rely on an adviser with links to the far-right is bad enough, but arguably a legitimate political calculation. But when that man is revealed as a devious - and indeed treacherous - manipulator, it looks more like appalling personal judgment. "For such a man to have been the number one adviser of the head of state speaks volumes about how affairs were conducted under the Sarkozy presidency," said Pierre Moscovici, finance minister in the Socialist government. The tapes that have been published so far contain no bombshells. What they show is the president speaking without inhibition before his inner political and personal circle. The recordings were made in early 2011, shortly before Mr Sarkozy announced a government reshuffle. Some are of a group of advisers, including Mr Buisson and on one occasion Carla Bruni. Another - made in a taxi on the way from a meeting with Mr Sarkozy - is of a discussion on what has just happened between Mr Buisson and another adviser, Jean-Michel Goudard.
In this recording, Mr Buisson and Mr Goudard talk dismissively of some of the president's ministers. Michel Mercier, who was justice minister, is "disastrous". Roselyne Bachelot, social affairs minister, is even worse: "She just talks crap." The two men boast of their influence over the president - agreeing that he takes no decision without their say-so. Most controversially, Patrick Buisson at one points speaks of the likely move of the Elysee cabinet secretary Claude Gueant to the ministry of the interior. Mr Buisson says it could be problematic because while at the Elysee Mr Gueant was able to follow "certain affairs… at the prosecutor's office... He got involved." At the interior ministry that might be harder, he says. The clear implication is that the presidency was interfering in the justice system. Significantly, Mr Buisson was (and is) himself at the centre of a judicial investigation over claims his political consultancy was being over-paid by the Elysee.
Affable and loving
In the taxi tape, Patrick Buisson also complains about the presence of Carla Bruni at the president's strategy meetings. "It's tough, huh?" he says. In fact, Carla Bruni herself appears in one recording - joking with her husband about their relative incomes now that she has had to give up her singing career to be First Lady. After she says she plans to resurrect her lucrative performance contracts, Mr Sarkozy retorts: "Well I guess my future will be as Mr Nobody on the cash-register." And everyone laughs. From the actual recordings, Mr Sarkozy emerges perfectly well. He is affable, loving towards his wife, not abusive towards absent colleagues. The scandal is how he could have fallen under the spell of a man who is today being vilified across the political spectrum. Arguments about Mr Buisson's influence have long raged. For his detractors he is the man who cost Nicolas Sarkozy the 2012 election by once again urging him to appeal to far-right voters. But others - who may deplore his personality and behaviour - argue that Patrick Buisson's analysis was not wrong. The surprising thing about the 2012 election - for this school of thought - was not that Mr Sarkozy lost it, but that he very nearly won.
The debate continues to be played out in the UMP. Should it appeal to the centre and surrender a large chunk of voters to the Front National? Or should it calculate that the political appetite in the country as a whole has shifted to the right, and that a tougher line on immigration, crime and Europe is a legitimate reflection of that reality? Nicolas Sarkozy himself has burned his bridges with Patrick Buisson. He is suing him for breach of privacy, and tacking politically towards the centre ground. But the arguments will not go away. Patrick Buisson may be dead politically, strangled by his own tapes, but Buissonism lives on.
© BBC News
TROUBLES IN UKRAINE
Ukrainian Jews Seek To Emigrate Amid Uncertainty
Jewish Agency Reports Spike in Aliyah Calls.
7/3/2014- The Jewish Agency for Israel has seen a spike in Ukrainians looking to immigrate to Israel as turmoil roils their country. Marina Steiman, a Jewish Agency official in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, declined to give numbers, but she said the agency is receiving “more calls then usual.” Steinman, the agency’s director of community relations in Kiev, said most of the calls come from people who were already considering immigration and who now wanted to speed up the process. “People are worried because they are uncertain of their future in this country,” she said. In recent months there has been a spate of anti-Semitic attacks in several Ukrainian cities, including Kiev. Some accuse Ukrainian nationalists of perpetrating the attacks, others blame pro-Russian provocateurs.
The Jewish Agency recently allocated $400,000 to upgrade security at almost 100 Jewish locations, including synagogues, Jewish community centers and communal offices, in 30 cities. Ukraine’s economy, which was in a perilous state before President Viktor Yanukovich was driven from power in February, remains shaky. Russia’s announcement this week that it would cancel Ukraine’s special discount on gas prices is likely to exacerbate already difficult living conditions, especially for the poor. Speaking from Ukraine, an official for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, said the price of basic goods has risen by 20% in recent weeks. The Joint, which provides social support to the neediest Ukrainian Jews, usually serves about 70,000 people. The official said that although the Joint will continue to serve everyone, because of the worsening situation the group intends to pay particular attention to about 30,000 people “meaning we will look mostly on the most vulnerable.”
© The Forward
Ukraine far-right Pravy Sektor group announces presidential bid
7/3/2014- Ukraine's far-right Pravy Sektor movement on Friday announced its leader Dmytro Yarosh would make a presidential bid in elections scheduled for May 25. The movement, which took a leading role in the deadly protests that unseated former president Viktor Yanukovych, will also become a political party. "Dmytro Yarosh will run for president," Andriy Tarasenko, a senior member of the ultra-nationalist group was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying in Kiev. Tarasenko said Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) would take part in mayoral elections in Kiev and local polls across the country also due on May 25. "We remain the leaders of this revolution," said Tarasenko, adding that the movement was ready to fight if a full-scale war with Russia broke out. "We are mobilising, we are preparing to react to foreign aggression," he said.
Although he paid tribute to Ukraine's interim leaders "who stood side by side with us on the barricades", Tarasenko also sought to distance Pravy Sektor from the pro-EU team led by interim president Oleksandr Turchynov. "There has been no reset of power. Only the names in the government offices have changed," he was quoted as saying. "Our struggle is entering a peaceful phase, a political phase and that is why we are going into politics," he said. Tarasenko said a Pravy Sektor congress to transform the movement into a political party would take place on March 15. Russia this month opened a criminal investigation against Yarosh for incitement to extremism and terrorism and is seeking his arrest.
“Democratization” and Anti-Semitism in Ukraine: When Neo-Nazi Symbols become “The New Normal”
By Julie Lévesque
6/3/2014- Dmitry Yarosh, leader of the Maidan Brown Shirts, on an international wanted list and charged with inciting terrorism. Under the new government, Yarosh is leader of the Neo-Nazi Right Sector delegation to the Ukraine Parliament. His close friend and political partner Andriy Parubiy co-founder of the Neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine (subsequently renamed Svoboda) was appointed by the new government to the position of Secretary of the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU), a key position which overseas the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. Right Sektor leaders Yarosh was appointed to the number 2 position at RNBOU. Have the Neo-Nazis cornered Ukraine’s National Security agenda?.
Welcome to “The New Normal”
In the following video filmed in the Ukrainian Parliament and posted in late December 2013, we can clearly see on the pillars two flags which are listed in the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) “Visual Database of Extremist Symbols, Logos and Tattoos”: the White power flag and the Confederate flag. The Celtic Cross is categorized by the ADL as a “General Racist Symbol” representing “International white pride” and used by Neo-Nazis and White supremacists. The Confederate flag is also described as a “General Racist Symbol” representing “White pride” and used by White supremacist. The Confederate flag is also described as a “General Racist Symbol” representing “White pride” and used by White supremacist. The flags from France, the United Kingdom, Canada, as well as the one from the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist Svoboda party hang beside those two White supremacist flags. This “hate on display”, as the ADL puts it, adds on to other evidence of the neo-Nazi elements in the Ukrainian political factions which ousted elected President Yanukovych. The western mainstream media can no longer casually dismiss this as Russian propaganda.
Max Blumenthal, as well as many other authors, described the fascist essence of the political groups involved in the overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine:
One of the “Big Three” political parties behind the protests is the ultra-nationalist Svoboda, whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has called for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” After the 2010 conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok rushed to Germany to declare him a hero who was “fighting for truth.” In the Ukrainian parliament, where Svoboda holds an unprecedented 37 seats, Tyahnybok’s deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is fond of quoting Joseph Goebbels – he has even founded a think tank originally called “the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center.” According to Per Anders Rudling, a leading academic expert on European neo-fascism, the self-described “socialist nationalist” Mykhalchyshyn is the main link between Svoboda’s official wing and neo-Nazi militias like Right Sector. (Max Blumenthal, Is the US backing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine?, Alternet, February 25, 2014)
Numerous reports have exposed the links between the U.S. government and Svoboda, and several pictures show U.S. and European authorities with the controversial Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok. The ADL, which has expressed its concern about the Svoboda party, has yet to condemn U.S. and European support for it. In a statement published February 28, ADL’s National Director Abraham H. Foxman writes:
The Ukrainian Jewish community is nervous. The ultra-nationalist Svoboda party, with its history of anti-Semitism and platform of ethnic nationalism, won more than 10 percent of the vote in October 2012, shared the political leadership of the Maidan revolution over the past months, and just this week received three ministries in the new Ukrainian government. While Svoboda’s leaders have refrained recently from making anti-Semitic statements, it is troubling that Oleksandr Sych, Svoboda’s chief ideologue, was named vice prime minister. Sych’s speeches over the years have focused on promoting Ukrainian nationalism, which he says is exemplified by Stepan Bandera, a leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement of the 1930s and 1940s. Bandera was at times aligned with the Nazis during World War II and was complicit in mass killings of Jews and Poles by Ukrainian partisans…
Dmitro Yarosh, leader of Right Sector, met with Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, Reuven Din El, and told him that their movement rejects anti-Semitism and xenophobia and will not tolerate it. Ukrainian Jewish journalist Eleonora Groisman interviewed Sergei Mischenko, the leader of “Spilna Sprava,” and told him that Ukraine’s Jews were worried about the nationalists. Mischenko responded that Jews will not have any problems and shouldn’t worry. He went on to say, “On the Maidan there were Jews with us who served in the Israeli Defense Forces. We got along excellently and fought shoulder to shoulder...”
Will Svoboda accept Jews as full-fledged Ukrainians and follow the welcome assurances of the armed nationalists? Or will the promises of Right Sector and Spilna Sprava be overtaken by the ethnic nationalism of Svoboda? (Abraham H. Foxman, In Ukraine, New Government Must Reassure Jewish Community, The Huffington Post, February 28, 2014) The ADL doesn’t address the fact that former Israeli soldiers fought alongside with known neo-Nazi militants who now claim to reject antisemitism. This sends the paradoxical message that neo-Nazism is somehow acceptable. It is worth noting that the US media as well as the ADL refrain from using the terms “neo-Nazi” , neo-fascist and “extremist”. Instead of condemning this abnormal alliance, the ADL sees a glimmer of hope in the “promises of Right Sector and Spilna Sprava”, groups which the Israeli media itself qualified as “fascist and neo-Nazi”. Along with similar fascist and neo-Nazi groups such as Spilna Sprava (Common Cause) and Afgantsy (a coalition of veterans from the Soviet war in Afghanistan), Pravy Sektor has played a key role both in seizing government buildings and providing security for the sprawling protest camps against riot police. (Ari Soffer, Ukraine: Neo-Nazi Militia Leader Threatens ‘Civil War’, Arutz Sheva, February 5, 2014)
Israel’s Haaretz also reported that members of Svoboda and Pravy Sektor, were “flying flags with neo-Nazi symbols” and were “distributing freshly translated editions of Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Independence Square.” (Anshel Pfeffer, The new dilemma for Jews in Ukraine, February 25, 2014) The Anti-Defamation League should not only firmly condemn the presence of all the fascist and neo-Nazi groups in the post-coup Ukrainian government, but also denounce the countries which support them morally and/or financially, like the U.S., Canada, and member countries of the European Union. In sharp contrast with today, Hillary Clinton was heavily criticized by Jewish groups in 2012 for “indirectly legitimizing (the) Ukrainian opposition party that entered into a parliamentary alliance with (a) neo-Nazi party”:
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has criticized the Ukrainian Opposition Party of Yulia Tymoshenko for having signed a parliamentary alliance that gave legitimacy to a far-right extremist party well known for its anti-Semitic views. ADL National Director, Abraham Foxman issued a statement in which he expressed “alarm” at the strong electoral support for the neo-Nazi Svoboda (Freedom) party of Ukraine at last Sunday’s parliamentary elections. “Anti-Semitic rhetoric has been a mainstay of Svoboda’s leaders and campaign slogans,” Foxman said…
U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has also come under fire from Jewish groups for having penned an op-ed published in The New York Times last week for praising Tymoahenko, leader of the opposition Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party… Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, also denounced the agreement, alluding to the deaths of millions of Jews on Ukrainian soil during the Holocaust. (Rachel Hirshfeld, Clinton Indirectly Legitimizing Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Party?, Arutz Sheva, June 11, 2012.) Today, former Israeli soldiers are fighting with Svoboda allies, the ADL is not “alarmed” and Avigdor Lieberman has not condemned this unholy alliance. ADL’s Abraham Foxman now hopes Prime Minister Yatsenyuk will “set an admirable example” by ensuring anti-semitism is not tolerated: Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, together with UDAR leader Vitaliy Klichko, brought Svoboda into the opposition coalition in 2012. Now, having brought Svoboda into the government, it is up to Prime Minister Yatsenyuk to ensure that anti-Semitism is not tolerated and that democratic norms are adhered to. By sending that message to the people of Ukraine now, the prime minister will reassure the Jewish community and set an admirable example. (Foxman, op., cit).
What kind of example are we talking about exactly? Alliance with neo-Nazi groups is ok as long as they’re not anti-Semitic? The presence of former Israeli soldiers in the Maidan protests along with neo-Nazi militias and the attitude of the ADL and Israeli officials in this matter raise questions about what the Zionist lobby and Israel might possibly gain from the coup which put in power, among others, Igor Kolomoysky, a Ukrainian-Israeli who was appointed governor of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine’s vital business and political center. The newly-appointed Dnepropetrovsk governor is Igor Kolomoysky, Ukraine’s third-wealthiest man, with an estimated fortune of $2.4 billion. He co-owns the informal commercial group Privat, which includes Ukraine’s largest bank Privatbank, which Kolomoysky heads, as well as assets in the oil, ferroalloys and food industries, agriculture and transport.
A former ally of Yulia Tymoshenko, Kolomoysky reportedly had a falling out with her and refused to finance her election campaign in 2010, which the ex-prime minister subsequently lost to Yanukovich. Kolomoysky was reported to be a principal sponsor of the UDAR party, which is one of the three fueling the street campaign to oust Yanukovich. Kolomoysky has a dual Ukrainian-Israeli citizenship and controls his business empire from Switzerland. (Rule by oligarchs: Kiev appoints billionaires to govern east, RT, March 3, 2014) Kolomoysky also owns the Jewish-interest news channel Jewish News One and heads the European Council of Jewish Communities which describes itself as the “the pan-European umbrella body for Jewish communities and organizations across the continent, representing Jewish community life across West, Central and Eastern Europe covering around 40 countries.”
There is hardly any mention of the presence of neo-Nazi personalities in the new government on Jewish News One. It is also interesting to note that in a country struggling with an important national debt, Mr. Kolomoysky’s PrivatBank was the Ukrainian champion of offshoring in 2012. Economic Pravda reported in July 2012: “Ukraine which is struggling from poverty of the majority of its population is able to make banking transfers to Cyprus and British Virgin Islands of billions of US dollars in two month period. The question is who does those transfers and what are the destinations?… The first place is taken by the biggest Ukrainian bank- PrivatBank. The result of the entity which is owned by Ihor Kolomoiskiy and Hennadiy Boholoubov is almost fantastic. For the first two month of 2012 the PrivatBank has transferred to the offshores 3 billion 863 million US dollars.” (Treasure Islands, Economic Pravda, July 13,2012)
After calling for attacks on Russia, the Right Sektor leader Dmitry Yarosh, seen by the ADL as reassuring, is now on an international wanted list for inciting terrorism. RT reported March 5, 2013: Earlier, on Sunday Yarosh called on Russia’s most wanted terrorist, Doku Umarov, to act against Russia in an address posted on the Right Sector’s page in the Russian VKontakte social network. The statement said that “many Ukrainians with arms in their hands” supported Chechen militants in their fight against Russians and “it is time to support Ukraine now.” The message, signed “leader of Right Sector Dmitry Yarosh” called on Umarov “to activate his fight” and “take a unique opportunity to win” over Russia. (Russia puts Ukraine far-right leader on international wanted list over calls for terrorism, March 5, 2013) Will the ADL review its position and condemn all neo-Nazi, fascist and extremist groups, as well as their supporters?
Julie Lévesque is a journalist and researcher with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. She was among the first independent journalists to visit Haiti in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake. In 2011, she was on board "The Spirit of Rachel Corrie", the only humanitarian vessel which penetrated Gaza territorial waters before being shot at by the Israeli Navy.
© Global Research
Putin Says Ukraine’s Revolutionaries Are Anti-Semites. Is He Right?
Russian rhetoric during the Ukraine crisis has repeatedly labeled protesters in Kiev as dangerous "fascists" or "anti-Semites." Some Ukrainian rabbis and even far-right activists strongly disagree.
6/3/2014- In a sense, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is right. A lot of nationalists were involved in last month’s revolution in Ukraine. Some of them now stand to get senior posts in government. A few of them assaulted officials from the old regime, including governors, as the uprising turned violent. All of that has worried the liberal forces in Ukraine as well as their western supporters. But no less troubling for them has been the scare-mongering coming from the Russian President himself. At a press conference on Tuesday, Putin described the revolutionaries in Ukraine as reactionary “anti-Semitic forces” that have gone “on a rampage.” He has gotten a lot of push-back for that. In an open letter to Putin the following day, some of the leading members of Ukraine’s Jewish community said that “even the most marginal” forces involved in the revolution “do not dare show anti-Semitism or other xenophobic behavior.” That may have been underplaying the risk of xenophobia among Ukraine’s nationalists, and none of the signatories of that letter can claim to represent all of the country’s Jews. But the questions the letter tried to address are crucial ones: Is Russia right to raise the alarm over fascism coming to power in Ukraine? Or is that alarm just an excuse for Russia’s military intervention in Crimea? So far, no one can claim to have the answer, at least because the revolution is too young to have shown all its colors to the world.
What’s clear about the uprising already is that it involved a radical right-wing group called Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), a coalition of militant ultra-nationalists who aim to rid Ukraine of any foreign threat to its independence, from Russia foremost but also from the West. The members of that group are armed, well-trained and prepared to use force to achieve their goals. Their leader, Dmitro Yarosh, has been offered senior posts in Ukraine’s security services, and this week, his organization threatened to take the war to Moscow if Putin continues his occupation of Crimea in the south of Ukraine. On Wednesday, Russia responded by putting Yarosh on an international wanted list on charges of inciting terrorism. For years, Yarosh has been open in his hatred for the Russian state, which he has called the “centuries-old enemy of Ukraine.” But when TIME asked him last month to respond to claims of anti-Semitism, he was adamant that his organization has no grudge whatsoever against Jews. “Many Jews have fought and died for the cause of Ukrainian nationalism,” he says. “I see those men as heroes of Ukraine. So what kind of anti-Semite does that make me?”
Pravy Sektor, he explained, does not divide people along ethnic or religious lines. “We divide people into three categories,” he says. “The first belong to the brotherly communities that fight with us for our ideals, regardless of their nationality. The second are the ethnic minorities who respect the right of Ukrainian people to be the rulers of our own land, and as a result we are tolerant of them and their religion. The third category is made up of the people who threaten our national rights to have an independent Ukrainian nation.” The latter group, regardless of their ethnic background, are the enemies of Pravy Sektor. So far, at least part of the Jewish community of Ukraine does not feel at risk of falling into that third group. In their letter to Putin, its nearly two dozen signatories, including two prominent rabbis, said that they do not need Russia’s protection. “Your certainty of the growth of anti-Semitism in Ukraine also does not correspond to the actual facts,” they wrote to Putin. “It seems you have confused Ukraine with Russia, where Jewish organizations have noticed growth in anti-Semitic tendencies last year.”
Indeed, some of the most vicious anti-Semitism in Ukraine can be found among its pro-Russian crusaders. In 2011, TIME interviewed several leaders of the Russian Cossack community in Crimea, which has demanded for years that Russia annex the Crimean peninsula. One of them, Vitali Khramov, is a Russian citizen and the leader of a far-right group called Sobol, which trained separatist paramilitaries in Crimea for years before Kharmov was deported from Ukraine in 2012. Throughout the four-hour interview that summer in the Crimean city of Feodosia, Khramov referred to Jews as “corpse f—kers,” claiming that ritual necrophilia is a rite of passage for young Jewish men. The greatest threat to the world, he went on, is the Jewish cabal led by the bankers of the Rockefeller family, who he said rule the world and seek to “bring Russia to its knees.” President Putin, on the other hand, was Khramov’s political hero, he said, and a future saint of the Russian Orthodox Church.
By those standards of right-wing anti-Semitism, Yarosh doesn’t seem like much of a fascist. His ideological roots trace back to the nationalists who were most active in Ukraine during World War II. Their leader — and Yarosh’s idol — was Stepan Bandera, who died in Germany in 1959 but remains one of the most divisive figures in his homeland today. A crucial litmus test for any political group in modern Ukraine is its attitude toward Bandera. Roughly half the country, primarily in the Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, regards him as a fascist and a Nazi collaborator. The other half, primarily in western and central Ukraine, see him as a national hero and a founding father of Ukrainian independence.
Both points of view have a basis in fact, and both have been championed by recent Ukrainian leaders. In 2010, President Viktor Yushchenko, who came to power after the 2004 Orange Revolution, awarded Bandera the posthumous title of Hero of Ukraine for “defending national ideas and battling for an independent Ukrainian state.” That was one of the final and most controversial acts of Yushchenko’s presidency. His successor, Viktor Yanukovych, revoked that honor the following year, months after coming to power. But the revolutionary leaders who overthrew Yanukovych last month have signaled that they will return to a policy of reverence for Bandera’s legacy.
Across Ukraine, that legacy is so hotly disputed that any attempt to classify it is almost sure to enrage a sizable part of the country. Most of the rancor derives from differing takes on the history World War II. But here are the widely acknowledged facts. In June 1941, the Nazi invasion of Ukraine sent the Soviet army fleeing eastward, and Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists used that as its chance to declare independence from the Soviet Union, as it had long sought to do. Bandera was a single-minded opportunist, obsessed with throwing off Russian rule and making Ukrainians the masters on their historical homeland. He didn’t seem to care who he had to partner with and who he had to kill to accomplish that. So he collaborated with the Nazis for years, receiving pay from Hitler’s forces to stage attacks on Soviet soil, and then fought against the Nazis after their invasion of Ukraine, when he realized the threat they posed to his country’s independence. For that, he was imprisoned for three years in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Only in the final year of the war, when the Nazis again needed his help to fight the advancing Soviet army, was Bandera released. And once again, he collaborated with the Germans, staging sabotage attacks against the Soviets as they pushed Hitler’s forces back toward Berlin. During the war, Bandera’s men are known to have participated in pogroms against Jews, and the leaders of his organization called for the eviction and slaughter of Jews and other ethnic groups, primarily Poles and Russians, who they felt were a threat to Ukrainian nationalism and independence. But, as Yarosh insists, Bandera’s paramilitary forces included fighters from various ethnic groups, including Jews. “There were entire Jewish battalions fighting for the cause of independence,” he says. “They were our brothers.” Of course, Yarosh may have been posing for the benefit of a Jewish-American reporter. But he made no secret of his admiration for Bandera throughout his interview with TIME. He calls Bandera’s forces the “predecessors” of Pravy Sektor, adding that, “We are their followers and must continue their struggle.”
In Russia and much of Ukraine, such statements cause an understandable degree of horror. Bandera’s betrayal of the Soviet Union and longstanding collaboration with the Nazis made him one of the most despised figures in Soviet history. He has been denounced by Russian historians as a fascist and a war criminal. So it is no surprise that Yarosh, his professed admirer, has of late become the bogeyman on Russian state TV. Indeed, when the Crimean legislature voted on Thursday to be annexed by the Russian Federation, and called a referendum in Crimea to approve or reject that decision, its leaders cited Bandera’s followers as the reason for their turn toward Moscow. “We are certain that our Russian brothers will not leave Crimea to face these raging Bandera groups all alone,” said the deputy prime minister of Crimea, Rustam Temirgaliev.
In their letter to Putin on Wednesday, the Jewish community leaders tried to play down these fears. Pro-Russian forces, they wrote, “have tried to scare us (and are continuing their attempts) with ‘Bandera followers’ and ‘Fascists’ attempting to wrest away the helm of Ukrainian society, with imminent Jewish pogroms. Yes, we are well aware that the political opposition and the forces of social protests who have secured changes for the better are made up of different groups.” Nevertheless, the letter said, “we live in a democratic country and can afford a difference of opinion.” Much like Putin in his remarks the previous day, the letter did not mention Pravy Sektor, nor did it bring up the role of the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party in last month’s revolution. The leader of that party, Oleh Tyahnibok, has made anti-Semitic remarks in the past. Most recently in 2007, when he was still a marginal firebrand in parliament, he said that “yids” working in league with the “Russian mafia” were responsible for most of Ukraine’s problems. Similar remarks in 2004 got him expelled from the more centrist party Our Ukraine, but eight years later, he went on to take about 7% of the seats in Ukraine’s parliament as leader of the Svoboda party.
During this year’s revolution, Tyahnibok was one of the opposition leaders involved in talks with the Yanukovych regime and with U.S. and European diplomats. In January, his party organized a march to mark the 105th anniversary of Bandera’s birth, and some politicians from the pro-Western Fatherland party also took part. That party now holds the interim presidency of Ukraine as well as the premiership. But its leaders have never made any anti-Semitic comments in public, and they have pledged to guarantee the rights of all of Ukraine’s ethnic minorities. So it remains unclear where Putin saw anti-Semites going on a rampage. Then again, the conflict in Ukraine seems to have given him selective vision. Although the forces occupying Crimea use Russian license plates and have admitted to being Russian troops, Putin still refuses to say whether the Russian military has come to Crimea to protect against the alleged fascist threat.
© Time Magazine
About Those ‘Fascists’ in Kyiv (Ukraine, opinion)
Moscow floats some groundless theories in a bid to justify its move into Crimea.
by Dominique Arel
6/3/2014- The unimaginable is now before us: days ago, the higher chamber of the Russian parliament authorized Russia to send troops “on the territory of Ukraine,” leaving open the possibility that the Russian army, currently occupying Crimea, may be dispatched elsewhere on Ukrainian territory. In seeking to legitimize its military operation, Russia invokes political, ethnic, and security arguments. None stands up to analysis.
The political argument is that Ukraine is in the throes of an illegitimate political regime that came to power as a result of a “fascist coup.” "Fascism" means something very specific in Russian discourse: since World War II, the invasion by Germany has always been presented as an invasion of “fascists.” The fascists are the Nazis and their collaborators. In western Ukraine, a violent Ukrainian insurgency against the Soviet Union tactically allied with Germany during the war. Russian discourse labels these insurgents “fascists” (or “Banderites,” after their leader, Stepan Bandera, a term that acquired equivalent meaning). Since key groups on the Maidan – the parliamentary Svoboda (Freedom) and the popular movement Pravyi sector (Right Sector) – claim lineage to the wartime insurgency, the collapse of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime is portrayed in Russia as an internal fascist invasion.
This narrative omits three basic points.
The first is that the regime collapsed because all police forces withdrew on 21 February, leaving government buildings unprotected. They withdrew not because they were overcome by armed militants, but because of demoralization, caused either by having previously used live ammunition or by becoming unwilling to defend a regime perceived as widely corrupt. The second is that it is not the insurgents who attacked civilians (unlike wartime insurgents, who attacked Jewish and Polish civilians), but rather the state, and in the end the state security forces gave up. The third is that the political pillars of the previous regime, the Party of Regions and the Communist Party of Ukraine, have both recognized the legitimacy of the new government. The Communists, who depict wartime insurgents as fascists, voted en bloc for all constitutional changes in the first week of the new government.
The ethnic argument is that the lives of Russia's “compatriots” are in danger. The resolution of the Russian parliament refers both to “citizens” – who, outside of Sevastopol, are not too numerous, since dual citizenship is illegal in Ukraine – and to this vague category of “compatriots,” which has no standing in international law. “Compatriots” is code for ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers, in the context where most residents of eastern Ukraine prefer to speak Russian. It is this undifferentiated “Russian” mass that the Russian state now sees as under threat by the “nationalists” who have taken power in Kyiv (“nationalist,” since the Soviet days, has been used as a synonym for “fascist”). This narrative assumes that, in this defining moment for Ukraine, eastern Ukrainians will choose Russian protection over “Ukrainian nationalist” rule. Russia's power play could actually have the opposite effect of further crystallizing Ukrainian identity in the east. There is no organized Russian community in eastern Ukraine – unlike in Crimea – because many, if not most “Russians” are partly of Ukrainian background, and many “Ukrainians” are partly Russian. This ethnic mixing likely explains the ambivalence expressed by eastern Ukrainians toward Russia. Under quasi-war conditions, the ambivalence could lead to a greater assertion of Ukrainian identity. The fact that mass demonstrations have occurred in eastern Ukraine, a traditionally passive society, could be seen as a barometer of a rising attachment to the nation, defined in civic terms.
The security argument is that the events that have “destabilized” Ukraine are the results of Western meddling on a territory that has historically belonged to the Russian sphere of interests. (The Russian historical narrative actually places Kyiv as the “mother of all Russian cities.”) Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to firmly believe that the Maidan movement was instigated by Western powers, a claim obliquely repeated by Yanukovych in his Rostov press conference. The “meddling,” however, was declarative, with Western powers expressing support for the right of Maidan demonstrators to peacefully air their grievances and repeatedly inviting the Ukrainian authorities to find a political solution and avoid the use of violence. Until the protests turned into mass killing, the EU and the United States were in fact criticized in the West for how little concrete help they provided to Maidan, the EU resisting, for instance, the imposition of personal sanctions until the very end, when the police began shooting at demonstrators.
The argument of Western intervention, however, operates on a higher plane than immediate support on the ground, taking the form of the claim, also often made in Western liberal and leftist circles, that the West's ulterior motive is to secure military bases in Russia's back yard and to make the Ukrainian market available for cheap labor for the benefit of advanced Western economies. While these points merit a rigorous hearing, primarily or exclusively focusing on them ignores the profoundly civic dimension of the Ukrainian rebellion. Maidan, initially a protest for Europe, became a protest against police brutality, large-scale corruption, and the lack of political accountability. Since all these features are also associated with the current Russian state, opposing them became a symbolic reaffirmation of “European” values (even if the free trade agreement was no longer talked about). It is easy to be dismissive of the weight of “values,” but the fact is that insurgents were willing to pay with their lives for them, and it is their stance that ultimately broke the will of the Yanukovych regime. The meddling, in the end, was of “European” ideas and they, in themselves, are seen as an infringement on the security not of Russia, but of the Russian political system developed under Putin. The logical fallacy is that since Western powers could benefit from the bottom-up Ukrainian civic uprising, then they must have caused it. They did not.
Dominique Arel holds the chair of Ukrainian studies at the University of Ottawa.
© Transitions Online.
Putin plays the anti-Semitism card in Ukraine crisis (opinion)
By Ben Cohen
6/3/2014- Back in 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused his regional rival Viktor Yushchenko, who was then the pro-western president of Ukraine, of having campaigned on the basis of “anti-Russian, Zionist” slogans. Putin’s invocation of the Z word led some observers to briefly fear that Russia was reviving the spirit of Soviet anti-Semitism dressed up as “anti-Zionism.” But a few hours later, Putin’s office clarified that what he’d meant to say was “anti-Semitic,” not “Zionist.” Was Putin’s office lying with this clarification? Was the remark a Freudian slip? We will never know for sure. Two factors, though, do stand out. Firstly, there isn’t much in Putin’s record that marks him out as an anti-Semite, and many Russian Jews speak positively of him, some because they feel obliged to do so, others because they genuinely believe in what they are saying. Secondly, Putin is quite happy to depict his enemies as anti-Semites if it tactically suits him to do so, which is essentially what he’s been doing in Ukraine this past fortnight.
Step back for a second, and you can see the rich historical irony at work here. One European nation with a long and bloody history of anti-Semitism has engaged in aggression against another European nation, also with a long and bloody history of anti-Semitism. When this happened almost a century ago, during the horrendous civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, pogroms wracked Ukraine; now, while there have been anti-Semitic incidents and speeches reported in Ukraine, there is certainly no state policy of anti-Semitism on either side, much less an event that could deservedly be called a pogrom. At the same time, western intellectuals and activists who instinctively scorn the charge of anti-Semitism when it crops up in the contexts of Zionism and Israel are actually arguing that we should take Putin's claims seriously! For example, there’s Professor Stephen Cohen of New York University, a leading nostalgist for the Soviet era, who compared Ukrainian nationalists to the Nazis in an interview with CNN. And then there’s Michael Lerner, whose Tikkun magazine and its associated “spiritual progressives network” are the closest thing we Jews have to a cult, waxing lyrically about his favorite bete noire: “The neocons seem all too willing to ignore the fascistic and proto-Nazi elements in the coalition that last week overthrew the democratically elected and pro-Russian government.”
No one would deny that Ukraine, in common with nearly every other European country including Russia, has too many anti-Semites. Its far-right parties like Svoboda and Pravyi Sektor mirror similar movements elsewhere in Europe, like Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece. It also should be mentioned that anti-Semitic rabble rousing has come from the pro-Moscow far left, too, like the Progressive Socialist Party that accused Jews of being behind the protests on Kiev’s Maidan. But Ukraine’s bid to free itself from Russian domination has not been driven by anti-Semitic ideology, as many Ukrainian Jewish leaders have themselves pointed out. “I categorically refute the statements appearing in a number of foreign media outlets of facts of massive anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Ukraine that do not correspond to reality!” declared Vadim Rabinovich of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress. “The whipping up of the situation around this issue is of a provocative nature and does not contribute to a calm life for the Jewish community of Ukraine.”
Why, then, the eagerness with which pro-Moscow circles in America have embraced Putin’s cynical manipulation of anti-Semitism? I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer to this curious question, but Michael Lerner helpfully provides an insight. The “neocons,” he says, are playing down anti-Semitism in Ukraine because their “primary goal is to protect Israel and destroy all of its potential enemies—a list that grows longer and longer as long as Israel retains its dominance over the Palestinian people and denies them fundamental human rights.”
This is insane stuff, not least because neoconservatives aren’t actually running U.S. foreign policy at the moment. Yet we need to pay attention, because, as a cursory search of the Internet will show, there are many people out there who subscribe to this nonsense. And when we do pay attention, we realize that the dots being connected here are reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting: the Jewish state and its allies in America are backing an anti-Semitic regime in Ukraine in order to continue the persecution of the Palestinians. Like I said, insane. I would therefore advise American Jews to play close heed to any anti-Semitic episodes in Ukraine. (Apart from anything, Ukraine is one of the few governments in the world over which the U.S. still retains some leverage, so our efforts won’t go to waste.) At the same time, let’s recognize Putin’s invasion of Crimea and his threat to the rest of Ukraine for what it is—naked aggression in violation of the United Nations Charter that, ultimately, poses a threat to all of us, whether Jewish or not.
Ben Cohen is the Shillman Analyst for JNS.org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications.
© Jewish News Service
'You Are Neo-Nazi Scum': Quiet Protest in Crimea Turns Ugly
5/3/2014- Tempers between pro- and anti-Russian groups ran hot in the Crimean capital Simferopol on Wednesday when a self-described self-defense unit comprised of a rag-tag group of men, who said they were supporters of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation, violently confronted a peaceful group mostly made up of women who held signs demanding peace and unity in Ukraine. More than 50 men charged at them just after noon local time, tearing apart their signs and calling them "bitches" and "fascists" from Kiev. "You are neo-Nazi scum sent here from Kiev to destroy our Crimea!" one man shouted. In response, one woman shouted back that she had been born and raised on the peninsula. "This is my home. I speak Russian just like you. But I'm not twisted and don't fall for Putin's propaganda, like you do!" she yelled back.
Olga, a young professional from Simferopol, speaks to the Kyiv Post, in the video below, after men from a pro-Russian protest group attacked her and others who held signs demanding peace for Crimeans and Ukrainians. Nikolai Kovolenko, a longtime Simferopol resident and staunch supporter of Crimea becoming a part of the Russian Federation says people in autonomous republic want the West to stay out of their affairs. "No NATO, no U.S., no EU; only Russia," he says.
Ukraine's Hungarian minority nervous as crisis rages
5/3/2014- Ukraine's 150,000 ethnic Hungarians, feared as potential fifth columnists for ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, face a growing threat from far-right nationalists. In the region of western Transcarpathia, the large Hungarian minority has grown increasingly uneasy. Stick-wielding members of Pravy Sektor, the far-right paramilitary group that was on the frontline of bloody protests to depose Yanukovych in Kiev in February, stormed the town hall in Berehove, a town of around 24,000 people, last week. A government building in the regional capital of Uzhhorod has been occupied since mid-February, with Pravy Sektor activists in red and black armbands standing guard outside. "Chaos reigns here, police are invisible, people are afraid," said Zoltan Babjak, mayor of Berehove. Hungarians make up around half the town's population, and around 12 percent of Transcarpathia as a whole. They strongly backed Yanukovych in the 2010 presidential election, seeing him as more supportive of minority rights than Ukraine nationalists such as his predecessor Yulia Tymoshenko.
Yanukovych scrapped a Tymoshenko directive that college entrance exams should be in Ukrainian only and officially recognised minority languages in 2012. One of the first acts of the new government last week was to overturn these measures, drawing ire from minority groups. "Many (Hungarians) voted for Yanukovych in 2010 knowing that he was corrupt and ruinous for the economy,? Elemer Koszeghy, editor of a Transcarpathian Hungarian-language newspaper, told AFP. "The point was he wouldn't hammer them for not being Ukrainian like Tymoshenko did." Such sentiments get short shrift from the group occupying the Uzhhorod government building. "We like Hungarians and the other minorities here. We want them to be part of building a European Ukraine, but we have to fight the Russians," said Andriy Fedunets, 20, in the lobby of the building, as he watched footage from Crimea on a laptop.
- Anti-Maidan? -
Transcarpathia, cut off from the rest of Ukraine by the Carpathian mountains, was part of Hungary until after World War I. It then changed hands several times, falling under Soviet rule after World War II when thousands of Ukrainians and Russians were settled in the region. Some 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) from Kiev and bordering Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, it finally became part of independent Ukraine in 1991. Some 1.2 million people live there, with Hungarians the largest in a patchwork of ethnic groups. This has not endeared the Hungarian minority to the new interim government that emerged from the Maidan movement, named after Kiev's central Independence Square that was the epicentre of the protests. "Some Ukrainians say we are 'anti-Maidan'," said Viktoria Szabo, a 20-year-old waitress in Berehove.
Now locals are fearful that they may even be drawn into a possible armed conflict over Ukraine's Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea jutting into the Black Sea. "We have bad experiences of fighting in other people's wars," Szabo says, referring to ethnic Hungarians conscripted to fight in Yugoslavia during the 1990s wars. "This region is more central European than eastern, it's peaceful, tolerant," Laszlo Brenzovics, head of a Hungarian-language college in Berehove, told AFP. "What happens in Kiev or Crimea is none of our business," said Szabo. "It's not our fight."
Far-Right Groups Infiltrate Kiev’s Institutions, Student Movement Pushes Back (Ukraine)
A left-leaning student movement could provide an alternative to the right-wing dominance of Ukraine’s street protests and parliamentary politics.
