Headlines 25 June, 2010
JEWISH DANCE GROUP STONED IN HANOVER, GERMANY
24/6/2010- German police are investigating the stoning of a Jewish dance group trying to perform on the street in the city of Hanover. Youths reportedly shouted "Juden Raus" (Jews Out) as they attacked the dancers of the Chaverim ("Friends" in Hebrew) dance troupe last weekend. Police said several Muslim immigrant youths were among the attackers and two youths were being questioned. A German Jewish leader said she feared growing anti-Israeli sentiment.
The group was trying to perform in Hanover's Sahlkamp district, which has a large immigrant community. One of the dancers was injured in the leg and the troupe cancelled the performance after the attack. Police said one German suspect aged 14 and a 19-year-old of North African origin were being questioned. Alla Volodarska, of the Progressive Jewish community of Hanover, told Associated Press news agency she had spoken to the dancers involved. "What happened is just so awful. The teenagers started throwing stones the moment our dance group was announced, even before they started dancing." Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, told the Die Welt newspaper that anti-Semitic feelings were widespread in both far-right and Muslim communities in the country. "It particularly saddens me that those anti-Semitic views can already be seen with such vehemence among children and youths," she said.
© BBC News
RACIAL VIOLENCE: THE BURIED ISSUE (uk)
Research published by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) today, reveals dangerously high levels of racial violence in the UK - a violence which is spreading into new areas.
25/6/2010- As mainstream parties compete as to which can reduce immigration fastest - ostensibly to defuse community fears - no one asks who actually bears the immediate fall-out of such tensions - Black and Minority Ethnic, asylum-seeker/refugee and migrant communities. As far as the authorities are concerned the Macpherson inquiry (set up in the wake of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993) has dealt with racial violence. It no longer exists, it is no longer a problem issue. But the IRR's report, Racial violence: the buried issue, reveals that, on average, five people a year in the UK have lost their lives to racial violence since Stephen's death - a total of eight-nine victims in seventeen years.
And analysis of 660 racial attacks in 2009 reveals that certain groups of people are particularly at risk: 'dispersed' asylum seekers, newly-arrived migrant workers, those who look Muslim and/or work in isolating trades such as taxi-cabbing, food take-aways, small shops and eateries. The map of violence has changed quite dramatically since studies were first done a generation ago, when primarily areas like Southall, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham witnessed the most racial attacks and racist murders. Such areas are now, in part through struggles against racism, more 'at ease' with their diversity. Today racial violence is on the rise in towns, cities and villages which are only now beginning to change demographically - with the arrival of asylum seekers, migrant workers, overseas students, and the natural movement of settled BME families from the larger conurbations.
According to the report's authors: 'The governments' line that community tension is based solely on new immigration to the UK is partial and opportunistic. The UK is now witnessing an ever-expanding mosaic of different racisms based on different local conditions. And politicians themselves are responsible, through their neglect of poor disadvantaged areas, policies including the demonisation of certain groups and rhetoric around the war on terror, for creating, particularly in areas where competition over scarce resources is keenest, a climate in which racial violence will flourish. The drastic economic cuts of the new government can only make things worse.'
* 89 people have lost their lives in attacks with a racial element since the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.
* Victims of attacks are overwhelmingly Asian (45%); Black (18%); Migrant workers (10%). Men are usually the victims of attacks (80%).
* Attacks take place on the street (37.6%); in the home (12%), taxi/taxi offices (10%), takeaways, restaurants, pubs and bars (8.6%); shops (8%); religious institutions and/or people in their vicinity (4.3%).
* 34% of attacks took place at the weekend when perpetrators are often under the influence of drink and drugs.
Download the IRR's Briefing Paper: Racial violence: the buried issue here (pdf file, 300kb).
Read the IRR's Factfile on the Racially Motivated Murders (Known or Suspected) 2000 onwards
© The Institute of Race Relations
CONVICTIONS POINT TO RISE OF FAR RIGHT EXTREMISM (uk)
Today's convictions of a 42-year-old food packer and a 59-year-old builder on inciting racial hatred brings to 16 the number of convictions connected to far right extremism in the past two years, as Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Israel investigates.