4/3/2014- The student-occupied Education and Science Ministry in Kiev last week was like a scene out of Ten Days That Shook the World: Evoking the revolutionary organizations that took over St. Petersburg’s Smolny Institute in 1917, students from a variety of left-leaning groups hammered out radical demands under the chandelier in the neoclassical assembly hall, breaking for meals of pickled vegetables and open-faced sandwiches. Outside the hall, a dozen self-defense volunteers with improvised helmets, breastplates and billy clubs were patrolling the building and its perimeter. “We’ve been expecting Svoboda will try to kick us out,” said Ilya Vlasiuk, an activist who was guarding the sealed offices on the second floor, referring to to the ultranationalist party whose militant wing has attacked progressive activists, including Vlasiuk, at the Euromaidan demonstrations around Independence Square.
Although students played a crucial role in the initial Euromaidan movement, their role decreased after police beat protesters on November 30 and other segments of society came out to call for an end to the corruption and police brutality of Viktor Yanukovich’s government. Meanwhile, ultranationalists and neo-Nazis from groups like Svoboda and Right Sector took over Euromaidan’s self-defense forces, and leaders linked to these two groups were appointed to high-ranking security positions in the new government. Svoboda MP Iryna Farion was being considered for education and science minister this week, according to a leaked list published by the news site Zik, a move the student occupation strongly opposed. Instead, a student-approved candidate was appointed minister. The successful student occupation of the Education Ministry—the first such event in post-Soviet Ukraine—has raised the possibility that a progressive student movement could provide an alternative voice to the right-wing dominance of street protest and parliamentary politics in Ukraine. With no left-wing party in parliament, progressive activism “is much weaker at this point” than the far-right trend, Volodymyr Ischenko, deputy director of the Center for Society Research and an editor of the progressive journal Spilne (Commons), told The Nation at a roundtable on the Ukrainian crisis organized in Brussels by the Postglobalization Initiative. But the student movement “is one of the points where it may be possible to create this counterbalance,” he said.
On February 21, several hundred students from at least three Kiev universities representing organizations including the Direct Action Student Union, Student Coordinating Council and Pushback marched on the Education Ministry, a light-orange neoclassical building in downtown Kiev. After minister Dmitry Tabachnik and his deputy Yevgeny Sulima, whom students accused of repressing student activism both during and before the Euromaidan protests, refused to come out and meet with them, they took control of the building. (The ministry’s security was not in place following the political upheaval.) They soon put forth demands including the dismissal of Tabachnik and Sulima, student approval of the new candidates for the position, an audit of the ministry and regular online publication of its financial transactions. A final key demand was the adoption of a reform bill—one of several proposed—that would transfer many functions of the Education Ministry, including the development of government standards and the accreditation of academic institutions, to a new independent agency. “The idea of occupying the Education Ministry had been around for a while, as other ministries were being seized. But on the 21st we mobilized a lot of people, and there was a chance to do it, since there was no resistance,” said Andriy, a member of the anarchist-leaning Direct Action Student Union who asked his last name not be used because he’s participating in negotiations with the new minister.
A variety of government buildings have been occupied over the course of the protests, including the Justice Ministry and Energy Ministry. On January 21, students and other activists including Andriy also occupied the office of the Interior Ministry to protest the arrest of six students and one recent graduate at protests in the city center. On the Monday after the students occupied the Education Ministry, the parliament dismissed Tabachnik, and on Tuesday night Farion announced she wouldn’t accept the position if it was offered to her. Instead, the parliament appointed Serhiy Kvit, director of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy and one of three candidates approved by the students, as the new minister. After first declining to immediately support an audit, Kvit signed a decree ordering an independent audit of the ministry and promised he would sign an order to publish financial transactions online. Kvit also appointed Inna Sovsun, a teacher and former employee at the Center for Society Research who is supported by many progressive student activists, as his first deputy minister.
The student activists are still negotiating to have several of their other demands included in their favored education reform bill, which will likely be passed in the near future, Andriy said. In addition to its immediate demands, the student occupation drafted a “Road Map for the Development of Ukrainian Education” with forty-nine proposals ranging from guaranteed living-wage stipends to annual education funding of at least 7 percent of GDP. According to Ischenko, the Education Ministry occupation marked a new level of student mobilization since students set up a tent camp and held hunger strikes to agitate for Ukrainian independence in 1990. More recently, students have agitating against rising education costs, including fees for missing class and using services like the library. Students also agitated for social and economic reform in the first days of the Euromaidan movement, demands that were later pushed out by ultranationalists who have attacked feminist, anarchist and labor union actions. “It was probably the point where the left-wing influence was highest, which still wasn’t much,” Ischenko said of the student actions at Euromaidan.
Now the occupation showed that the student left has “become active again,” Ischenko said, and could even be the genesis of an alternative to the far-right rhetoric that has enjoyed a prominent voice in the movement and the new government. Right Sector, whose social network page features extensive neo-Nazi imagery, has been patrolling alongside police and has ties to the new security service head, while a founding member of the neo-Nazi party that became Svoboda has been appointed head of the national security and defense council. Meanwhile, Svoboda parliamentary deputies have been pushing to remove gun control regulations, ban communist ideology and essentially forbid the broadcast of Russian-made television and radio programs. Students will need to keep up the pressure through the reform process as they negotiate to include their demands, and they may need to protest against the new minister if he doesn’t follow through on his promises. Already, Kvit only signed the audit order after first refusing to do so during negotiations with students. “If they could be very radical and decisive they could prolong this discussion” of far-reaching education reform, Ischenko said.
Already, organizers have been able to teach less-experienced students “an understanding of systematic demands, organizational fundamentals and direct action methods,” said activist Bohdan Biletsky of Direct Action. Perhaps the student movement can eventually reintroduce discussion of Ukraine’s looming economic problems—sure to worsen under the austerity conditions that will likely accompany a bailout—on Independence Square, although Andriy said Direct Action would focus for now on education-related demands. As always, the challenge is unity among student organizations. “It’s obvious that without us, no one would have even tried to introduce accountability” into the ministry’s finances, Andriy said. “But there wouldn’t be much potential for any single organization to do this, because as always there are many internal conflicts.”
© The Nation
Ukraine Trans Gov: Neo-Nazis in Control of Armed Forces, Nat Security, Economy, Justice and Education
The ultra-right Svoboda Party has scored six major cabinet ministries in the government of Arseniy Yatsenyuk approved by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday. Svoboda is the Neo-Nazi, ultra-right, anti-Semitic, Russophobic party with its base of support in the Western Ukraine.
2/3/2014- The most important post was claimed by a co-founder of Svoboda, Andriy Parubiy. He was named Secretary of the Security and National Defense Committee, which supervises the defense ministry and the armed forces. The Parubiy appointment to such an important post should, alone, be cause for international outrage. He led the masked Right Sector thugs who battled riot police in the Independence Maidan in Kiev. The Right Sector is an openly fascist, anti-Semitic and anti-Russian organization. Most of the snipers and bomb throwers in the crowds were connected with this group. Right Sector members have been participating in military training camps for the last two years or more in preparation for street activity of the kind witnessed in the Ukraine over the last few months. The Right Sector, as can be seen by the appointment of Parubiy, is now in a position to control major appointments to the provisional government and has succeeded in achieving its long time goal of legalizing discrimination against Russians. The new parliament has passed legislation that declares Russian speakers no longer have equal rights with Ukrainians.
He is also associated with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk’s Fatherland Party. Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector delegation in parliament, was named Parubiy’s deputy. These appointments of open fascists to control of the armed forces are particularly alarming given the possibility of provocations against the Russian naval base in Sevastopol. Oleksandr Sych, a Svoboda parliamentarian from Ivano-Frankivsk best known for his attempts to ban all abortions in Ukraine, including those resulting from rape, was named deputy prime minister for economic affairs. Svoboda was also rewarded with the Education Ministry under Serhiy Kvit, as well as the Ecology Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry under Andriy Makhnyk and Ihor Shvaiko, respectively. Earlier in the week Svoboda member of parliament Oleh Makhnitsky was named prosecutor-general of the Ukraine.
Others with ultra-right associations with the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO) also received cabinet posts. Tetyana Chernovol, portrayed in the Western press as a crusading investigative journalist without reference to her past involvement in the anti-Semitic UNA-UNSO, was named chair of the government’s anti-corruption committee. Dmytro Bulatov, known for his alleged kidnapping by police, but also with UNA-UNSO connections, was appointed minister of youth and sports. Yaysenuyk’s Fatherland Party, and figures close to it, obtained ten cabinet posts, including deputy prime minister for EU integration, interior, justice, energy, infrastructure, defense, culture, social issues, and a minister without portfolio. Yegor Sobolev, leader of a civic group in Independence Maidan and politically close to Yatsenyuk, was appointed chair of the Lustration Committee, charged with purging followers of President Yanukovych from government and public life.
In a society where oligarchs play such an important political and economic role it is unsurprising that Volodymyr Groysman, mayor of Vinnytsa and close associate of oligarch Petro Poroshenko, was chosen as deputy prime minister for regional affairs. Groysman was also close to former President Viktor Yushchenko. The new finance minister, Oleksander Shlapak, is a representative of oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskiy, the second wealthiest man in the Ukraine. The remaining cabinet posts went to technocrats, a doctor who organized medical services for the Maidan protestors, and a retired police general. The interim cabinet matches exactly the government which U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland recommended in her intercepted call with the U.S. ambassador in Kiev where she revealed the U.S. plan for a coup in Ukraine.
Vitali Klitschko and his UDAR party are excluded, likely because of their close relationship with German chancellor Angela Merkel. Yatsenuyk’s Fatherland Party receives the majority of portfolios. And as Nuland demanded, so long as Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok did not receive a major cabinet post, Svoboda could receive several ministries. In the eyes of many these facts are indicative of U.S. involvement in what has essentially been a coup against the elected government of the Ukraine. In other developments in Ukraine, President Viktor Yanukovych was reported to be in Moscow, where it was announced that he was receiving protection from the Russian security service because of threats on his life by political “extremists.” He will reportedly appear at a press conference in Rostov-on-Don later today. Clashes between the Crimean Tartar minority and ethnic Russians occurred outside the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol, while armed pro-Russian demonstrators continued to hold the parliament building itself.
© Global Research
'Death to Jews’ sprayed on Crimea synagogue (Ukraine)
As Ukraine crisis deepens, Jews in the Crimean peninsula fear more anti-Semitic attacks.
2/3/2014- Anti-Semitic graffiti was found Friday morning on the entrance to a synagogue in the Crimea region of southern Ukraine, local media reported. According to the Russian-Israeli news site izrus.co.il, swastikas and the phrase “Death to the Jews” were sprayed on the door and facade of the Reform Ner Tamid synagogue in Simferopol, located in the Crimean peninsula. Anatoly Gendin, head of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Crimea, told the news site that the perpetrators needed to climb a two-meter wall to reach the building. “Clearly, it was important for the anti-Semites to commit this crime. Since the crisis began prices went up by 30 percent, pensions aren’t being paid," he wrote in a statement sent to media by the World Union for Progressive Judaism. "As usual, Jews are blamed [for] these disasters and Jews are held responsible. I am afraid to think how this will progress." The attack took place as Ukrainian troops reported takeovers of two airports in the Crimea region by Russian forces. Crimea is heavily populated by ethnic Russians.
Protests against Ukraine’s elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, forced him to flee from the capital city of Kiev to Moscow after scores died in bloody street clashes last week. The protest movement was spurred by his policy of privileging Ukraine’s ties to Russia integration with the European Union. Earlier this week, firebombs hit the Chabad-run Orthodox Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, located 250 miles southeast of Kiev. That attack caused only minor damage.
© JTA News
Headlines 7 March, 2014
Greek Doctor Convicted For Racist Behavior
7/3/2014- Fifty-Seven-year-old Greek doctor, Costas Kastaniotis was convicted to a 16-month prison term and a 3 year suspension because he violated the anti-racism law. In particular, he was accused of putting a sign up outside his office that read “Jews not welcome.” Mr. Kastaniotis was also convicted of unlawful possession of weapons and the court fined him 2,500 euros. The Greek Police raided Kastaniotis house and found daggers with Nazi symbols, a Nazi flag and printed material from the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. Kastaniotis, who is a neurologist, refused that he was the one to have put up the sign which was written in German. He also insisted that he took it down when it was brought to his attention. He was sentenced to a 12-month prison term for violating the anti-racism law, 4-months for unlawful possession of weapons and suspended for three years. He appealed against the court’s decision and was set free pending the appeals hearing. During the Nazi occupation in Greece, the Jewish community of Thessaloniki was wiped out when the 96 percent of its population of 50,000 perished in the concentration camps.
© The Greek Reporter
Riga permits march to honor SS veterans, counter-protest planned (Latvia)
7/3/2014- Today the Latvian capital, Riga, once again permitted the convening of what has become a traditional march to celebrate the Latvian veterans of an armed SS unit (the Waffen-SS). The march takes place annually on 16 March, which was once briefly officially known as "Legion Day" in Latvia. The RIA Novosti wire service reports that the Latvian capital has also made it possible for an anti-fascist demonstration to be held on the same day. While 16 March is no longer a state holiday, many Latvians perceive it as an opportunity to commemorate fallen members of the Latvian SS units who fought alongside German troops against Soviet occupation. Many ethnic Russians in Latvia consider these ceremonial marches a celebration of Fascism and point out, together with anti-fascist activists, that as many as 25 000 Jewish people were shot to death in and around Riga during the war. Promoters of the legionnaires' celebration say the Latvian SS divisions were not created until 1943, at which time most of Latvia's prewar Jewish community of about 80 000 people had already been annihilated.
Those promoting the 16 March event consider this proof that the Latvian units did not participate in the Holocaust as their opponents claim. Marches by the legionnaires in Latvia have been taking place since 1990. In past years the marches have been accompanied by brawls between the marchers and anti-fascists protesting them, and by police interventions featuring dozens of arrests. During the first years after Latvia regained its independence, 16 March was an official holiday until it was removed from the state calendar under pressure from Russia and the West. Latvia gained independence from Russia after WWI, but in 1940 the country was occupied by Soviet troops, and after Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, the Nazis occupied Latvia. Approximately 250 000 Latvians fought in WWII, either alongside the Germans or the Soviets, of whom 150 000 were killed.
Hungary ruling party's poll lead drops, far-right Jobbik jumps
6/3/2014- Hungary's ruling Fidesz party lost some support but kept a firm lead among voters before a parliamentary election due on April 6, while support for the far-right Jobbik party surged, pollster Median said on Thursday. Fidesz' support among all voters dropped to 36 percent in the February poll from 39 percent in January, Median said on its website. Support for the coalition of leftist opposition parties edged up one point to 23 percent in February. Support for Jobbik, however, surged to 14 percent of all voters from 10 percent in January, and Jobbik leader Gabor Vona had the highest popularity rating among opposition politicians, Median said. According to Median, the most popular politicians are President Janos Ader and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, while Vona ranked seventh on the list behind Fidesz politicians, and ahead of leftist leaders. Backing for the green liberal LMP was steady at 3 percent. Voters without a party preference dropped to 23 percent of those polled from 24 percent in January.
Austrian far-right set for strong showing in EU vote
Low interest in the European election as well as a feeling that traditional parties are not representing the views of ordinary voters could see Austria's far-right, anti-EU Freedom Party (FPOe) scoop around 30 percent of the vote in the May EU elections.
7/3/2014- Signs of discontent were already evident at last year's parliamentary elections when the grand coalition of the centre-left Social Democrats and the centre-right People's Party was re-elected with a paper-thin majority. Combined they represented 50.9 percent of the vote – their worst score in the history of the Second Republic. By contrast, the hard-right Freedom Party, part of the European Alliance for Freedom, scored its best result since 1999, gaining 21.4 percent. The vote breakdown showed that the party – led by Heinz-Christian Strache, a member of a student fraternity that admires German nationalism – was poaching voters from the Social Democrats. It received 33 percent of all working-class votes while the Social Democrats managed 24 percent of this constituency. The September results were also a wake-up call for the centre-right People's Party which lost support among its traditional vote base – the middle class.
While voter turnout for last year's national election was 74.9 percent, it is expected to be much less for the European election. In 2009, only 46 percent of voters went to the EU urns. "The European Parliament election turnouts have been constantly decreasing since Austria's accession to the EU in 1995," says Peter Filzmaier, head of the Institute for Strategic Analysis in Vienna. He is doubtful that the trend will be bucked in May. The economic crisis and the travails of the eurozone could, in theory at least, be meaty topics for Austrian parties to try and engage voters about the European Union. But Filzmaier indicates that although the issues are much discussed at political level, it would be difficult to make the debate broader. "In practice, the discussion would only reach those who are open for European issues," he says. "I also wonder if the European election campaigns are important enough for political parties to put a lot of effort and resources into them."
Unemployment and the economy
According to a survey published last autumn by Eurobarometer, most Austrians worry about unemployment, the economic situation and the rising cost of living. Meanwhile the European Parliament election campaigns are likely to be dominated by the same themes as last September's national elections. The Social Democrats are set to focus on reducing unemployment, while the People's Party will emphasise strengthening the economy. In the 2009 European elections, the centre-right People's Party took first place scoring exactly 30 percent, followed by the Social Democrats with 23.7 percent. But Thomas Hofer, expert in political communications and associate professor at the University of Applied Science in Vienna, says it is "rather illusory" to think they will manage the same feat or more in May. Othmar Karas, vice president of the European Parliament, is the party's leading candidate. Strongly pro-EU, he already has 16 years of experience as an EU deputy. "It was definitely the right decision to nominate him, but what is clear is that Karas has to keep his critical stance towards his own party if he wants to succeed," says Hofer.
Wolfgang Boehm, political editor at Die Presse, says: "Many people will vote for Karas because of his pro-European engagement and because he seems trustworthy but I do not think he has the ability to offset the party's low profile [among voters]." The Social Democrats attracted a lot more media attention with their nomination. Sixty-two-year old Eugen Freund, a recently retired and well-known TV anchor, is to try his hand at raising the centre-left's popularity. "Basically, it was a clever political move to nominate Freund because of his high reputation. But his media appearances until now have been very poor," says Hofer. In a recent interview with the political magazine profil, Freund estimated the average monthly gross income of a blue-collar worker at around €3,000. In fact, it is about €2,000. Meanwhile, Hannes Swoboda, well-known in Brussels for heading up the social-democrat faction in the parliament, is retiring.
"The Gypsies are coming"
The third strongest political force is the Freedom Party. The far-right party is going to benefit most from the combination of anger and anti-EU sentiment, reckons Boehm. "Due to the recent crisis, I assume that the FPOe is going to be the major beneficiary of euroscepticism," he says. The party is using two politicians in its campaign. One is Harald Vilimsk, a professional PR consultant and long-standing confidant of Freedom Party leader, Strache. The other is controversial publicist and well-known far-right politician Andreas Moelzer, currently an MEP. The February issue of his magazine "Zur Zeit" caused a stir with a cover story saying: "The Gypsies are coming" – in reference to the lifting of labour restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers – and comparing leftist protesters to National Socialists.
A cartoon in the magasine also depicted the night of 24 January as "Kristallnacht 2014", because thousands of left-wingers and anti-fascists protested against the Academics Ball, an annual gathering organised by the Freedom Party. Meanwhile, the eurosceptic Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZOe), which failed to make the parliamentary threshold in the September elections, is seeking to change its fortunes by having Ulrike Haider-Querica at the top of its list. She is the daughter of the late Joerg Haider, the politician who brought the Freedom Party to the height of its popularity before he left it to form the BZOe. It is unclear whether eurosceptic Hans-Peter Martin will run again. He surprised both in the 2004 and 2009 rounds scooping 14 and 18 percent respectively running on an independent transparency ticket.
Peculiarities of Austrian politics
Political communications expert and academic, Hofer, points out that Austrian voters "never really got a chance to avoid" a grand coalition of the centre-right and centre-left. He puts this down to the special position the far-right and nationalist Freedom Party has occupied in Austrian politics since the late 1980s. "In contrast to Germany, Austria totally neglected to cope with its political past and involvement in Nazi crimes," says Hofer. For example when Kurt Waldheim, who was a former UN secretary General in the 1970s, was running to be the country's president it was revealed that he was a former officer in the Wehrmacht, the armed services of Germany's Third Reich. He served as Austria's president between 1986 and 1992. "Controversies such as the Waldheim affair or the Academics Ball etched a traditional left-right pattern into the Austrian political mind," adds Hofer, which makes many voters still believe that they are able to chose between a left wing and a right wing although the two sides are almost indistinguishable in several policy areas. This allows the Freedom Party the liberty to choose where it wants to be on the political spectrum, sometimes rightist, sometimes leftist, depending on the issue.
Meanwhile the debate about Waldheim's past and how to approach Austria's complicity in National Socialist practices polarised the public and gave agitators from the far-right political space to spread their demagogy. The Freedom Party, then led by Joerg Haider, seized the opportunity and promoted German Nationalist ideas and right-wing populism. In the parliamentary elections of October 1999, it ousted the centre-right People's Party from second place, securing 26.91 percent of the vote. The two parties then formed a coalition government in early 2000, prompting the first-ever EU sanctions against a member state. Now, Strache and his entourage once again have the chance to repeat the heights of their success, particularly as they are set to inspire higher voter participation on their side. A recent survey conducted by Deutsche Bank indicated that the Freedom Party could actually reach up to 42 percent in the elections. "Forty percent would be an overestimate, but the FPOe is definitely in a position where it could score around 25 or 30 percent," reckons Boehm from Die Presse. Austrian voters will elect 18 MEPs to the 751-strong European Parliament on 25 May.
© The EUobserver
Nationalism and unchecked violence in Bulgaria
A rise in attacks against minorities has alarmed observers in Bulgaria. They say the violence is generated by nationalism, and that this aggression is rooted in the way Bulgaria reads its own history. DW takes a look.
6/3/2014- Releasing a defendent on bail who faces murder charges can provoke protests in any country in the world. But this time, in Sofia, it's a different story. Last week, a man was released who is not only indicted for murder, but is seen as a symbol for a movement of racially motivated violence that has gone essentially unpunished in Bulgaria for some time now. Last year, Petko Elenkov, a security guard, shot and killed a Roma teenager, who had allegedly jumped over the wall of a refrigerator depot in Sofia in order to steal scrap metal. Elenkov, 50, denies any wrongdoing. A year on, the trial still hasn't begun. Elenkov was released on a 5000 leva (2500 euro) bail prompting Roma minority groups to demonstrate on the streets, calling for justice. Nationalist and pro-Nazi demonstrations ensued.
"Nationalism is on the rise in Bulgaria," Daniela Mikhaylova, who heads the Equal Opportunities Initiative, an NGO based in Sofia's Roma ghetto, told DW. In her opinion, this "new level of violence came as a result of a specific nationalist attitude that has gone unchecked for too long. When such violence happens and people in the media forums write things like, 'Very good, they [Roma] got what they deserved,' people start thinking that this reaction is something natural and even legitimate."
Roma, who number 400,000 in Bulgaria according to official statistics, are the largest and most frequently attacked ethnic group. But they are far from being the only target of hate speech and discrimination. "The nationalists are targeting the Other," said Solomon Bali, President of the Bulgarian branch of the Jewish Organization B'nai B'rith. "These include Muslims, Jews, the gay community, and foreign refugees." "And the attacks have become more frequent, more aggressive and more vocal in recent years," Bali added. During the last decade, he recalls the profanation of the Kyustendil Jewish Cemetery, the burning of Burgas Synagogue and the "unlimited field for anti-Semitic propaganda and bigotry provided by the Internet and social media." At least a dozen armed assaults against African or Asian refugees were reported in the press this winter alone. Last month, a nationalist mob attacked a mosque in Plovdiv with stones, smashing the windows of a building that dates back to the 15th century. "To my recollection, only a few of these cases have been treated by the prosecution as ethnically or religiously motivated. And one of them was a case against a Roma tried for offending Bulgarians," said Krassimir Kanev, president of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee.
An EU member since 2007, Bulgaria is still subject to special monitoring by the European Commission. Although the prosecution of hate crimes has yet to be explicitly addressed, the problem can be seen by the number of Bulgarian cases brought to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). "One of our latest cases before the ECHR is related to a brutal nationalist assault against the main mosque in downtown Sofia," Kanev said. In May 2011, nationalists jumped over the fence, brutally beat the guard and burst into the mosque just minutes before the morning prayer. Then they attacked the other Muslims with stones, crying out: "Terrorists! Go to Turkey! Don't soil our land!" Yet, the perpetrators were only found guilty of insulting a police officer. The Bulgarian court made no mention of the crime's overtly religious dimension. "The failure of Bulgarian state institutions to impose the rule of law is being exploited to turn persecuted minorities into political and social scarecrows," said Hristo Ivanov, director of the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives.
Many of the state institutions today are influenced by Ataka - a nationalistic party that entered parliament for the first time in 2005, winning close to nine percent of the vote. Today, an Ataka MP presides over the parliamentary ethics commission, and the party has its own representative in the commission for protection against discrimination. "It's no big surprise that their rulings are often supporting the discrimination, rather than fighting it," said Kanev.
"Our estimates suggest about 30 percent of the voters would be happy to see our society turn more mono-ethnic," said Solomon Bali, of B'nai B'rith, with regard to the growing trend of xenophobia in Bulgarian politics and society. And sociological data can corroborate: There is a clear trend towards forming neighborhoods based on ethnicity, wrote Petya Kabakchieva, who heads the sociology department at Sofia University. "Half of the people said they wouldn't want to live in a neighborhood with persons of African, Romani, Arab or Chinese background." Less than 30 percent would agree to work at a company where Roma are part of the senior management. Yet, over 70 percent would join a company where Roma work as cleaners. This "clearly indicates racist attitudes," Kabakchieva concluded, calling the data "alarming." "Openly nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric is made possible by the way history is understood and taught in schools," said Hristo Ivanov, adding that analysts agree that the perception of history in Bulgaria has led to the emergence of nationalist violence.
A decade ago, Bulgaria promoted itself as a country with a unique "ethnic model" of tolerance, commonly citing two examples. In 1943, politicians - together with the Orthodox Church - managed to save all of the 50,000 Jews living in what is Bulgarian territory today. And in 1989, just after the Berlin Wall collapsed, it restored the rights of the Turkish minority, which had been previously stripped by the communist regime. But those examples are often quoted only partially: Many Bulgarians deny the role of the state in the deportation of Macedonian and Greek Jews to death camps. "Moreover, when people of Jewish origin speak out about that, they are often denounced as ungrateful," says Bali. And most Bulgarians fail to recognize the persecution of the Muslim minority that went on through the whole 20th century. Both major negative episodes of Bulgarian history are missing from the textbooks at school. "In schools and in much of the official discourse, Bulgarian history continues to be the political history of the majority, leaving virtually no place for the minority perspective," said Ivanov.
In his opinion, the writing of history is suspended in monolithic "we against them" confrontations. "In this way, we are thought to identify collectively as the victims of different wrongdoings and are left with the option to either fear our neighbors or to hope for revenge."
© The Deutsche Welle.
Zeman: Policy of human rights protection puts Czech export at risk
6/3/2014- The Czech Republic should not jeopardise companies' growing exports to countries such as Uzbekistan and Iran with excessive emphasis on human rights protection, President Milos Zeman said Thursday during his visit of company Papcel Litovel in central Moravia. Papcel Litovel is a major Czech producer of paper machinery and exports a vast majority of its output. "I am a little worried when I see that investments in Uzbekistan and other such countries are jeopardised by a policy which calls itself the policy of human rights protection. Because if people from these countries, namely the Uzbek president (Islam) Karimov, do not visit our country, we do not have the opportunity to tell them our opinion on human rights to their face," Zeman said. A visit of controversial statesman Karimov in Prague was scheduled for February 20 this year, but it was put off due to protests held by a number of non-governmental organisations which consider Karimov a dictator. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD), ministers as well as Prague councillors, for example, had excused themselves from the meeting with Karimov. Uzbekistan in the end asked the Czech Presidential Office to postpone Karimov's visit.
Zeman said contracts worth Kc15bn could have been signed during Karimov's visit. Czech companies unnecessarily deprive themselves of the opportunity to export to countries such as Uzbekistan because of similar attitudes held by Czech politicians, according to Zeman. "We also risk losing investments that have already been made in these countries. I do not think the Czech Republic should pretend it is a super power. Instead it should respect the fact that 630,000 unemployed people are living in it. We should not increase unemployment further by taking such rash steps," Zeman said. Papcel Litovel's sister company Paper Mill Holding has invested $8m (about Kc160m) in Uzbek paper mill Angren Pack in the past three years. It is planning to invest further $5m (Kc100m) in Angren Pack's share capital this year. "But we need the approval from the Uzbek government and the state which has a blocking minority (in Angren Pack). The Uzbek side tried to be as much helpful as possible before the visit (of Karimov in Prague) and I believe that the developments linked to the visit will not affect us negatively," said David Dostal, Papcel owner and Paper Mill Holding co-owner.
Zeman Thursday promised Papcel's management that as the president he will make such efforts so as the Czech Republic adopts a balanced approach to these newly opening markets mainly in Central Asia, and in the near future also in Iran. "Because if you export 98 percent of output, your naturally depend on how these markets will accept you, on what loans and prices you will get and on how high your earnings will be," Zeman said.
© The Prague Daily Monitor
Dutch MP Geert Wilders backs new anti-Islam party, the Australian Liberty Alliance
The far-right politician sends pre-recorded message to a conference being held in Melbourne on Friday that will feature two speakers barred entry into Britain.
6/3/2014- Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders will welcome a new anti-Islam political party, the Australian Liberty Alliance, in a pre-recorded message to a conference on “Islam and liberty” starting in Melbourne on Friday. The conference, organised by the “Islam-critical” Q Society, will start on Friday morning at a secret location, and will feature two speakers who were last year barred entry into Britain. “It’s a bringing together of many people who are concerned about the march of Islam into many western democracies, and how it changes the laws and values of western democracies,” Q Society’s spokesman, Andrew Horwood, said. “You get segregation when you get Muslims coming in, because their core belief is that Muslims are better people than non-Muslims,” he said. “We’re keen to have integrated societies, but we think it’s important to have integration, not segregation.”
The Q Society sparked protests last year when it sponsored a speaking tour by Wilders. The firebrand MP warned audiences that Islam was “a force of darkness” that had made European cities such as Rotterdam and Paris look like “suburbs of Cairo”. The tour was hampered by 30 venue cancellations and a refusal by some banks to provide financial services. Horwood said this year’s event has not seen any cancellations or boycotts so far. Two of the speakers include American bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who were last year denied entry into the UK to speak at a rally of the right-wing English Defence League, after authorities said their presence would “not be conducive to the public good”.
Launching a new party, the Australian Liberty Alliance, which is based on his views, Wilders will tell Friday’s conference: “Many of you are disappointed by current political parties and have had enough of politicians who sell out our western civilisation. “Like you, good people in Europe, America and Canada have had enough of politicians who don’t share our values and foolishly declare that all cultures are equal and who lack courage to speak the truth and say that Islam is the biggest threat to freedom today. You too will soon have the opportunity to turn the tide in Australia.” The party expects to contest the next federal election. The Q Society president, Debbie Robinson, will stand as a candidate.
A Muslims Australia spokesman, Keysar Trad, said he did not want to give conference organisers “any more publicity than they deserve”, but noted: “Another anti-Muslim party, Rise Up Australia, had much better reach than the Q Society, and preferences from the Liberals in some states, and despite all that they got nowhere.” He added: “They’re just too divisive for Australian society. We prefer to work on things that bring society together, to build bridges.” News of the party’s debut was met with condemnation from both major parties. The deputy prime minister, Warren Truss, said Australians preferred the country’s politics to be moderate and peaceful. “Extremism often leads to strife,” he said in Canberra on Wednesday. “While people are entitled to their views in this country, we really do expect all Australians to respect the views of others and to promote their views peacefully.”
The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, warned that those who “preach simple solutions for the future of this country are often just leading Australians up the wrong path”. “Extremism, be it of the far left or the far right, is not welcome in Australia,” he said.
© The Guardian
EU elections 2014: the way towards more equality in Europe, 7 demands from ENAR
Despite the ongoing economic, financial and now social crisis that has been hitting the European Union since 2008, it has remained the most prosperous area of the global economy, weighing 25% of the total wealth generated in the world today. Yet 1 out of 4 EU citizens lives in or is at risk of poverty. The next 50% are not particularly well-off, just surviving above the waterline.
6/3/2014- The next European Parliament to be elected in May 2014 has a crucial role to play when it comes to reducing the entrenched inequalities faced by its citizens and residents. Among these are ethnic minorities and migrants who often face discrimination on multiple grounds: ethnic origin, nationality, social status, income, gender or age. The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) therefore puts forward 7 key demands for more equality in Europe to upcoming Members of the European Parliament. Leading Members of the European Parliament have already endorsed our demands because they are convinced that they will lead to a better and more equal Europe and are also sound, concrete and achievable.
Starting with the basics, we ask parties to open up their lists and decision making structures to ethnic minorities and migrants. Fighting toxic and xenophobic political discourses and policies as well as structural discrimination starts at home. Political decision makers need to be exemplary to generate constructive emulation within broader society. We need a more diverse European Parliament. As a minimum, the next European Parliament and its political groups should hire professionals from minority communities..
“If you are not counted, you don’t count”: combating discrimination begins with knowing the extent of it. Today, we only have comparable and reliable Europe-wide equality data on the grounds of sex and age. We need more. There are 6 grounds of discrimination covered by the EU treaties and 17 by the Charter of Fundamental Rights – there is thus much room for improvement in collecting and analysing data about discrimination in Europe. Ethnic and religious groups want to count and to use data to ask governments to be accountable for their actions. These 60 million Europeans deserve justice.
Racist violence has multiple effects on individual victims, but also on their families and communities. They are not targeted randomly by perpetrators, but because of who they are. The European Parliament has a crucial role to play in bringing the European Commission and Member States to support victims in seeking redress and avoiding re-victimisation. Equality at work is not just a matter of preventing discrimination from happening. It is also about ensuring the workplace caters for the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce. Accommodating diversity at work will result in developing workers’ potential, employee retention, a safe working environment and a better work-life balance. The adoption of the European framework for national Roma integration strategies demonstrated the EU’s political will to fight discrimination against its largest ethnic minority. Black Europeans, People of African Descent, Muslims and Jews need to benefit from similar strategies which will ensure their social inclusion and protection from discrimination, and therefore contribute to the overall reduction of poverty and exclusion in Europe.
Finally, we call for the continuation of the current Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup in the European Parliament. This will ensure MEPs committed to equality have a platform to voice and tackle challenges relating to inequality and discrimination.
Our 7 demands can contribute to a leap forward towards equality in Europe. Time for commitment has come. The future of a diverse and resilient Europe is at stake: we encourage parties and individual candidates to endorse them and mainstream them in their own programmes ahead – and after – the elections.
More on : http://www.enar-eu.org/Page_Generale.asp?DocID=33467&la=1&langue=EN
© EUropean Network Against Racism
Lesbian, gay and bisexual workers suffer harassment and job fears over sexual identity (Ireland)
Almost one-in-three lesbian, gay and bisexual workers have been harassed in their job, according to a report.
5/3/2014- The Working It Out report, commissioned by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), also revealed that 10% of gay, lesbian and bisexual employees had left a job as a result of discrimination. The report, by Brian McIntyre and Elizabeth Nixon, explores the workplace experiences of 590 full-time lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) employees in Ireland. In its foreword, director of workplace diversity in Glen, Davin Roche, wrote: “The research found that LGB employees who are out at work are more committed to their companies than employees who are not out. “Employees are more likely to come out where their company has well understood LGB inclusive policies and a perceived inclusive culture. New and younger LGB employees are less likely to disclose their sexual orientation at work than older colleagues.”
Recommendations in the report include companies taking responsibility for helping to ensure their workplaces are inclusive and actively apply anti-bullying and anti-harassment and Dignity at Work policies to appropriately protect LGBT employees. It also recommends that employee partner benefits, including pensions and paternity leave, be applied as would be the case for other workers. The report also suggests that while people coming out at work should be facilitated in a sympathetic manner, no pressure should be applied to people to make disclosures. As for workplaces where respondents said they found it difficult to work because of attitudes towards LGB issues, the report finds that in many cases the harassment stories were not personally directed, but instead revolved around co-worker comments that stigmatised LGB people in general. The report said in many cases harassment is more subtle or “passive aggressive”, but still hurtful.
It found that 12% of respondents were “out to no one” and another 26% were “out to some” only. Some 9% of respondents who were not out in the workplace said they felt a very real fear that they would lose their job if they did make a disclosure. While almost two-thirds of respondents said their workplace had written LGBT policies and procedures in place, similar percentages of respondents said the same companies did not have training programmes or support mechanisms in place.
Quotes from the Working It Out report:
“People are allowed to bully you because you’re gay. Supportive colleagues believe it’s okay if unsupportive colleagues treat you badly. As if homophobia is an individual’s right.”
— Gay man, 30, Dublin
“I changed career in my late 30s to avoid working in a homophobic environment.”
— Gay man, 56, Dublin
“There is no one out in my workplace. As I am still relatively new, this makes coming out difficult.”
— Gay man, 45, Connacht
“When I went for the interview, I really wanted them to pick up that I was gay, as I had a fear that they would hire me and then perhaps later regret it when they learned of my sexual orientation.”
— Gay man, 34, Dublin
© The Irish Examiner
Violence against Women: every day and everywhere
A new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) presents results from the world’s biggest - ever survey on violence against women, revealing the extent of abuse suffered by women at home, work, in public and online. As well as demonstrating the wide prevalence of violence against adult women, the report also details incidents of physical and sexual violence experienced by women in childhood. The survey shows that policy makers need to recognise the extent of violence against women, and ensure that responses meet the needs and rights of all victims of violence against women in practice and not just on paper.
5/3/2014- “These survey figures simply cannot and should not be ignored. FRA’s survey shows that physical, sexual and psychological violence against women is an extensive human rights abuse in all EU Member States, ” said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. “The enormity of the problem is proof that violence against women does not just impact a few women only – it impacts on society every day. Therefore, policy makers, civil so ciety and frontline workers need to review measures to tackle all forms of violence against women no matter where it takes place. Measures tackling violence against women need to be taken to a new level now.”
The survey asked women about their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including domestic violence. Questions were also asked about incidents of stalking, sexual harassment, and the role played by new technologies in women’s experiences of abuse. In addition, the survey asked about respondents’ experiences of violence in childhood.
Drawing on the survey responses, some of the key findings show that:
„h 33% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. That corresponds to 62 million women.
„h 22% have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner.
„h 5% of all women have been raped. Almost one in 10 women who have experienced sexual violence by a non -partner, indicate that more than one perpetrator was involved in the most serious incident.
„h 43% have experienced some form of psychological violence by either a current or a previous partner, such as public humiliation; forbidding a woman to leave the house or locking her up; forcing her to watch pornography; and threats of violence.
„h 33% have childhood experiences of physical or sexual violence at the hands of an adult.
12% had childhood experiences of sexual violence, of which half were from men they did not know. These forms of abuse typically involve an adult exposing their genitals or touching the child’s genitals or breasts.
„h 18% of women have experienced stalking since the age of 15 and 5% in the 12 months prior to the interview. This corresponds to 9 million women. 21% of women who have experienced stalking said that it lasted for over 2 years.
„h 11% of women have experienced inappropriate advances on social websites or have been subjected to sexually explicit emails or text (SMS) messages. 20% of young women (18 -
29) have been victims of such cyber harassment.
„h 55% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. 32% of all victims of sexual harassment said the perpetrator was a boss, colleague or customer.
„h 67% did not report the most serious incident of partner violence to the police or any other organisation.
The survey on which the report is based makes clear that a wide variety of groups need to take action to combat violence against women, including employers, health professionals and internet service providers. FRA makes a number of proposals to improve the situation and to support EU and national policy makers to introduce and implement comprehensive measures to prevent and respond to violence against women:
„h EU Member States should ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention).
„h EU Member States must regard intimate partner violence as a public and not a private issue. The law in all EU Member States should therefore treat rape within marriage the same as other incidents of rape, and should respond to domestic violence as a matter of serious public concern.
„h EU Member States need to review the existing scope of legislative and policy responses to sexual harassment, recognising that it can occur in various settings and can use different mediums, such as the internet or mobile phones.
„h Police, healthcare professionals, employers and specialist victim support services need to be trained, properly resourced and given the necessary powers to reach out to victims. „h The police and other relevant services should be trained to recognise and understand the impact of psychological abuse on victims to ensure all forms of violence against women (and girls) in varied settings are recognised, recorded and acted on.
„h The police should be encouraged to routinely recognise and investigate cases where cyberstalking and cyberharassment plays a role.
„h Internet and social media platforms should proactively assist victims of cyberharassment to report abuse and be encouraged to limit unwanted behaviour.
„h Specialist support services are required to address the needs of victims who suffer from negative feelings in the aftermath of victimisation, which can include self - blame and a sense of shame.
„h Campaigns on and responses to violence against women must be directed at men as well as women. Men need to be positively engaged in initiatives that confront how some men use violence against women.
„h There is a clear need to improve and harmonise data collection on violence against women, both in and between EU Member States.
© EU Fundamental Rights Agency
Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Mortality Widening, Study Finds (USA)
5/3/2014- Racial disparities in breast cancer mortality rates in many U.S. cities widened between 1990 and 2009, a study by the Sinai Urban Health Institute and Avon Foundation for Women finds. The report, 2014 Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer Mortality Study (6 pages, PDF), analyzed breast cancer mortality rates in fifty metropolitan areas and found disparities between African-American and white women in thirty-nine cities during the 2005-09 period. In thirty-five of those cities, the gap had widened since 1990-94, the initial study period. The study also found that racial disparities in breast cancer mortality rates were greatest in Memphis, followed by Los Angeles, while the gap was smallest in New York City, followed by Baltimore.
The study, which was published in Cancer Epidemiology
, also found that while breast cancer mortality rates for both white and African-American women fell between 1990 and 2009 in most metro areas, the rate declined twice as much for whites as for African Americans. Researchers attributed the finding to four key factors: differential access to screening, quality of the screening process, access to treatment, and quality of treatment. "The geographical variation and growth in the black-white disparity over time shows that genetic factors comprise only a very small portion of the breast cancer mortality disparity," said Steve Whitman, the study's senior author and director of the Sinai Urban Health Institute. "Rather, we believe a more logical explanation for the disparity is that certain technological advances related to screening and treatment that became available in the 1990s — such as digital mammography, advances in surgery, and new drugs for treatment — have been less accessible to black women, who are disproportionately poor and un- or under-insured and less able to obtain access to these advances."
To access an interactive map
of racial disparities in breast cancer mortality rates in each city, visit the Avon Foundation for Women Web site.
© Philanthropy News Digest
Lonsdale shows love for the left (Germany)
The fashion label has managed to rid itself of its neo-Nazi clientele and now cooperates with left-leaning soccer clubs. But the Internet won't let the company forget its old associations.
6/3/2014- When British boxer Bernhard Hart founded fashion brand Lonsdale in 1960, he had no way of knowing what kinds of problems the name would cause. Hart simply named his company after the fifth Earl of Lonsdale, who strongly supported boxing and soccer at the turn of the 20th century. Famous boxer Muhammad Ali (pictured above) was a fan of the label. But in the 1980s and 1990s, neo-Nazis and right-wing skinheads appropriated the brand for themselves. When wearing a half-closed jacket over a t-shirt with the prominent Lonsdale slogan, the letters "nsda" are showing. That's only one letter short of the "NSDAP", the National Socialist German Workers' Party - better known as Adolf Hitler's Nazis. The company itself, however, never wanted anything to do with the far-right ideology, Lonsdale Germany press spokesman Ralf Elfering stressed. "This 'NSDA' is pure coincidence," he told DW. "It's important for us to clearly position the brand in opposition to right-wing extremism and racism. One way the company is doing that in Germany [is by] cooperating with two soccer clubs who have strong anti-racism agendas."
United in the fight against right-wing extremism
Starting in March, Lonsdale will be the sponsor of left-leaning amateur soccer club "Roter Stern Leipzig" (Red Star Leipzig). For two years, the brand will provide the club's jerseys. Perhaps even more important, Red Star is also getting a bus with speakers from Lonsdale that will be used in the stadium for providing announcements and music during home games and will take players to away games. In addition to that, both the soccer club and Lonsdale explicitly agreed that the bus can and should also be used during anti-racism protest marches, where the speakers will come very much in handy. "We wanted to cooperate with this club, because they are known for their anti-racist and anti-right-wing stance," Elfering said.
A second cooperation Lonsdale has entered into this year is with regional league soccer club "SV Babelsberg 03." The club has been fighting racism and rightwing extremism since the early 1990s, according to Thoralf Höntze from Babelsberg's marketing department. "We have an annual stadium festival called 'The colorful ball' promoting tolerance," Höntze told DW. "Smaller things are just happening all throughout the year, like fans making food for asylum seekers." Last fall, Babelsberg approached Lonsdale about a cooperation because they were looking for a partner with a mission and goals to match their own. Most fans did not connect the brand with neo-Nazis anymore. "People who are as dedicated as our fans know that the label has distanced itself from that crowd," Höntze said. The reaction to the sponsorship announcement has been "95 percent positive," according to the marketing official. Babelsberg will receive personalized Lonsdale merchandise. In addition, the clothes brand will also help support the soccer club's Cuban partner team financially. In total, Babelsberg will receive a five-figure amount for one year.
'Google doesn't forget'
These new partnerships are only the most recent step Lonsdale has taken to distance itself from its former Neonazi clientele. In a "back-to-the-roots" campaign, they began by sponsoring the boxing department of the famously left-leaning St. Pauli sports club from Hamburg in 2011. They have also been working with the "Loudly against Right" initiative since 2005 and launched a pro-tolerance campaign, "Lonsdale loves all colors," as early as the 1990s. During that time, Lonsdale's Ralf Elfering said, the company also combed through their entire distributor catalog and stopped delivering clothes to shops and sellers that were in any way connected to the neo-Nazi scene. "We couldn't prohibit anyone from buying our clothes, of course [but] in the 90'3 we ... began to make clear that Lonsdale is no brand for racists or nazis" Elfering said. The neo-Nazis who used to sport Lonsdale shirts have realized themselves, however, that the brand doesn't match their ideology, so Lonsdale has successfully managed to rid itself of their problematic image - at least for the most part.
"Google doesn't forget," Elfering said. "It presents old photos from the 90s side by side with current ones and so the image sticks in some people's heads." While other brands like Helly Hansen and Fred Perry also faced problems with appropriation from Nazis, Lonsdale's struggle was especially hard, because of the way most of the label's shirts look: they have the brand name across the front in large letters. And that is well visible and immediately recognizable in all those old photos of neo-Nazis wearing Lonsdale that Google still spits out. In the non-virtual world, the company can focus on its new partnerships. Elfering is excited to see the cooperation with Red Star Leipzig and SV Babelsberg 03 come to life. And Babelsberg's Thoralf Höntze already says he wants to continue working with Lonsdale once the original one-year contract is up.
© The Deutsche Welle.
Gay clergy win right to live with partners (Germany)
Protestant churches in northern Germany have voted to allow gay pastors to live in church residences with their same-sex partners for the first time.
4/3/2014- The rule change from the two-year-old Northern Church - a union of Protestant churches - was voted in almost unanimously by a summit in Lübeck on Friday by 156 votes to two. It states that as long as a prospective pastor and his or her same-sex partner are in a "recognized life partnership" (the equivalent of a UK civil partnership), the pair are to be treated the same as heterosexual couples when being considered for entering a parish residence. The right to live in the clergy's residence is a "symbol" according to Pastor Mathias Benckert, a spokesman for the Northern Church. Benckert told The Local: "The principles of trust, care, reliability and commitment, all the things that would need to be part of a pastor's marriage – these things also go for a registered life partnership," he said. The rules guaranteed that clergy, whether gay or straight, would only be chosen if the parish council and the regional supervisor, whose job it is to nominate them, agreed. The model allows conservative and liberal elements of the church to form a consensus, Benckert said, as if the congregation is not happy with a prospective clergyman or woman, they will not be selected. "If the provost [supervisor] knows a parish is very conservative, they simply won't suggest a gay candidate," he said.
Benckert added the union had made the advance "a little late" due to the fusion of the previous church authorities of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania into the Northern Church in 2012. Regional church authorities in Braunschweig and Hanover have already enacted rules to accept clergymen and women in committed same-sex relationships. And despite Protestant clergy voting to rule out any public celebrations of gay unions back in 2000, such celebrations are now quite widespread in churches in Frankfurt and Schleswig-Holstein, Benckert said. A church in Kurhessen-Waldeck in central Germany even changed the rules in 2013 to allow homosexual unions to be written in church records with the same status as marriages according to the TAZ newspaper. The Northern Church votes next year on whether to officially welcome the celebration of gay unions in its churches.
© The Local - Germany
Swedish neo-Nazi blames anti-racism protesters for riot
4/3/2014- A suspected neo-Nazi leader in Sweden testified Tuesday an altercation in Stockholm in December was provoked by anti-racism demonstrators who attacked him. The unidentified 24-year-old man is on trial with six others, three of them minors, for their alleged roles in a violent clash in the Stockholm neighborhood of Karrtorp following a protest against Nazi graffiti. "My perception was that the demo (demonstration) in Karrtorp was against the Swedish Resistance Movement," he testified, a reference to a neo-Nazi group he and two others on trial are suspected of leading. "I didn't use violence against anyone. The only thing I did was to hold a camera." Prosecutors charged four of the suspects with violent rioting and hate speech. Another three were charged with instigating violent rioting, the Swedish news website theLocal.se reported Tuesday. The indictment states several of the men charged threw bottles, rocks and firecrackers at peaceful demonstrators.
© United Press International
Mixed-race neighbourhoods reduce racism - Research
People can be made less racist by living in ethnically mixed areas, according to new research.
4/3/2014- An Oxford University-led study has found white people develop "passive tolerance" of minorities in mixed areas, even if they have no direct contact with them. The study suggests that governments should create more "harmonious neighbourhoods" by encouraging different ethnic groups to socialise. Professor Miles Hewstone, director of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Intergroup Conflict, says: "If two white people with identical views went to live in different postcodes for a year, the person in the neighbourhood with more mixing between ethnic groups would likely leave more tolerant. "We would see this effect even if they never personally spoke to people from other ethnicities. "The size of this passive tolerance effect on people's prejudice is of the same order as the effect of passive smoking on lung cancer risk."
The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, is based on seven studies carried out in England, mainland Europe, the United States and South Africa between 2002 and 2011. It found that even highly prejudiced people who did not mix with those of different ethnicities became more tolerant the longer they lived in mixed areas. The scientists suggest simply seeing white strangers "interacting positively" with ethnic minorities is enough to reduce racial prejudice. Dr Hewstone, the report's senior author, says: "Astonishingly, we don't just see reduced prejudice among people who have direct contact with ethnic minorities. "It isn't even confined to those whose friends have contact with minorities. Simply living in a neighbourhood where other people are mixing with minorities is enough to reduce racial prejudice." He says governments should do more to encourage different groups to mix. "Social interventions that aim to increase contact between groups will help to establish more tolerant social norms in society."
© Newstalk ZB
Racism on the rise in Malta;Minorities often barred entryto bars and clubs
6/3/2014- Racism in Malta is on the rise, according to a report published by the People for Change Foundation, a human rights think-tank. The year 2013 saw a notable increase in the level of hate speech, particularly over the internet and in other public fora, the report notes. Research conducted in collaboration with the European Network Against Racism concluded that the Muslim community in Malta is largely homogenised, with the terms ‘Arab,’ ‘North African’ and ‘illegal immigrant’ all taken to refer to the same thing, indicating a person who is both foreign and Muslim. The report says that manifestations of racial and religious discrimination are present in various spheres of life, including employment, education, housing, healthcare, the media, access to goods and services and the criminal justice process.
A separate report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) raised concern that a number of online offences in terms of racist conduct go unpunished, while citizenship, language and religion are still not included as prohibited grounds of discrimination within certain civil and administrative law provisions. “Furthermore, the law only makes provision for Maltese and EU nationals, as well as persons who are habitual residents of Malta, to come forward as victims of criminal offences and apply for compensation before a Criminal court. ECRI also noted that while a National Action Plan against Racism and Xenophobia had been commissioned by the NCPE, this has never been adopted or published by the authorities.” ECRI also drew attention to the continued exploitation of migrant labour in the informal sector, while also noting that visible minorities are often refused entry to bars/ clubs and regularly experience discrimination on public transport, the report by the People for Change Foundation notes.
Integration and Citizenship
The UN’s refugee agency estimates that around 30% of the 18,625 individuals who arrived by boat from Libya since 2002 remain in Malta. Efforts towards integration remain crucial in securing human rights for individuals who have been displaced, forming an integral aspect in finding durable solutions for those who have fled danger and persecution in their home country, the Foundation says. The Foundation points out the imbalances created by the government’s cash-for-passports scheme vis-a-vis the way in which migrants are treated. “Given the unfolding circumstances, the People for Change Foundation has refrained from commenting on the minutiae of this scheme. However, the Foundation remains concerned at the limited access to citizenship which is presently afforded to migrants and refugees who have lived and worked in Malta for a number of years, and who lack the financial investment necessary to benefit from this scheme. “These concerns echo those of ECRI, who stress the need for the introduction of clear, objective and measurable requirements in connection with the acquisition of citizenship through naturalisation,” the Foundation says. The Foundation also echoed the call of the Office of the Commissioner for Children to amend current legislation, “in order for children born at sea in international waters to be registered and automatically granted Maltese citizenship, irrespective of the status of their parents.”
Conditions at Corradino Prison
The Foundation makes reference to a 2011 report by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which states that the material conditions of some areas of the facility were described as “appalling,” citing limited access to natural light and ventilation, poor sanitation, and overcrowding in the cells. The Foundation said that the report called for the swift renovation of the CCF, as well as the implementation of a proper allocation and classification system in order for vulnerable prisoners to be held separately from the general inmate population.
More to be done in sphere of human rights
In conclusion, the Foundation says that while significant progress has been made in the sphere of human rights, there remains much more to be achieved in order for them to be “effectively, meaningfully and consistently realised.” “The People for Change Foundation, in addition to a number of other civil society actors, continue to work towards the higher achievement of human rights and anticipate a number of future initiatives geared towards the end of 2014. “The Foundation shall aim to address issues of racism through the development of a system for reporting racist incidents, as well as the launch of an anti-racism campaign in the context of the 2014 MEP elections,” the Foundation said in the report.
© The Malta Independent
Racism:An intolerant society (Malta)
5/3/2014- Yesterday, Malta saw two examples of intolerance at its best. The first instance involved a Maltese man being made to get off an Air Malta flight in Heathrow after hurling racial abuse to an African man before the flight was due to take off. Air Malta said that the man was hurling abuse at the man who was sat next to him on the flight, and as a result – as per terms of carriage – he was told to leave the plane. The flight crew made him do so because he was deemed to be of a nuisance and could have posed a danger to other passengers. As Air Malta was perfectly entitled and obliged to do, the man was removed from the flight. Air Malta’s terms and conditions also stipulate that the passenger can be prosecuted for what he did, and one expects a follow up in this regard. In cases of racism and also in cases of endangering an aircraft and its crew and passengers – charges can be pressed ex-uffcio, which means that the police can (and should) proceed with an investigation.
In another instance, a Spanish man was beaten and kicked at the ferry point in Gozo simply because he decided to play his harmonica. It is understood that the incident took place at about 5am, and while nerves could be a little jangled, it is certainly no excuse whatsoever to kick and beat someone. It was said that the Spaniard spoke to a policeman, but it is not clear as to whether he made a formal complaint. Again, in this regard, it would be interesting to hear what the police have to say and whether an investigation will be launched. Sometimes, it really does seem as if we live by the law of the jungle rather than the rule of law. While such instances happen everywhere, it does seem to be the case that people think that they can do whatever they like in the eyes of the law.
We are supposed to be a modern, tolerant and educated Mediterranean society, but such instances show that we have a long way to go. By and large, the Maltese are a friendly, welcoming people. But these are the ones who give us that bad name. These are the instances that make people think of us as racist thugs. These are the instances which embarrass the people as a whole. When the Labour Party came to power, it said that it would shake up the Police Corps, and on the ground, there does seem to be fresh new impetus to tackle crime. But we must stop turning a blind eye to such instances. Offenders should be investigated and prosecuted according to law.
© The Malta Independent
Malta: Doubts on whether new President will sign gay marriage bill
4/3/2014- One of the first major acts of soon-to-be President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca may very well be the signing of the ‘gay marriage’ bill, which will include the opening up of child adoptions to gay couples, one of the poster initiatives of the Labour government in its drive to offer equal rights to all. Doubts exist as to whether Ms Coleiro Preca will sign the ‘gay marriage’ bill into law without putting up a fight. Her stand against divorce three years ago put her as being among the more conservative and traditional exponents of a Labour Party that was being pushed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat towards liberal and progressive stands. One option for the government may be to rush the bill through the House before the current President George Abela’s tenure comes to an end on 4 April. This will further enrage the PN which has already said that the bill is a hasty job on the government’s part, and is calling for further discussion, especially on adoptions by gay couples. If this is not possible, it will be one of Ms Coleiro Preca’s first tasks as President of the Republic. But the signing of the bill into law will not come easy to Ms Coleiro Preca, a strong advocate of traditional family values and so vociferous in her opposition to the 2011 introduction of divorce.
At the height of the divorce debate, Ms Coleiro Preca had dramatically announced her intention to not contest the March 2013 general elections, and was an active voice in the anti-divorce campaign. “Never during my 36-year political career in the Labour camp have I done anything for personal benefit and without hesitation I say that I will be retiring from politics, having less than when I started because I gave up my time, health and used my family’s funds to serve,” Ms Coleiro Preca had said at the time. She had argued that no scientific studies actually showed that children were better off with divorce, and it actually may lead to behavioural problems in children. Her stance in the divorce referendum was seen as detracting from the Labour Party’s liberal image and attracting a lot of unwanted attention to an otherwise unified pro-divorce movement (with the exception of another Labour MP, Adrian Vassallo). Ms Coleiro Preca had abstained in the second reading stage of the divorce debate in Parliament, but voted in favour in the final vote on the third reading.
Being on different wings of the same party, Dr Coleiro Preca and Dr Muscat have not seen eye to eye on several occasions and her nomination to the presidency may well be seen as a way for the Prime Minister to remove her from the party’s heart and eliminate any resistance she puts up at Cabinet level on matters pertaining to social affairs, which are central to Ms Coleiro Preca’s beliefs. The popular Family and Social Solidarity Minister, who obtained nearly 6,000 votes in one electoral district in the last election, did not initially take kindly to Dr Muscat’s bid to nominate her for the presidency. At 55, she is still quite young in her political career and is seen as being one of the more productive ministers. Her nomination came in the wake of disagreement with the Prime Minister over plans to transfer social workers from under her responsibility to the Health Ministry, as reported by this newspaper yesterday. Ms Coleiro Preca is resisting the move, but her departure from the ministry will now create one less obstacle for the prime minister to carry out his plan.
© The Malta Independent
Mayor who made anti-Semitic remarks will not be prosecuted (Austria)
4/3/2014- A public prosecutor looking into the anti-Semitic statements made by the former mayor of Gföhl Karl Simlinger has announced that the case will be abandoned because the remarks had not been said in front of many people. Simlinger had caused outrage last year in Austria when, at a meeting about building a new home for asylum seekers in Lower Austria, he said: "I don’t give a shit about the asylum seekers, but the ones to blame are the press chaps, that deserved to be hanged, like the Jews!" The chairman of the Mauthausen Committee, Willi Mernyi is neither surprised nor amazed by the decision of the prosecutor. "Closing the case is legally sound but for me it's also not about legal punishment," he said. "Someone with a mindset like this one is unacceptable. Anti-Semitism is politically and morally reprehensible." Simlinger initially denied that he said some of the remarks, saying the media misrepresented what he said. However, he eventually released a resignation statement acknowledging he said something that "grossly contravenes my convictions and my personal views". He still continues to work at the provincial chambers of agriculture.
© The Austrian Independent
Nazi gets Spain's first Islamophobia jail term
A web administrator who was handed Spain's first prison sentence for running a homepage inciting race hatred against Muslims could escape jail if he attends a human rights course.
5/3/2014- A court in Barcelona found Jaime T. guilty of inciting violence and hatred against a religious group and inciting ideas of genocide, Spanish daily El Periódico reported on Wednesday. Denunciascivicas.com, which has received at least 21,240 visits, contains material praising the Third Reich in Germany. It also encourages readers to carry out similar crimes against Muslims. Police arrested the IT administrator in March 2011 and seized all kinds of xenophobic paraphernalia, such as photos of Adolf Hitler and swastikas, along with numerous videos from his computer which show him making anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim speeches. But the man's two-year sentence judgement — the first for Islamophobia in Catalonia — may be suspended if the defendant participates in a course or program on human rights and does not commit a new crime within three years. Figures from the Islamic Andalusí Observatory state there are currently 427,000 practicing Muslims in Catalonia. In 2013, the region's government announced plans to control the wearing of burqas and other face-covering attire in public spaces "for reasons of public safety".
© The Local - Spain
Spanish extreme right ‘will get nothing’ in EU election, experts say
As far-right forces gather strength from Hungary to Belgium, Spain appears to be an exception on the continent, as no far-right party is expected to obtain a significant number of votes in the European elections, EurActiv Spain reports.
3/3/2014- In the Iberian country no far-right party nationwide has gained support significantly in recent years. Only at local level has the xenophobic Platform for Catalonia (PXC) obtained a few positions of responsibility (67 out of 9,127). PxC obtained almost 5,000 votes in 2003, at their first participation in the Catalan regional elections. Eight years later, in the 2011 general election, they won 59,000 votes. Although this force obtained no seats in the Catalan Parliament, it achieved representation in several municipalities largely due to the racist, anti-Muslim and populist speeches of its leader, Josep Anglada. This is indeed one of the few exceptions of electoral breakthrough of the extreme right in Spain. Far-right parties suffered a setback in 2011 compared to 2008, coinciding with the absolute majority won by the centre-right Popular Party ('Partido Popular') of Mariano Rajoy. Spanish Falange went from 14,000 votes in 2008 to 2,898 in 2011. Meanwhile, National Democracy lost more than 10,000 votes in four years to obtain only 1,867 votes in 2011. In fact, this development in Spain was the reverse of what happened in many countries in Europe.
Juan Andrés Naranjo, a Spanish MEP from the Partido Popular, which is affiliated with the European People's Party, told EurActiv Spain that he believed that this was a consequence of the country's history. He said that the Franco regime had left bad memories, while on another hand, the nationalist and pro-independence groups had attracted anti-European voters. As a result, the far right is “residual", he said. However, Elena Valenciano, deputy secretary general of the centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español), which is expected to be Spain's dominant socialist party at the European Parliament elections, took a different view. She said that the Popular Party was "embracing some positions which the reasonable right should not embrace”. The most extremist wing of this force in a way represented the extreme right, she said.
Currently, opinion polls show that although no major wave is expected, far-right parties, as well as eurosceptic, extreme left and anti-establishment forces would gain seats in the future European Parliament. The increase would undermine the centre-right, the Socialists, Greens and Liberals. In this sense, Valenciano says she hopes that citizens will "behave responsibly " and realise how dangerous these parties are. José Luis Rodríguez, a professor of History at the University Rey Juan Carlos, who is specialised in right-wing movements in Spain, believes that the country's far-right forces have been slow in replacing nostalgia for the past with new issues, such as the xenophobic rejection of immigration, of the EU and the euro, as well in exposing cases of corruption and insecurity and the alleged similarity of the PSOE and the Popular Party's agendas. Thus, Rodriguez explains that the economic crisis does not necessarily mean that there will be a rise of far-right movements if these parties fail to adapt their discourse and to raise above their historical connotations, as has happened in Spain. Therefore, he said that at the European elections "the Spanish extreme right will get nothing".
French MEP Constance Le Grip (EPP) said it was "obvious" that the far-right parties would get more seats in the European Parliament and that to counter this, the pro-European parties should develop a constructive political message and "talk to the consciousness of the citizens". In any case, she said she did not fear blocks in the institutions' processes or an election outcome that was destructive or paralyzed the EU body.
Group call for Scottish referees to abandon games hit extreme cases of racism
Show Racism the Red Card made the call after East Stirling youngster Jordan Tapping became the victim of hateful chanting during last weekend's match at Peterhead.
7/3/2014- Campaign group Show Racism the Red Card are urging Scotland’s referees to abandon games in extreme cases of racial abuse. The call came after East Stirling chairman Tony Ford said he’d ordered his side to walk off the pitch if there’s any repeat of the scenes that shamed last weekend’s match at Peterhead. Shire youngster Jordan Tapping, 17, was the victim of hateful chanting from Blue Toon fan Donnie Fraser who was ordered to pay £300 compensation to the defender and banned from matches for 12 months. Vicki Burns of Show Racism the Red Card said: “We suggest Scottish football looks towards the UEFA guidelines. This gives referees a clear set of procedures when racist behaviour arises. In the last instance they can choose to abandon the game.” Ford has given his players full backing if they opt to stop the game over any similar abuse. He said: “I’ve told our captain Chris Townsley if there’s ever another incident like that he’s to tell the referee he’s taking our players off the park regardless of where and who we’re playing. “That may leave us open to criticism by footballing authorities but that is the approach we shall follow.”
© The Daily Record
Halal meat debate risks provoking Islamophobia, says Bristol butcher (UK)
7/3/2014- A butcher whose business specialises in halal meat – that slaughtered according to Islamic law – has said he fears debate over the process could provoke Islamophobia. Islamic law requires animals to have their throat slit while their heart is beating, a practice which John Blackwell, president of the British Veterinary Association, says causes unnecessary suffering. But Abdul Malik, who supplies much of the South West from his Bristol-based Pak Butchers defended halal methods, saying the focus should instead be on battery farming, husbandry and standards under which imported meat has been produced. The RSCPA has been calling for animals served as halal and kosher – that suitable for Jewish consumption – to be stunned before slaughter for a number of years.
Mr Malik said: “I feel it is my basic right to have food suitable to my dietary requirements as a Muslim. This debate is around the stunning element of slaughter. The basic requirement according to Islam and sharia compliance is that the animal is not dead at the point of slaughter, so that all the blood is drained from the body as the heart is still beating. “When the animal is stunned it is not always possible to tell that the animal is still alive at the time of knife contact, and this is the fundamental point. “I would rather have no doubt that the animal has been slaughtered correctly and lawfully and that a product is halal.”
Methods used in non-religious abattoirs include electric shocks and drowning. A debate continues over whether stunning an animal before its throat is slit causes more or less pain that other methods. Mr Blackwell said that if a ban on slaughtering concious animals couldn’t happen, all meat products in supermarkets should be labelled, so the public are aware of how their meat has been killed. But Mr Malik said there was a huge demand in Bristol for halal meat, and a blanket UK ban on the practice would be inappropriate. He said: “There is scientific evidence of the advantages of this method of slaughter compared to the stunning method. “Other animal welfare points must be raised before we talk about the practice of halal and kosher.
“Muslim people deserve to have halal meat available to them. This debate feels like double standards are being created, and they could fuel religious hatred and Islamophobia. “There is so much confusion surrounding this issue, and people are quick to jump on the bandwagon.” Mr Blackwell maintained that the discussion was not about religious faith, but prioritising animal welfare.
© The Western Daily Press
Hidden cameras show repeated racist abuse (UK)
6/3/2014- The Community Security Trust has condemned the “totally unacceptable level of antisemitic abuse” revealed by a Channel Four documentary into racism and homophobia in professional football this week. The documentary Hate on the Terraces, broadcast on Monday as part of the popular Dispatches series, showed secretly-filmed footage of supporters directing antisemitic chants against Tottenham Hotspur fans in and outside football stadiums. In one Premier League in October, West Ham United fans were filmed mocking Jews for having “big noses” and singing: “I’ve got a foreskin, f****** Jew”. In a second game against Spurs — a club known for having a large Jewish following — West Ham supporters are caught on film chanting taunts such as “Hitler is coming for you” and “I’d rather be a P*ki than a Jew”. At another game in September, Chelsea supporters were filmed making loud hissing noises, to sound like gas chambers during the Holocaust.
Piara Powar, a member of the anti-discrimination taskforce at world football body FIFA, told the programme he believed that Premier and Football League clubs with a “significant voice” within the Football Association might be preventing the FA from imposing punishments on fans who are repeatedly racist. The documentary also showed that in a number of cases of Islamophobia and homophobia by supporters, the abuse took place directly in front of stewards and police officers who did not act or report the incidents. Mark Gardner, communications director of CST, said: “Those who regularly attend matches may not have been surprised by what the programme revealed, namely a totally unacceptable level of antisemitic abuse, especially from London rivals of Spurs. The problem has to be treated with the same seriousness as other forms of race hatred.”
© The Jewish Chronicle
UK police face fresh probe over racist murder of Stephen Lawrence
Two decades after the racist murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence shook Britain, the government on Thursday ordered a second major inquiry into the role of the police following "profoundly shocking" new revelations.
6/3/2014- The Macpherson inquiry in 1999 found the police investigation into Lawrence's murder six years earlier was seriously flawed and marred by "institutional racism", a finding viewed as a watershed moment in British race relations. But a fresh review has now revealed further concerns about the police's actions, namely their use of undercover officers to spy on the Lawrence family as they campaigned for justice. It found that London's Metropolitan Police had an agent working close to the Lawrence family who passed information to the officers compiling the police submission to the Macpherson inquiry. The government-commissioned review by leading lawyer Mark Ellison also found evidence to suggest that one of the officers involved in investigating Lawrence's murder was corrupt. However, Ellison said he was unable to confirm or deny claims made by one undercover policeman that he had been tasked to find intelligence to "smear" the Lawrence family after the murder.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Home Secretary Theresa May said the findings were "profoundly shocking" and announced a judge-led public inquiry into the work of undercover police. "Stephen Lawrence was murdered over 20 years ago and it is deplorable that his family have had to wait so many years for the truth to emerge. Indeed, it is still emerging," she told lawmakers. "Understandably many of us thought that the Macpherson Inquiry had answered all the questions surrounding the investigation into Stephen's death. "But the findings I have set out today are profoundly disturbing....We must act now to redress these wrongs." Lawrence's father Neville said the findings were "21 years overdue", but he said he was not sure he could sit through another inquiry into his son's death. "It is very painful. While all this has been happening, our family has been destroyed," he said, referring to his split from Lawrence's mother, Doreen, and his move to Jamaica.
The teenager was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths at a London bus stop on April 22, 1993. Five suspects were arrested within days, but state prosecutors concluded that there was insufficient evidence to progress with murder charges for any of them. Two of the men, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were finally convicted in January 2012 on the basis of new forensic evidence and sent to jail for a minimum of 15 and 14 years respectively.
Probe into far-right leaflets in Blackburn (UK)
5/3/2014- An investigation has been launched after leaflets created by a far-right group were delivered in Blackburn. Members of Britain First handed out the literature in the Shear Brow and Audley Range areas of Blackburn on Saturday. Paul Golding, chairman of the group, said the leaflets addressed the issue of child sexual exploitation. A video was also posted online of some of the activity. A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the video and the literature which has been distributed, and we are in the process of looking at them to see if any offences have been committed.”
© This is Lancashire
Neo-Nazi sixth former 'plotted new Columbine massacre in Loughborough' (UK)
Michael Piggin, 18, compiled a list of six potential targets including his school in Loughborough and the town's university, council offices, mosque and cinema, court hears
4/3/2014- A Neo Nazi sixth former plotted a Columbine-style massacre against fellow pupils and teachers, a court heard. Michael Piggin, 18, compiled a list of six potential targets including his school in Loughborough and the town's university, council offices, mosque and cinema. The teenager, who plotted the attack when he was a schoolboy, also had a "hit list" of pupils and teachers he wished to eliminate at his school in Loughborough. He was arrested in February 2013 when he was 17 - and anti-terror detectives believe they thwarted his planned operation to carry out mass murder inspired by the infamous Columbine massacre. Entering his bedroom police discovered an arsenal of bombs and weapons which included partially assembled petrol bombs, pipe bombs and IEDs, pyrotechnic fuse cords. There was also a stab proof vest, a gas mask, three air rifles, two blank firing pistols, three ball bearing guns, a cross bow and a military belt and the "Mujahideen Poisons Handbook".
Also found was a Che Guevara notebook decorated with a Nazi swastika and SS runes in which he ranted and wrote "EDL no surrender British and proud" on its cover. In it he detailed how he would dress in a trench coat with concealed weapons - like the Columbine killers - noting to himself that he should "put knife in boot." He also drew pictures of the notorious Batman villain 'The Joker' and quoting from the Batman film The Dark Knight, he ominously wrote "introduce anarchy, upset the established order and everything causes chaos. "I'm an agent of chaos and you know a good thing about chaos - it's fair." A self-proclaimed member of the English Defence League, he wrote rambling notes about the need for "Britain and Europe to rise up and fight" against Islam and warned "when order fails violence prevails". And in a chilling dictaphone message played to the court, he spoke in a haunting, impassioned voice about the need "to hit back at the scum, the powerful".
He said he hoped his 'Operation' will "inspire the intelligent people to start some sort of revolution against the current system". He adds: "People are living in a world of delusion. I'm ready to die for my cause." He also said: "How the f*** could anyone treat a fellow person like people's[sic] treated me. That's a question you want to be asking, that's what drives people to do this. "Look at all the f****** things in the past. Columbine, Virginia Tech, numbers of others. All because of bullying and how people are treated." The Old Bailey heard that two of the teenager's friends, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have earlier pleaded guilty to possessing either petrol bombs or pipe bombs. But Piggin, who has Asperger's Syndrome, was set apart from his friends and driven by a paranoia of "Islamic invasion of Europe." Prosecutor Max Hill QC warned the jury the teenager's plot and his haul of weaponry was not "child's play" but a deadly threat. He said: "For an average young man in an average house in Loughborough or any town you care to name in England and Wales, you may think that is a startling. "That is what this case is about.
"The final item is a note book containing information about the planning of attacks and study of explosive devices. "It is what you will come to know in this trial as the Che Guevara notebook. It is a notebook with a picture of Guevara on the front." He said Piggin scrawled on the notebook the ominous phrase "The New Columbine" - referring to the notorious American high school massacre. Mr Hill said Piggin was a "would-be terrorist" intent on carrying out a copycat killing in Britain but "happily stopped by police before he could go any further". He said: "Columbine the high school in Colorado USA was the scene of an infamous mass shooting in 1999, 15 years ago now. "That was a mass shooting in which staff and students perpetrated by two students of that high school whose names were Harris and Klebold. "That's something that you'll want to assess in this case given that this defendant, not in Colorado USA but in Loughborough England, was writing the 'new Columbine' in his notebook. "Klebold and Harris, the mass killers in Columbine, were aged 17 and 19 at the time of those atrocities. What you have in this case is a 17-year-old.
"In light of the physical records, bombs and records he assembled, and in light of what he wrote in his notebook, was Michael Piggin arrested before he could pursue to its end, to its conclusion? "A plan, an intention - intent to terrorise staff at his former school against whom he bore a grudge, or to target other institutions." The court heard that Piggin had a hit list in his notebook of public buildings and individuals he planned to target. This included Loughborough University, Loughborough council buildings, the local cinema and mosque, and a string of named individuals - including his two friends who earlier pleaded guilty to possessing bombs. Mr Hill told jurors: "Is this all child's play? Is it harmless self obsession? Or is it something more sinister?" Piggin denies possessing items for terrorism and possessing a terror manual the "Mujahideen Poisons Handbook" but admitted possession of petrol and pipe bombs and components of IEDs. Mr Hill said Piggin's Asperger's condition "does not undermine his capacity and ability to commit the offences alleged". Wearing an Arctic Monkeys t-shirt and glasses, Piggin - who at one point was shaking in the dock - was assisted in the dock by an intermediary to help him follow proceedings. The judge told jurors Piggin's Asperger's syndrome could affect his behaviour in dock. The case continues.
© The Telegraph
Ukip is now a racist party (UK, opinion)
By Dan Hodges
3/3/2014- About a year ago I was having a chat with a friend of mine called Nick Lowles. Nick is the director of an organisation called Hope Not Hate, which campaigns against political extremism. I used to provide media advice for HnH, and Nick wanted to sound me out about Ukip. He was becoming increasingly concerned about where the party was positioning itself. His members had forwarded him some campaign literature being distributed by local Ukip candidates, and to his eyes it wasn’t all that dissimilar to the sort of literature produced by the BNP. He’d also become aware of the increasingly strident language Nigel Farage was using around the issue of immigration. “I think we’re going to have to start challenging this,” he told me. My response was succinct. “You can’t do that. Nigel Farage isn’t Nick Griffin, and Ukip isn’t the BNP. They have some strange views, but it's not a racist or even an extremist party.”
As I say, that conversation was a year ago. Over the weekend I’ve been looking at the reports emerging from Ukip’s national spring conference. And it’s clear I was wrong. Ukip is now a racist and extremist party. At the end of the party’s spring conference the delegates assembled for their gala dinner, where they were entertained by a comedian called Paul Eastwood. Milking what the Telegraph’s Steve Swinford described as “rapturous applause”, Eastwood told the following jokes. Referring to the Olympics, Eastwood said: “Poland did well. They took home bronze, silver, gold, lead, copper – anything they could get their hands on.” “Team Somalia – they did well, didn’t they? They had to apologise. Didn’t realise sailing and shooting were two different events.” Implying the Midlands was mostly populated by Asian people he said: “Any Midlands people here? Wonderful! My favourite accent is a Midlands accent.” The comedian then tried to do an Asian accent and branded the Islamic call to prayer a “traditional Midlands folk song”.
That is the definition of racist humour. A white man standing up getting laughs as he makes derogatory jokes in a fake Asian accent. It’s the comedy of “Mind Your Language”. And the Ukip delegates loved it. Any mainstream party leader would immediately disown such comments. Given the opportunity to do so Nigel Farage, pointedly, chose to defend them. "I'm not going to comment on individual jokes, but I think we're in huge danger here. This was a guy telling jokes about national stereotypes, not racial stereotypes.” That response was instructive. Not because of what it says about the Ukip leader’s sense of humour, but because it goes to the heart of his party’s entire political strategy. Over the past year Ukip has gone beyond raising general concerns about immigration to directly targeting and stigmatising individual national groups. Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians and Albanians are amongst the favourite targets. And, as Nigel Farage said at the weekend, he believes that’s fine because they represent national, not racial stereotypes. But of course it isn’t fine. As Farage, in a separate context, has himself acknowledged.