24/6/2010- Trevor Hannington, from South Wales, and Michael Heaton, from Lancashire, ran their own far right organisation which promised street action to help rid the country of minority communities. Their Aryan Strike Force boasted 350 members. Its website had tens of thousands of postings, all messages of hate like urging the destruction of Jews, describing them as treacherous scum. There were references to "chopping n****** legs off" and "kill the jew, burn down a synagogue today". Heaton was found guilty on four charges charges, while Hannington admitted to four terrorism charges including distributing instructions on how to turn a water pistol into a flamethrower. Both were both found not guilty of soliciting to murder. Dr Matthew Feldman, who runs the UK's only research unit on new media and domestic extremism at Northampton University, was the prosecution's key witness in this case. He says "These are neo-Nazis, pure and simple, and consider themselves really the most extreme versions of this ideological neo-Nazism that is new. "We have had some evidence, I believe, of activists from the ASF appearing on videos at the English Defence League marches and so forth."
Rise in extremism
Dr Feldman believes this recent string of convictions of "lone wolf" cases and the creation of the English Defence League point to a resurgence of far right extremism. He said: "In terms of what we might call small cell or lone wolf terrorists cases since 2008, but also other events in 2008 such as the successful election of two British National Party MEPs in the Yorkshire, Humber area, and in 2009 the creation of the English Defence League on the back of those protests by some radical Islamism groups against the return of Anglican soldiers. So I think there is a confluence of factors that do point to a resurgence in the far right." The two convicted today actually turned up at several of the EDL rallies and used their website to praise the EDL's actions. Yet the EDL denies any links to these extremists organisation. We asked for an interview with its organisers so we could put all our evidence to them. They declined. Does that mean EDL is infiltrated with those with a much more extreme agenda intent on more than just glorified football style violence? Police who monitor these events say no.
Assistant Chief Constable Anton Setchell, national coordinator for domestic extremism, told Channel 4 News that "we have seen some individuals from the far right on the margins of EDL organised events but these are only one or two individuals. We have found no strong links between extreme groups like the Aryan Strike Force and the EDL." Yet today's guilty verdicts bring to 16 the total number of far right extremists who have been convicted over the past two years. Among them were father and son Ian and Nicky Davison who were sent to prison last month for possessing the poison Ricin and for making and detonating pipe bombs. They were also co-founders of the Aryan Strike Force. Dr Feldman says: "in groups like the ASF successor organisations we are seeing a group numbering in the few hundreds probably at the maximum. "That's a few hundred too many because these are not people who are far right activists for the BNP and knocking doors. These are people who may very well be considering a future as we saw in the Davison case undertaking terrorists. In fact Heaton stated publically that as part of a "rites of passage" to join, potential recruits had to carry out a serious op, meaning a violent racist attack.
Report on racism
The Institute for Race Relations is about to publish a report, which Channel 4 News has had exclusive access to, mapping out 600 serious racist attacks in the UK last year. Many have taken place in towns which have had influxes of a migrant workforce or asylum seekers. But it also hints at a correlation between attacks and pockets of extremism. We found that of the 16 extremist convictions since 2008, two thirds come from towns which form a corridor across the north of England: Penwortham, south of Preston, to Leigh, west of Manchester, to Batley, to Selby, to Goole, to Grimsby, then further north to Elsdon and Durham. Privately, police sources have confirmed to us that their intelligence suggests the same. They admit there are some dangerous individuals, but overall the threat from right wing extremists has hardly changed since the days of the nail bomber David Copeland, who killed three and seriously injured 79 people in three attacks, the worst at Soho's Admiral Duncan Pub in 1999. It was the last time white supremacists were said to behind a bomb attack in the UK. Those monitoring far right extremists attribute the recent string of convictions to a combination of "good police work", community relations and luck, rather than an increased threat. But they say what has changed is their profile boosted by a combination of the numerous convictions and the tenor of EDL marches.
© Channel 4 News
24/6/2010- Scunthorpe’s Muslim community leaders have expressed their outrage after 11 Muslim graves in Brumby Cemetery were vandalised for the second time in 21 months and the third time in four years. No arrests were made in August 2008 when 24 headstones, including children’s graves, were attacked in two separate areas of the cemetery in Cemetery Road. In March 2007 two brothers, aged 12 and 14, were caught after vandalising the graves and brought before the courts in April 2007. They were given nine month referral orders and told to pay £440 in compensation. 30 year-old Saleem Ali called the police when he discovered the gravestones had been uprooted and toppled over on May 29.