Last May Farage visited Edinburgh, where he was met by a small but aggressive mob of protesters. Eventually he had to be escorted from the scene by police for his own safety. Directly accusing the SNP of being behind the protest, Farage described the protesters as “racist Nazi scum”. The incident was, he said, “deeply racist and displayed a total hatred of the English”. And he’s right. He wasn’t targeted on the basis of his race, but on the basis of his nationality. And as he said, that was racist. In the same way that when Ukip targets people on the basis of their nationality that’s racist as well. I’m not sure what’s happened to Nigel Farage over the past couple of years. As I rightly told Nick Lowles, he’s not Nick Griffin. When he first appeared on the British political scene he was an eccentric but refreshing voice. Indeed one of his attractions was the way he was able to tap into the electorate’s mounting frustration at the political classes without having to resort to Griffin’s lazy bigotry. People who know him well – even those who don’t support his agenda – invariably paint a picture of a warm, engaging and thoughtful man.
But that man is no longer on public display. In a question-and-answer session with journalists at the weekend he told a bizarre story. “It was rush hour, from Charing Cross, it was the stopper going out. We stopped at London Bridge, New Cross, Hither Green. It wasn’t until after we got past Grove Park that I could actually hear English being audibly spoken in the carriage. Does that make me feel slightly awkward? Yes. I wonder what’s really going on. And I’m sure that’s a view that will be reflected by three quarters of the population, perhaps even more.” I get that line back home to Lewisham. Nigel Farage’s tale is rubbish. There is no rush hour train from Charing Cross or any other London station that an English speaker would board and find themselves in a minority, or anything close to it. So why did he tell the story? He told the story because the politics of division and subtle – and not-so-subtle – prejudice is now Ukip’s politics. There was a time when the party targeted elites and institutions. The European Parliament, the Commission, the Council of Ministers. Maybe the hapless Herman van Rompuy.
Now they target individuals. The person Nigel Farage sits next to on the 18.03 to Hither Green. And the strategy may well work. It may find some resonance amongst people who feel immigration is too high. That their communities are being changed beyond recognition. That the traditional political parties are deaf to their concerns. But we also need to be honest about what that strategy is. There is no longer any point in attempting to deconstruct Ukip in a vain effort to legitimise them. The laughter at Paul Eastwood’s jokes was genuine. Its slogan “Love Britain, Vote Ukip” was not appropriated from the BNP by accident. Nigel Farage’s ludicrous tale about the silence of the English north of Grove Park was deployed for a purpose. Nick Lowles was right and I was wrong. Ukip is now an overtly racist and extremist party. And the time has come to challenge them over it.
© The Telegraph - Blogs
Ukip says it's not a racist party. So why is it channelling the ghost of Bernard Manning? (UK, opinion)
By Damian Thompson
3/3/2014- I've just got off a plane from the States – where my luggage still is, thank you, American Airlines – and caught up with the latest accusations of Ukip "racism": that is, the furore over the after-dinner speaker who told the sort of jokes about foreigners that were embarrassing even in the 1970s. (Anyone remember the sitcom Mind Your Language?) Dan Hodges reckons Ukip has become a racist party. I disagree. For the time being. I know Nigel Farage; he's not a racist. And I don't believe that his advisers are racists, or most of his activists. I've seen no evidence that Ukip candidates run the sort of sotto voce race-baiting campaigns that the mainstream parties dabbled in until the 1980s (though, who knows, perhaps something will come to light: CCHQ has a file on this topic). But Ukip's new focus on immigration is a dangerous one. While Farage is clear in his own mind where the boundary lies between legitimate concerns and racism, he seems unaware (or not to care) that the ears of younger, more liberal voters are picking up a dog whistle. For example:
“The question here, it isn’t just about money, it isn’t about GDP; I think it’s about community, it’s a sense of who we are as a people and what we belong to." Farage said this in the course of an interview in which he deplored the effect of uncontrolled immigration on the job market. Fair enough. But expressing fears about "who were are as a people"? Doesn't he realise how easily that remark can be reinterpreted? Many people who don't like blacks or Asians will hear it and think: "Ukip's the party for me". I can't understand why Farage is so laid back about the damage to his party's image. What the hell was Ukip doing, booking some moron to make jokes about foreigners and Muslims at a gala dinner? And why did it defend that woman activist who was filmed saying she'd like to "send the lot back"? I admire Farage for refusing to have anything to do with the Marine Le Pen's Front National – anti-Semitism is in its DNA, he says, and he's right. But his determination not to give in to "political correctness" is leading him astray. The rhetoric and ideology of PC is indeed ghastly. But I've never met a British racist who didn't justify his or her attitudes by invoking "political correctness gone mad" or some such formula.
Ukip is convincing when it argues that it's anti-EU but not anti-Europe; the hijacking of Continental culture by a dirigiste, neo-imperialist elite is a historic tragedy. But it's less convincing when it argues that it's anti-immigration but not anti-immigrant. At the moment Ukip is looking like a party that's channelling the ghost of Bernard Manning, whose grotesque stand-up routine I once saw live in his Manchester nightclub. Just imagine if Bernard were still with us; I suspect that's one celebrity endorsement Nigel would have in the bag.
© The Telegraph - Blogs
FA urges social media to combat racist abuse of black footballers online (UK)
Growing concern over the widespread racist abuse of black footballers online has prompted the Football Association to call on social media networks to up their game and do more to tackle the problem.
2/3/2014- This comes on the eve of a documentary being broadcast on Channel 4 on Monday night which reveals how racism and homophobia persist in top flight football despite years of campaigning to try and clean up the game. Last year the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, backed by the Football Association, promised to tackle “..all forms of abuse in football, be it in the stands, or on our computer screens.” Yet an undercover investigation for the C4 Dispatches Hate on the Terraces documentary highlights how even after this pledge, racist and homophobic chanting continues in the grounds of some of the biggest clubs across the country. In one incident fans shouting deeply offensive racist abuse in front of police officers escaped unpunished. And the problem is not just physical. Racist abuse is posted on fan forums linked to the official websites of clubs such as Manchester United and Everton, on YouTube videos and social networks such as Twitter. At least 40 per cent of the 150 black players in the Premiership have suffered racist comments over the last two years.
Chelsea defender Ashley Cole, Tottenham striker Adebayor, Liverpool defender Glen Johnson and Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are among those who have been targeted. Another, former Premiership striker Jason Roberts, who played for Blackburn, Wigan, and West Bromwich Albion, said: “I’m on Twitter myself and some of the abuse that I get is horrific really. You can’t believe that people feel that way but actually will take the step to go and sit in front of a computer and type it and send it.” He described the type of comments he has been sent: “Black this, black that, slavery, your family, you know, I hope you die and the N word used everywhere. Again it’s one of those things you learn to try to deal with it. So you hope that the authorities will take action and there will be arrests made and people will be made examples of.” Darren Bailey, the FA's director of governance and regulation, commented: “Clearly abuse on social media is something we're mindful of. We have collaborated with the DPP on social media guidelines. But I think in this space, Twitter itself, and other forms of social media, could be doing more.” He added: “Social media has brought many positives to the game, but has also unleashed unintended consequences. We would welcome and support more robust interventions which help counter discrimination.”
The level of online abuse is getting worse, with a 43 per cent increase in reports of discriminatory remarks being posted on social media in the last year, according to Kick It Out. And former striker turned pundit Stan Collymore deactivated his Twitter account earlier this year, in response to repeated racist abuse. Dealing with the problem is difficult, according to senior police officers. Andy Holt, deputy chief constable, South Yorkshire Police, and the lead on football policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, admitted it’s not easy to bring people to justice. “If they are making comments, hosted through an internet provider that’s based in China or the Far East or whatever, tracking them down with the cooperation of some of those, is actually sometimes quite difficult.” It is “quite a substantial problem” and “policing the internet presents its challenges,” he added.
© The Independent
France - French National Front ally would 'concentrate' Gypsies in 'camps'
A far-right mayoral candidate of Paris’s upmarket 6th arrondissement has apologised after writing on his blog that Roma (Gypsies) should be “concentrated” in “camps”.
4/3/2014- Paul-Marie Coûteaux, a candidate for a fringe party linked to France’s anti-Europe and anti-immigration National Front (FN) party, likened the presence of Roma in Paris as an “invasion of lepers” that undermined the “aesthetic order” of the city. “What can the interior minister do other than concentrate these foreign populations into camps where they would no doubt feel that life there was so far removed from their traveling lifestyle that they would rather leave such an inhospitable country,” he wrote in the February 19 blog post. On Monday, French rights group SOS Racisme said it planned to start legal proceedings against Coûteaux “in the coming days” for his “disgusting” and “anti-republican” statements. And on Tuesday, Coûteaux appeared to backtrack. In an interview with Metronews.fr, the former MEP and head of the CIEL (Sovereignty, Independence and Freedom) party which is allied to the FN insisted that his words had been misunderstood.
“If by using the word ‘camps’ people misinterpreted what I wrote then I am sorry,” he said. “I am a Catholic and a Gaullist … how could I possibly demand the creation of concentration camps in 2014?” In the interview Côuteaux put forward two possible “solutions to deal with the Roma question”. The first would be to “put these people in administrative detention centres” that are currently used to house illegal immigrants. But he added: “I visited one of these centres while I was an MEP. It was awful, inhuman.” Another “more rational, humane and reasonable” solution, he said, would be to “suspend the Schengen treaty” that allows for free movement across the European Union (most European Gypsies come from EU member states Romania and Bulgaria). In an interview with French daily Le Parisien, Wallerand de Saint-Just, FN spokesman and candidate to become mayor of Paris in France’s local elections later in March, said it was “not his place” to criticise Côuteaux, even if he would “not have expressed himself in quite the same manner”.
© France 24.
Arab men beat French Jew in Paris train (France)
3/3/2014- Four unidentified Arab men savagely beat a French Jew in a Paris Metro train, a watchdog organization reported. The attack happened Sunday as the train was traveling from Nogent Sur Marne to Gare de Lyon, according to the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA. Two of the attackers held down the 28-year-old victim, who was identified only as A. Levy, while a third strangled him and beat his face, BNVCA said on its website Monday. The report said Levy sustained some injuries but did not specify. His attackers shouted the Arab word for “Jews” before attacking Levy, who is a religious Jew belonging to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, the report said. One of them also told him: “Jew, we are going to lay into you, you have no country,” according to the report.
They stopped assaulting Levy after one of the passengers said loudly that the police were coming, according to BNVCA. The suspected attackers got off the Metro at the Chatelet-les Halles station in the heart of the French capital. Levy stayed on the train and filed a police complaint for aggravated assault at Gare de Lyon, the report said. On Sunday, the SPCJ monitor unit of the French Jewish community reported in its annual summary that it had recorded 423 anti-Semitic incidents in France during 2013. The figure constitutes a 31-percent decrease over the previous year, but is still eight percent higher than in 2011.
© JTA News
The indelible stain of hate (Poland)
By Donald Snyder
6/3/2014- A majority of respondents in a recent Polish national survey believe there’s a Jewish conspiracy to control international banking and the media. Yet, 90 percent of Poles say they’ve never met a Jew. The study, recently published as a report titled “Attitudes Toward Jews in Poland,” was conducted by the Center for Research on Prejudice at Warsaw University and compares anti-Semitism in 2009 and 2013. Its findings were presented to the Polish Sejm, or parliament, on Jan. 9 by Michal Bilewicz, the center’s director. Bilewicz, an assistant professor on the faculty of psychology at the University of Warsaw, is co-author of the report. Belief in a Jewish conspiracy flourished in Poland between the two world wars, spearheaded by ultra-nationalists. In the 1930s, Jewish students and intellectuals were beaten. Stores owned by Jews were vandalized. Government legislation restricted Jewish access to universities and some professions. Jewish students were segregated at Warsaw University.
One finding is that the belief in a Jewish conspiracy remains high — 63 percent in 2013 — and relatively unchanged from 2009 when 65 percent of respondents held this belief. The study also found an increase in more traditional forms of anti-Semitism, such as blaming Jews for the murder of Jesus Christ and the belief that Christian blood is used in Jewish rituals. Belief in these ideas increased from 15 percent in 2009 to 23 percent in 2013. Poland’s archly conservative Roman Catholic church has historically been blamed for generating this traditional form of anti-Semitism. Bilewicz’s study, however, finds that anti-Semitism is equally common among believers and those who are not religious. Church attendance has declined slightly between 2009 and 2013.
Others, like cultural anthropologist Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, believe the Catholic church continues to breed anti-Semitism. Tokarska-Bakir, a professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences, has been investigating the persistence of blood libel beliefs. Hard core anti-Semites believe Jews kidnap Christian children to use their blood for rituals. She said in an email that the blood libel remains an important element of the region’s anti-Semitism. It’s also her contention that since the re-introduction of Catholic religious classes in the nation’s public schools with the fall of Communism in 1989, students are exposed to lessons that are permeated with anti-Semitism.
Rafal Pankowski, who teaches political science at the Collegium Civitas, a private college in Warsaw, charges that Radio Maryja, a far-right Catholic movement, is “the single most important voice in the Roman Catholic church. “Radio Maryja openly agitates against the allegedly corrupting influence of western Europe and the subversive role of Jews and Freemasons. Pankowski added, “The majority of the Polish bishops today are supporting Radio Maryja.” In an email, Bilewicz said that most members of the Polish parliament praised the study and many suggested education measures to fight prejudice. The only skeptical voice, he said, was that of Dorota Arciszewska-Mielewczyk, a center-right Law and Justice Party member, who “suggested that Polish Jews are represented by the Knesset rather than the Polish parliament.”
In a phone interview, Arciszewska-Mielewczyk told NCR through an interpreter, that her remarks were taken out of context. She said she had expressed her hope that representatives from the Knesset would come to Poland and join the campaign to stop calling the Nazi camps in Poland "Polish concentration camps.” She said that a Jewish group that was present when the center’s report was delivered had a "negative and allergic reaction" and claimed “they had nothing to do with the Knesset." She said she then asked for clarifications about the Knesset as representing the Jewish nation in the world. Her remarks about the Knesset reveal a belief that the Israeli national legislature represents all Jews in the world. And her comments about “Polish death camps,” according to Bilewicz, were similar to those of right wing politicians who “share an obsession about the innocent character of the Polish nation” during the Holocaust.
Another of the study’s findings is that the Lublin and Lodz provinces in southeastern Poland are the most anti-Semitic regions of the country. This is where the largest Jewish communities existed before the war, and where the ruins of many synagogues still stand. But today there are no Jews left. “It’s worse there than in the western parts of Poland,” Bilewicz told me in a telephone interview. He said hundreds of cemeteries in the region have been desecrated. According to Bilewicz, the high level of anti-Semitism in this part of Poland explains why the legacy of the former Jewish presence has been so badly neglected. It’s anti-Semitism without Jews. “We know that it is based on a very deep anti-Semitism that is so embedded in people’s minds that they don’t consider it problematic,” he said. Before the Holocaust there were 3.2 million Jews in Poland, compared with an estimated 10,000 Jews today.
“Many anti-Semites hate Jews whether they are here or not,” said Zusanna Radzik, a devout Catholic who supervises the School of Dialogue, a program intended to recapture the lost history of the Jewish presence in Poland. According to Radzik, the biggest news in the center’s survey was the increase in traditional anti-Semitism. She believes it’s always existed, but that Poles now feel more comfortable expressing it. Despite these high levels of anti-Semitism, there are signs of hope. The official opening of the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews is scheduled for October this year. The City of Warsaw and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage financed its construction. The museum’s exhibits show the Jewish contributions to Polish life during the more than 1,000 years that Jews have lived in Poland. Workshops for students are already under way.
Radzik’s School of Dialogue also seeks to recover Poland’s Jewish past. It deploys educators throughout Poland to make students aware of the places in their towns where Jews once lived and worked and where there were synagogues and mikvehs. The school also teaches young Poles about Judaism. The school operates under the auspices of the Forum for Dialogue Among Nations, a Polish non-profit organization that fights anti-Semitism and works to foster better relations between Poles and Jews. The opening of a new Jewish Community Center in Warsaw last October was another step toward the revival of Jewish life in Poland.
Donald Snyder is a freelance writer who worked at NBC for 27 years as a news producer. He retired from the network in 2003.
© The National Catholic Reporter
Poland launches anti-racism website
1/3/2014- A website with advice to foreign racism victims in Poland went live on Friday and is part of a new government campaign against racism. Besides a Polish version, the www.reportracism.pl site is available in English, Russian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Arabic, French, Armenian, Chinese and Turkish. Interior Ministry spokesperson Pawel Majcher explained that the website advises racism victims on institutional steps and informs about the appropriate bodies which they can turn to with their cases. Leaflets about the campaign will be available in Police stations, universities and government offices. From March, a related video spot will be aired in the Warsaw underground and public transport vehicles in Lublin, Szczecin, Krakow, Bialystok and Lodz. The campaign, which will last until June 30, is cofinanced from EU funds. According to the Polish General prosecution, the number of racism cases has been on the rise since 2009 but the detection rate is going down from year to year.
© The Shanghai Daily
Headlines 28 February, 2014
Spain: Attack of the headquarters of “SOS Racismo Madrid”
28/2/2014- The Observatory has been informed about the attack of the headquarters of “SOS Racismo Madrid”, a human rights organisation which fights against racism and xenophobia since 1992. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Spain.
Description of the situation:
According to the information received, on February 21, 2014 at around 5 a.m., a group of supporters of the extreme right-wing party “Democracia Nacional” (DN) attacked the premises of SOS Racismo Madrid, in the Lavapiés district of the Spanish capital. Members of DN placed a large banner with hung puppets on the front of the building, containing xenophobic catchwords such as “Stop the invasion!” and blaming the human rights organisation for its “anti-spanish” activities of “denouncing those who protect [spanish] borders”. They also threw firecrackers into the offices of SOS Racismo, attracting the attention of the neighbours who called the police. The nationalist party openly claimed having initiated this action, placed its logo on the banners that were hung on the facade of SOS Racismo Madrid, and posted pictures of the action on its public Facebook page. DN further decided to organise a protest on March 8, 2014 in the same neighbourhood of Lavapiés, with the slogan “Stop the invasion! We have to protect our borders”.
SOS Racismo has strongly denounced this attack as an unacceptable threat against its human rights activities and filed a complaint against the DN, which led to the opening of an investigation by the police. In addition, representatives of SOS Racismo requested an interview with the Prosecutor specialised in hate crimes and discrimination. The Observatory firmly condemns this attack against the headquarters of SOS Racismo, which represents a clear threat against the human rights activities of the NGO, and more generally an infringement against freedom of expression and the fight against racism and xenophobia in Spain.
Please write to the Spanish authorities, urging them to:
1. Take all necessary measures to guarantee in all circumstances the protection of the human rights organisation SOS Racismo Madrid, its members and all human rights defenders in Spain, from any attack or threat;
2. Conduct a proper, thorough, and timely investigation about the attack committed against the headquarters of SOS Racismo Madrid in order to identify all those responsible and sanction them according to law;
3. React promptly to all racist and xenophobic actions undertaken by extremists movements and their supporters in Spain;
4. Take all necessary measures to protect all human rights defenders in Spain from any kind of harassment, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrances;
v. More generally, conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
+ its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
+ and its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
6 Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Spain.
Head of the Royal House, Mr. Rafael SPOTTORNO DIAZ-CAR Casa de su Majestad el Rey, Palacio de La Zarzuela, Carretera del Pardo s/n, 28071 Madrid, España, Tel: +34 91 599 24 24
President of the Government, Mr. Mariano RAJOY BREY, Complejo de la Moncloa, Avda. Puerta de Hierro, s/n. 28071 Madrid, España
First Vice-President, Minister of the Presidency and Spokeman of the Government, Mme Soraya SAENZ de SANTAMARIA, Complejo de la Moncloa, Avda. Puerta de Hierro, s/n. 28071 Madrid, España
Minister of Interior, Mr. Jorge Fernández DIAZ, Calle Amador de los Ríos, 7, 28010 Madrid, España: Tel: +34 060
Minister of Justice, M. Alberto RUIZ-GALLARDO, San Bernardo, 45, 28071 Madrid, España, Tel: + 34 902 007 214/+34 91 837 22 9
Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Cooperation, Mr. José Manuel GARCIA MARGALLO, Sede Palacio de Santa Cruz, Plaza de la Provincia, 1, 28012 Madrid, España, Tel: + 34 91 379 97 00
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Spain in your respective country.
USA Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013
28/2/2014- As we mark the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices highlight the continued pursuit of “free and equal dignity in human rights” in every corner of the world. Based on factual reporting from our embassies and posts abroad, these Congressionally mandated reports chronicle human rights conditions in almost 200 countries and territories. The reports draw attention to the growing challenges facing individuals and organizations as governments around the world fall short of their obligation to uphold universal human rights.
I have seen firsthand how these reports are used by a wide range of actors – by Congress in its decision-making processes surrounding foreign security sector assistance and economic aid; by the Department of State and other U.S. government agencies in shaping American foreign policy; and by U.S. citizens, international nongovernmental organizations, foreign governments, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, scholars, and others who are committed to advancing human dignity.
Governments that protect human rights and are accountable to their citizens are more secure, bolster international peace and security, and enjoy shared prosperity with stable democratic countries around the world. Countries that fail to uphold human rights can face economic deprivation and international isolation. Despite that simple truth, these reports show that too many governments continue to tighten their grasp on free expression, association, and assembly, using increasingly repressive laws, politically motivated prosecutions and even new technologies to deny citizens their universal human rights, in the public square, and in virtual space.
This is evident in our report on Syria, where the government has committed egregious human rights violations in an ongoing conflict that has claimed more than 100,000 lives, displaced millions, and created an opening for violent extremists that continues to endanger regional stability and our own national security. As President Obama has said, “Strong nations recognize the value of active citizens. They support and empower their citizens rather than stand in their way, even when it is inconvenient – or perhaps especially when it is inconvenient – for government leaders.”
Unfortunately, these reports describe new and existing legislative restrictions, in countries such as Russia, that continue to curb civil society and political opposition and target marginalized populations, including religious and ethnic minorities, and the LGBT community. In countries such as China, a lack of judicial independence has fueled a state-directed crackdown on activists and suppression of political dissent and public advocacy. In Ukraine, the prior government increased pressure on civil society, journalists, and protesters calling for government accountability and a future with Europe, but as we all just saw Ukrainians demonstrated once again the power of people to determine how they are governed.
The reports also cover setbacks to freedom of assembly around the world, from Cuba to Egypt, where governments used excessive force to quell peaceful protests and dissent. Governments that commit human rights abuses and fail to hold perpetrators accountable are not only acting against their best interest, but against our own. In countries where human rights are denied, violent extremism and transnational crime take root, contributing to instability, insecurity, and economic deprivation.
In South Sudan, a new democracy struggles to turn the page on decades of armed conflict and human suffering. Conflict fueled by political competition and interethnic violence threatens to derail the country’s fragile gains since independence. Gross human rights violations committed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army as well as by anti-government forces jeopardize regional security as well as the democratic future of the world’s youngest country.
As Secretary of State, I meet with many brave individuals who risk their lives daily to advance human rights, in spite of the threat of violence and government attempts to silence their voice. These reports and the abuses they describe signal to the human rights defenders and activists under siege that the U.S. government recognizes their struggle and stands with civil society.
We at the Department of State will continue to press governments to uphold fundamental freedoms. We remain committed to advocating on behalf of civil society and speaking out for the protection of human rights for all individuals.
I hereby transmit the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 to the United States Congress.
John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
© Human Rights Dept. US State Dept.
US State Department slams Greece on human rights violations
Report details abuse against refugees and discrimination
28/2/2014- The US State Department's annual report on human rights is anything but positive for Greece, with the report making reference to refugee abuse, anti-Semitism and discrimination against Roma gypsies. As daily To Vima online reports, The US State Department is particularly concerned about violent attitudes towards migrants. In the report it is stated that despite the efficient inspections of Greek authorities, there are instances of members from the country's security forces being involved in human rights violations. Among others, the report details refers to the dire living conditions in migrant detention centers and prisons, abuse against refugees, prisoners and demonstrators, as well as the actions of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. Regarding freedom of speech, the report stresses that while it is regulated and legally protected, there have been "exceptions", in reference to race and social distinctions. Other findings include the excessive use of police violence against demonstrators and attacks against journalists. The report cites a number of reports from other international groups, such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch.
US: Roma Marginalization Remains Bulgaria’s Most Pressing Problem
28/2/2014- The marginalization of the Romani minority remains Bulgaria’s most pressing human rights problem, according to the annual US Department of State report on human rights practices. The report has drawn attention to the continued deterioration of Bulgaria’s media environment and increase in media self-censorship due to corporate and political pressure. Corruption continues to be a drag on the government’s capabilities and undermines public and business confidence in the judiciary and other government institutions, the US Department of State continues. Other human rights problems, according to the report, include overcrowding and harsh conditions in prisons and detention facilities.
“There were also long delays in the judicial system; reports of abuse of wiretapping; religious discrimination and harassment; harsh conditions in refugee centers; violence and discrimination against women; violence against children; increasing online anti-Semitism; trafficking in persons; discrimination against persons with disabilities; discrimination against members of the Romani and Turkish ethnic minorities; and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons and persons with HIV/AIDS,” the report says. The 2013 annual report has noted that Bulgaria’s government has taken steps to prosecute and punish officials in the security services and elsewhere in the government who committed abuses, however claims that their actions were insufficient, and impunity remained a problem.
The full report can be read here.
Neo-Nazi demonstration attack trial starts (Sweden)
The seven men, three deemed leading neo-Nazis, suspected of being behind the violent attack on peaceful demonstrators in Stockholm faced charges on Friday on the first day of the high-profile and high-security trial.
28/2/2014- Police spokesman Kjell Lindgren said officers knew of no specific threat against the trial, but the twenty some journalists and other members there to observe proceedings had to pass through airport-style security checks to enter the court room at Södertörn District Court, just south of the capital. "Because there was quite a bit of trouble in Kärrtorp, we have to be prepared for the same here too," he said. Seven men are standing trial for their suspected roles in a violent altercation in the Kärrtorp neighbourhood in mid-December. Three are described as key figures in the Swedish Resistance Movement (Svenska motståndsrörelsen). "An authorized demonstration was attacked by around 30 people, who even attacked the police on the scene," Lindgren said after the heavy-handed attack when police and demonstrators forced the neo-Nazis into a nearby patch of forest.
"Two people were injured and taken to hospital and a policeman was also taken to hospital." Between 500 and 800 demonstrators, according to the organizers, had gathered in Stockholm's southern suburb of Kärrtorp to protest against the spread of racism in their neighbourhood. "I was giving a speech when the Nazis came and started throwing bottles and crackers at the families," Students Against Racism member Enzo Nahuel told news agency TT at the time. Witnesses told The Local that the many children at the event had been so startled by fireworks and crackers that they began crying. The original demonstration was organized by the Line 17 Network, an umbrella civic organization that had warned over the increasing presence of Nazi propaganda in the area since last summer. The attack lead to an even bigger anti-racism demonstration, with several key political figures in attendance.
See video of the altercation
© The Local - Sweden
Ahead of Zero Discrimination Day, UN agency appeals for tolerance, dignity for all
27/2/2014- “Zero Discrimination Day,” to be marked on 1 March, is a worldwide call to promote and celebrate everyone’s right to a full life with dignity – no matter what they look like, where they come from or whom they love, declared the United Nations agency leading the world’s HIV/AIDS response, as it kicked off celebrations with a major event in Beijing. With strong calls for tolerance, unity and compassion, Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), launched Zero Discrimination Day at an event supported by the China Red Ribbon Foundation, Hanergy Holding Group, Chinese Government, civil society and celebrities. “The AIDS response itself has taught the world tremendous lessons in tolerance and compassion. We know that both the right to health and the right to dignity belong to everyone,” Mr. Sidibé told participants at the event, which wrapped up with more than 30 business leaders signing a pledge to eliminate discrimination in the workplace. “Working together, we can transform ourselves, our communities and our world to reach zero discrimination,” he added, in remarks that evoked the symbol for the UNAIDS Zero Discrimination campaign – the butterfly – widely recognized as a sign of transformation.
Working with Nobel Peace Prize winner and UNAIDS Global Advocate for Zero Discrimination Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the agency launched the #zerodiscrimination campaign in December 2013 on World AIDS Day. “People who discriminate narrow the world of others as well as their own,” she said. “I believe in a world where everyone can flower and blossom.” Events similar to the Beijing launch are planned in countries around the world for the days leading up to Saturday. Many international celebrities have joined the call for zero discrimination, recording video messages and taking photographs with the butterfly sign. The personalities include UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador Annie Lennox, international football star David Luiz, actress and activist Michelle Yeoh and Princess Stephanie of Monaco. The private sector is also playing an important part in commemorating Zero Discrimination Day in South Africa, where as part of a longstanding partnership with UNAIDS, the Standard Bank is conducting a social media drive around the day. In addition, the almost 3.5 million subscribers of Airtel, the largest mobile telephone service provider in Malawi, will receive a message promoting “zero discrimination” on 1 March.
Elsewhere, in Myanmar, two major football teams in collaboration with the Myanmar National Football League and Federation will make a pledge supporting zero discrimination during a match at the national football stadium in Yangon. In Minsk, Belarus, an interactive dialogue on promoting zero discrimination in the region will take place with young people; participants will include pop singer Teo. A similar event organized by people living with HIV as well as lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people will take place in a central park in the city of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
© UN News Centre
No political fuel for Poland's far-right
By Lukasz Lipinski
27/2/2014- Last year, on Polish Independence Day, 11 November, tens of thousands of people marched through the centre of Warsaw shouting "Pride, national pride" and "Hit the red scum with a hammer and sickle". Young couples with children walked shoulder to shoulder with football hooligans, all wearing red-and-white scarves, the colours of the Polish flag. Soon the families disappeared and the demonstrators clashed with the police. They burnt down the Warsaw Rainbow, an artistic installation meant to symbolise tolerance, as well as a sentry box outside the Russian embassy. A small group raided a squat inhabited by anarchists and beat them up. "We want to gain power so that the Polish nation can survive biologically, demographically, culturally. So that Poles can exist and so that Poles can be Poles," said Robert Winnicki, the leader of far-right National Movement, which organised the march. He openly declares himself homophobic, but shrugs when asked whether he is anti-Semitic: "Everyone is labelled anti-Semite, if he dares to criticize Jews."
The National Movement is co-operating with Hungary's xenophobic party Jobbik, which itself has around 17 percent in the polls. The two parties plan to exchange candidates in the European elections. A Hungarian nationalist is to be included on the National Movement's lists and vice versa. However, Winnicki's movement is not only far from gaining power in Poland, it also lacks any real influence. A recent poll showed it had no support. It is a paradox that leaders who can gather a crowd in Warsaw every November are non-existent in the polls. How is this possible?
Extremists, but no extreme party
In theory, there is a space for extreme movements in Poland, especially on the right. According to sociological research, around 20 percent of Poles hold nationalist views. Moreover, the European elections provide a good opportunity for the emergence of new movements. The turnout is very low (around 20-25%), so 400,000 votes is enough to make the electoral threshold and get into the European Parliament. But the National Movement is not even close to getting that level of support. First of all, far-right voters are not a politically homogeneous group. No more than a small percentage of Poles oppose democracy, dislike the European Union, and accept authoritarian rule and xenophobia – all at the same time. Meanwhile, right-wing voters have a party to vote for in the form of Law and Justice (PiS). This is the party of former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s and of his twin brother, the late Lech Kaczynski, former president of Poland, who died in a plane crash in 2010 in Smolensk.
PiS is on the margins of the European political mainstream, but it is more like the ruling Fidesz party of Hungary's Viktor Orban than Jobbik. It is mildly nationalist and is against the introduction of the euro, but does not openly oppose the EU and cannot be called xenophobic. In the European Parliament, PiS is in the same political family as the British Conservatives. The small remaining right-wing electorate is targeted by other marginal parties, of which the National Movement is just one. The others are Solidarna Polska, the grouping of Zbigniew Ziobro, a former minister of justice in the PiS government, who recently became more radical; and New Right, which represents an exotic mixture of nationalism and economic libertarianism. The rivalry between them is set to lead to further fragmentation on the right.
Support for the nationalists also remains low because they do not have sufficient political fuel. In western Europe, most far-right parties feed on anti-immigration sentiment. In southern Europe, they gained popularity during the financial crisis. In the eastern part of the continent - in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia - they draw on anti-Roma sentiment. These countries have significant Roma minorities - up to 10 percent of the total population. In Poland, however, immigration is very small scale, mainly from Ukraine and other former Soviet Union countries and the popular mood is still supportive towards migrant workers from the east. Meanwhile, the Roma minority is tiny (15,000-60,000 people, according to different estimates); and the economy sailed through the crisis years in relatively good shape. This year, it is expected to grow by 3 percent. The EU remains very popular in Poland with support at over 80 percent among citizens. Moreover, far-right parties lack funds and party structures, as well as recognisable leaders. The November riots have not improved their image either. All these factors mean that they will probably do poorly in the European vote.
Ruling centre-right under threat
Despite the difficulties faced by the nationalists, the European elections in Poland will still be interesting. Prime Minister Donald Tusk's centre-right Civic Platform, which is scoring 20 percent in the polls, could lose to PiS. That would make it the first election it has lost since 2005. Support for Tusk’s party is falling because of rising unemployment, which is currently at 13-14 percent, more than it was in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis. If this negative trend continues in local elections this autumn, it could lead to the Civic Platform losing power after the 2015 parliamentary elections. Recent polls suggest that PiS will be the favourite in May, and could scoop 25 percent of the vote. The party wants to show that it is the "only real alternative" to Tusk in Poland. As there is no clear coalition partner for PiS, Kaczynski's party is hoping to win a majority in parliament in 2015, which would enable it to form a government on its own.
Rebirth of the Polish left
The European elections will also provide an opportunity for the rebirth of the Polish left. After losing the elections 10 years ago amid corruption scandals, the left failed to regain support. Since 2004, left-wing parties have never exceeded 12 percent of the vote, and the political scene has been dominated by centre-right and right-wing parties. On the left of the political spectrum, the European election will be a duel between two parties, each of which currently has around 10-11 percent support. On the one hand there is the SLD (Democratic Left Alliance), led by Leszek Miller, a former prime minister. This is the more leftist party, partly fuelled by nostalgia for the Communist past. On the other hand there is Your Move (Twoj Ruch), led by businessman Janusz Palikot, which targets younger and more liberal voters. If one of these parties loses significantly, it may not survive. But the winner will hold a monopoly on Poland's left for the years ahead. Polish voters will elect 51 MEPs to the 751-strong European Parliament on 25 May.
Lukasz Lipinski is deputy director of Polityka Insight, a Warsaw-based centre for policy analysis, and a journalist at Polityka, a Polish weekly
© The EUobserver
Czech neo-Nazis to hold another demonstration against Roma and the ROMEA organization
26/2/2014- This coming Saturday a march by right-wing radicals is scheduled to begin at 14:00 in the Czech town of Plzeò. A counter-protest by the local initiative Plzeò against Racism (Plzeò proti rasismu) is also scheduled. The Czech News Agency has reported that the local anti-racist group is calling for people to attend the protest gathering, which will take the form of a "happening" and will begin at 13:00 on Husovo Square, immediately adjacent to the neo-Nazi's announced march route. Police are preparing for both events and planning security measures, but for tactical reasons will not be publicizing the number of officers to be deployed - however, it can be presumed there will be hundreds in the streets. "We believe it is not good to let this march happen without a response, because it could then be perceived as something normal in our society," the Plzeò against Racism platform posted to a social networking site. The group is organizing a protest gathering similar to last October's, when several dozen people assembled to demonstrate against another right-wing radical march.
The initiative said it will not place any restrictions on the forms of counter-protest. "We can draw on the sidewalk, play musical instruments, eat, dance, drink, sing, or block the path of the marchers...," the group has written. More than 500 people have confirmed their attendance in the counter-protest through a social networking site. The "happening" has also been supported by an initiative called "We Don't Want Nazis in Plzeò" (V Plzni nácky nechceme). The march by the right-wing radicals is scheduled to last from 14:00 until 17:00. The Czech News Agency reports that a well-informed sources says the person who announced the march to local authorities is Pavel Bittmann of Plzeò; a person of that same name has previously been convicted of promoting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. "We will be personally on the scene to follow what happens. Should the law be broken, we will proceed to disperse the assembly," Jiøí Strobach, the mayor of the city's third municipal department, told the Czech News Agency previously.
Bittman told authorities he estimates the number of participants in his event will be 250. He announced it for the purpose of "upholding the rights of all decent citizens of this country and protesting the financing of the anti-Czech, racist ROMEA civic association by the Government of the Czech Republic." Police say the marchers have announced their route as going from Republika Square down Františkánská and Martinská Streets through Americká and Tylová Streets to Emil Škoda Square. Police spokesperson Ivana Telekešová says the police are preparing for both events and will be deploying members of the Aliens Police, canine units, the criminal investigation services, emergency units, riot units, and traffic police. In the past, hundreds of police have been deployed during similar marches, including a helicopter and heavy technology such as water cannon. No long-term street closures are planned, but parking will be banned in several places. Telekešová says parking will be banned on the Denisovo Embankment, where signs have already been posted, on Tylová Street near the Škoda building, and near the mass transit stops on Emil Škoda Square. Marches by right-wing extremists in Plzeò take place rather frequently; the most recent anti-Romani event occurred last 28 October and was attended by several dozen right-wing radicals only.
Right-wing Movement to Run in Serbian Polls
The Serbian National Movement 1389, one of a plethora of far-right groups in the country, has joined the race for parliamentary seats in the forthcoming elections to say 'No' to the EU.
26/2/2014- Misa Vacic, of the far-right 1389 movement in Serbia, said that the group will take part in early parliamentary elections in Serbia due on March 16. "Our aim is to bring patriotic values to the people," Vacic said. According to him, these patriotic values include saying "No" to the EU and NATO membership, gay rights and corruption and "Yes" to the re-introduction of compulsory military service. Serbia started accession talks with the EU in January this year but no talks over potential NATO membership have been held. Vacic will be heading the electoral list. "I am hopeful that we will enter parliament," he added. He also said that the group will lead a modest but creative election campaign with graffiti and posters only. Besides its pro-life approach, 1389, named after the date of a famous battle against the Ottoman army in Kosovo, advocates the unification of all territories it considers Serbian into a single state. The movement strongly opposed the 2013 Brussels agreement on normalization of relations with Kosovo. Every year ahead of a gay pride march, the movement is one of the loudest opponents of the event. Two other right-wing formations, Nasi and Obraz, are on the list of the opposition Serbian Radical Party.
© Balkan Insight
After Sochi, gay sports event faces high hurdles in Russia
26/2/2014- Days after the closing of the Sochi Winter Olympics, a gay sports organisation's plan to hold Russia's first open Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender athletic competition was under threat from bureaucratic barriers it said stemmed from discrimination. The Russian Open games were scheduled to start on Wednesday in Moscow, but organisers were scrambling for alternatives after three venues and a hotel told them a day earlier that they would no longer be able to host the event. A news conference called to address the issues was held outside after police informed organisers they had received a bomb threat and would not allow people to enter the gay club where it was due to have taken place. "Our political leaders say there is no discrimination, but it is obviously discrimination when they stop us from having a sporting event," said Elvina Yuvakayeva, an organiser of the event.
Under fire before the Feb. 7-23 Sochi Winter Olympics over a law he signed last year that critics said discriminated against gays and could encourage hate crimes, President Vladimir Putin said Russia does not discriminate. The Russian LGBT Sport Federation was informed of the cancellations by telephone in the space of a few hours on Tuesday, she said. She said the reasons given by the hotel and venues were diverse. Alexey Fonyatin, director of the Alant-Golyanovo sport complex where the volleyball competition was supposed to take place, said there had been a conflict with an event organised by the city. A representative of the Baikal Hotel, where some participants were to stay, said no rooms would be available because a group of children had been unable to check out.
Konstantin Yablotsky, president of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation, said sports should help people "find understanding". "The aim of these games is to send a positive message to our society and authorities that we are normal people ... and ready for positive and constructive dialogue with society and with the authorities," he said. Among the foreigners who came for the games was American diver Greg Louganis, an Olympic champion who is openly gay. Organisers said there were other venues that might still be used, but it was not clear whether the games would go ahead. "Society should understand we are a part of it. We are not marginalized," said Mikhail Tumasov of the Russian LGBT Network. "We are citizens, we play taxes we want rights and respect."
Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Belgium
25/2/2014- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fifth report on Belgium. ECRI’s Chair, Mr Christian Ahlund, noted steps forward, but also a number of issues, such as the problematic application of the anti-discrimination legislation in certain areas and certain questionable aspects of the integration programmes. On the positive side, the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism will be able to work at all state levels due to an agreement between the federal authorities and the federated entities. Numerous judicial proceedings have been initiated against individuals and legal entities advocating hatred and violence. An ambitious action plan to combat homophobic and transphobic violence has been launched and legislation guarantees respect of most aspects of family and private life of LGBT persons on an equal footing with the rest of the population.
However, despite specific provisions of the law, there is no independent body competent on questions relating to discrimination on ground of language, no guidance is provided in the fields of the implementation of positive discrimination measures and no assessment of the anti-racism and anti-discrimination legislation has been carried out yet. Data on hate speech and racist violence are too fragmentary to give a clear picture of the situation in the country. Ethnic and religious groups, in particular Muslims, continue to face many disadvantages, including discrimination in key fields of life. In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following two require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:
+ an assessment of the application and effectiveness of the legislation against racism and intolerance should be carried out without any further delay ;
+ the process to turn the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism into an inter-federal institution should be completed as soon as possible.
The report is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Belgium in March 2013 [Press release] and takes account of developments up to 20 June 2013.
ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.
© The Council of Europe - ECRI
Far-right complains over President 'loony' label (Germany)
Germany's highest court heard a case on Tuesday on whether President Joachim Gauck was right to call a far-right anti immigrant group "loonies".
25/2/2014- The National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) has taken its complaint against the comment by the largely ceremonial head of state to the constitutional court. The fringe party argues that the president, whose job is to represent Germany at home and abroad, is supposed to stay neutral on day-to-day party politics. Gauck made the comment to students last August when the NPD helped organize protests against a refugee centre that had opened in eastern Berlin. Gauck, once a Christian pro-democracy activist in communist East Germany, said: "We need citizens who rally in the streets and put these loonies in their place." The NPD, with around 6,000 members, scored just 1.3 percent in national elections last September and has never entered the national parliament. However, it is represented in two eastern states' legislatures and therefore is entitled to official campaign funding under German electoral law. Germany's upper house of parliament is working on a case before the constitutional court to ban the NPD. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman has labelled the group an "anti-democratic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-constitutional party".
© The Local - Germany
The Council of Europe’s anti-racism committee publishes a new report on Germany
25/2/2014- The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fifth report on Germany. Christian Ahlund, Chair of ECRI, said that there are positive developments but that some concerns remain, including the lack of facilities and resources to assist victims of discrimination and the under-representation of children of immigrant background in pre-schools and secondary schools preparing pupils for university. On a positive note, the Federal Chancellery and the Länder have updated the National Integration Plan and some Länder have set up their own agencies to combat discrimination. The Ministries of Justice of the Federation and the Länder are considering strengthening the requirement for police and prosecutors to investigate whether offences are racially motivated. Initiatives have been taken to investigate the presence of such a motivation in a series of former cases of homicide. The legal situation of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT) has been much improved, inter alia through the Constitutional Court.
At the same time, many victims of racist or homo-/transphobic offences do not file a complaint with the police, and a legislative initiative expressly providing for more severe punishment for racially-motivated offences failed. The Federal Agency for combating discrimination does not have the resources to assist victims throughout Germany and most of the Länder do not have such an agency. Politicians and the media do not always condemn public statements of a xenophobic nature. The Action Plan against Racism has not been updated since 2008. In several Länder there is no strategy to promote tolerance towards LGBT people. In its report, ECRI has made several recommendations to the authorities, among which the following two require priority implementation and will be reviewed by ECRI in two years’ time:
+ the ratification of Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights on the general prohibition of discrimination;
+ the reform of the system for recording and tracking "racist, xeno-, homo / transphobic" incidents so that all cases containing such a motivation are thoroughly investigated.
The report is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Germany in March 2013 [Press release] and takes account of developments up to 21 June 2013.
ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.
© The Council of Europe - ECRI
Study: In Germany, anti-Semitic hate mail doesn’t come from right
More than 60 percent comes from educated Germans, with only 3 percent coming from ultranationalists.
25/2/2014- Over months, Prof. Monika Schwarz-Friesel read 14,000 letters, emails and faxes sent to the Israeli embassy in Berlin and the Central Council of Jews in Germany. She was looking for an answer to a question that had preoccupied her for some time: What does anti-Semitism look like in Germany at the start of the 21st century? “I wanted to find out how modern anti-Semites think, feel and communicate,” said Schwarz-Friesel, a linguistics professor at the Technical University of Berlin, in an interview with Haaretz. Previous studies of anti-Semitism didn’t satisfy her, nor did public opinion surveys, questionnaires or the annual reports put out by various agencies on anti-Semitic incidents round the world. “I wasn’t satisfied with the methodology of asking in a survey, ‘Do you think that Jews are ...,” she explained.
So she decided to search for data in another source that had never before been studied so systematically and comprehensively. She asked the Israeli embassy in Berlin and the local Jewish community to send her all the hate mail they received over a 10-year period, from 2002 to 2012. They gave her 14,000 letters, to which she added 2,000 letters from other Israeli embassies in Europe. Her approach to these institutions was made easier by the fact that her husband, Prof. Evyatar Friesel, once served as Israel’s state archivist. “In the end, I had a unique collection of information that enabled me to understand how modern anti-Semites think in the 21st century,” she said. Her research partner was Prof. Jehuda Reinharz, a historian and past president of Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Together with a few research assistants, they read and analyzed all the letters. “We were helped by modern technology that enabled us to sort them better than in the past,” Schwarz-Friesel said.
Their findings were detailed in a book published in Germany last year, “The Language of Hostility toward Jews in the 21st Century.” Next year, it will be published in English.
What they discovered is that more than 60 percent of the letters were sent by educated Germans, including university professors. The proportion sent by right-wing extremists was negligible – about 3 percent. “At first, we thought that most of the letters would be sent by right-wing extremists,” Schwarz-Friesel said. “But I was very surprised to discover that they were actually sent by people from the social mainstream – professors, Ph.Ds, lawyers, priests, university and high-school students.” She was also surprised to discover that most of the letter writers had no qualms about giving their names, addresses and titles. “Twenty or 30 years ago, that wouldn’t have happened,” she said. Still another surprise was the fact that there is no significant difference between the extreme right’s anti-Semitism and that of the educated mainstream. “The difference is only in the style and the rhetoric, but the ideas are the same,” Schwarz-Friesel noted.
“It is possible that the murder of innocent children suits your long tradition?” one letter said. “For the last 2,000 years, you’ve been stealing land and committing genocide,” said another. “You Israelis ... shoot cluster bombs over populated areas and accuse people who criticize such actions of anti-Semitism. That’s typical of the Jews!” declared a third. Certain key phrases kept cropping up in letter after letter. For instance, many letters sent to the Central Council of Jews in Germany said, “The Jews are doing to the Palestinians exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews.” Schwarz-Friesel’s training as a linguist helped her identify anti-Semitic motifs even in letters that at first glance seemed innocent. An opening such as “I’m not an anti-Semite, but ...” is liable to be a substitute for a general statement about “Jewish” traits, which in itself has anti-Semitic elements.
About 80 percent of the hate mail was anti-Israel. Surveying these letters led Schwarz-Friesel to an unambiguous conclusion: “Today, it’s already impossible to distinguish between anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. Modern anti-Semites have turned ‘the Jewish problem’ into ‘the Israeli problem.’ They have redirected the ‘final solution’ from the Jews to the State of Israel, which they see as the embodiment of evil.” The study’s bottom line is gloomy. “Anti-Semitism is embedded very deeply in Western society, even after the Holocaust, all the learning of its lessons and the memorialization,” Schwarz-Friesel said. “For 2,000 years, they fashioned the image of the Jews as the enemy of Christianity and of humanity. That’s not a simple thing that can be erased in 60 years. It’s etched too deeply into the collective memory. Thus people who see themselves as humanists and are familiar with the lessons of the Holocaust permit themselves to express themselves in an anti-Semitic fashion even afterward.” Now, Schwarz-Friesel is busy with a new study of modern anti-Semitism on the Internet. “It hasn’t been confined to extreme right-wing sites for a long time now,” she said. “It’s also on fairly ‘ordinary’ sites.”
Mild punishment for Nitra prosecutors in neo-Nazi assault case (Slovakia)
25/2/2014- A review of the investigation into last year’s neo-Nazi attack on patrons of the Mariatchi Bar in Nitra has led to punishment for the prosecutors but not for the police officers involved in the case, the Sme daily reported in its February 25 issue. Nitra regional prosecutor Vojtech Ernest reproached the two prosecutors for elementary violation of duties, the mildest form of disciplinary punishment the regional prosecutor can administer without discussing it with a disciplinary committee, the TASR newswire reported. The reprimands came after General Prosecutor Jaromír Èižnár criticised the Nitra prosecutors in early February before the parliamentary committee for security and defence over their handling of two attacks, in October 2013 and January 2014, after the media reported on them and published a video from the municipal security camera that recorded the earlier incident. Èižnár said that he plans to meet with Ernest to discuss the punishments, and to specifically ask him why he decided that these punishments were appropriate, General Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Andrea Predajòová told the SITA newswire. The meeting is to take place this week.
Sme published on January 28 the video footage showing a group of neo-Nazis attacking customers of the Mariatchi bar, a popular student hangout in downtown Nitra, during which they kicked one victim in the head repeatedly. The incident was reportedly just one in a series of similar attacks. On New Year’s Eve, customers were attacked by neo-Nazis from Walhala, a neighbouring club. Though officially listed as a “private card-playing club”, according to Mariatchi owner Radovan Richtárik, it is a pub whose clientele regularly gets drunk and misbehaves, as reported by Sme. Richtárik’s leg was broken in the New Year’s assault. Though the first attack was recorded via the town’s street cameras and the attackers’ faces are visible, the police waited until after Sme broke the story to charge the perpetrators. Sme also reported that none of the police officers involved in the case were punished. “No inactivity of authorised police officers was found during the investigation of the case,” Ivan Netík from the communication department of the Interior Ministry told Sme.
For more information about this story please see: Nitra prosecutors reject criticism
© The Slovak Spectator
ChristenUnie leader flexes muscles over criminalising 'illegals' (Netherlands)
26/2/2014- The leader of the small Christian party ChristenUnie is threatening to withdraw his support for various government reform plans if ministers press ahead with making it a criminal offence to be in the Netherlands without proper paperwork. Arie Slob, whose party has five seats in parliament, told television show Een op Een on Monday night that if ministers go ahead with the idea 'that means we will not make any more agreements like we have done already'. The government does not control the upper house of parliament and is relying on deals with the D66 Liberals and two small Christian parties to ensure majority support. These have included agreements on the housing market and pension reform.
Sweet and sour
ChristenUnie has always been opposed to criminalising people considered to be illegal immigrants. Slob told the show he was particularly irritated by statements made by junior justice minister Fred Teeven. Teeven recently described the impending change in the law as the 'sour' which followed the 'sweet' - the amnesty for children of illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for at least eight years. The draft legislation is unlikely to be finished before the summer.
Cabinet in trouble?
The coalition is made up of the right-wing VVD Liberals and the Labour party PvdA. A large majority of PvdA MPs are also opposed to the plans to classify illegal immigrants as criminals and the issue has caused strong divisions within the party. Nos correspondent Joost Vullings said if ChristenUnie carries out its threat, the cabinet cannot go any further. ‘This is a principle ChristenUnie issue and they are making their position plain,’ he said. ‘In addition, the forthcoming elections will probably play a role as well.’
© The Dutch News
Rotterdam party accused of Racism (Netherlands)
24/2/2014- Livable Rotterdam (Leefbaar Rotterdam) is being accused of racism by local Muslim movement Nida. Nida claims that the party makes “racist” remarks and must therefore be excluded from consideration as possible coalition partner. “They put people aside as second-class citizens” council-member candidate Samila Afkir said. Nida leader Nourdin El Ouali has in the last few weeks criticized the “cowardly” PvdA, which the Islamic voter believes treat their voters as voting “cattle”. On Sunday, during a meeting for discussion in community center Pier 80 in Delftshaven, Leefbaar Rotterdam was the one to swallow criticism as well. “Joost Eerdmans has recently made it clear in NRC that he is a racist” Samila Afkir said, who is number three on the candidate list for Muslim movement Nida. In an opinion piece in that newspaper, the front-runner in parliament for Rotterdam’s largest opposition party said recently that “Islam is an important factor in the failing of Ibn Ghaldoun.” The Islamic school community was the stage for the biggest exam fraud case in Dutch history last year.
“If it is about the denial of the Holocaust, spitting on the Dutch language, or the influence of Imams: in almost everything, the school has behaved like a gang that stands above the law,” Eerdmans and his right hand man, campaign leader Ronald Buijt, wrote. El Ouali, ex-council member of GroenLinks, tried to extinguish the internal fire yesterday with the observation that “Leefbaar is perceptible discriminatory.” He pointed to the proposal to forbid the wearing of head scarves in education. “And with their quota on labour migrants they obviously shut out certain populations.” Eerdmans refused to comment on Afkir’s association yesterday. Tomorrow evening, he will enter into debate once again with his biggest political opponent, PvdA front-runner Hamit Karakus. El Ouali will take aim at Leefbaar Rotterdam more often, he implied yesterday. “With this party, we shut out every form of cooperation, and PvdA should do that as well. In just about everything, we are polar opposites of Leefbaar.”
© The NL Times
Neo-Nazis Pour Into Kiev (Ukraine)
A stream of European jihadists have traveled to Syria to wage holy war. Now a group of European neo-Nazis are traveling to Ukraine to save the white race
By Michael Moynihan
28/2/2014- In early February, Fredrik Hagberg stood at the rostrum in Kiev’s City Hall, offering fraternal and comradely greetings from Sweden to the sweaty, bruised, and exhausted Ukrainian insurrectionists scattered throughout. The place was festooned with flags—some celtic crosses, a stray Confederate banner, a standard for the political party Svoboda, whose members essentially controlled the building—reflecting the dubious politics of its occupiers. Revolutionary tourists, thrill seekers, and parachute journalists suffused Kiev. Sen. John McCain, actress Hayden Panettiere, and French intellectual Bernard Henri-Levy roused massive crowds with paeans to freedom and national sovereignty, while offering moral support to the opposition forces led by former boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko.
But Hagberg, a square-jawed and baby-faced member of the Swedish armed forces, had a darker message. “I stand before your forces of revolution to tell you about what your future might be if you fail your glorious endeavour,” he said in fluid-but-clipped English. “I stand here as a Swede. However where I come from is no longer Sweden.” Hagberg warned Ukrainians that a successful revolution must chart a path that carefully avoided the evils of abortion and ethnic mongrelization, one that harshly punished welfare abuse and rejected the normalization of homosexuality. “Officials in Sweden like to calls us the most modern country in the world. I say to you, brothers, this is what awaits you if you choose to follow our example. You now have the opportunity to choose and create your own future. Do not accept the trap of choosing either the West or Russia.”
It’s unclear who, if anyone, invited him, but Hagberg was speaking as a representative of Nordisk Ungdom (Nordic Youth), a Swedish neo-Nazi group that celebrates “a traditional ideal of a better man, striving for something greater and more noble than his own personal benefit; an idealistic man who fights for Europe’s freedom.” Visitors to the group’s English-language website are met with with a Barbara Kruger-like advertisement beseeching visitors to “help us to help the revolution! Support a free Ukraine! Donate Now...” Because Hagberg is trying to provoke his fellow neo-Nazis into travelling to Kiev to help shape a new, fascist-friendly Ukraine.
Amongst the fascists, ultra-nationalists, and racists in Europe, there has been much griping that the revolt in Ukraine has been overtaken, if not controlled from the outset, by “CIA/ZOG [Zionist Occupied Government]/Soros-sponsored” forces. The Euroscepticism of the continent’s far-right movements has produced a skepticism of the uprising’s much-discussed Europhile mainstream. But Pro-Yanukovych forces and the former president’s Kremlin allies have heavily promoted an alternative narrative—one that Hagberg and his allies happily embrace—suggesting that the protest movement is in fact honeycombed with dangerous neo-Nazis affiliated with the extremist Ukrainian political parties Svoboda and Right Sector. Therefore, Western supporters of the protests, like John Mccain, are agitating on behalf of violent Ukrainian fascism.
It’s a modified version of the Kremlin’s argument against Western support for Syrian rebel groups, which it says has amounted to material support for al-Qaeda-sponsered terrorism. And like with Syria—and the Spanish Civil War before it—sympathetic European extremists are travelling to provide support to their ideological brethren. “We just got boots on the ground and are discussing with Svoboda representatives and other nationalists what we can assist with,” Magnus Söderman, the neo-Nazi organizer of the Swedish Ukraine Volunteers (Svenska Ukrainafrivilliga), told me. “Our message to them is that we will assist with whatever; clearing the streets, security, making food.” On the group’s website, stuffed with hackneyed neo-Nazi propaganda, potential volunteers are told that “we do not organize any paramilitary force because our involvement is of a civil nature, as aid workers. Of course, should violence break out we will make use of our right of self-defense.” (The site advises recruits to “improve your physical fitness” before travelling to Kiev.) Ukraine, the group says, is facing an existential threat and “we must secure the existence of our people and the future of our white children!”
According to the group’s newly constituted Facebook page, a representative of the Swedish Ukraine Volunteers recently “visited the parliament and established important contacts” amongst local politicians, presumably those affiliated with ultra-nationalist parties Svoboda and Right Sector. The idea of foreign volunteers is “a good initiative,” said one member of a fascist message board in Sweden, “and I give my full support to Mikael Skillt and other party comrades who are travelling down to help our brothers in the east.”
Mikael Skillt is well-known in Swedish neo-Nazi circles. A spokesman for the vigilante group Stop the Pedophiles and a veteran of various now-defunct fascist organizations, Skillt is currently affiliated with the Party of the Swedes (SvP), a neo-Nazi group founded by members of the less camera-friendly National Socialist Front. According to its website, SvP “has good contact with [Svoboda] who were guests at our conference Vision Europe just under a year ago.”
When I contacted Skillt he was in Moscow, on his way to agitating in Kiev. So why does Ukraine need a fascist international brigade? “We are scanning the needs of the Ukrainians, but we will be offering [them] our help in whatever they need,” he told me. “We have members with experience in most fields, ranging from military to truck drivers to journalists.” When I asked if he had canvassed the opinions of Russian neo-Nazi groups while in Moscow, Skillt told me, with predictable obliqueness, that he had “heard some [Russian] nationalists who have spoken of a revolution inspired by Ukraine.” So how large is the international brigade of ultra-nationalists? A European journalist who follows the movement of European jihadists to Syria—and now fascists migrating towards Kiev—told me that there was indeed scattered evidence that neo-Nazi groups outside Sweden were making pilgrimages to Ukraine. When I asked Magnus Söderman if there was a network of other Nazis on the ground, he told me that “comrades from other European countries are also preparing to assist if it is needed.”
And while most European far-right groups have been coy about providing on-the-scene support for groups like Svoboda, the ecosystem of ultra-nationalist websites seem heavily focused on supporting Svoboda’s bid for political power in post-Yanukovych Ukraine. An article praising Svoboda on the webite of the extreme-right British National Party enthused that “a group of our Polish comrades from the [neo-Nazi] Falange organization visited Ukraine” to support the party and the revolution. (Last year, members of the Polish Falange travelled to Damascus to offer support to Bashar Assad.) While numbers are difficult to gauge, authorities in Sweden don’t see the threat as equivalent to the migration of Scandinavian jihadists to Syria. A spokesman for Säpo, the Swedish security service, told the tabloid Expressen that “the security service is only interested in Swedes that travel to take part in terror-related activities in other countries, like al-Qaeda inspired groups in Syria.”
The Swedish Ukrainian Volunteers wouldn’t provide numbers of those who had either arrived--or committed to join—their sturmabteilung in Kiev. Söderman said he didn’t “foresee any major numbers [of Swedish neo-Nazis] going since the modern world don't make men as it once did. During the war between Finland and the Soviet Union about 12,000 Swedes went over—and that was in wartime.” “If we get 50, all in all, I will be very proud.”
© The Daily Beast
Controversial Ukraine party receives top positions in new government
27/2/2014- As the fires die down from the turmoil in Kiev, a political party that has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism and xenophobia is set to reap the benefits of the new government arrangement.The Svoboda Party will take control of not one, but three ministries in the interim government. These posts include the deputy prime minister and the heads of the agriculture and environmental ministries. In addition to these positions, a Svoboda lawmaker was appointed the new prosecutor general in the interim government. Svoboda’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, is one of the leading opposition figures during the recent crisis in Ukraine and met with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain when the former presidential candidate visited the tumultuous country last December. Tyahnybok and other party leaders have been accused of making numerous anti-Semitic and racist remarks. In 2004, Tyahnybok urged his party in a televised speech to fight “the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine.”
In 2012, deputy party leader Ihor Miroshnychenko called actress Mila Kunis, who was born in the Ukraine, a “dirty Jewess,” which instantly drew international condemnation. Another party official, Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn founded a think tank called the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Centre, which was named as a tribute to the notorious Nazi propaganda minister.Even the founding name and original name of Svoboda bear an eerie resemblance to the Nazis. They were founded as the Social National Party of Ukraine and adopted the “wolfsangel” rune as their party logo, which was also a symbol used by Waffen-SS divisions in World War II and is a popular icon among neo-Nazis. But the party denies accusations that it is anti-Semitic and xenophobic. Tyahnybok has been aggressive in dismissing allegations that his party promotes these ideas. “Svoboda is not an anti-Semitic party. Svoboda is not a xenophobic party. Svoboda is not an anti-Russian party. Svoboda is not an anti-European party. Svoboda is simply and only a pro-Ukrainian party. And that’s it,” Tyahnybok declared in an 2012 interview with The New York Times.
Its party platform makes no explicit statements of anti-Semitism or racism, but it does contain some curious items. Examples include: creating a list that would detail the number of KGB agents within the Ukrainian government, banning “Ukrainophobia,” banning the advertising of tobacco and alcohol as well as banning the adoption of Ukrainian children to foreigners. Svoboda received over 10 percent of the vote in the 2012 parliamentary elections in Ukraine and received 37 seats in parliament — making them the fourth largest party in their country’s parliament.
© The Daily Caller
Ukraine Jewish leader : ‘No evidence of rise in anti-Semitism or xenophobia’ in the country
Ukrainian Jewish community leader Vadim Rabinovitch said that ‘’there is no evidence whatsoever of a rise in anti-Semitism or xenophobia in Ukraine as a result of the protests.’’
26/2/2014- In an interview with European Jewish Press, the Vice-President of the European Jewish Union (EJU) called reports in the international media claiming that the Ukrainian protest movement has led to a surge in anti-Semitism ‘’lies and examples of incitement which do great damage to the reputation of the Jewish community in Ukraine.’’ ‘’Ukraine’s Jewish community is not in any danger despite the momentous events taking place in the country,’’ he said. Around 200,000 Jews live in the country. Following is the full text of the interview of Vadim Rabinovitch, who is also Co-Chairman of the European Jewish Parliament:
EJP : How is the current political situation in Ukraine impacting on the country’s Jewish community?
Vadim Rabinovitch: I have been in Kiev since the very first day of the current unrest and have been following the situation closely, both on the national and local levels. I have been in regular contact with regional Jewish community leaders, representatives of the government, and law enforcement agencies. As a result of these consultations, I can confirm that there is no evidence whatsoever of a rise in anti-Semitism or xenophobia in the country as a result of the protests. Reports in the international media which claim that the Ukrainian protest movement has led to a surge in anti-Semitism are simply lies and examples of incitement which do great damage to the reputation of the Jewish community in Ukraine. Sadly, it seems that people outside Ukraine who are not familiar with the political situation in the country are seeking to make political capital out of the current upheavals.
EJP: Can you confirm that there have been no anti-Semitic incidents – even in the heartlands of the protest movement in West Ukraine?
Vadim Rabinovitch: Today I have discussed the current security situation with Jewish community leaders in Lviv and Uzhgorod – both of which are West Ukrainian regions where protest sentiment is strongest. They confirmed that there has not been a single case of anti-Semitism reported throughout the past three months of mass protests. On the contrary, local volunteer self-defense patrols - which have mobilized during the protests - have actually cooperated with local Jewish communities to make sure Jewish sites are protected. Even in Crimea, where political tensions remain high, there is no evidence of any surge in anti-Semitism. I have spoken with the Rabbi of Sevastopol today and he confirmed that there is no heightened threat to the local Jewish community.
EJP: What is your response to European and Israeli media reports that the Ukrainian Jewish community is facing a rising tide of anti-Semitism as a result of the country’s current political upheavals?
Vadim Rabinovitch: These reports are incorrect and dangerous. Ukraine’s Jewish community is not in any danger despite the momentous events taking place in the country. Anyone who seeks to argue otherwise is guilty of provocation and motivated by a desire to escalate tensions within Ukrainian society.
EJP: Do you think that the political upheavals currently taking place in the country will not pose a future threat to Ukraine’s Jewish community?
Vadim Rabinovitch: Neither you nor I can say what will happen tomorrow, but today it is clear that reports of growing anti-Semitism in Ukraine are false. In reality, the Ukrainian Jewish community continues to live in peace and has not been targeted in any way as a result of the anti-government protests which have swept the nation. At this stage the greatest threat to the community comes from those who are making provocative, misleading and inflammatory statements which are simply not true. I urge everyone to stop these provocations immediately – and as a Ukrainian Jewish community leader with nearly two decades of experience, I know what I’m talking about.
© EJP News
Is the US backing neo-Nazis in Ukraine?
John McCain and other state department members have troubling ties to the ultra-nationalist Svoboda party
By Max Blumenthal, AlterNet
25/2/2014- As the Euromaidan protests in the Ukrainian capitol of Kiev culminated this week, displays of open fascism and neo-Nazi extremism became too glaring to ignore. Since demonstrators filled the downtown square to battle Ukrainian riot police and demand the ouster of the corruption-stained, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich, it has been filled with far-right streetfighting men pledging to defend their country’s ethnic purity. White supremacist banners and Confederate flags were draped inside Kiev’s occupied City Hall, and demonstrators have hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols over a toppled memorial to V.I. Lenin. After Yanukovich fled his palatial estate by helicopter, EuroMaidan protesters destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died battling German occupation during World War II. Sieg heil salutes and the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol have become an increasingly common site in Maidan Square, and neo-Nazi forces have established “autonomous zones” in and around Kiev.
An Anarchist group called AntiFascist Union Ukraine attempted to join the Euromaidan demonstrations but found it difficult to avoid threats of violence and imprecations from the gangs of neo-Nazis roving the square. “They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists,” one of its members said. “There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult.” “There are lots of Nationalists here, including Nazis,” the anti-fascist continued. “They came from all over Ukraine, and they make up about 30% of protesters.”
One of the “Big Three” political parties behind the protests is the ultra-nationalist Svoboda, whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has called for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” After the 2010 conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok rushed to Germany to declare him a hero who was “fighting for truth.” In the Ukrainian parliament, where Svoboda holds an unprecedented 37 seats, Tyahnybok’s deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is fond of quoting Joseph Goebbels – he has even founded a think tank originally called “the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center.” According to Per Anders Rudling, a leading academic expert on European neo-fascism, the self-described “socialist nationalist” Mykhalchyshyn is the main link between Svoboda’s official wing and neo-Nazi militias like Right Sector.
Right Sector is a shadowy syndicate of self-described “autonomous nationalists” identified by their skinhead style of dress, ascetic lifestyle, and fascination with street violence. Armed with riot shields and clubs, the group’s cadres have manned the front lines of the Euromaidan battles this month, filling the air with their signature chant: “Ukraine above all!” In a recent Right Sector propaganda video [embedded at the bottom of this article], the group promised to fight “against degeneration and totalitarian liberalism, for traditional national morality and family values.” With Svoboda linked to a constellation of international neo-fascist parties through the Alliance of European National Movements, Right Sector is promising to lead its army of aimless, disillusioned young men on “a great European Reconquest.”
Svoboda’s openly pro-Nazi politics have not deterred Senator John McCain from addressing a EuroMaidan rally alongside Tyahnybok, nor did it prevent Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland from enjoying a friendly meeting with the Svoboda leader this February. Eager to fend off accusations of anti-Semitism, the Svoboda leader recently hosted the Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine. “I would like to ask Israelis to also respect our patriotic feelings,” Tyahnybok has remarked. “Probably each party in the [Israeli] Knesset is nationalist. With God’s help, let it be this way for us too.”
In a leaked phone conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, Nuland revealed her wish for Tyahnybok to remain “on the outside,” but to consult with the US’s replacement for Yanukovich, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, “four times a week.” At a December 5, 2013 US-Ukraine Foundation Conference, Nuland boasted that the US had invested $5 billion to “build democratic skills and institutions” in Ukraine, though she did not offer any details. “The Euro-Maidan movement has come to embody the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies,” Nuland proclaimed. Two weeks later, 15,000 Svoboda members held a torchlight ceremony in the city of Lviv in honor of Stepan Bandera, a World War II-era Nazi collaborator who led the pro-fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B). Lviv has become the epicenter of neo-fascist activity in Ukraine, with elected Svoboda officials waging a campaign to rename its airport after Bandera and successfully changing the name of Peace Street to the name of the Nachtigall Battalion, an OUN-B wing that participated directly in the Holocaust. “’Peace’ is a holdover from Soviet stereotypes,” a Svoboda deputy explained.
Revered by Ukrainian nationalists as a legendary freedom fighter, Bandera’s real record was ignominious at best. After participating in a campaign to assassinate Ukrainians who supported accommodation with the Polish during the 1930’s, Bandera’s forces set themselves to ethnically cleanse western Ukraine of Poles in 1943 and 1944. In the process, they killed over 90,000 Poles and many Jews, whom Bandera’s top deputy and acting “Prime Minister,” Yaroslav Stetsko, were determined to exterminate. Bandera held fast to fascist ideology in the years after the war, advocating a totalitarian, ethnically pure Europe while his affiliated Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) carried out a doomed armed struggle against the Soviet Union. The bloodbath he inspired ended when KGB agents assassinated him in Munich in 1959.
The Right Connections
Many surviving OUN-B members fled to Western Europe and the United States – occasionally with CIA help – where they quietly forged political alliances with right-wing elements. “You have to understand, we are an underground organization. We have spent years quietly penetrating positions of influence,” one member told journalist Russ Bellant, who documented the group’s resurgence in the United States in his 1988 book, “Old Nazis, New Right, and the Republican Party.” In Washington, the OUN-B reconstituted under the banner of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), an umbrella organization comprised of “complete OUN-B fronts,” according to Bellant. By the mid-1980’s, the Reagan administration was honeycombed with UCCA members, with the group’s chairman Lev Dobriansky, serving as ambassador to the Bahamas, and his daughter, Paula, sitting on the National Security Council. Reagan personally welcomed Stetsko, the Banderist leader who oversaw the massacre of 7000 Jews in Lviv, into the White House in 1983.
“Your struggle is our struggle,” Reagan told the former Nazi collaborator. “Your dream is our dream.” When the Justice Department launched a crusade to capture and prosecute Nazi war criminals in 1985, UCCA snapped into action, lobbying Congress to halt the initiative. “The UCCA has also played a leading role in opposing federal investigations of suspected Nazi war criminals since those queries got underway in the late 1970’s,” Bellant wrote. “Some UCCA members have many reasons to worry – reasons which began in the 1930’s.” Still an active and influential lobbying force in Washington, the UCCA does not appear to have shed its reverence for Banderist nationalism. In 2009, on the 50th anniversary of Bandera’s death, the group proclaimed him “a symbol of strength and righteousness for his followers” who “continue[s] to inspire Ukrainians today.” A year later, the group honored the 60th anniversary of the death of Roman Shukhevych, the OUN-B commander of the Nachtigall Battalion that slaughtered Jews in Lviv and Belarus, calling him a “hero” who “fought for honor, righteousness…”
Back in Ukraine in 2010, then-President Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the title of “National Hero of Ukraine,” marking the culmination of his efforts to manufacture an anti-Russian national narrative that sanitized the OUN-B’s fascism. (Yuschenko’s wife, Katherine Chumachenko, was a former Reagan administration official and ex-staffer at the right-wing Heritage Foundation). When the European Parliament condemned Yushchenko’s proclamation as an affront to “European values,” the UCCA-affiliated Ukrainian World Congress reacted with outrage, accusing the EU of “another attempt to rewrite Ukrainian history during WWII.” On its website, the UCCA dismissed historical accounts of Bandera’s collaboration with the Nazis as “Soviet propaganda.” Following the demise of Yanukovich this month, the UCCA helped organize rallies in cities across the US in support of the EuroMaidan protests. When several hundred demonstrators marchedthrough downtown Chicago, some waved Ukrainian flags while others proudly flew the red and black banners of the UPA and OUN-B. “USA supports Ukraine!” they chanted.
Max Blumenthal is an award winning journalist and the bestselling author of "Republican Gomorrah: Inside the movement that shattered the party"
Eastern Ukraine synagogue hit by firebombs
24/2/2014- A synagogue firebombed in eastern Ukraine sustained minor damage. The firebombs hit the Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, located 250 miles southeast of Kiev, on Sunday night, according to a report the following day on the news site timenews.in.ua. The website published photos showing traces of a fire on the facade of the synagogue balcony. The synagogue opened in 2012. A spokesperson for the Zhovtneviy District where the synagogue is located said no one was hurt in the attack and that police were searching for suspects. Officers found the neck of a glass bottle that was used as a Molotov cocktail, according to the Central Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Several Ukrainian media reported erroneously that the attack happened in Kiev. The Ukrainian capital and other cities have seen a wave of violent demonstrations that culminated this weekend with the apparent ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych.
The country’s acting government has issued a warrant for Yanukovych’s arrest, accusing him of the murder of about 100 protesters who died in street clashes last week. The unrest began in November over his refusal to sign a deal that would have tightened Ukraine’s ties with the European Union — a move that many saw as jeopardizing the country’s complicated relationship with Russia. Several Jewish communities in Kiev have beefed up their security arrangements during the unrest. Other communities put their activities on hold for safety concerns. Ukraine has a Jewish population of 360,000 to 400,000 people, with about a quarter of the country’s Jews living in Kiev, according to the European Jewish Congress. The Jewish Agency put the figure at 200,000.
© JTA News
No influx of migrant workers from Romania and Bulgaria, survey finds (UK)
The predicted influx of workers from Romania and Bulgaria following the lifting of immigration restrictions has failed to materialise, a survey of airlines and coach companies has found.
23/2/2014- Six airlines and three coach companies who provide services between Romania and Bulgaria and the UK all said they had not seen any increased traffic from the two eastern European states to this country since the New Year. The figures were uncovered by the pro-immigration campaign group Migration Matters. Over Christmas and New Year, there were warnings from politicians and anti-immigration campaigners, including Ukip and MigrationWatch, that relaxing visa restrictions on Bulgaria and Romania would lead to an influx of people, put pressure on public services and fuel "benefit tourism". Shortly before the visa rules changed on 1 January, David Cameron announced that Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants would not be eligible for out-of-work benefits for the first three months of being in the UK. On 1 January, Keith Vaz and fellow members of the Home Affairs Committee went to greet Romanians at Heathrow airport, to find that only a handful were arriving. The new research suggests that this trend continued through January and February.
© The Independent
Reports of racism are 700% higher in Northern Ireland
Reports of racism are 700% higher in NI than in the Republic - while the conviction rates for racially motivated crimes in Ireland are too low to release details.
25/2/2014- In 2009, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, recorded 1,038 incidents while the figure for the same period was just 128 for the Republic of Ireland - according to a review of figures carried out by the Immigrant Council of Ireland. The Council says the disparity raises very serious questions about the way incidents are recorded by Gardaí and the Department of Justice and suggest a lot of racism is going unreported. An examination of official figures for the Republic of Ireland by Newstalk Lunchtime with Jonathan Healy has found that conviction rates for racially motivated crimes are so low - that the exact number can’t be revealed.
Racially motivated incidents in Ireland are published yearly by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) with data based on the Garda PULSE system.
Between 2009 to 2011 the numbers of racially motivated incidents reported to the Gardai grew from 128 to 142.
In 2012 the numbers dropped to 100 reported incidents with similar figures for the first three quarters of 2013 - with 60 reported incidents.
The types of incidents reported are broken down by the CSO into categories including; racially motivated minor assaults, assaults causing harm, criminal damages (excluding arson) and public order offences. Also included are offences under the 1989 Incitement to Hatred Act. However when it comes to the conviction rates for these incidents the CSO said they could not provide details as the numbers were so low it would risk identifying the interested parties.
For example in 2011 we know there were 139 reports of racially motivated incidents - this led to 33 proceedings and 10 convictions.
In 2010 there were 127 racist incidents reported, 37 proceedings resulting in 17 convictions.
The Court Services record that from 1st of January 2012 to November 2013 three people were convicted and imprisoned under Section 2 of the 1989 Incitement to Hatred Act.
Nicolas Anelka hit with five-match ban and fined £80,000 by FA for quenelle gesture (UK)
West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka has been suspended for five games and fined £80,000 following an investigation into his 'quenelle' gesture
27/2/2014- Nicolas Anelka was an outcast on Thursday night after being banned by the Football Association and suspended by West Bromwich Albion over his quenelle gesture. Anelka was told to stay away from his club pending an internal inquiry after escaping with the minimum possible suspension from an independent regulatory commission for his ‘inverted Nazi salute’ goal celebration at West Ham United on Dec 28. The 34-year-old was banned for five matches, fined £80,000 and ordered to complete a compulsory education course, despite a three-man panel of consisting of a QC, an FA official and a former player or manager clearing him of any anti-Semitic intent.
The commission said the FA had proven Anelka’s conduct was “abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper” and “included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief”. But it added in a statement: “We did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle.” That was after prosecutors for the FA, which charged Anelka last month, failed to convince the panel otherwise during a two-day hearing at Watford’s Grove Hotel or that the offence warranted what could have been a record ban for racism in English football. The verdict therefore called into question the effectiveness of its new anti-discrimination sanctions, brought in following the four-match ban handed out to John Terry and eight-game suspension for Luis Suárez.
The FA has the power to appeal the leniency of the verdict – and will await the commission’s full written reasons next week before deciding whether to do so – but must weigh up the risk of Anelka being found not guilty second time round. Anelka, too, has the right of appeal and his punishment was stayed until he had also read the commission’s findings. But West Brom intervened to ensure he could not play for or even train with them until all relevant processes were exhausted, something which could take weeks. The club, whose shirt sponsor Zoopla decided not to renew its contract over the quenelle row, said: “The club acknowledges that the FA panel ‘did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle’. “However, the club cannot ignore the offence that his actions have caused, particularly to the Jewish community, nor the potential damage to the club’s reputation.”