Ali said: “It was a disgusting act of vandalism and heart-breaking for the families concerned.” The Deputy Mayor of North Lincolnshire, Councillor Mashook Ali, said: “We prayed this would never happen again, but it has.” Ali said he felt the graves had been deliberately targeted as there are three sections of the cemetery designated for Muslims. “We want those responsible brought to justice,” he said. “The latest attacks have shocked the local Muslim community to the core. We shall be pressing for extra security measures on the site.”
Munir Akhtar’s uncle’s headstone was among those vandalised. He told The Muslim News, “It’s really upsetting for the whole family and this can not be viewed as anything but Islamophobic because they targeted only the Muslim section. “My uncle died years ago but this brings the bereavement back. We’ll need to see strong action from the council,” said Akhtar. Roj Rahman, 39, of Cliff Gardens, Scunthorpe, said: “We feel let down by the local authority. After the 2008 attack we were promised better lighting and pruning of trees to provide higher visibility in that section of the graveyard.” Haq Kataria, 48, of Doncaster Road, Scunthorpe, said: “We feel sure this latest attack was racially motivated. But the dead of any religious denomination need to be respected.”
North Lincolnshire Police Community Cohesion Officer, Amanda Atkin, urged anyone with information to come forward. “This is pure mindless vandalism and not only do the families have to pay for any damage caused but there is the added upset of their loved ones’ graves being disturbed,” she said. North Lincolnshire Council, which is responsible for the cemetery, has promised to once again review its security arrangements with the Friends of Brumby Cemetery community group. A spokesman said: “It is extremely upsetting for relatives who have lost loved ones and the council wants to stop it happening again.”
Labour Councillor and South Humber Racial Equality Council Chair, Ishaq Jawaid, defended the council following the 2008 incident. A meeting was held after the 2008 attack between members of the Muslim community, the council, the police and the Multi Faith Partnership. He told The Muslim News a tree that was obscuring the light “was cut back a short time later and we will now look at it again.” “We also improved security by locking the cemetery gates other than those by the caretaker’s cottage.” “The council did everything it promised to do following the 2008 attack.” He also also highlighted the fact that other non-Muslim graves in both rural and urban cemeteries in Lincolnshire were also targeted recently.
© The Muslim News
SUPPORT FOR GAY RIGHTS IMPROVES, BUT SCHOOLS AND RELIGION STILL A PROBLEM (Netherlands)
24/6/2010- The lack of acceptance for gay people under youngsters, orthodox Christians and Muslims, the low-skilled and some immigrant groups is still cause for concern, according to a new report from the government's social policy unit SCP. Support for gay rights in the Netherlands is higher than other countries and the report shows some improvement. Although some 9% of the population still have 'serious objections' to homosexuality, but this is down from 15% in 2006. Nevertheless, one in five people don't think gay people should be allowed to adopt children and one in 10 thinks same sex marriage should be abolished. Some 40% of the population feel uncomfortable if they see two men kiss in the street.
The report says that in particular more effort should be made to help gay school pupils who are often bullied and ostracised by the teenage need to conform. One third of school pupils believe a gay friend has to keep their sexuality secret and effeminate men are widely considered to be 'fake'. 'Homo' is also widely used as an insult by school pupils. Half of young gay men have had suicidal thoughts, a far higher percentage than in the youth population at large. Nine percent of gay boys and 16% of gay girls have actually attempted to kill themselves, the report claims.
More effort also has to be made to combat 'gay bashing' following a number of high-profile cases. Last year, there were 82 reports of anti-gay violence in Amsterdam alone. Verbal abuse is more common. One in ten gay men reported being verbally abused at work or at school because of their sexual orientation, three in 10 had been insulted by strangers. Lesbian mothers are also likely to face verbal abuse and gossip. Some 61% said their children are teased about their mothers.
Gay rights organisation COC has written to cabinet coalition negotiator Uri Rosenthal and party leaders urging them to put gay emancipation on the political agenda. 'The acceptance of lesbians, gay, bisexuals and transgender people is the litmus test for our open and tolerant society,' the organisation said.