West Brom had been criticised for refusing to suspend Anelka pending the outcome of this week’s hearing. The FA had also come under fire for spending three weeks investigating the connotations of the quenelle before charging the player. Kick It Out, English football’s anti-racism watchdog, said it would not comment before the disciplinary process concluded, while the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed the verdict. Vivian Wineman said: “This supports the FA’s decision to invoke its own regulations after its assiduous report concluded that Mr Anelka’s gesture had anti-Semitic connotations and is highly offensive to Jews and right-minded members of the public.”
The one dissenting voice came from the editor of The Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, who said: “If the FA thinks there was nothing anti-Semitic about it, or at least that there was no intent, why are they sending him on a course? In case he makes further unintended gestures? “The whole thing is ludicrous, they’ve given him the minimum ban possible, which is five matches, and I think it brings the FA into considerable disrepute in the fight against racism. It’s not even close to being punishment enough, it’s the minimum punishment possible.” Despite Thursday’s outcome being viewed as a good one for Anelka, the former France striker is understood to be unhappy at being found guilty. The player has repeatedly insisted he did “nothing wrong” in performing the quenelle in what he claimed was a tribute to his friend, French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, who invented the controversial gesture and has long been accused of being an anti-Semite.
A statement issued by Anelka’s legal advisers read: “Nicolas Anelka is pleased that the FA regulatory commission has found him not to be an anti-Semite and that he did not intend to express or promote anti-Semitism by his use of the quenelle gesture. “He is now waiting to receive the commission’s full reasons for their decision before considering whether or not to appeal.”
FA fair? Recent cases
Luis Suarez: Liverpool forward found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in Oct 2011. Case centred on Suárez calling Evra negrito, which his defence claimed was an inoffensive term for a black man in his native Uruguay. Eight-match ban and £40,000 fine. John Terry: Found guilty by the FA in Sept 2012 of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, calling the QPR defender a “black ----”. Terry was cleared in court but slapped with a four-match ban and £220,000 fine. Nicolas Anelka: West Brom striker celebrated his goal against West Ham in December with the quenelle, a gesture considered anti-Semitic by many but which Anelka said was simply a tribute to its inventor, his friend Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. Five-match ban and £80,000 fine.
© The Telegraph
Legoland cancels fun day organised by Muslim group after far-right threats (UK)
Legoland has announced it has cancelled a fun day arranged by the Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) on Sunday, March 9.
26/2/2014- The Winkfield Road theme park received an avalanche of offensive and threatening comments directed at is staff because of the event and it is for this reason the day has been cancelled. A statement on the park's website read: "The Legoland Windsor Resort prides itself on welcoming everyone to our wonderful attraction; however due to unfortunate circumstances the private event scheduled for Sunday 9th March will no longer take place. "This was an incredibly difficult decision made after discussions with the organisers and local Thames Valley Police, following the receipt of a number of threatening phone calls, emails and social media posts to the Resort over the last couple of weeks. "These alone have led us to conclude that we can no longer guarantee the happy fun family event which was envisaged, or the safety of our guests and employees on that day – which is always our number one priority."
Far-right groups the English Defence League and Casuals United had threatened to protest at the event due to the MRDF’s association with controversial preacher Haitham al-Haddad – chairman of the foundation. Police are investigating the threats made to the park. Legoland’s Facebook page was taken down for about a week after the page was inundated with abusive and offensive comments before being restored on Thursday , February 13.
© The Windsor Observer
Women Head Recruitment Drive for Far-Right English Defence League
22/2/2014- A new generation of female members of the English Defence League – self-styled "EDL Angels" – are driving up membership of the far-right anti-Muslim protest group, it has emerged. The EDL Angels are led by 42-year-old Gail Speight from West Yorkshire, who says she represents the changing face of the extremist movement. The group is keen to recruit more female members – currently there are only 200 Angels in the group – and claims it will tackle immigration issues close to women's hearts. Speaking to The Sun, Speight claimed that, as the poster girl for the female EDL membership, she had been approached by women whose daughters had been groomed and abused by older Muslim men, and Muslim women and girls to afraid to speak out about female genital mutilation – and vowed to fight for their rights. "An issue that breaks my heart is the Muslim grooming gangs. When I say Muslim, you could be black, brown, white – I don't care about the colour of your skin. I do care about what you're doing to our children. I know there are white paedophiles too, but if you read some of the Koran, it says it is OK to marry a child. It's child abuse.
"With FGM they are mutilating these girls so they have no please, so they are 'clean' – it is horrendous. They are doing it in the summer holidays by going abroad, but they are also doing it here in the UK. That is just child abuse to me." Speight is using Facebook to appeal for more women to join the group. She said the EDL Angels are not all the "big, butch lesbian-looking types" and that "women bring out the softer side of the EDL". But despite the emergence of the groups "softer side" she added the EDL would planned to launch a campaign calling for a "total stop on immigration". But she denied being a racist, and said the EDL is not a racist organisation. "Racist is the most overused, pathetic word. Most of the people I know don't care about colour. We just want to fight for the issues. We are out to win the hearts and minds of those who don't feel they are being listened to." Meanwhile, a small crowd of EDL members gathered in Grantham, Lincolnshire – birthplace of the late UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – at a demonstration against the opening of an Islamic centre in the town today.
© The International Business Times - UK
At March Against Anti-Semitism, Jewish Leader Told To 'Get Lost' (France)
Toulouse Rally Responded to Dieudonne Performance
24/2/2014- Participants in a march against anti-Semitism in Toulouse hurled anti-Zionist insults at a Jewish fellow demonstrator. The insults were directed at Nicole Yardeni, who heads the local chapter of the CRIF umbrella group of Jewish communities, during a march by 2,000 people in Toulouse. The march was organized on Saturday by a gay group, Arc-en-Ciel, following the spraying of anti-Semitic and anti-gay slogans in several locales in Toulouse last week. But a certain point, a group of demonstrators started chanting: “Yardeni, get lost” and: “CRIF, Fascists, Zionists, get lost.” The Jewish participants were “absolutely unprepared for such a reception,” Yardeni told the news agency AFP. ”Jews are now being chased away from a demonstration against anti-Semitism,” she added. The demonstration’s organizers said they regretted the chants. “We are deeply disturbed by what happened,” Noemie Henry, a president of Arc-en-Ciel, said.
Also on Saturday, the anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala performed at the Zennith Theater in Toulouse. Some 400 protesters showed up for a demonstration against Dieudonne, who has used his shows to air anti-Semitic views. The protest was organized by CRIF and the LICRA anti-racism watchdog, and was held a few kilometers away from the theater. City officials did not permit the groups to demonstrate opposite the building and police officers helped check that everyone entering the theater had a ticket to prevent disturbances by anti-Dieudonne infiltrators, the France 3 television channel reported. The report showed excited young men leaving the theater while performing the quenelle, a quasi-Nazi gesture which Dieudonne invented and labeled anti-establishment, but which many French Jews and politicians believe is anti-Semitic. Earlier this month, French police arrested a graphic designer they suspect of disseminating with intent to offend a photo of a man performing the quenelle in front of the Ohr Hatorah school in Toulouse, where an Islamist killed four Jews in 2012.
© The Forward
How to fight Islamophobia in France?
French Muslims are shocked by yet more Islamophobic remarks from political figures.
22/2/2014- This time, a right-wing mayor, Claude Goasguen, said that it was impossible "to teach the Holocaust in secondary schools as we are afraid of the reactions of those drug-addicted Muslims in mosques." These words, however, didn't make the headlines. Yes, Islamophobia is a real social phenomenon. Many NGOs such as Amnesty International or international organizations like the Council of Europe clearly point out the rise of Islamophobia in the old continent. But prejudices against Muslims have become socially acceptable in France. It is time, or maybe it is too late, for a larger debate on the way French Muslims handle this problem. The very first problem in the fight against Islamophobia seems to be the over use of the term "Islamophobia." How can we distinguish an Islamophobic act from a racist one? Combatting Islamophobia by overusing the term seems to consist of two big traps for French and European Muslims.
Firstly, overusing the term leads to a dichotomous reasoning which helps to internalize the separation between "us" and "them." Muslims have to remember that thousands of fellow citizens also face discrimination, like the Roma or black people. The fight against Islamophobia requires sympathy and solidarity with other minorities who are also victims of discrimination and racism. We are witnessing the emergence of a new generation of Muslim intellectuals and dynamic associative networks gathering around the fight against Islamophobia in France. But the main approach of these intellectuals and networks towards this issue is unfortunately reactive and oppositional. This new activism against Islamophobia seems to unite the Muslim community, but the excluding discourse isolates them from other anti-racism and minority groups.
Secondly, in recent years, some governments in the Muslim world -- including Turkey -- have started to exploit the fight against Islamophobia by simply using it as a public diplomacy tool to counter Western criticism on human rights violations in their own country. For example, French Muslim associations and intellectuals are often invited to state-run symposiums on Islamophobia organized in Muslim countries. In fact, this political instrumentalization does nothing but further stigmatize Muslim minorities in their own country.
To put it clearly, this way of fighting Islamophobia is legitimate. But it is limited and sometimes inappropriate. Many French people are afraid of Muslims because they simply do not know them. And many French politicians like Marine Le Pen shamefully choose to feed this fear because they simply have nothing else to offer. But it firstly belongs to French Muslims to build bridges in order to transform conflict into healthy diversity and to invest in education by developing a more pro-active and constructive discourse for this long fight.
© Today's Zaman
Spain posts footage of migrant tragedy
Spanish authorities have bowed to pressure and released "full" footage of an attempt by hundreds of African migrants to swim to the Spanish territory of Ceuta in which 15 people drowned.
22/2/2014- Migrants told Spanish media that police fired rubber bullets at them and sprayed them with tear gas on February 6 as they tried to swim a breakwater that separates Moroccan and Spanish waters. Police originally said they did not fire rubber bullets when the migrants were in the water, only after they had reached land - and only in the air as a deterrent. But Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez told parliament last week that rubber bullets had been fired while the migrants were in the water, to a distance of at least 25 metres from them. He did not mention the tear gas. The minister said the shots were never intended to hit migrants and were appropriate since the migrants were acting aggressively.
Up until now police have only posted video footage online of migrants throwing stones at the border fence but not of the moment when they went into the sea to try to swim around to Spanish land. But on Friday the interior ministry posted on its website a video containing what it said were the "full images" taken by police security cameras at the border. The footage was turned over on Thursday to a court in Ceuta that is investigating the drownings. "In the images, which are still awaiting a full forensic analysis, we do not see any migrant being struck," the commander of Spain's Civil Guards, Fernando Cubillo, said in the video. European Union officials have said they will ask Spain to explain why police fired rubber bullets at migrants trying to reach Ceuta. Ceuta and Melilla, Spain's other exclave in north Africa, have the European Union's only land borders with Africa.
© MSN News
Headlines 21 February, 2014
Populist Spanish parties test water in EU elections
Mainstream political parties in Spain are set to lose ground to smaller populist movements in the May EU elections, which are seen as a test ground for next year's local and general votes.
21/2/2014- Although economic growth has picked up a little, the reality of life is still harsh for many Spanish people. Unemployment is the second highest in Europe with over 25 percent out of work compared to the EU average of around 10 percent. Some 1.8 million households have nobody bringing in an income; severe budget cuts have strained the education and health systems; and people continue to feel the economic crisis right up close. This, coupled with a surge in political corruption cases, has increased dissatisfaction with the Spanish two-party system that has dominated domestic politics since the late 1970s. The two parties in question – the governing Partido Popular (PP) and the opposition Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) – are expecting citizens to register discontent with their EU vote. Combined they are set to gain 54.4 percent of the vote, according to a Metrocopia opinion poll in January. This would be the lowest since the 1989 European Parliament election in which together they got 61 percent.
The PP is set to lose eight seats, going from 24 to 16, while PSOE looks likely to lose six seats, down from 23 to 17. These predictions have galvanized politicians into action. Socialist leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba has appointed Elena Valenciano, a close associate and Socialist party vice-president, to head the party's list. A socialist MEP from 1999 to 2008, Valenciano has been the vice-president of the Party of European Socialists since 2012. She wants to turn the tide of Europe’s economic crisis by returning to a more left-wing discourse. "We have lost a lot of time and a lot of ground in the fight against the crisis in the last few years [...] with terrible consequences for the lives of many citizens," she said recently. The EU parliament elections "are key for the recuperation of Europe". The socialist's high profile appointment is putting pressure on conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who has yet to make any public statement as to who will lead the Partido Popular’s list. The former interior minister Jaime Mayor Oreja, who has been a conservative MEP since 2004, has declined to head the list as he did in the two previous European Parliament elections.
A new party to the right of the right
Both the PP and the PSOE are facing difficulties. While Rubalcaba is failing to recover his socialist party's shrinking support, Rajoy’s conservative party is facing a creeping crisis of ideology and is losing support among some of the party's most conservative members. José María Aznar, conservative prime minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004, has publicly criticised Rajoy and his policies. Furthermore, a few party militants have resigned and joined a new right-wing party, Vox. They accuse the conservative government of being too "soft" on separatist regions and on ETA, the Basque separatist group that announced a ceasefire in 2011. At their formal presentation in January, Vox members said they aim to participate in the European Parliament election. One of the party's leaders is conservative MEP Alejo Vidal-Quadras, who is currently EU parliament vice-president. He quit the PP earlier this year. While it is too early to judge what kind of party Vox really is, its leaders are keen to make the most of the current changes in Spanish politics. "It is a protest vote from the right of the PP," says Xavier Casals, a university professor and specialist on Spain's extreme right. Vox could eventually capture Spain's small number of extreme right voters, he says.
Extreme right and hate-speech in politics
There are a few extreme right and ultra right parties in Spain and although they are growing in members, the parties are still very marginal. "The extreme right is fragmented. It is tied to small territories and it doesn't have a leadership. Furthermore, it has difficulties in competing in the electoral market because there are other ideological options for the protest vote,” says Casals. Despite the extreme right's marginal position, there has been an increase in xenophobic statements in Spain over the last few years. "We have to worry and be alert in Spain," says Ricard Zapata, a university professor specialising in political hate speech. "Compared to other countries, xenophobic rhetoric has not resulted in a specific political party with this specific discussion, but it has rapidly been incorporated by a party that at the moment is in power, the Partido Popular," he notes.
At the height of Spain's two-party system in the mid 1990s, Aznar's Partido Popular was able to unite the entire spectrum of right-wing ideologies from the most liberal, to the Christian democrats, to the extreme right. "Partido Popular is a conglomerate of many right-wing ideologies," says Zapata. In contrast to other EU countries, xenophobic rhetoric is still concentrated at the local level in Spain and has not yet coloured regional, national or European politics. There is also no link between populist statements and anti-Europeanism, like there is in many other EU countries. "Because isolation from Europe was so long during the Franco regime, anti-European speech has failed to take root," says Casals. Indeed anti-Europeanism does not have great support in Spain, he adds. "It is perfectly possible to be xenophobic and pro-European at the same time," he says. Another fact that differentiates Spain from other EU members is that, in general, political extremist rhetoric has not been linked to national identity such as in Denmark, France, and the Netherlands. Zapata argues this could be a reason why the extreme right in Spain is still marginalised, The different national identities within Spain itself makes it "complicated" to tie xenophobic speech with nationalism. Rather, hate speech in Spain is populist, he explains.
Spanish politics versus European politics
As dissatisfaction with Spanish politics deepens together with the country’s social crisis, voters are set to use their vote to protest against the country's political establishment. And this will also be the case for the European Parliament elections. According to the Metroscopia poll, 72 percent of Spanish voters will vote – or abstain – for domestic economic and political reasons, rather than for any reason to do with the EU. Turnout is expected to be around 46 percent, similar to the last European Parliament elections in 2009. Spanish voters will elect 54 MEPs to the 751-strong European Parliament on Sunday 25 May.
© The EUobserver
Op-Ed: Tea With Neo-Nazis: The Violent Nationalism in Ukraine
The violence in Ukraine is a show case of the pan-European rise of race hatred. Europe is engaging in a risky blindness. Again.
By Dr. Inna Rogatchi, president of the Rogatchi Foundation. Her forthcoming book is "Stars of Despair, Stars of Hope: Personal Reflections on the Holocaust in Modern Times".
21/2/2014- The most worrisome and largely overseen factor of the ongoing Ukrainian tragedy, to me, is the mighty presence among the opposition hard-core militants from ultra-right nationalistic parties and movements there. The threat which is posed by those forces shall be not under-estimated, especially in the context of rapidly rising ultra-national forces all over Europe, a new ugly ‘fashion’ of nowadays. Ukraine now has become a tragic ‘show-case’ of this alarming threat. The civic society world-wide simply has no luxury neither does it have moral right for allowing the repetition of the Nazi-like nightmares. When the Holocaust happened, just three generations back, there had been no precedent for such total horror and absolute crime committed non-stop for 12 years all over Europe, and – as it worth remembering – allowed to start by the weak governments and inept leaders.
But today, 75 years after the Holocaust began, there is no way of playing ignorance as a lead card, one that is actually covering indifference, often simple cowardice, and a strangely aloof attitude towards the recently risen clear and palpable threat of determined race hatred sweeping over all of Europe, – about which neither the European Parliament, or the Council of Europe, nor any other supposedly powerful international organization is doing anything real to stop and eradicate as they should. --“I have been six times in Ukraine during the last two months, what a tragedy is going on there”, - a senior European politician told me recently. --I asked him : “Have you noticed the activities of ultra-right radicals there? Have you heard what they are proclaiming and under which slogans they are ‘fighting for democracy’, so to say?”. –“Yes, that Svoboda ( Freedom) party, I know, it is a nightmare, by the way”.
–“Well, it is not what I would attest to as ‘by the way’", I replied, and asked my friend further on: “That nightmare is just one of the parties of that direction in Ukraine; do you know how many violent racist movements in Ukraine are operating today? Sixteen more in additional to the Freedom party plus seven more of an extreme-radical character, making it twenty three in total. Do you know that together with 10,44% of the seats in the current Ukrainian parliament occupied by Freedom party, those 23 more parties would cover at least 20% of the population of that huge country of 45,5 million?” – “Yes, it is very serious” – my friend suddenly sounded alarmed, "it should be taken into serious consideration, of course”. – I continued: “Do you know that these big Ukrainian radical movements are working in close co-operation with and have very close ties to the infamous Hungarian Fascist Jobbik party?” -- “ Really?.. No, I did not know that. Oh, that’s very important. That’s really bad”, and now he was thoroughly alarmed.
My friend flew to Ukraine the next morning for the seventh time in two months. He joined the urgent summit of the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland there as the highest level of the European diplomacy was urgently trying to save the situation that has gone out of control and beyond of the point of no return. We already know that the summit was another dialogue between the deaf and the blind. But I do hope that as a honest man and an efficient international politician, my friend will continue to pursue the case that he and I were discussing with mutually shared serious worry not only for Ukraine, but regarding the entire face and destiny of Europe in the near future, after the coming European elections in May 2014. During these elections, pan-European ultra-right radicals will try to hijack Europe once again; and the situation has not been this serious in Europe since the pre-WWII time, for a fact. Why is it that people are so stubborn in their persistent drive to reject reality? Why our brains are so weak? And our eyes so comfortably blind, always and repeatedly?
In Ukraine, the Janukovich-led regime has been massively corrupt, the president himself happens to be a convicted criminal, and his clique fully corresponds to those marvellous qualities. Still, it is the same Ukrainian people who did vote for him; the same way people in Venezuela kept voting for their Orwellian presidents, one after another. Any expert on Ukraine would tell you that all the previous Ukrainian regimes were, quite similarly, utterly corrupted, as has always been the case for this country. Only names and influential groups have changed during the 22 years of the country’s independence, but not their slogans, ways and methods. Janukovich, a weak and ineffectual leader, did not react adequately when his special forces violated the rights of protesting students in early December in what became the turning point of the change from peaceful protest into the growing and uncontrollable violence we witness now. Infamous “Berkut” troops and the other Ukrainian security troops, their state militia and the special force units are notoriously anti-Semitic, as can be seen from their own pages in Facebook, their sites and their videos on YouTube.
What we are having in the case of Ukraine is ugly, uncivilised and involves large groups of hard-core nationalists and militant racists – from both sides, importantly. And this double-sided violent nationalism is only increasing the threats to normal, now-terrorized citizens of Ukraine, and those who are visiting the country. The genie of hatred has come out of the bottle, and it will be extremely difficult to put it back. But without doing it, there will be no peace in that big and important country. And the inflammatory situation will threaten all of Ukraine's neighbors, from Poland to Moldova, including Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, all of them besides Moldova members of the European Union; with Russia and Byelorussia among the Ukrainian neighbors, as well. Who on the earth needs such threatening open fire in one's neighbor’s courtyard? To handle smoke, one needs to extinguish the fire. And the fire is that provocative, open and dangerous ultra-radical nationalism blossoming today in Ukraine.
Racial Hatred As Yeast for Riots
It is crucial to realise that sheer and ugly racism has become the yeast of the Ukrainian riots – from both sides, it is important to note. Why are none of the European and Western world leaders not pointing in that vital direction? Why is it being overlooked once again? My close friend living in Ukraine wrote me a few days ago on how her West-based fiancée is very nervous about the situation and ‘is praying that democracy will win in Ukraine’ – “Poor naive man”, writes my Ukrainian friend. If things continue to unfold the way they are unfolding now, all of Europe will become poor and ridden by race-based hatred and it may happen soon.
Neo-Nazis as ‘Freedom Fighters’
Little more than a year ago, in Autumn 2012, the ultra-right nationalist, fervently and openly anti-Semitic Freedom party received over 10% of the seats in the Ukrainian parliament and now has a solid 37 seats in the 450-member governing body. Just over a year since the legitimisation of that party, which initially proudly called itself a National-Socialist party, the protests in Ukraine have turned into bloody riots and are very close to civil war. Since the very beginning, a heavily racist element has been present in the rhetoric of the protests. Why did nobody in the West react adequately to these non-stop proclamations of hatred and calls for violence? Why did nobody speak about it in plain language, not once?
If any of the MPs of almost any of the Western countries – except Hungary, obviously - would allow him or herself to imitate a pale shadow of the speeches which were repeatedly heard from the podium of the Ukrainian parliament, the speeches produced by the Freedom party MPs, that Western parliamentarian would find him or herself in jail instantly. And to make the customary Ukrainian surrealism entirely bleak, today the Freedom party leader has become one of the three most visible, officially recognized leaders of the Ukrainian opposition. To accept it is the same as signing a decree that “from today on, we are once again living happily in a barbarian age". The German government seems to be the only one that has made a distinction between the leader of the blatant neo-Nazis and the (acceptable to the West) other Ukrainian opposition leaders. Germany clearly has no alternative about that.
But what about every other Western government, the European Parliament and the European Commission who are so very active – and so very unsuccessful – in solving the Ukrainian drama? Are they deaf? Blind? Illiterate? Not interested in details, most probably - hurrying up in a non-stop shuttling to intermediate the peace process in Ukraine which comes across as another fiasco, so far; very similar to the Egyptian and Thailand ones. In 2012, the Anti-Defamation League officially listed the Ukrainian Freedom party as a neo-Nazi party. How it is possible in the civilised and post WWII world that this party is accepted as part of an official opposition and a partner in the negotiations attended by anyone who is not Nazi or a neo-Nazi ideology supporter? European and Western leaders do owe us the answer to that simple question.
The Right Sector of Armed Debauchers
People who are following the situation in Ukraine, know that the notorious Freedom party looks almost like church choir boys in comparison with 23 more ultra-right radical organizations in Ukraine, several of them recently united into the Right Sector Alliance comprised of highly aggressive militants. The current reality is that those thousands of militants are well equipped with weapons and ammunition and are determined to run the war, according to their leader’s repeated statements. It is those people who have happily taken responsibility for multiple acts of arson, increasing daily terror and limitless violence. It is those people who beat severely a newly appointed official in Volyn, put him on his knees, hand-cuffed him publicly in the city square, and brought his family to stand in front of him. Those people call themselves fighters for freedom. Is this the definition of freedom with which the European leaders are happy? These are not ‘separate accidental cases’ as we are hearing in some official comments. This is the position and practice of the absolutely real, serious, large, well organized and well prepared sector of the Ukrainian protesters, and this truth shall be realised and acted upon without delay.
There is no secret concerning the real political agenda and programs of ultra-nationalist parties in Ukraine – there is nothing close to European values and goals there. One just should open existing documents and hear what the representatives of those parties proclaim daily. They are sharply anti-European, and highly racist. They have nothing to do with the values and practices of the civilized world. Why are the European leaders embracing such forces so indiscriminately?..
The Threat to Ukranian Jewry
Ukrainian Jewry is facing a real and serious threat, and it is simply chilling to write about it on the eve of commemorating the 70th anniversary of the destruction of Hungarian Jewry. The Hungarian government is putting the commemoration on the back burner, expectedly, but unacceptably. Twenty five years ago, in 1989, there were almost a half a million Jews in Ukraine. In just over a decade, 80% of them left the country. This fact alone tells a lot about the country’s attitude and atmosphere vis a vis Jews. Ten years later, that number had diminished by a third. Now, less than 70,000 Jews are citizens of Ukraine, according to official statistics. That enormous shrinking of the Jewish population is one of the most tangible characteristics of the independent Ukraine, one has to face it. And now there is palpable and increasing danger to the Jewish people and Jewish institutions in the country. The world community should become vigilant and alert to this threat. It should act immediately in order to preserve and guarantee necessary safety to those people and institutions. There is no ‘tomorrow’ for that.
A Pre-condition for Civilization
There is no doubt that the only way out of the heavily escalated bloody conflict in Ukraine is through early elections. With the current situation there, and the general silent acceptance of the radical ultra-right nationalistic parties and movements from outside the country, there is a high enough probability of their serious gain in early elections. Europe simply cannot afford to add gasoline to the already-started fire. As European leaders are so active these days trying to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, they should make it absolutely clear to all parties involved that Europe and the world will not tolerate legitimization of race-hatred. This has to be the pre-condition of any further development in Ukraine and the coming early elections. To empower the openly neo-Nazi movements in Europe by ignoring the threat they pose is an utterly risky business. People should not have to pay a terrible price – again – for the meekness and indifference of their leaders. As Ukraine today has become the tragic show-case for all of Europe with regards to breeding and allowing race-hatred to become a violent and uncontrollable force, it is impertive to handle the situation there in accordance with existing international law and norms of civilisation.
Never again, you said?
© Arutz Sheva
Swiss court rules police officer's slurs did not breach anti-racism law
'Foreign pig' and 'dirty asylum seeker' insulting but not against anti-racism law because specific ethnic group not mentioned.
21/2/2014- Calling someone a "foreign pig" or "dirty asylum seeker" is insulting but is not against Switzerland's anti-racism law, the country's top court has ruled. The federal tribunal found in favour of a police officer who had used the slurs when he arrested an Algerian suspected thief. The incident took place at a trade fair in the northern city of Basel in April 2007, where the Algerian was detained for allegedly snatching a Russian man's bag. After checking the suspect's identity papers, the policeman discovered that he was an asylum seeker and insulted him. As a result, the officer received a suspended fine for breaking the country's anti-racism laws. After the penalty was overturned by another court, the case worked its way up to the top of the Swiss justice system. The tribunal said that while such terms were clearly insulting, they were too broad to fall foul of anti-racism rules because they did not target a particular ethnic group, race or religion. It also said calling someone "dirty" – even if the individual's nationality was mentioned – was not against the anti-racism law.
© The Guardian
Europe says no to racism denialism (opinion)
Racist and xenophobic instincts exist in European countries in a more or less controlled way since Europe is Europe. To deny Holocaust has been long considered a criminal offense in Germany and France but the European Commission still cannot punish member states that do not apply correctly the European rules against racism and xenophobia. Yet things can change.
By Julia Pastor
21/2/2014- After long decades of redeeming for faults about nazism, current deep economic crisis appears to have intensified feelings of racial hate in all countries, the peripheral as well as core ones. Greece has neo-Nazi organisation Golden Dawn with 18 seats at the Hellenic Parliament, hand France has expelled near 5,000 Romanian and Bulgarian gypsies.
At the same time the EC celebrated the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January, European executive’s vice-president and responsible for Justice Viviane Reding urged national government to recognize denialism of crimes against humanity such as jewish genocide as criminal offence. Since 2008 the institution is trying to homogenize member states laws via a Framework decision, especially over hate speech and crimes involving hatred. Although most of countries have implemented legal provisions on the affair, these remain “inadequate” in nineteen of European nations since they seemingly do not “fully” transpose offences included in the Framework decision, according to the EC
First step to solve this question will be foreseen bilateral meetings of European executive with member states through current year in order to improve national laws. However, it is thougth to leave isolated cases of hate speech and crimes of hatred in the hands of every country. Some political analysts in Spain are not fully convinced about defining denialism as criminal offence. Journalist Nacho Segurado has referred in his blog to the fact that Europe has no a common historical memory. “Not all members states has the same relation with their totalitarian past,” he said. Secondly, he pointed out that “well-meaning obsession of lawmaking about past times is very dangerous. Behind resorting to penal code underlies vain pedagogy, and just behind that, the tentation of making Europe’s history a sort of moral memory palace.” On her part, Viviane Reding defends that changes in law will allow “to reach peace among European Union’s nations.”. However, it still remains another challenge. “Continuing the fight for tolerante within our societies. Nobody should suffer hate speech or crimes of hatred,” Reding said.
© The Corner
Greek prosecutors seek to lift immunity from remaining Golden Dawn lawmakers
21/2/2014- Greek prosecutors asked parliament to remove from immunity nine additional lawmakers from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. If parliament grants Thursday’s request, all 18 of the party’s lawmakers in the 300-member parliament will face charges, part of Greece’s widespread crackdown on a party that prosecutors describe as a criminal organization. Among the nine lawmakers who already have lost immunity is party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos, who has been jailed since October. Prosecutors also told parliament they intended to file additional charges against the original nine, including for possession of firearms and ammunition. The crackdown on Golden Dawn followed widespread outrage and protests in Greece in the wake of the Sept. 18 killing of anti-fascist rapper Killah P by a suspected Golden Dawn member. The request filed by prosecutors described Golden Dawn “a vertically structured organization that operates along military lines and which is inspired by the ideals of national socialism with clear references to [Adolf] Hitler and Nazism,” according to the Kathimerini daily. Golden Dawn has been accused of being behind dozens of attacks on immigrants in Greece. The party is known for its Nazi swastika-like flag and Holocaust-denying leadership.
© JTA News
Marine and Geert – Double Trouble on the Right (EUropean Union, opinion)
The reactions that greeted the proposal of Marine Le Pen, the fiery leader of France’s Front National, and Geert Wilders, the equally bold frontman of the Netherlands’ own VVP, to form a far-right party in the European Parliament after the 2014 elections were jubilant, shocked, unwisely condescending and, unfortunately, mainly apathetic.
by Phelim Usher-Purves
20/2/2014- Those who protested outside the building in which the new grouping was launched rightly pointed out that, while passions were high and opposition no doubt sincere, the streets were full of shoppers and tourists, not political activists. But inside a new agreement was being hammered out, which could change the political landscape of the European Union. Basically, the far-right movements are sick of sitting on the sidelines and wishing a greater role in the workings of the Parliament (dysfunctional at the best of times). In order to do so, the requirement is to find support (whether a 3% vote or some MEPs) from a quarter of EU Member States. Some contend that the requirement that European parties must observe the founding principles of the Union (liberty, democracy, the rule of law etc). The very fact critics of the right have to use such a flimsy pretext to exclude these parties, instead of providing alternatives or tackling the problem head-on, is indicative of a fear on the part of the other parties, and a basic confusion about how to react.
Years of neglect and confusion as to the connection of the European citizen with the EU level has led us to this point. A fundamental disconnect has allowed this situation to flourish, and the complexity of the European framework doesn’t exactly invite in the ‘man on the street’. Perhaps this is too harsh. The complexities of decision-making for 28 Member States is both difficult and tedious – the process of qualified majority voting is hardly the stuff dreams are made of. But it is necessary to bring the citizen back in, sit him or her down, and prove to them that the European project is working, and must continue to work. Is all of this possible? Don’t be surprised. Voters still use the EP elections (due in May) as an opportunity to give ruling parties a warning, content in the belief that the work of the Parliament doesn’t really affect them. Would the FN’s forecast of 25% in the European elections compared with the 19% for the ruling Socialists really translate directly into the same situation when France went to the ballot box for itself? Doubtful.
By allowing the eurosceptics leeway to frame the debate, the pro-Union camp is put on the back foot. In addition, the simple answers given to economic, social and political questions trotted out by the far right stand in stark contrast to the intangible benefits alluded to by EU policy-makers. They should take heed of the debate in the UK, in which Nigel Farage’s familiar cry that the EU costs the British more than £50 million a day has failed to be effectively challenged by the main parties, each of which tries to point out the benefits of a customs union (not exactly sexy), EU citizenship and free movement rights (not effectively used by the average British person) and the catch-all concept of the single market (too complex to be widely understood).
This alliance on the far right will be subject to more ups and downs than the norm. The founding parties differ on a host of issues: gay marriage; relations with Israel; and macro-economic policy, to name but a few. However, there is a risk of too much emphasis being placed on their differences. Both leaders are too shrewd to have blithely glossed over their respective positions; but it is exactly this that sets them apart. Less extreme European groupings need a cohesive set of ideals, principles and attitudes in order to hold them together (witness in particular the catch-all terms of the Socialists and Democrats, attempting to reach from the moderate left to the centre) in order for them to present coherent ideas to the European electorate.
The far right has no such need. If anything, they would be more than happy to split when their objective is achieved, and they can leave Brussels and Europe behind. In addition, the existence of a far-right grouping, of which Marine Le Pen’s father is a member, begs the question of seriousness. Is this new group nothing more than a stunt or an attempt to gain some extra coverage on a wider stage?
© The Typewriter
German court rejects case to allow gay adoption on technicality
21/2/2014- Germany's Constitutional Court on Friday threw out a case to grant gay couples the right to jointly adopt a child on a technicality, but gay rights activists noted that a ruling by the same court last February effectively allowed it. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservatives have been accused of dragging their feet over gay rights - leaving it to judges of the Constitutional Court to grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. Presently in Germany gay marriage is not allowed and gay couples cannot jointly adopt a child. Last February however the Constitutional Court granted gay individuals the right to adopt a child already adopted by their civil partner, under a practice known as 'successive adoption'. A prior ban on the practice violated the principle of equal treatment regardless of sexual orientation, it said in that ruling, giving the government until July 2014 to change the law. Merkel's new right-left coalition has pledged to do so. The court also ruled last year that the government must treat same-sex couples on a par with heterosexual couples in taxation law.
The court on Friday however rejected a case referred to it by a regional court in Berlin saying it was not sufficiently grounded in legal argument, and Berlin judges should have incorporated its ruling last year on successive adoption. "The Berlin District Court has barely considered the relevant literature and the ruling of the Constitutional Court in its referral," said the court in Karlsruhe. In a statement Germany's Lesbian and Gay Association said it regretted the court would not make a ruling, but added it took heart from the fact that the court clearly supported the equal treatment of same-sex couples. "Parliament and the government cannot hide behind this formal rejection of the case," it said in a statement. "The ban on joint adoption by civil couples is effectively meaningless, as partners can circumvent it by adopting a child in succession. This is even possible in the same hearing," they noted.
3 Auschwitz 'Guards' Arrested in Germany
Trio Busted in 'Last Chance' Push on Holocaust Crimes
20/2/2014- Three suspected former guards of the Auschwitz death camp run by the Nazis during World War Two have been arrested in southwestern Germany, the public prosecutor’s office in Stuttgart said on Thursday. it said the three accused, aged 88, 92 and 94 years old, are believed to have been involved in the murder of prisoners at Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland. They were arrested after police searched six homes in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg using information released to several German states last autumn by the Central Office of the Judicial Authorities for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes. Various documents from the Nazi era were seized during the search on Wednesday and are being evaluated, prosecutors said. Some 1.5 million people perished at Auschwitz, mostly Jews but also Roma, Poles and others, between 1940 and 1945. German officials are trying to track down other low-level collaborators in a “last chance” hunt for ageing perpetrators of the Holocaust, in which some 6 million Jews were murdered.
NSU victims' families sorely miss a debate on racism in Germany
Lawyers for the families of victims of the NSU neo-Nazi group and initiatives against far-right extremism agree that society needs to take a long, hard look at racism in Germany.
20/2/2014- Sebastian Scharmer and Mehmet Daimagüler chose the venue for their critical remarks with care: at Berlin's House of Democracy and Human Rights - which describes itself as "a space for dialogue" - the two lawyers itemized a long list of society's shortcomings in how it handles far-right extremism and racism. Their message was that, two years after the revelations about the NSU neo-Nazi murders, Germany has returned to business as usual. They were speaking ahead of a debate in the German parliament, the Bundestag, on Thursday (20.02.2014) in the NSU murders were to be discussed for the first time in this legislative period. Scharmer and Daimagüler represent the families of the NSU's victims at the trial in Munich of the group's surviving member, Beate Zschäpe. Even nine months after the start of the trial, their clients are still waiting for answers to key questions. Who, apart from the five defendants, belonged to the network surrounding the National Socialist Underground? How did they choose their ten victims? Who funded the NSU, and what were the group's ties to other countries? What information did the intelligence agencies have after the alleged killers went into hiding in 1998 until they were exposed in 2011?
Limited or no access to files
The lawyers say that all efforts toshed light on the NSU murders seem to go nowhere. Scharmer accuses the state prosecution of doing its best to prevent clarification of the facts: he says he and his colleagues have limited or no access to the files. For example, they were only allowed to look at files on a dubious police informer after applying to the federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe - they were not allowed to make copies and could only take notes: "That is neither clarification nor transparency." The lawyers also come up against a brick wall in the trial when they inquire about the political views held by witnesses close to Zschäpe. The prosecution regularly objects to such queries - an approach Scharmer says amounts to a failure to take account of the victims' families' "legitimate interests."
Anetta Kahane, chairperson of the Berlin-based Antonio Amadeu Foundation against racism, has watched the trial in court - and had the distinct impression that "tactical games were being played." Chancellor Angela Merkel's pledge to get to the bottom of the murders was a mere gesture, she says. At a memorial service for the families of the victims in February 2012, Merkel said everything was being done to clear up the murders, find the accomplices and make sure the perpetrators get their just punishment. Two years later, Kahane concludes that back then, the authorities "staged a lot of hope." The lawyers hope their outspoken criticism will spark a debate about racism in Germany. They urge the Bundestag to set up a committee in which lawmakers, experts and citizens can thoroughly research the issue. A group of parliamentarians involved in an investigative committee on the murders came to a similar conclusion last year, - and pointed out the state's "total failure" in a 1,000-page final document.
Now interest seems to have flagged: the current debate lasted just 90 minutes, and Scharmer is convinced that authorities feel the issue has been more or less wrapped up. The lawyers are sorely disappointed by the NSU trial; however, Daimagüler says they have been able to win "valuable insights into the defendants." Four other defendants charged with assisting the NSU during its 13 years underground are on trial in Munich alongside Zschäpe.
© The Deutsche Welle.
Neo-Nazi group funded activities by selling awful version of Monopoly (Germany)
Details of game revealed during trial of alleged member of neo-Nazi group National Socialist Undergound ; Game, where Jewish people are sent to death camps, sold to fund extremist activities, court hears
19/2/2014- A Neo-Nazi group created a perverted board game based on Monopoly where Jewish people get sent to death camps so they could pass the time between murders. The game, where the winner is the person who deports the most to the gas chambers, has featured at the trial of 'Nazi bride' Beate Zschape in Munich. Zschape, 39, is allegedly the sole-surviving member of the National Socialist Underground neo-Nazi death squad which allegedly murdered nine immigrant businessmen and a female police officer in Germany in a 13-year reign of terror which also included bank robberies, bombings and weapons seizures. The NSU is a far-right German terrorist group which was uncovered in November 2011. They have been accused of a series of murders of nine immigrants in 2006, murdering a policewoman and attempted murder of her colleague, the Cologne bombings in 2001 and 2004 and 14 bank robberies. In January last year, Beate Zschape was committed to trial accused of ten counts of murder. Miss Zschäpe, who denies the charges against her, has refused to give evidence. She has been described as a quiet woman who kept her political views to herself.
The gang called the game 'Pogromly' - from the word pogrom meaning a violent riot that were often organised against Jews in Russian and eastern Europe over several centuries - and features a skull wearing a German helmet in the centre of the board, S.S. runic flashes and plenty of swastikas. Prosecutors at the Munich trial of Zschape and several accomplices say she and her now-dead NSU sidekicks invented the game to pass away the time between assassinations and robberies. The aim of the game was to annihilate Jewish life in German cities and send Jews to death camps. It became a major exhibit on day 85 of the trial which is the biggest neo-Nazi process ever heard in postwar Germany. Prosecutors said Zschape invented it with gang members - and her lovers - Uwe Boehnhardt, 34, and Uwe Mundlos, 38. Both of them committed suicide two years ago after a botched bank raid, leaving Zschape to torch their hideout. The gang allegedly hoped that by randomly murdering immigrants they would force hundreds of thousands of people to leave Germany for their homelands.
A police officer who investigated the game told the court: 'The idea was to get Jew-free towns.' Instead of the four railway stations that feature on every Monopoly board the gang had the name of four notorious concentration and death camps: Auschwitz, Dachau, Ravensbrueck and Buchenwald. Chance and Community Chest cards had instructions like: 'Go to the next concentration camp and hand in the captured Jews and make the owner pay twice the normal rent.' On another: 'You fought off a horde of red lice using a machine gun. Reward; 2,000 Reichsmark.' The gang made several copies of the game which they sold to far-right fanatics themselves across Germany for around £80 a game. The proceeds went towards financing their life underground as they carried out their murder missions. The indictment against Zschape states that the helped devise the game 'in an insidious way and identifying completely with the genocide of the Jews in the Third Reich.' The trial continues.
© The Daily Mail
Carlton Palmer under fire for claims that players should ''grow up and accept'' racist abuse (Ireland)
Carlton Palmer has come under fire suggesting that black players should “grow up and accept' racist abuse on the pitch.
21/2/2014- The former Sheffield Wednesday star called on players to make a joke of insults thrown at them as he did during his career. But Paul Mortimer, Kick It Out’s Professional Player Engagement Manager, has hit back it his claims by branding them 'unhelpful' and insisting he was not talking for the majority of black players. “What I would say is that any form of racist abuse on the pitch is illegal," Mortimer told talkSPORT. "You’re not allowed to do it and that is something that needs to be understood. There is someone who is doing something illegal, especially abusing someone and that has to be dealt with. “He (Palmer) doesn’t speak for all the players, he is speaking about his opinion based on his experiences. Part of my role at Kick It Out is engaging with players, speaking to players and listening to their views. "One thing I can tell you is that it is still an issue in the game and it needs addressing.”
Palmer, who played for his country 18 times, argued that verbal abuse is part of the game and a way of players trying to put each other off and should not be considered racism. In his interview Palmer revealed he had suffered racist abuse as a player but would 'just laugh it off”and called on current players to do the same. But Mortimer questioned what kind of impact Palmer's comments would have in school children up and down the country. He added: “Well let me ask you this, one of my children came home from school and told me they had been racially abused. They had been called a certain name I know that I have been called on the pitch. "What do I tell them? Laugh it off? Say ‘it’s just a joke’. Is that how I should educate my children? “When you talk about players being racist on the pitch when they come off the pitch does it mean those behaviours are gone? Are they exclusively for the pitch? That’s not quite right. "People who have those sorts of feelings and think that way - it’s not just exclusively on the pitch, it’s off the pitch as well.”
Garth Crooks, an independent Trustee for Kick It Out, added his thoughts: “What is clear is that such views have no place in the modern game and the current generation of professional footballers, like Samuel Eto’o, Yaya Toure and Kevin Prince-Boateng, will not accept racism in any shape or form. “They are the stars of today and it’s their views that matter. The perpetrators of racism and their co-conspirators have lost their grip on the modern game and the football environment is a much better place for it.”
© The Irish Mirror
Archbishop warns against racist ghettos proliferating in Ireland
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has warned Irish society it must be alert to the first signs of racism and xenophobia.
19/2/2014- Speaking at a conference in Dublin this morning on the challenges for migrants, he told representatives of the department of foreign affairs, as well as church and policy advocates, “People have the right to emigrate.” Ireland, he said, was fortunate that it had never had a strong anti-European or anti-immigrant political current, but that didn’t mean that anti-immigration couldn’t exist. The Archbishop, who was the keynote speaker at the ‘Journeying Together: Challenges Facing Migrants Today’ conference, called for better democratic and judicial control processes and urged people to speak out at the first sign that policies were placing immigrants and their children at a disadvantage. Referring to the experience of multi-culturalism in other countries, the Archbishop said it could create parallel cultures which, in the context of poor social housing policy, could create ghettos. “Ghettos will only build up walls of division rather than break down barriers of misunderstanding,” he warned.
Describing Ireland’s asylum policy as too long and restrictive, he acknowledged that a balance needed to be struck in order that freedom of movement between Britain and Ireland could not be exploited by organised crime or terrorism. If anti-immigration policies become more vocal in Britain, Ireland should take a lead on constructive managed immigration. Asylum policy in emergencies such as the Syrian crisis needed to be ‘flathúlach’ and not just “calculatingly politically correct.” On the issue of migration and foreign direct investment, the Primate of Ireland called for a healthy management of migration into Ireland warning that the country currently has an “ambivalent ‘green card’ immigration culture”. Calling on the government to do more on the high levels of youth unemployment in Ireland, the Archbishop said: “Ireland has high quotas of talented youth entrepreneurs but I often hear of the difficulties they encounter in getting finance to start business.” “It is vital for employment to ensure that entrepreneurship and creativity can flourish among the young,” the Archbishop said.
© The Irish Independent
Azerbaijani attempt to spread anti-Armenian posters in Vilnius inciting xenophobia has been suppressed (Lithuania)
19/2/2014- An attempt of the Azerbaijani government to spread anti-Armenian xenophobic posters in the capital of Lithuania has been suppressed. As Armen Hayrapetyan, the coordinator of Lithuania-Armenia Forum told Panorama.am, yesterday under the framework of the campaign to promote Azerbaijani version of 1992 Aghdam events some posters, ordered by the government of Azerbaijan, appeared in the streets of Vilnius. The posters that appeared even in public toilets of the city contained racist and xenophobic content against the Armenians. In regard to this, the Armenian side appealed to the Mayor of Vilnius demanding to suppress the incitement of ethnic hatred carried out by means of anti-Armenian propaganda of the Azerbaijani side. As a result of coordinated action of the Armenian embassy in Lithuania all the posters containing misinformation regarding Aghdam events have been removed.
As Hayrapetyan noted, JCDecaux Company, which is engaged in placement of paid advertisements in the streets of Vilnius, was ordered to make the posters. However, the Armenian Community insisted that it was unacceptable to place calls of xenophobic nature in public places and demanded to remove all the posters immediately. On February 26, 1992, during the war in Karabakh, around 200 to 300 people (according to Human Right Watch, and 600 according to the version propagated by Azerbaijan) were killed in unknown circumstances near the city of Aghdam. They have been deliberately withheld by the Azerbaijani authorities in the midst of the military actions. Population of the village of Khojalu, which was one of the firing points shooting at the blockaded Stepanakert (among five others) was kept in the village for months by force and was not evacuated by the authorities of Azerbaijan deliberately, in order to use them as human shields later.
Residents of Khojalu coming out through the humanitarian corridor, that the self-defense forces of NKR had left open, freely passed more than 10 km and reached the Aghdam city controlled by the Azerbaijani troops. Later, not far from the positions of Azerbaijani troops dead bodies of the villagers were found. The exact death toll remains unknown as the official Baku publishes data contradicting each other. Parliamentary Commission investigating the tragic death of the civilians at Aghdam city was dissolved by the order of Heydar Aliyev, the investigative materials are kept secret.
Policy on detaining migrant mothers under fire (Cyprus)
21/2/2014- Immigration’s practice of putting migrant mothers behind bars came under fire yesterday when a new case emerged involving a Chinese woman detained at Menoyia. Although it’s forbidden by law to imprison the mother of any child that is younger than three years old, police and immigration services appear to be disregarding the rules when it comes to deportation. Only last week, the Cyprus Mail reported on the case of a Sri Lankan woman who was arrested in front of her two-year old boy when she tried to visit her husband in prison. The child was later handed over to welfare services. Now, a Chinese national and her husband are being held at Menoyia since September last year while their daughter 16 has been living alone since then. The couple are facing deportation on accusations that they were living and working in Cyprus illegally.
Migrant support group KISA says their daughter was not receiving enough care from welfare so a volunteer from the organisation is currently staying with her. KISA was not alone in criticising the authorities. Child Commissioner Leda Koursoumba added her voice to the fray, telling daily Phileleftheros that it was unthinkable for the state to imprison mothers without properly assessing each case individually. “Reports like this reach our offices on a regular basis. We try to address each case but this is not a solution. Authorities have to understand that it’s in the child’s best interest to stay with the mother. Detaining a mother for months, until her case is processed is completely unacceptable. We can’t be having the same problem every time the authorities arrest a mother before making sure that imprisoning her won’t harm the child,” she said.
Nicoletta Charalambidou, the human rights lawyer who represents the family in court, was also critical. “The authorities can’t arrest the mother and father, leaving the child alone to care for herself. When applying the law, authorities have to respect international legislation regarding the rights of children,” said Charalambidou, adding that she was currently in court trying to secure a special residence permit for the family. The human rights lawyer bases her argument on the fact that the couple has a child that attends school in Cyprus and that they have invested over €200,000 in buying an apartment and starting a business on the island. Charalambidou also applied to the cabinet, which has the authority to grant special residence permits on humanitarian reasons but admits that she is not optimistic. “This is not the first time I applied on behalf of a client but I never got a response and they ended up being deported. The law gives the cabinet the authority to intervene but they don’t exercise it,” she said.
© Cyprus Mail
Our View: Immigration department appears to be accountable to no one (Cyprus)
19/2/2014- The immigration Department’s arbitrary actions and other excesses have been well-documented over the years. The ombudswoman, deputies, immigrant support groups and the media have reported countless cases of the department’s heavy handedness and systematic abuses of power; there was even a public falling out between a former interior minister and the head of the department, over the handling of specific cases. But none of this has changed the Department. Abuse of power remains its modus operandi and it continues to consider calls for accountability with disdain. The Department is a law unto itself, recognising no rights to immigrants, denying them information and often deporting them without following proper procedures. It continues to behave in this authoritarian way because it can crush its disenfranchised victims with impunity.
No government or political party is willing to censure the Department because they do not want to be perceived by the public of being soft on immigration. There has always been hostility towards immigrants, but it has become more acute with soaring unemployment, many people complaining that illegal immigrants and asylum seekers were taking Cypriot jobs. In this climate, no politicians would dare say anything critical of the Immigration Department, which is fully aware of this. The arrogance of the Department has become quite frightening, as it no longer maintains even a pretence that it is operating within the law. As we reported last week, the Department completely ignored a Supreme Court decision, issued on December 19, ordering the immediate release of a Bosnian asylum seeker. A second ruling was issued on February 7, because the Department had ignored the December ruling, keeping the Bosnian in custody. The Supreme Court ruling censured the Department and the Interior Ministry, which, reportedly, were considering appealing the decision.
Could there be a more blatant case of contempt of court? Yet the Department had the audacity to issue a statement claiming there was no intention to defy the court ruling (which was exactly what it had done), maintaining the issue was a of ‘a delicate legal nature that might affect the department’s ability to handle similar cases’. In short, the Department decided to ignore the court ruling because it knew better than the judge. It is accountable to nobody and believes it has no obligation to respect the law. Such behaviour is what we would expect to see in a police state not in a democracy that boasts rule of law. This is why the government needs to take a stand. Replacing the head of the Immigration Department, who has been in her post for an unhealthily long time, would be a step in the right direction. Ministers may have tolerated the Department’s abuses of power – wrongly – but they should draw the line at contempt of court by a state official.
© The Cyprus Mail
Brussels Mayor bans Vlaams Belang's anti-illegals campaign (Belgium)
The Mayor of the City of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur (Francophone socialist), has refused to grant permission for the Flemish far-right party Vlaams Belang to take its campaign against illegals to the City of Brussels on Wednesday.
18/2/2014- Mr Mayeur believes that the campaign smacks of xenophobia and that there is a serious risk that public order could be disturbed. In coming weeks the Vlaams Belang is taking its illegals' campaign to the Flemish cities of Antwerp, Mechelen, Vilvoorde and Ghent. The Flemish far-right had wanted to include the Belgian and Flemish capital on its itinerary, but the mayor has now stepped in to prevent this because of the nature of the posters that the party is eager to stick on its campaign vans. The posters include the legend: "Illegal? Go home or to jail!" and give the phone numbers of the Asylum and Migration Secretary and the toll free number operated by the Fedasil, Federal Agency for Asylum, where you can receive information about voluntary returns. Mayor Mayeur: "The slogan is a violation of anti-racism legislation. There's also the chance that the action could be provocative and disturb public order. The reference to the Asylum Secretary's number could put the fear of God into people and trigger hostile demos outside Ms De Block's office."
© Expatica - Belgium
Polish Parliament hosts anti-discrimination football exhibition
20/2/2014- The ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of the Stadiums’ exhibition, organised by the Fare member ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association, tells the stories and contributions made by players of ethnic minority backgrounds to the country’s football and raises awareness of discrimination in the game. The initiative also celebrates the legacy of the ‘RESPECT Diversity – Football Unites’ campaign against racism in football grounds, organised by Fare and the Polish association, during the Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. “We watch with horror the tragic events that have unfolded in Ukraine over in these last few days and we hope that through this exhibition we can bring back some of the best moments of the event that both nations hosted” said the ‘Never AGAIN’ Association representative, Rafal Pankowski. The launch event was attended by the Polish Equality Minister, Agnieszka Kozlowska-Rajewicz, the MP for the Parliamentary Committee on Physical Culture, Sports and Tourism, Artur Gorczynski, and hosted by the Deputy Speaker Wanda Nowicka.
© Football Against Racism in Europe
"Golden Dawn" for a Far-Right European Coalition? (opinion)
Europe is witnessing an alarming rise in the influence and cooperation of right-wing parties in a number of member states. Although their power is limited and the parties are prone to division, in the context of financial and political uncertainty in Europe, there is the potential for their power to develop. To halt this growth, European politicians must stop using Brussels as a scapegoat for national problems and build confidence in the EU once more.
By Yana Prokofyeva
17/2/202014- On 18th November representatives of several European nationalist parties – the French National Front, Italian Northern League, Belgian Flemish interest, Dutch Party for Freedom, Slovak National Party and Austrian Freedom Party of Austria, met in Vienna in order to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition ahead of the upcoming Elections to the European Parliament. This meeting followed the announcement made on 14th of November by Marine Le Pen - leader of FN and Geert Wilders (PVV) about their intention to form an alliance. Will this alliance last and be successful and if yes, what consequences it may have for the EU?
According to European electoral law, in order to set up a political group at least 25 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) from at least 7 different EU Member States are needed. As the polls in a number of countries demonstrate, the rising popularity of extreme right parties, the shaping coalition is more than likely to have 25 MEPs. The alliance currently consists of six countries – missing only one to meet the legal requirements – but it is hard to predict who will join it: openly neo-Nazi parties like Jobbik (Hungary) and Golden Dawn (Greece) are not even considered while others, such as the Sweden Democrats or the Finns Party have not commented on the subject yet. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has already ruled out the possibility of cooperation.
Will nationalist parties' cooperation last?
Many experts remain sceptical about the capacity of extreme right parties to unite on a stable basis. The European Parliament has already seen quite a lot of such short-lived coalitions (like The Technical Group of the European Right, EURONAT, ITS etc.). It can be explained by several factors. The first of them lies in the very nature of nationalist parties. They attach paramount importance to national agendas and have trouble accepting anything foreign. Their extreme focus on their countries' interests usually does not help finding common ground with other parties either. Consequently, the divergences in their political programmes can have a dividing effect, preventing them from collaborating. Let us take, for example, the two parties that are currently pushing for the creation of a coalition: The Party for Freedom and the National Front. PVV is strongly pro-gay, while NF is against gay marriage (its leader is seen as homophobic); and whereas Geert Wilders openly expresses his support for Israel, Marine Le Pen demonstrates anti-semitic views. According to Marine Le Pen, different opinions exist "even in marriages", but we are yet to see how long this alliance will last.
Reasons to believe in an entente cordiale of nationalist parties
The key problem is that right-wing parties are not only united by their hatred of the EU alongside with their anti-immigrant discourse. In addition, their leaders have become less ideologically stubborn: nowadays most of them are comparatively young and pragmatic, willing to yield power and quite ready to compromise. Altogether, the situation is potentially dangerous. All these Eurosceptic parties claim to advocate an alternative to Europe". They want to preserve the common market, but to abolish the euro, common border regulations, the common budget and the supremacy of EU law.
Is there real danger for Europe?
At the moment the EP already has one parliamentary group consisting of the eurosceptic nationalist parties – Europe of Freedom and Democracy, presided by Nigel Farage, leader of the UKIP. It does not have much influence (35/766 MEPs), has not done much so far and does not really try to change things (for instance, according to Vote Watch Europe, Nigel Farage participates in only about 46% of roll-call votes, which places him 746th). However, if Le Pen/Wilders' right-wing bloc proves to be as popular as polls predict, things might change. There are all kinds of predictions, ranging from 15% up to one third of casted votes. According to the French newspaper Nouvel Observateur, about 25% of French are planning to vote for Marine Le Pen at the European Elections. Taking into consideration that European elections are generally characterized by a low turnout rate (40% in 2009) and strong support for radical parties, (voters do not make a choice between right and left, but between pro- and anti-European), the eurosceptic coalition actually has a great chance of success.
What is to be done?
Although we have to admit that the increasing influence of nationalist parties is to a considerable extent related to the European debt crisis and the dissatisfaction of a large number of people with how their governments are managing it, dealing with the crisis is far from being the only thing that mainstream parties can do. First of all, politicians should talk more about Europe. For now, only opinions that are critical of the European Union are broadly highlighted in the media. Nobody explains how the EU works and what its advantages are. The extreme right parties are not even offering an "alternative" view, because there is no mainstream one. Incumbent governments are afraid to formulate clear visions where the European project is going – and if they continue like this, it will arrive at a Eurosceptic impasse.
What is more important, politicians have to stop use Brussels as their scapegoat. Most people perceive Brussels as a faceless technocracy, imposing laws on their poor, powerless governments. We all know that this is not true and that national officials are largely responsible for the decisions taken on the European level: the European Council and the Council of Ministers both consist of national representatives (heads of states and high officials respectively), and the directly elected European Parliament represent the voters. The only body that is supposed to be impartial is Commission, which only has a legislative initiative and does not adopt laws. So in order to prevent Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders from "fighting this monster called Europe", we just have to dispel the myth about the EU being one.
Yana Prokofyeva is a student at Paris Institute of Political Studies, in the Master of European Affairs. Before that, Yana studied at Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO) where she started specializing in European issues.
© Atlantic Community
Macedonia Mystery Poisoning Sparks Ethnic Jitters
The authorities are investigating after an unexplained mass poisoning of Albanian students and professors in an ethnically-mixed school in Macedonia’s west sparked fears of a targeted attack.
17/2/2014- Police and medical examiners have so far been baffled by the incident that took place on Friday in the ethnically-mixed town of Gostivar, where some 60 students and professors at the local Economy High School complained of sickness and breathing problems. Twelve of them were hospitalised but insisted on leaving for home a few hours afterwards, doctors at Skopje Clinical Centre said. The incident quickly picked up an ethnic tone after news spread that it happened during the high school’s second shift, when only ethnic Albanian students were present. Some speculated that it was linked to the forthcoming April presidential elections and that someone might have wanted to cause ethnic tensions between the country’s Macedonian and minority Albanian population. The ethnic Albanian mayor of Gostivar, Nevzat Bejta, said the incident was serious but insisted that “there are no grounds for inter-ethnic tension”. He said however that it had caused concerns among Albanians in the town who were wondering why only Albanian children got sick. Bejta rejected speculation that the students might have faked the entire incident.
In the absence of official data, media have speculated that it might have been caused by tear gas, as many of the patients initially complained about difficulties with breathing and an odd smell. But the head of the Skopje Toxicology Clinic, Andon Chibishev, said that his staff had failed to find anything suspicious. “We have patients who were brought in with certain symptoms that are subjective. Objectively, we failed to identify anything positive,” he said. Under the instructions of the local prosecutor in Gostivar, samples from the patients have been sent for forensic analysis and the authorities checked video recordings of school entrances for any suspicious activity. News of the incident got the attention of Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who visited the town on Sunday in order to see if he could help, he said. Gruevski urged restraint until the investigation yields results. “I have my own personal opinion about the case, but I would be restrained until the institutions in charge, foremost the police and the medical team, come up with their own final information,” Gruevski said.
In 2001, the country went through a brief armed conflict between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents, which ended with the signing of a peace deal that granted greater rights for the Albanians, who make up a quarter of Macedonia’s 2.1 million population. The incident came after several other cases of mysterious mass poisonings of Albanian students over the past two decades since Macedonia’s independence. In one such case in 2002 in the town of Kumanovo, some 200 young Albanians, most of them high school students, complained of poisoning symptoms that caused many of them to be hospitalised. However the authorities failed to determine any cause for the mysterious outbreak which fed suspicions that their sudden illness might have been faked.
© Balkan Insight
Seven charged for Stockholm Nazi attack (Sweden)
Seven people were charged on Monday in the wake of a neo-Nazi attack on anti-racist demonstrators in Stockholm last year. But prosecutors say more indictments are on the way.
17/2/2014- Charges were filed on Monday against people who took part in a violent riot in Stockholm's Kärrtorp suburb in December last year. Four of the suspects were charged with violent rioting (våldsamt upplopp) and hate speech (hets mot folkgrupp) and another three were charged with instigating violent rioting. According to the indictment, several of those charged threw bottles, rocks, and firecrackers. "There will be more charges filed than just these, altogether there were around 30 people detained after the demonstration," Ulf Sundström of the Söderort police told the TT news agency. Preliminary investigations continue into the actions of the others who were detained in connection with the incident, prosecutor Tove Kullberg added.
The riots kicked off when around around 800 peaceful anti-racist demonstrators, a group that included children, were set upon by a group of neo-Nazis from the national socialist Swedish Resistance Movement (Svenska Motståndsrörelsen, SMR). The demonstrators were taking a stand against the spread of racism in their neighbourhood. Police arrested 28 people following the chaos, which saw three people rushed to hospital, including one police officer. Other suspects face possible charges of attempted aggravated assault, weapon crimes, and hate speech. Only six police officers were on hand to keep an eye on the demonstration in December, a move that has been criticized as police were aware that there was a threat. The week after the riot, around 16,000 people gathered in Kärrtorp to protest against racism and violence.
© The Local - Sweden
Sweden: Roma migrants evicted from Stockholm site
Officials evicted all remaining Romanian migrants from a campsite in southern Stockholm on Monday morning, just days after over 100 campers were given a free bus ride home.
17/2/2014- The Swedish Enforcement Agency (Kronofogden) carried out the eviction in Högdalen, a suburb in the southern reaches of Stockholm, at 9am on Monday, just days after a bus load of the campers went home. "All I know is that it's more or less empty," Henrik Brånstad, spokesman at the agency, told the TT news agency. "Many have apparently moved to other places while others have jumped at the chance of a bus ride home to Romania." Over 100 EU-migrants accepted the bus tickets home, many of whom had earned money begging in the Swedish capital. One of the buses crashed in southern Sweden on Sunday morning on the way to Bucharest. Only the driver was injured. Many of them said they plan to come back to Sweden soon. One woman told the Aftonbladet newspaper that she had nothing to go home to in Romania. "We're planning to come back in two or three weeks," she told the paper.
In Borås, central Sweden, around 40 Romanians accepted a bus ride home in December last year. Many of them were back again in January, reported the TT news agency. Anna Johansson at Swedish charity Stockholms Stadsmission has recently been in Romania and isn't surprised that people choose to return to Sweden. "They realize that there are better opportunities to support themselves here," she said. She added that her organization was working hard to help, and pointed to Oslo's successful provision of a magazine for Romanians to sell, similar to the Situation Stockholm paper sold by homeless people in Sweden's capital.
© The Local - Sweden
Report: LGBT people die 12 years earlier in anti-gay countries
According to a new report from Columbia University, LGBT people living in anti-gay parts of the US die on average 12 years earlier than those who live in more accepting areas.
17/2/2014- The study, from the Mailman School of Public Health, shows that LGBT people in less tolerant places are more prone to suicide, and risk violence and stress-induced deaths. Dr Mark Hatzenbuehler, one of the lead authors of the study, said: “Our findings indicate that sexual minorities living in communities with higher levels of prejudice die sooner than sexual minorities living in low-prejudice communities.” The study revealed that 92% of gay people living in accepting communities were still alive compared to just 78% who lived in anti-gay environments. The authors of the study concluded there was a direct causal link between violent deaths and hostile communities, where gay people were three times more likely to be victims of anti-gay attacks. The report also revealed that gay people committed suicide at an average age of 37.5 in anti-gay areas, compared to an average of 55.7 for those who live elsewhere. 25% of deaths in less tolerant places were caused by cardiovascular diseases, compared to just 18.6% of deaths in communities where gay people did not experience as much stress. Dr Hatzenbuehler added: “Psychosocial stressors are strongly linked to cardiovascular risk, and this kind of stress may represent an indirect pathway through which prejudice contributes to mortality. “Discrimination, prejudice, and social marginalization create several unique demands on stigmatized individuals that are stress-inducing.”
© Pink News
Russia: CSKA Moscow fans banned after more racism
18/2/2014- CSKA Moscow must play their next European home match behind closed doors after more racist behaviour by their fans who displayed racist symbols at a Champions League game in December, UEFA said on Tuesday. Serbia's under-21 team, previously in trouble over a match against England in 2012, and Cypriot club Apollon Limassol were handed partial stadium closures because of monkey chanting by their supporters at recent games. UEFA said that "multiple racist and far-right symbols were displayed by CSKA Moscow supporters" when they visited Viktoria Plzen in the Czech Republic on December 10. "Due to the fact that CSKA Moscow had previous records concerning the racist behaviour of their supporters, they have been ordered to play their next UEFA competition match as host club behind closed doors," said UEFA. The Russian club was also fined 50,000 euros (41,059.76 pounds).
CSKA, not currently involved in European competition, were previously given a partial stadium closure after their fans racially insulted Manchester City's Yaya Toure during a Champions League match in October. That match caused controversy as play continued despite Toure's complaints to the referee. UEFA's venue director for CSKA's Arena Khimka was later relieved of his duties for failing to stop play and issue a warning over the public address system as laid down in UEFA guidelines. Serbia's under-21 team were sanctioned after the assistant referee heard monkey chants during their match at home to Belgium in November, UEFA said. The Serbian federation was ordered to close two parts of whichever stadium hosts their next competitive under-21 game and to place banners reading "No to Racism" over each section of empty seats. Serbia's team captain must also read out an anti-racism statement from the middle of the pitch before the game, UEFA said. UEFA said that Apollon fans directed monkey chants at Legia Warsaw player Dossa Junior during a Europa League match in December. Apollon, who failed to make it beyond the group stage, were ordered to close the stands either side of the players' tunnel at their next home match.
Anti-Migrant Riot Suspects Amnestied in Moscow (Russia)
17/2/2014- Four suspected participants in violent anti-migrant protests in a Moscow suburb last year were amnestied and released last week, Russian media reported on Monday citing a lawyer. The defense team appealed for a pardon in December as part of a presidential amnesty marking the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution. The request was left unanswered, and the lawyers lodged complaints to the Investigative Committee and the ombudsman’s office. “They were amnestied after we lodged a complaint to the Investigative Committee. An investigator called me and said the supervising authority ordered to pardon everyone,” the website quoted lawyer Oleg Anikanov as saying.
The Rossiiskaya Planeta news site said one of the suspects, 23-year-old Timur Musikayev, was released on February 11. The following day, police released Artyom Novikov, 23, and Andrei Titarenko, 18. A fourth suspect was also pardoned, but his name was withheld because he was under age. The suspects had been charged with hooliganism. Anti-migrant riots rocked Moscow’s southern district of Biryulyovo in mid-October after a man identified as an immigrant from a former Soviet state stabbed a 25-year-old local man to death. More than 20 people were injured in clashes during the protest, including six police officers. Nearly 400 suspected participants were detained in the wake of the rioting.
© RIA Novosti
Persecution of Roma in Hungary is spiralling out of control
Since the accession of Central European countries to the European Union (EU), threats to their Roma communities have escalated dangerously. This is evident in anti-Roma rallies, random violent attacks against families and neighbourhoods, and discriminatory public statements and government policies in many EU countries, including the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, France and Italy. Hungary, however, has become a particular concern.
By Margareta Matache, Research Fellow, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University
17/2/2014- In the past six years, sustained hate crimes and racist propaganda have created a threatening atmosphere for Roma families and communities across the country. The mounting incidence of violence against Hungary’s Roma is at the heart of a recent report issued by Harvard University’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. It recounts evidence of escalating violence, killings, military trainings, and propaganda against Roma in Hungary from 2008 to the present. I grew up in Romania and have worked on Roma rights issues in central and eastern Europe for several years. Although I have witnessed inter-ethnic tensions and extremist attacks against Roma, including Roma houses set on fire and Roma families expelled into the woods for weeks, the incidents I tracked on a recent field trip to Hungary still managed to shock me. In Hungary, anti-Roma sentiment is not limited to the blatant rejection and discrimination against the Roma community that currently abounds across Europe; it also includes systemic threats, physical attacks, and killings.
No end in sight
The FXB report alerts institutions, opinion-makers and the general population to the escalating violence and hatred targeted against the Roma. The report documents threatening behaviour by organisations, and the perpetration of crimes that have induced widespread terror amongst Hungary’s Roma population. Far-right parties and organisations continue to organise marches and rallies across Hungarian cities and villages. The amplification of these extremist voices has not only reinforced existing anti-Roma sentiments, but also provoked anti-Roma violence. Racially motivated crimes, which are not always treated as such, are now a common occurrence throughout the country. The European Roma Rights Center tracked 61 incidents of such violence between 2008 and 2012, and recorded the murders of seven adults and two children. In June 2008, for example, Human Rights First reported that a man killed a 14-year-old Romani boy in Fenyeslitke and threatened to “kill all the Roma in the village”.
Though the rise in racially motivated crimes and violent attacks since 2008 should have been strong signals for intervention, the FXB report shows how weak Hungarian government’s response has been. Because of its failure to act definitively, perpetrators and their followers have been emboldened, untrammeled by public outrage or strong government sanction. Racist violence is increasingly accepted as a legitimate form of retribution, a model followed by citizens, organisations, and leaders alike. Just as troubling as this escalating violence is the proliferation of secret camps run by neo-Nazi groups to prepare their members for armed combat. One of these groups, the Hungarian National Front, was found to be organising military trainings on weapon usage, combat, and urban fighting once a month in 2012-2013. According to an informant interviewed by the Athena Institute, training involves “physical exercises, running, basic formation exercises, which are roughly the same as a basic military training for conscripts”. He added: “tactical shooting, in-building and assault tactics were practised with air and paintball guns”.
The Wiesenthal Center, amongst others, urged the Council of Europe in 2009 to investigate the neo-Nazi revival, warning: “Hungary is sinking into the abyss of racial hatred that could easily spread throughout this region.” But so far, no organisation or individual in Hungary has been found guilty of clandestine combat preparation, even though organising military training in weapon usage, combat, and urban fighting is illegal in the EU.
The FXB report notes that over the past year, violent attacks, marches, and racially motivated crimes against Roma have declined, and this is certainly a positive development. However, the fact that right-wing extremist policies and laws are simultaneously being put into place is deeply worrying. Instilling fear can take many forms. In Hungary, violent attacks, killings and rallies of the past five years have now given way to extremist right-wing policies, which generate the same lack of safety for Roma and for other minority groups. The tendency to replace actual violence with repressive legislation has been seen in other countries affected by mass violence and conflict, such as Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The renewal of anti-Roma activity demands we hold the EU and its member states responsibile for protecting the Roma community, as they are compelled to do. Societies across the continent are riven by economic, political, and ethnic tensions. Hungary, along with other European countries, has experienced a serious economic decline over the past few years. In such precarious times, the EU’s stated obligation to defend democracy and protect the safety of all its citizens becomes even more pressing. The EU was founded on lessons learned from the lethal excesses of extremist ideology, and by failing to address the insecurity of the Roma in Hungary, the it fails in its obligation to preserve human dignity, respect for human rights, equality and freedom. It is a shame and an outrage that the Roma community must rely on advocates and human rights groups rather than governments. The increasingly frightening case of Hungary shows how urgently Europe’s Roma need new allies and guardians.
© The Conversation
Protesters read Shoah victims’ names during Jobbik rally in former synagogue (Hungary)
16/2/2014- Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party held a political rally in a former synagogue, despite protests. The rally by the party, whose ultra-nationalist platform is laced with anti-Semitism and anti-Roma policy, was held Saturday night in the former synagogue in the town of Esztergom, located 29 miles north of Budapest. The building currently is operated by the local government as a cultural and meeting center. Several hundred demonstrators protested the meeting. They stood outside the former synagogue during the Jobbik rally reading the names of the 500 Holocaust victims who were deported to Auschwitz from the town in 1944. Jobbik party leader Gabor Vona told the demonstrators that “there is an atmosphere of hysteria due to the Holocaust Memorial Year in Hungary, which wants to make Hungarians feel guilty.” Despite a heavy police presence at the rally, there were several incidents between Jobbik supporters and demonstrators. Hungarian authorities had given official permission to the Jobbik Party to hold its rally in the synagogue, since the synagogue is now owned by the municipality and not by the Jewish community.
© JTA News
Bomb threat, clashes at far-right ‘day of honour’ rally (Hungary)
Remembering a battle in black hoodies
15/2/2014- A bomb scare forced hundreds of extreme right-wing demonstrators to relocate their “day of honour” ceremonies from Clark Ádám tér on Saturday. After clashes with anti-fascist activists were quelled by a heavy police presence, demonstrators proceeded to lay wreaths and hold speeches to commemorate a 1945 battle against the Soviets. Tourists crossing the Chain Bridge at noon were surprised to find a police line surrounding Clark Ádám tér. Their irritation was shared by groups of far-right activists wearing combat boots, military fatigues or black hoodies emblazoned with phrases like “Blood and Honour”. Some carried Hungarian flags or wreaths they hoped to lay as part of the annual “day of honour” ceremonies, an important event for extreme right-wing movements in Hungary. Police at the scene reported that a suspicious object had been found in a garbage can on the square, which would remained closed until “examinations” could be conducted. Suddenly, a giant banner was unfurled from a cliff face: “No pasarán,” it read. This Spanish phrase, meaning “They shall not pass,” is a popular slogan of anti-fascist movements opposing far-right and neo-Nazi demonstrations.
“We’re here to honour the soldiers,” said a bearded man dressed all in black, referring to the tens of thousands of Hungarian and German soldiers – including members of the Waffen SS and the Arrow Cross – who died fighting their way through Soviet lines during the siege of Budapest. Many on the far right consider the soldiers heroes, and blame the “liberal” media for transforming them into murderers. “They fought for their lives and their nation, and against communism,” said another man in black clothing. Events like this are the far right’s attempt to flip history on its head, recasting the parts of hero and villain. While most participants deny they are fascists or neo-Nazis, preferring terms like “nationalist,” many are apologetic for the role of the Axis powers in the Second World War. “Those who fought with Hungarian uniforms or German uniforms, both of them gave their lives for their country and for freedom,” said a young man dressed in full military uniform. “They fought against Marxism and Bolshevism, which is a very big cancer for the world.” He went on to argue that liberalism and European integration are part of the same movement, a path that would eventually end in a one-world government.
As it became clear that Clark Ádám tér would not be reopened, the demonstrators journeyed up the hill to the Castle District’s Kapisztrán tér, where loudspeakers and a podium had already been set up. Soon after, a group of anti-fascist activists arrived, carrying banners of smashed-up swastikas and pictures of concentration camp inmates with the words “Remember this??” written above. Creating a decidedly festive atmosphere, they beat on drums and danced in the streets. It didn’t take long for this to attract the attention of the angry nationalists, who rushed up to confront them. The anti-fascists locked arms and refused to budge for several minutes. Police used limited force to separate the two sides until the anti-fascists eventually left the scene.
One of the anti-fascist musicians had travelled from Romania to express her opposition to the day of honour rally. “I’m against fascism in any country, so I’m in solidarity with the people here, who are unfortunately only a few,” she said. “They’re struggling against the dominant voice of nationalism and fascism. I just want to show my solidarity by making some noise.” She is afraid that as nationalist movements grow in power there is a danger of increasing persecution against minorities, and of a return to the horrors of the past. “They must construct their scapegoats – anyone who’s different – anyone who isn’t white, straight, male, cisgendered,” she explains. Once peace returned, several hundred people assembled behind the banners of various far-right movements.
The Hungarian National Front (Magyar Nemzeti Arcvonal), a self-described “national socialist” paramilitary group that has referred to a “final solution of the Gypsy problem” in past statements, was particularly well represented. Members carried flags eerily similar to that of the Arrow Cross, the fascist party that took power in Hungary at the end of the Second World War and carried out mass killings of Jews. Others wore black uniforms with leather sashes and armbands. They were joined by other groups from Hungary and elsewhere in Europe, including the Hungarian, Dutch and Bulgarian sections of the international white supremacist movement “Blood and Honour”. Everyone stood at attention as patriotic hymns were played and various orators spoke from the podium. Then the wreaths were laid before a cross and a black military helmet. Tattooed skinheads were joined by old men and even families with children, a testament to the persistence of extreme nationalism in Hungary.
© The Budapest Times
Eastern European politicians are lecturing us about xenophobia. That's a bit rich (UK, opinion)
By Sean Thomas, novelist, journalist and travel writer.
17/2/2014- One of the many good things about Britain’s membership of the European Union is the chance it offers us, as Brits, to learn from nations more advanced in political life. Witness, for instance, the latest intervention from Laszlo Andor, the Hungarian EU Employment Commissioner. Following his recent criticism of the UK’s "nasty and hysterical" attitude to foreigners, Andor has also reproved David Cameron for "posturing" on immigration and thereby pandering to xenophobia. Nor is Andor the first European to give bigoted Brits a ticking off. In December 2013, famous Polish anti-communist Lech Walesa expressed disdain at the way we act irrationally over EU incomers. Likewise, back in October, the foreign minister of Romania made clear his outrage at "xenophobic, populist" politicians in the UK. In the Spring of last year the Bulgarian ambassador to Great Britain, Konstantin Dimitrov, launched a fierce tirade against “certain political quarters and the media” in the UK, for “scape-goating a tiny nation” with our "offensive" attitudes.