© The Dutch News
ZAGREB UNIQUE IN BALKANS AS IT HOLDS 9TH GAY PRIDE PARADE (Croatia)
21/6/2010- After holding its ninth Gay Pride parade on Saturday with only limited disruption, Croatia remains the only country in the region which is able to pull off such an event year after year. Under the slogan "Croatia can stomach it!" several hundred people carried rainbow flags, balloons, and banners with anti-homophobic messages from the city's Trg Zrtava Fasizma square to the central Trg Bana Jelacica square, and the Zrinjevac park where a concert was held. Gender Equality Ombudswoman Gordana Lukac Koritnik, who addressed the participants, noted on the occasion that the level of homophobia in Croatia was still too high and expressed her hope that that would change soon. Meanwhile, about 100 anti-gay protesters held a rally at the same time, organised by members of the ultra-right Croatian Pure Party of Rights youth organisation. While some 200 police officers provided security for the Gay Pride event, about a dozen young men attacked and injured three parade participants, parade organisers said. Croatian police confirmed that two participants in the pride parade were taken to hospital - one suffered a shoulder injury and the other had a tooth knocked out. The police also stopped an incident during the rally from escalating and arrested three attackers.
Efforts to organise Gay Pride parades stymied throughout the region
Gay rights activists in Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro have not managed to hold Gay Pride parades or similar large-scale events, and Macedonia, which recently passed an anti-discrimination law that was heavily-criticised because it does not include a provision barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, has seen no events of this type. The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia have attempted to hold such gatherings in the past, and have faced consistent and violent opposition. In 2008, Bosnia’s first-ever gay festival in Sarajevo ended in violence that forced the festival to go underground after eight people, including two journalists and a policeman, were injured by hooligans at the opening ceremony. Despite heavy police presence, violence spread to nearby streets which were covered with posters declaring "Death to Homos". The organisers subsequently decided to abandon public gatherings and workshops in 2009, but have promoted their message of tolerance through billboards and TV and newspaper adverts.
According to research conducted by Nela Lazarevic, a fellow in the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, Montenegro is the only country in Europe without a specific LGBT organisation. Other states in the region, such as Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia, have at least one LGBT organisation. An event in Podgorica organised by users of the online Montenegro-Gay Forum last July and billed as the first gay night-time event in Montenegro saw only a dozen people show up. Serbia's LGBT community is seen as quite strong compared to others in the region but it has failed to organise large-scale events due to vehement opposition from some nationalist and church organisations. Serbia's first Pride march was brought to a halt in Belgrade in June 2001 when opponents of the event seriously injured several participants and policemen. Almost eight years later the country's parliament adopted an Anti-Discrimination Law which prohibits, amongst other things, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status.
The second Pride rally in Belgrade, which was scheduled to be held on September 20, 2009, was cancelled after police declared the risk to the marchers’ personal security was too high following threats from right-wing groups to disrupt the march. Immediately following the cancellation of the event Human Rights Watch called upon Serbian President Boris Tadic to take action to end a spate of violence and discrimination in the country based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Lazar Pavlovic from the Gay Straight Alliance in Belgrade told Balkan Insight that collecting signatures for a new gathering is ongoing. "We have already collected a thousand signatures in Belgrade," Pavlovic said, announcing that the "campaign will also be extended to other cities and places across Serbia." The signature-gathering effort will continue "for the next couple of months, until what we hope will be the start of the first successful Pride Parade in Belgrade," Pavlovic said. He also noted that GSA have held a series of meetings in the past few months with the state representatives, who offered support. He added, however, that regardless of the importance of holding such events in Serbia, it cannot be the final goal of the Serbian LGBT community but only a step forward.
© Balkan Insight
BLAST ROCKS SYNAGOGUE IN RUSSIA
A bomb blast rocked a synagogue in Russia on Monday, drawing condemnation from the country's Jewish community, who linked the attack with the upcoming anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Russia.