With that kind of consensus, there seem little doubt that Britain is firmly on the naughty step of European racial politics – we are the nasty, snarling, insular country, way out on a limb with our xenophobia, our disrespect for human rights, our lack of democratic values. So I say let’s learn to be better, fairer, non racist Europeans: just like our neighbours. One country with a lot to teach the ugly Brits about tolerance and human rights is, assuredly, the home of Bulgarian ambassador Mr Dimitrov. After all, Bulgaria has been a democratic country for all of 25 years, before which it was a malignant communist dictatorship. Not that becoming a democracy made so much difference for certain Bulgarians. In the 1980s and 90s 300,000 Turks were forced to leave the country and “return” to Anatolia, or face forced assimilation; in 2006 Bulgaria seriously considered a law aimed at lowering birth rates in minority communities; in 2013 racist and anti-Semitic abuse in Bulgarian sport got so bad that the nation was forced to play international matches in front of empty stadiums.
As for Romania, if only we could live in that land of racial harmony and ethnic enlightenment! This is the same Romania which had an independent Fascist government by 1940, the same Romania which actually conducted its very own Holocaust, in which 400,000 Jews and Roma were slaughtered in grotesque atrocities like the Odessa massacre, the same Romania which then became a communist tyranny in which an estimated two million people were murdered. Finally, we could definitely gain enlightenment from Hungary, the culturally harmonious homeland of Laszlo “Britain is nasty” Andor. Yes, you know – Hungary. The Hungary whose quasi Fascist government sought collaboration with Hitler’s Germany before Hitler even asked, the Hungary which allowed 430,000 Hungarian Jews to perish in the gas ovens at Auschwitz, the Hungary which then became a Stalinist dictatorship known for its brutality (though of course there was a heroic attempt to overthrow it), the Hungary which gave the far right Jobbik party third place in its general elections of 2010, the Hungary where, a few months back, Zsolt Bayer, the founder of its ruling conservative party, said: "A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals, and they behave like animals.”
Really – what have we Brits got to compare to any of that? OK, we may have founded human rights with Magna Carta and the Putney Debates, we may have abolished slavery across the world, yes we stood firm against the Nazis when other countries were defeated or neutral, and we may quietly boast that have never elected a far Right party into our national parliament through four centuries of continuous democracy. But so what. These are piffling matters when compared to the momentous political achievements of our European neighbours, from Germany to Romania, from Hungary to Poland, who have managed not to conduct a single racist pogrom for well over a decade, and all of which have been democratic since at least lunchtime last Wednesday. So let us be humble – and listen to our new moral arbiters.
© The Telegraph - Blogs
Far-Rightists Threaten UK Muslims Fun Day
A family event planned to offer British Muslim children a day of fun at famous Legoland has been targeted by far right and neo-Nazi extremists, planning demonstrations against young Muslim children and attacking the park’s pages on social websites.
16/2/2014- “It’s just a fun day, this is for children,” one Muslim woman considering taking her child to Legoland told The Express on Sunday, February 16. The plans for the fun day were announced by Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF) after they hired Legoland Park in Windsor, Berkshire, on March 9. The day of “Halal entertainment” was suggested after the success of an earlier event that was hosted in Chessington World of Adventures theme park in Surrey for an Eid Fun Day last November. “By the Grace of Allah … we are launching our 2nd Family Fun Day at Legoland Windsor Resort – with the hope that the two events will become the standard and annual fundays for decades to come, insha’Allah,” the organizers’ website reads. “Family Fun Day is a family centered event where we aim to bring Halal entertainment/environments for Muslim families in the West. “The aim is to provide a true alternative in which like minded families can enjoy safe and enjoyable time while at the same time conducive to their faith.”
Hearing about the plans, English Defence League and the neo-Nazi linked Casuals United have threatened demonstrations at the Berkshire park. The EDL and Casuals United have mocked up an offensive poster for the demo featuring Lego “warden” welcoming two other Lego figures: one dressed like a terrorist holding a gun and another in a full Burka. The message from the warden reads: “Muslim welcome. We hate Christians.” There was “a great deal of resentment building up against Legoland” in the town, Tom Bursnall, a Ukip councillor in Windsor, said. “There should be a peaceful demonstration. Residents are up in arms about this.”
Rejecting the planned event, EDL and Casuals United have been inundating Legoland with abusive phone calls and messages on Twitter and Facebook calling for bosses to cancel the event. The abuse became so upsetting for Legoland fans and staff that police asked the company to take down its Facebook account while they investigated. “These types of messages will not be tolerated and may constitute a criminal offence,” Thames Valley Police said, adding that any demonstration would be policed in a proportionate way. “An investigation is underway to identify whether any offence has been committed and to identify those responsible.” Meanwhile, the Muslim organization asserted that their event at Legoland Park was open to all faiths, to promote harmony and respect among UK faiths. "The Family Funday 2014 at Legoland is an opportunity for the UK public to gather with British Muslims in a relaxed family environment,” MRDF said in a statement on Saturday. "It is open to people from all faiths and cultures in an open and welcoming environment without the promotion of any particular ideology.
"The real concern here is the threat to the cohesion of our community by far right groups linked to the EDL and Christian Patrols. "We should not be intimidated by violent threats to our way of life. "MRDF, a charity governed by English Law, have consistently promoted non-violence and political participation in the UK. "All of our volunteers, staff and trustees are well respected members of the community and have worked in varies capacities as promoters of harmony and respect among all communities." Hostility against British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.7 million, has been on the rise since 2005’s 7/7 attacks. A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims. A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
© On Islam
UK: BBC blasted over new documentary showing racist attack on busker
BBC Scotland is under fire over a documentary featuring racism, violence and sexism.
15/2/2014- The first episode of The Street tomorrow night follows characters who live and work on Glasgow’s famous Sauchiehall Street. In the most disturbing scene, a black street musician suffers racist abuse and a physical assault during an unprovoked attack by two thugs. It also shows scantily-clad women lying inebriated in the street, brawling groups of men, overt sexism from bouncers and bar managers and includes references to drugs. Last night, politicians, anti-racism campaigners and alcohol support workers blasted the BBC. The homeless guitarist, Melo, who is from Angola, lived in Glasgow for 15 years and refuses to claim benefits, surviving only by busking. He is being filmed when a drunk skinhead unleashes a foul-mouthed tirade at the 39-year-old, branding him a “black b*****d”. The disturbing rant goes on: “What about the British, or the homeless? You’re sitting here milking our country for thousands. How much do you make sitting here busking every day?”
The burly man and his accomplice punch and kick Melo and he is forced to defend himself, while passers-by are seen trying to calm the situation before the police finally arrive. Even then, however, the racist abuse continues and afterwards, a visibly shaken Melo says: “It’s not just in Glasgow, it’s everywhere.” In a separate incident, Melo is abused again before revealing he experiences racism on a daily basis. He adds: “I am feeling sick, man. Since 1998, I’ve been abused everyday, that’s why I just feel like leaving. I need to be happy.” The Street was filmed more than a year ago and it is understood that Melo, whose real name has not been disclosed by the BBC, has now left Scotland. Neither Police Scotland nor the BBC was able to say if either of his two assailants ever faced charges over their racist abuse. Exposing the turmoil of Glasgow’s streets at the weekend, the first episode in the three-part series also features revellers spilling out of Sauchiehall Street’s bars and clubs.
In another uncomfortable scene, Lee – manager of pub Barbushka – laughs about one patron who exposed himself, adding that they do not tolerate that behaviour. But then, in a chauvinistic twist, Lee and a bouncer are filmed sneering about how a woman doing the same thing would be welcomed. Speaking last night, a spokesman for Show Racism The Red Card described the racist incidents as “not all that surprising”, adding: “When we work in schools, we see the presence of racist attitudes and racist behaviour. We know that can escalate to violent racist attacks. It is very sad to hear that Melo has left Glasgow because of this.” Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “People who have had far too much to drink can become incapable of looking after themselves or become involved in arguments and violence. “The high concentration of bars and clubs on Sauchiehall Street means it has long been a hot-spot for alcohol-related harm, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.”
However, Glasgow’s sole Conservative councillor, David Meikle, insisted: “It is disappointing Glasgow has been shown in this light, because that is not most people’s experience. It is a famously welcoming and friendly city.” A spokeswoman for BBC Scotland last night defended the show, adding: “Public drunkenness and disorder are part and parcel of modern town centres. It would not be realistic to cut this from the series, given anyone who has ever been in Sauchiehall Street at night knows that is what happens, but it is largely seen in the context of the street pastors who are out and about trying to help people.” Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that a Scottish Government minister was racially abused in Glasgow city centre earlier this month. Humza Yousaf MSP, the minister for external affairs, was selling the Big Issue magazine to raise awareness about homelessness. He was outside Queen Street train station on February 6, when a man aimed obscenities at Mr Yousaf and told him to “f*** off back home”. A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “We have received a complaint in relation to a racially aggravated incident and are currently investigating.”
© The Daily Express
EU to probe Spain over rubber bullets fired at migrants
EU officials say they will ask Spain to explain why police fired rubber bullets at migrants trying to swim to the Spanish territory of Ceuta.
15/2/2014- Spain admitted that rubber bullets were fired, but said nobody was injured. At least 14 people drowned on 6 February as hundreds of migrants attempted to reach the North African enclave from Morocco. Together with a second Spanish enclave, Melilla, Ceuta represents the EU's only land border with Africa. As a result the territories, both located along Morocco's Mediterranean coast, have become a magnet for migrants seeking work or asylum in Europe. Many of those making the dangerous journey come from Eritrea and Somalia. But in the past year the migrant numbers from Syria have also soared because of the civil war there.
The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom, said she was "very concerned" about Spanish police firing rubber bullets to deter migrants. She added that the actions of any EU state protecting its borders should be "proportionate", and should respect fundamental rights and human dignity. "I expect clarifications from the authorities," Ms Malmstrom said in a tweet. On Thursday, Spain's interior minister insisted coast guards did not shoot directly at people, and that the bullets had not caused the deaths of any of those who drowned. The incident happened when border guards began chasing migrants trying to enter Ceuta, in what Spain's El Pais newspaper described as "the first attempt at a mass border crossing this year".
A group of people drowned after they fled into the water to swim to a seawall separating the enclave from Morocco. Their bodies were later found on a beach in Morocco. All of the victims were reportedly from sub-Saharan Africa. On the same day, Italy's navy said it had rescued 1,123 migrants from inflatable boats in the space of 24 hours. They were picked up about 220km (135 miles) south-east of Lampedusa, the closest Italian territory to North Africa. According to estimates, some 2,000 migrants landed on Italian shores last month, nearly 10 times the number recorded in January 2013. The true number of migrants who died attempting the perilous crossing is unknown, but in October more than 400 people drowned in two shipwrecks near Lampedusa.
Italy and Spain have repeatedly called for help from other EU states to deal with the migrant influx.
© BBC News
Dark-Skinned Danger (Czech Rep.)
A police-issued coloring book teaches Czech children a lesson about adults’ fears.
20/2/2014- What does a pedophile look like? Usually he’s a man, but beyond that physical traits are worthless predictors. It’s probably safe to say, though, that in an overwhelmingly white country such as the Czech Republic, most pedophiles would be white. That didn’t stop Czech police from handing out a children’s crime-prevention coloring book depicting a pedophile as an olive-skinned, dark-haired man. In the scene, he uses a lollipop to entice a young girl to follow him. You don’t need to be told what ethnic group the image brings to mind (not Cuban, despite what a police spokeswoman helpfully hypothesized in response to a reporter’s inquiry). Although there are probably many more, in the country’s most recent census, only 13,150 people – from a population of 10.4 million – identified themselves as Roma. The numbers alone suggest that Mr. Lollipop is more likely to be white. The pedophile cartoon appears to be the only time the swarthy man appears in the book, while in each appearance the cute, fireplug-shaped police officer is a white man. “It doesn’t make the least bit of sense. It just teaches children to think with prejudices, reflexively,” Martin Simacek, the director of the government’s agency for social inclusion, told Lidove noviny, a Czech daily. After taking heat on the book, including from some teachers, police are working on a redesign, according to the newspaper.
© Transitions Online.
Czech Republic: Neo-Nazis take to the streets in three towns after winter break
15/2/2014- Police in Pøíbram are preparing for an assembly on Saturday, 15 February by neo-Nazis who say they want to "draw attention to the upholding of rights" and express their disagreement with financing for the ROMEA organization. The event will be monitored by a police anti-conflict team, canine units, and riot control units. Other neo-Nazi events are also scheduled for Karlovy Vary and Ostrava tomorrow. The assembly in Pøíbram is scheduled for 14:00 on T. G. Masaryk Square. The Pøíbram town hall says the event has been convened by Pavel Matìjný and Jana Tvrdá of the town of Chotìbuz. According to online sources, Matìjný is a former Workers' Party member who is now a functionary in the new "Czech Lions" (Èeští lvi) group. It was Matìjný in particular who sparked the biggest brawls with police last year in the town of Duchcov. His name is also linked to recent violence in Ostrava and Pøerov. "We have another announcement from the Konexe association. Their events should be taking place between 14 February and 14 July from 8:00 to 22:00 daily," said Monika Schindlová, spokesperson for the Pøíbram police.
"The aim of our assembly is to reduce tensions on the day of this hateful demonstration, to express solidarity with the occupants of the residential hotels, and to distract the children, who usually suffer most during such situations," activists from the Konexe organization said. "Should the anti-Romani assembly, which has been announced as taking place on the town square, deteriorate into an unannounced march on the residential hotels, we will remain in place. Through our assembly, we hope to prevent a situation in which anti-Romani demonstrators will be chanting anti-Romani slogans directly beneath the windows of the residential hotels." Local police are not able to estimate how many right-wing radicals will make it to Saturday's demonstration in Pøíbram, but they are preparing for the event. "There will be a sufficient amount of equipment and forces deployed to secure public order," Schindlová said.
Police are considering whether to deploy a helicopter along with the municipal police force units who will join their state police colleagues. Ondøej Šlechtický, spokesperson for the town hall, said earlier that the event will be dispersed should there be any indications of or problems with racist behavior or conduct. Another neo-Nazi event, allegedly a memorial march called "Light for Dresden", will take place on 15 February in Karlovy Vary, where neo-Nazis from the Czech Republic and Germany are convening an assembly on the anniversary of the Allied bombing of Dresden in 1945. People intend to stand up to the neo-Nazis there as well.
"Come express your disagreement with the neo-Nazi march," reads the invitation of the We Don't Want Nazis in Karlovy Vary (Nácky v Karlových Varech nechceme) initiative. The assembly against the neo-Nazis is to start there on T. G. Masaryk Avenue at 15:30. Czech state police are prepared for tomorrow's events in Karlovy Vary. Regional Police spokesperson Pavel Valenta said the police will ensure supervision over the maintaining of public order. In Ostrava, meanwhile, Saturday's demonstration is being convened by an "affiliated" branch of the Worker's Social Justice Party, the so-called Workers' Youth. The gathering is an annual event meant to lament developments in the Balkans. "This year it will be six years since NATO, in collaboration with Albanian terrorists, succeeded in taking the southern Serbian province of Kosovo away from the Serbian motherland. Six years on, this tragic event remains topical. Just as they did in Kosovo, today the USA and its allies are using fanatical throat-cutters to promote their imperialist interests," the neo-Nazis write online.
Ex-PVV The Hague Councillor Sentenced (Netherlands)
15/2/2014- Arnoud van Doorn, Hague council member, party leader for the Islâmic Partij van de Eenheid (PvdE), and former PVV member, was sentenced to a 1,000 euro fine for selling weed to minors, leaking confidential information, and possession of a weapon. He also heard a conditional community service sentence of 40 hours against him. The prosecution demanded 6 months imprisonment; community service was deemed inappropriate because of Van Doorn’s position as active council member. The journalist who received the confidential information was also on trial for stealing the documentation, but he claimed he assumed Van Doorn had meant for him to take the documents all along. He was acquitted of stealing. Because of this acquittal, the court could not prosecute Van Doorn for complicity in the theft of confidential information. The council member did confess to selling weed to minors between July and October 2012, but claimed he was doing so to find out who the real dealer was. The judge condemned his choice of action, especially since he’s supposed to be a role model.
The court also considered proven beyond any doubt the PvdE party leader had a loaded alarm pistol under his bed. ‘He did not consider the safety risk a loaded gun imposes,’ according to the court. The court concluded Van Doorn seems to keep his own set of rules and that he seems to think ‘he can decide which rules to follow.’ The former PVV member is not at all phased by the sentence and Tweeted that his fine was paid by a sponsor. He stressed that the community service was conditional, so as far as he was concerned, it was back to business as usual. The Hague council member used to be a PVV member, but he left the party, turned to the Islam, and is now a council member for the Islâmic PvdE. The party is fine with him staying on as a council member, despite his conviction. It is unknown whether Van Doorn will appeal the court’s verdict.
© The NL Times
WEEK 2 WINTER OLYMPICS SOCHI
IOC could add anti-discrimination clause to bid rules
18/2/2014- Future Olympic bidders may have to abide by a specific anti-discrimination rule modelled on the Olympic Charter's Principle 6 if they are to be awarded the Games, the International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday. Principle 6 says sport does not discriminate on any grounds, including race, religion, politics or gender. The IOC had to fend off criticism in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics over Russia's anti-gay propaganda law, which critics say curtailed the rights of homosexuals in the country. They say the IOC has turned a blind eye to the controversial law, which was passed last year. The law triggered a wave of reaction from athletes and politicians with several world leaders opting not to travel to Russia for the Games. The IOC has said it cannot dictate laws in a sovereign state but said it had received assurances from Russian President Vladimir Putin there would be no discrimination against homosexuals during the February 7-23 Games.
"We have made it absolutely crystal clear that Principle 6 covers all forms of discrimination," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters when asked whether it could become a pre-condition for cities campaigning to host the Games. "Could it be changed? It can be changed," he said. "We are, as you know, in the middle of Agenda 2020 which is looking at just about everything on how Olympics are run," Adams said. IOC President Thomas Bach has launched a wide-ranging review of the Olympics as well as the bidding processes called Agenda 2020. "It (Principle 6) is not something that is specifically looked at but if there is a groundswell of opinion it could be."
Pressure has grown to include such a clause in the bid rules for future Olympics that would block nations from getting the Games if discriminatory laws existed. Current and former athletes, including former tennis champion Martina Navratilova as well as pop star Rihanna, are among the big names to have publicly spoken out in favor of Principle 6. "IOC President Thomas Bach must learn the lesson from the anti-gay fiasco in Russia and ensure this never happens again," said Andre Banks, co-founder and Executive Director of All Out, an international gay rights group. "We are calling on Bach to make upholding the Olympic Principle of non-discrimination a binding condition for all future Olympic host applications," he said. Ukraine's Lviv, Beijing, Norwegian capital Oslo, Poland's Krakow and Kazakhstan's Almaty are in the running for the 2022 Winter Olympics with a decision to be made next year.
Gay at the Games: Olympic Dad Cries 'Bias'
Belle Brockhoff's father cries foul at some of the treatment his daughter and her Aussie teammates have received.
18/2/2014- The father of Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff says he sold his tickets to the Winter Olympics in disgust due to what he says is a lack of respect for his gay daughter. Bruce Brockhoff sent an open letter to the Australian Olympic Committee with multiple complaints, especially that his daughter did not have access to the same training facilities as other athletes, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. He also said there were funding discrepancies that led to his discontent. He later apologized for the timing of his letter, as it preceded the men's snowboard cross event, and he mentioned the Australian athletes competing in that event in the letter. Belle Brockhoff finished eighth in the women's snowboard cross event Sunday. She told reporters she had been receiving hateful tweets, but she was taking them in stride. “I’ve had hate tweets. But it’s good getting different sides of the story, and trying to open your eyes a lot more before you say anything,” she said. “I’ve been called an aggressive something dyke or something, but I thought it was pretty funny. This one guy said, ‘I’m right behind Putin, you should break a leg and get locked in the slammer.’ … The hate is funny.”
© The Advocate
Two members of Pussy Riot arrested in Sochi
Two members of the protest group Pussy Riot say they have been arrested in Sochi.
18/2/2014- Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who were freed from jail in December, said they had been detained in the centre of the town on suspicion of a criminal offence. It is believed they were arrested in central Sochi, some 30km north of the main Olympic venues. “We have been arrested … and are accused of robbery,” Ms Tolokonnikova wrote on her Twitter account. The pair spent two years in prison for a protest song in a Moscow cathedral. Pussy Riot called for a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics last year in protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws. On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee defended the arrest of a transgender Italian former MP who was recently seen demonstrating at the Sochi arena against Russia’s anti-gay laws. Several LGBT campaigners have been arrested in Russia since the Winter Olympic Games started on 7 February.
© Pink News
IOC defends Monday's removal of gay activist
The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday defended the removal of an Italian gay rights activist from a Sochi arena, saying she was "escorted from there peacefully" and not detained.
18/2/2014- The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday defended the removal of an Italian gay rights activist from a Sochi arena, saying she was "escorted from there peacefully" and not detained. Former Italian lawmaker Vladimir Luxuria was taken away by four unidentified men in a car with Olympic markings as she tried to enter an arena Monday night for a women's hockey game. Luxuria, dressed in rainbow colors, had been walking around Olympic Park for nearly two hours, accompanied by a scrum of reporters. Most of the Russian spectators seemed clueless about the gay rights message and some approached her to take a picture, thinking she was a carnival character. Luxuria later told The Associated Press she was kept in the car for about 10 minutes, then released in the countryside after the men had taken her Olympic spectator pass.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Tuesday that "what happened yesterday is still a little bit unclear," but said Luxuria had set out to demonstrate at the stadium. "I know her stated aim to demonstrate in the venue and I believe after a couple of hours when she finally got to the venue I think she was escorted from there peacefully, not detained," Adams said. He said Olympic Park and the venues are not the right place for demonstrations, and added: "We would ask anyone to make their case somewhere else." The IOC has strict rules against protests or propaganda during competitions, outlawing any demonstrations in Olympic venues. The IOC contends that allowing someone to display messages not tied to the games would encourage others to use the Olympics for their own gain.
Earlier in the games the IOC reprimanded athletes for wearing armbands and stickers to commemorate the dead.
© The Associated Press
Sochi 2014: Vladimir Luxuria arrested for holding 'Gay is OK' banner
Europe's first openly transgender parliamentarian detained at Winter Olympics amid controversy surrounding gay rights
17/2/2014- A prominent Italian gay rights campaigner and former MP has been arrested in Sochi while watching the Winter Olympics with a banner reading "Gay Is Ok" in Russian, two activists have said. Vladimir Luxuria, a television personality and actor who became Europe's first openly transgender parliamentarian when she was elected to the Italian chamber of deputies, reportedly called the heads of two gay rights organisations in Rome to say she had been detained on Sunday by Russian police. "She was arrested by the police at Sochi while she was watching the Olympics with a banner which read, in Russian, 'Gay is ok'," Imma Battaglia, honorary president of the Di'Gay Project, told Corriere.it.
Luxuria had also sent a text message saying: "Help me I am detained. I am alone," she added, saying the television star had not been able to understand what police station she had been taken to. Flavio Romani, president of ArciGay, said he had also received a telephone call from Luxuria. The staff of Emma Bonino, the Italian foreign minister, wrote on Twitter that an crisis unit was "already active" following the arrest. Luxuria, who was an MP for the Communist Refoundation party from 2006 until 2008, is a well-known champion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights in Italy. She had written on Twitter earlier on Sunday that she had arrived in Sochi, posting a photograph of herself standing in front of the Olympic rings with a rainbow-coloured fan and parasol.
Reports of her arrest provoked outrage and condemnation from senior political figures. "Rebellious, free, unafraid of the state's morality police. Thank you, @vladiluxuria," wrote Nichi Vendola, the openly gay head of the Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) party, on Twitter. Another SEL MP, Alessandro Zan, called on Italian president Giorgio Napolitano to intervene and added: "If Luxuria is not released in the next few hours, I am ready to leave for Russia and I extend the invitation to any MPs who want to join." A spokesman for the Italian foreign minister said he could not comment on reports of the arrest, but that the Italian consulate in Moscow had staff in Sochi who were in the process of looking into what had happened. It was later reported that Luxuria had been released.
© The Guardian
Billie Jean King to attend Winter Olympic closing ceremony
Retired Tennis champion Billie Jean King is now set to attend the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics as part of the US delegation following the death of her mother.
16/2/2014- Last December, US President Barack Obama named King as part of America’s delegation to the Winter Olympics in Russia. However, earlier this month it was announced she would not be attending the Winter Olympics opening ceremony over her mother’s illness. According to AFP, the White House has now once more named King as part of an updated five-member delegation to represent the United States at the closing ceremony. Her inclusion follows reports of her mother’s passing last week in Prescott, Arizona. The gay former tennis player has been outspoken in her opposition to Russia’s anti-gay laws, although last month warned LGBT campaigners to think twice before demonstrating at the Sochi Games. On her decision to initially accept her part as a US delegate, she said: “It sends a strong message that America is very diverse. We are here, and surrogates as athletes and gay athletes. We reflect part of America. Maybe we’ll be a voice for people who don’t feel they can be a voice yet.”
© Pink News
Lesbian Olympic snowboarder Belle Brockhoff targeted with onslaught of anti-gay hate tweets
Lesbian Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff has revealed she has been the target of an onslaught of vicious anti-gay hate tweets, including messages saying she should “break a leg and get locked in the slammer.”
16/2/2014- Speaking to reporters after recently placing eighth in the ladies’ boardercross at Extreme Park, the 21-year-old said: “I’ve had a lot of people tweeting me about different things. “I’ve had hate tweets. But it’s good getting different sides of the story, and trying to open your eyes a lot more before you say anything. “I’ve been called an aggressive something dyke or something, but I thought it was pretty funny. This one guy said, ‘I’m right behind Putin, you should break a leg and get locked in the slammer’ … The hate is funny.” President Vladimir Putin signed the controversial law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community. In an interview with BBC Sport leading up to the Olympic Games, Ms Brockhoff previously said her parents were “so worried” about her competing in Sochi. She added: “I want to go there because I’m not afraid of these laws and I want others that live in Russia, who are homosexuals, to see that.”
© Pink News
Outside the Olympics, pressure on gay Russians grows
16/2/2014- Nearly every day here at the Winter Games, some official or another guarantees that gay people will encounter no discrimination. The Olympic charter prohibits it, they say, and even if it didn’t, the Russian constitution does. The evidence, activists argue, suggests otherwise. The Games have conferred a kind of immunity for sexual minorities within the well-defended boundaries of the Olympic grounds. Over the weekend, Vladimir Luxuria, an Italian transgender activist, said she was briefly detained after showing a “Gay Is Okay” banner at the Games. On Monday, police denied that the incident had ever happened. But across Russia such official declarations sound like mocking platitudes to gays who have been feeling the wrath of a repressive new law.
Last summer, Lena Klimova, a young gay woman living in a steel town about 850 miles east of Moscow, started a social media page for gay teenagers, some of the most vulnerable victims of homophobia. Now police say the page, where teenagers discuss rejection and loneliness, violates the law prohibiting the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” If Klimova, 25, is found guilty of the accusation, she faces a fine of up to $2,800 — ruinous, given her small earnings. For 18 years, Alexander Yermoshkin taught geography in the Far East city of Khabarovsk without his sexuality becoming an issue. Last fall, he was dismissed. President Vladimir Putin had signed the “propaganda” law in June, and a group of citizens complained that because Yermoshkin was gay, he might persuade children that “nontraditional sexual relations are normal.”
The repercussions didn’t stop there. At the end of January, a Khabarovsk newspaper editor was convicted of violating the law because he ran an article about the dismissal which quoted Yermoshkin saying, “My very existence is proof that being gay is normal.” The editor, Alexander Suturin, was fined nearly $1,500. As the Opening Ceremonies were getting underway in Sochi last Friday, Anastasia Smirnova and three friends set off to hang a banner on a St. Petersburg bridge saying “Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. — Principle 6. The Olympic Charter.” The banner was not specific to gays, but Smirnova is an LGBT activist. When the group stopped momentarily to photograph themselves and the banner — well before they reached their destination — a bus and three cars packed with armed riot police swooped down on them, Smirnova wrote on Facebook. They were questioned for four hours, repeatedly asked about LGBT affiliations and charged with organizing an unauthorized public assembly, Smirnova said. Now they face fines of up to $875. “It was a police state at its best,” Smirnova wrote, pointing out that the authorities seemed to know their plans in advance.
In Moscow that same evening, at least 10 people who tried to wave rainbow flags on Red Square were quickly detained. Some reported being beaten. Officials decline to comment on individual cases, but they follow the lead of Putin, who in public seems to equate homosexuality with pedophilia and appears to suggest that homosexual behavior is taught, contradicting what scientists say is evidence that it results from developmental differences. Last month, in a visit to Sochi, Putin said gays had nothing to fear at the Games. “Just leave kids alone, please,” he said. Then Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, assigned to supervise the Olympic project for the government, said the same. “Please do not touch the kids; that is the only thing,” he said. “That is prohibited by law in all countries no matter whether you are straight or gay.” Klimova, speaking by telephone, sighed. “We pretend to be tolerant,” she said, “but we are not at all.”
‘Illusions about protecting children’
Klimova lives in Nizhny Tagil, a steel town in the Urals beset by more than the usual despair. Unemployment is high, and poverty is widespread. After she wrote an online article criticizing the propaganda law and its assumption of perversion, she began hearing from gay teenagers around the country who described rejection and misery. The social media page helped them share their experiences with other teenagers, Klimova said. But in January, Vitaly Milonov, a conservative city councilman in faraway St. Petersburg, demanded an investigation, complaining that Klimova was luring teenagers into homosexuality with the page. “Without such groups,” he told the Ria Novosti news agency, “no kids like that would exist.” Klimova expects to find herself in court within 30 days, accused of promoting nontraditional sexual relations among minors. The assertion is ridiculous, she said. “For Milonov,” she said, “these kids do not exist. This is a law used to shut up teenagers trying to tell each other their stories. The authorities say they are protecting children. It’s a total lie.”
Only the other day, Klimova said, she had heard from a 16-year-old girl in the small city of Bryansk, 235 miles southwest of Moscow. Juvenile authorities accused her of violating the propaganda law. Her offense? She was openly gay. The girl had met with gay activists in St. Petersburg, where a local vigilante tracked her down. He told her school principal in Bryansk that a minor admitting to homosexuality was clearly breaking the law. “I hope after this example no one will have any illusions about protecting children,” Klimova said, “because children are the ones who are suffering.”
‘Panic in the community’
Olympic officials repeatedly say that their charter prohibits discrimination. “We have assurances from the Russian government and the president of the Russian Federation that the Olympic Charter will apply during the Olympic Games,” Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, recently said. But Ivan Simochkin, a leader of Heterosexuals Supporting LGBT Rights in Moscow, said there are no such guarantees in Russia. Just look at Khabarovsk, he said. “This means gays are banned from saying who they are,” Simochkin said. “The law has made homophobia state policy.” The Soviet Union made homosexuality illegal, but Russia repealed the law in 1993. After that, gay people generally lived in peace, though few dared to declare their orientation publicly. Now they feel the authorities have declared open season on them. So far, there have been no signs of protest in Sochi regarding the gay law or anything else. Putin said demonstrations would be allowed in a park about seven miles from the closest Olympic venue, but civic activists said that requests for the required permits have been turned down.
Konstantin Yablotskiy, president of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation in Moscow, had hoped activists would be able to sponsor a “pride house” in Sochi, where gay visitors would find a welcome. The Vancouver Winter Olympics had one. “Registration was denied here,” he said. “No, nothing has changed because of the Olympics,” he said. “What will happen after the Olympics, we’ll see. People are very frightened. Many LGBT people think the situation will be worse after the Olympics. There is a panic in the community, especially among those who are partly or almost out, those who are active.” Their fate, he said, now lies with the larger world. “Don’t stop paying attention to us after the Olympics,” he said. “What happens depends on you.”
© The Washington Post
Russian gays fear return of anti-LGBT campaign
The anti-propaganda law drew particular attention and stirred talk of a boycott by Western gay organizations and human right groups ahead of the Sochi Olympic Games.
15/2/2014- After passage of a law banning the promotion of homosexuality among minors last summer, the Russian government's anti-gay campaign appears to be on hiatus during the Olympic Games. But many gay activists and human rights groups fear it will return with a vengeance once the foreign athletes, journalists and dignitaries have gone home. The government takes little interest in the gay scene itself, as long at it keeps a low profile. But when gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people organize into an independent movement demanding rights, the state moves to stifle it. The danger, activists say, comes when laws like the one banning gay propaganda seem to send a signal that attacks on gays are acceptable.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1991. Hand-holding by same-sex couples is not an uncommon sight. Police have tried to protect gays from hooligans bent on violence, though that protection has not been consistent or reliable. Russia has officially recognized the LGBT Sport Federation, which plans to hold the LGBT Open Games from Feb. 26 to March 2 to draw attention to human rights issues and to present a positive image of gays to Russians. But amid a semblance of tolerance, gay activists can quickly run afoul of the government, particularly if their activities take on a political coloration. Gay pride parades, for instance, have never been authorized in Russian cities -- and the new law gives authorities leverage to forbid them outright.
Does Law Target Gay Teens?
Amid increasingly anti-gay rhetoric from lawmakers and public figures, the Duma passed a law in June 2013 prohibiting the "promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors." Violators so far face only fines, but the law is being used to cow reporters into forgoing favorable articles about gays and to block public activity such as a gay pride march. In the Ural mountain town of Nizny Tagil, journalist and LGBT activist Yelena Klimova has twice been called in by police and faces a possible $3,000 fine over her project, Children-404, which seeks to help LGBT teens who are facing pressure from their peers and parents over coming out. "A lot of teenagers said they would hear their parents watching the news and getting angry about gays, saying they all need to be killed," Klimova says. "And those teenagers start wondering what would happen to them if their parents found out they were gay. They were in a lot of pain. 'What -- would they want to kill me too?' they would say."
The law is emboldening local authorities to target homosexuals.
• The family of a 14-year-old girl from the western Russia Bryansk region was notified that she had "systematically propagandized non-traditional sexual relations among minors by admitting openly that she is of non-traditional sexual orientation" and would be placed under watch. The move drew criticism from higher authorities because the girl was a minor, and the action was dropped.
• Prosecutors in the Ulyanovsk region are checking whether a children's book about diversity is breaking the law against promoting non-traditional sexual relations among minors.
Anti-Gay Groups Embolded
The signs are ominous, says Dmitry Svetly, a coordinator with the Rainbow Association, which organizes events and street protests to promote the rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. The new law has encouraged radical anti-gay groups, Svetly says. "At one protest, this group came and surrounded us," he says. "Homophobic groups have grown larger in size, stronger, and they feel they have the support of the government." In some cases, attackers have grabbed a gay man off the street and taken him to an apartment where they would beat him and curse him as a pedophile, then post a videotape of the incident online as further humiliation. Tatyana Vinnichenko, a university teacher in Arkhangelsk who heads a local LGBT group, says a lesbian single mother in Arkhangelsk was shaken by a visit from child services after a neighbor complained to authorities about her sexual orientation.
Games Highlight Issue
Such incidents would have gone largely unnoticed outside Russia without Western media attention during the lead-up to the Games. The anti-propaganda law drew particular attention and stirred talk of a boycott by Western gay organizations and human right groups. 'That's when President Vladimir Putin reassured visitors that they would be warmly welcomed. He said the propaganda law was intended only to protect children from pedophiles, not to stop consenting acts between adults. "Just leave the kids in peace," Putin said. Although a boycott failed to materialize, some Western countries made a point of registering their concerns publicly. President Obama, for example, pointedly named several prominent gay athletes, including tennis great Billie Jean King and figure skating champion Brian Boitano, to the U.S. delegation to the Olympics.
But finessing the issue on the eve of the Games is one thing. What happens after the Olympics? Andrei Zhuravlyov, a conservative lawmaker from the United Russia party, wants to reintroduce a bill that would strip gays of parental rights. The initial attempt failed in September. Many Russian LGBT activists say such laws could have an easier time passing after the Olympics. "Many of the young people I've talked to fear that once the Olympic Games are over and international attention for Russia decreases, things will get worse. A lot are really afraid," Klimova says.
Immigration Equality, a U.S.-based group that offers legal support for LGBT people seeking asylum in the U.S., says it has opened 28 cases involving gay Russians in 2013, more than any previous year. The group's legal director, Aaron Morris, says, "I think a lot of people were sort of thinking -- maybe hoping -- Russia would get better but made a decision that that wasn't going to happen and that it was time to find another solution." Masha Gessen, a Russian-American writer, uprooted her family and moved to New York in December out of concern that her children might be taken from her and her partner, a Russian citizen she married in 2004 in the United States. Gessen, author of The Man without a Face, a book highly critical of Putin, says Putin sees homosexuality as a Western import that undermines traditional families. She calls herself the "quintessential" example of Putin's worst nightmare: gay, Jewish and intellectual. Putin's tough line on homosexuality, Gessen says, is a genuine personal reaction to liberal Western influence that he abhors.
Government Emphasizes 'Morality'
The law on homosexual propaganda is part of a clear government strategy to focus on morality, according to sociologist Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a former member of the United Russia party. "After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a period that was widely characterized as moral decay," she says. "The government wants to restore morals." The government influences most of the Russian news media, which in turns shape how the public perceives gay issues. Konstantin Yablotsky, co-president of the LGBT Sport Federation, says his group has found gay Russians becoming more cautious as pressure builds. He says the federation asks new members if they have come out publicly. The number who say no has risen from 45% in 2010 to 75% now. In a June 2013 poll by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research, 88% of respondents supported the law banning the promotion of non-traditional relations among minors. The poll also found that 42% said homosexuality should be a punishable crime, an increase from 19% in 2007. The number of people who said the government should not be involved in the sexual orientation of citizens dropped from 34% in 2007 to 15% in 2013. The Russian government's emphasis on morality has even won adherents among Western pro-family groups.
Austin Ruse, who travels to Russia frequently to help plan the World Congress of Families 2014, says he believes that Russian leaders are against gay activism-- rather than homosexuality itself -- because they see it as the genesis of an independent political movement. "I think he (Putin) sees gay rights movement as one of the worst aspects of contemporary American culture," Ruse says. Ruse, head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, supports the anti-propaganda law but expresses concern about violence against gays. He says he has met with Russian government officials to urge them to rein it in. He says police arrest "hooligans" who beat up gays in public, "but I don't think they are doing it as aggressively as they should." He acknowledges that the law is subject to misuse to ban free speech and political activism such as gay rallies. "It's kind of walking a tightrope," Ruse says. "There is no human right to talk about your sexual orientation to schoolchildren. ... On the other hand, you have a human right in international treaties not to get beat up." Ruse believes Putin is sincere in his views on morality, family values and religion.
Kryshtanovskaya, the sociologist, says government ideology is targeting homosexuality as an impediment to Russia's demographic survival. "The issue of having more children has become a particularly critical one given the shrinking size of Russia's population," she says. "Everything that stands in the way (of having more children) is criticized by the government." She says more laws targeting homosexuals could be passed after the Olympics, but the government would not take such a radical step as outlawing homosexuality outright. What is critical, many gay activists say, is not what the government says, but what it does. "The law itself is only about fines. It doesn't stipulate a criminal offense," says Vinnichenko, the LGBT group leader in Arkhangelsk. "But what's dangerous about it is that it sends a clear message that we as LGBT people don't have a right to state our identity."
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