22/6/2010- Regional police said that an explosive device went off just outside a synagogue in the central Russian city of Tver in the early hours of Monday, ripping a hole in its metal door and partially damaging its entrance hall. "Nobody was hurt in the explosion. The entrance to the synagogue was partly damaged. The shock wave broke windows in nearby 10 apartments. Crime experts, representatives of the prosecutor's office and the Emergency Situations Ministry are still working at the scene," a local law enforcement source said. Police said the incident had been classified as an act of hooliganism linked to political, racial or religious hatred and that a criminal case had been opened. A local leader of the Tver Jewish community, Vladimir Spivak, said one resident had suffered a light injury in the explosion and was taken to a hospital. The blast caused an outcry among the country's Jewish communities. “The explosion is a culmination of numerous attacks against practicing Jews," Russia's Federation of Jewish Communities said in a statement. “Anti-Semitic writings have appeared on the walls of the synagogue, anti-Semitic leaflets have been circulated in the city and some 140 graves were vandalized in the Jewish part of the local cemetery in 2009,” the statement said. The federation voiced hope that the bombers will be detained, tried and duly punished because "the impunity of the vandals inevitably leads to worse consequences." Jewish leaders also linked the blast with the anniversary of the start of World War II in Russia, where it is known as the Great Patriotic War, which the country marks on Tuesday. "The blast is not only an offence for the Jewish population but a terrible reminder of World War II victims," the Moscow Jewish Religious Community said in a statement. Religious and hate crimes are a relatively frequent occurrence in Russia.
Headlines 18 June, 2010
THREATS AGAINST ROMA CONTINUE IN SERBIAN VILLAGE
16/6/2010- For the past five days groups of non-Roma residents in the village of Jabuka, north of Belgrade, have been threatening and verbally abusing the local Roma population. The unrest began after 17-year-old Dejan S. was allegedly murdered by a Roma teenager last week over threats related to stolen sneakers which were made on the social networking Web site Facebook. The man suspected of stabbing Dejan S. with a knife, also 17, is being held in police custody. Every night since the incident several hundred non-Roma villagers have gathered for what they call peaceful protests in the areas were Roma residents live. The authorities and Roma villagers have described the demonstrations as racist and threatening, and there have been reports that protesters were throwing stones at the houses of Roma villagers.
The village, home to some 7,000 people, is located next to the town of Pancevo. It is currently under police protection and five persons suspected of spreading racial, religious and ethnic hate have been arrested. Pancevo police Chief Zvezdav Radojkovic said that police were in front of every Roma household offering protection as the number of villagers gathering for the protests is increasing. "We now have a situation where the incident [the murder] is being forgotten and the protesters are now trying solve local communal problems," he noted. Radojkovic went on to explain what the police was doing in order to resolve the problem: "We are trying to talk to these people and to tell them that police are here not only to investigate, but also to stop further incidents from occurring.” Serbia authorities and NGOs have strongly condemned the situation in Jabuka and called on those involved to stop their protests.
Petar Antic, deputy minister for Human and Minority Rights, told Balkan Insight that the ministry has shown its support to the Roma. "Events calling for violence against any community cannot be tolerated since they represent an incitement of racial and religious hatred and intolerance," Antic said. He went on to say it would take some time for the situation to calm down and for Roma residents to feel safe. The Association of Roma Youth in Serbia said today that it was frightened by the events in Jabuka and warned that an entire group of people cannot be blamed for crimes committed by individuals. "With deep compassion for the tragic loss, the Association of Roma Youth in Serbia invites young residents of the village of Jabuka to break the vicious circle of violence and be reminded that an entire people cannot bear responsibility for individual crimes," a statement from the group read.
Meanwhile, the NGO Belgrade Centre for Human Rights said in a statement that the state authorities must not allow the villagers of Jabuka to become hostages of the anger of their fellow citizens. "It is necessary to allow Roma people to continue leading normal lives in the village of Jabuka and to effectively prosecute persons responsible for the attacks. "This incident also points to the need for greater engagement on the part of the state in order to create an environment of mutual respect and understanding between different ethnic groups," the statement continued. When asked how such cases should be prevented in future, Deputy Minister Antic said that raising levels of tolerance among youth is the main task.
"The ministry is working with the mayor of Pancevo on implementing programmes in primary and secondary schools that encourage the peaceful resolution of conflicts," Antic told Balkan Insight. According to the 2002 census in Serbia, there are about 110,000 Roma in the country, but experts estimate that the actual number is between 400,000 and 700,000. In 2002 Serbia adopted a law that recognised the status of national minorities in the country. This improved the position of the Roma institutionally and formally, but in reality the situation on the ground has not improved significantly.
© Balkan Insight
GAY MEN TARGETS OF VIOLENCE AS HATE CRIMES JUMP (Canada)
14/6/2010- Police services are reporting a big jump in hate crimes, and they say gay men are being targeted more often and in the most violent incidents. But Statistics Canada says the numbers could be more a result of better reporting than of increased violence. The agency said police logged 1,036 hate crimes in 2008, up 35 per cent from 2007. Just over half (55 per cent) were motivated by race or ethnicity, 26 per cent by religion and 16 per cent by sexual orientation. The agency says all three major categories of hate crime increased in 2008, but the largest increase was among crimes motivated by sexual orientation, which more than doubled from 2007 to 2008. Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation were also the most violent: 75 per cent were violent compared with 38 per cent of racially-motivated incidents and 25 per cent of religiously motivated incidents. Among violent incidents motivated by sexual orientation, 85 per cent of the victims were male.
The agency used data from the national Uniform Crime Reporting, which assembles information on hate crimes as defined in the Criminal Code ''that have been reported to, and substantiated by, police services.'' But the report cautions that the data may be affected by a number of things. ''Information from police indicates that year-over-year changes do not necessarily reflect actual increases or decreases in the incidence of this type of offence since the number of hate crimes recorded in a given area can be influenced by many different factors,'' it said. ''These may include the existence (or absence) of specialized police hate crime units, training initiatives, zero tolerance policies, victim assistance programs, hot-lines and community awareness campaigns. In other words, the rate of hate crime in a given area may be more indicative of reporting practices by the public and local police services rather than prevalence levels.'' Sarita Srivastava, a sociology professor at Queen's University, says the improved reporting may only balance the fact that such crimes are generally under-reported by victims.
''Whether it's 35 per cent or five per cent, clearly the numbers are still too high,'' she said. There remains much to be done to reduce hate crimes and social inequalities, she said. ''Let's not sit down and congratulate ourselves over having achieved some level of tolerance.'' Helen Kennedy, executive director of EGALE, echoed that sentiment. ''We know that close to 75 per cent of these crimes go unreported,'' she said. Kennedy said much of the homophobic violence occurs among young people and in schools. ''We are focusing primarily on schools now in terms of our training, the training we are doing with police across the country,'' she said. ''The violence is still there. The fact that we're reporting it more is good, but we still have to do a lot more.'' StatsCan reported hate crimes motivated by religion increased 53 per cent, while those motivated by race or ethnicity were up 15. Mischief offences such as vandalism to property accounted for 47 per cent of hate crimes, while other non-violent offences comprised 11 per cent. Violence was a factor in 42 per cent of hate crimes. Among the hate crimes motivated by race or ethnicity, almost four in 10 were committed against blacks. Police reported 205 hate crimes against blacks in 2008, up 30 per cent over 2007, but still lower than the 2006 total of 238. South Asians, which include East Indians and Pakistanis, were the next most commonly targeted group, accounting for 12 per cent of hate-crime incidents motivated by race or ethnicity. Incidents targeting South Asians increased by 21 per cent in 2008.
As in previous years, about two-thirds of religiously-motivated hate crimes were committed against the Jewish faith. The agency reports 165 hate crimes targeting the Jewish faith in 2008, up 42 per cent. Police reported 30 hate crimes against the Catholic faith, double the total in 2007. The 26 incidents against the Muslim faith represented a slight drop from 2007. Vancouver and Hamilton reported the highest rates (6.3 hate crimes per 100,000 population) among Canada's 10 largest census cities. Police reported 143 hate crimes in Vancouver in 2008, nearly double the total from the previous year. There were 271 hate crimes reported in Toronto, a rate of 5.4 hate crimes per 100,000 population. Montreal, where police reported 38 hate crimes in 2008, had the lowest rate, at one per 100,000.
© The Toronto Star
BULGARIAN LAW DOESN'T PUNISH HATE CRIMES - HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERTS
13/6/2010- Bulgarian legislation does not appear to differentiate between hate crimes and similar violations committed because of other motives, the Chair of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committed has pointed out. “Bulgarian law treats all beatings in a similar fashion – it does not matter if one gets beaten in a drunken melee, or if one gets beaten because of their skin color or different sexual orientation,” the BHC head Krasimir Kanev stated Sunday in Sofia at a news conference dedicated to open and covert racism, neo-Nazism, and politically motivated violence. The initiative has resulted from the several recent cases of far-right groups attacking people in Bulgaria, the last one being a brutal attack on June 6, 2010, when neofascist youth beat four young men in a tram as the latter were on their way to a protest rally against the illegal detainment of foreigners in the notorious prison-like refugee facility in the village of Busmantsi outside of Sofia. “Bulgarian law is seriously deficient and is incapable of tackling racially motivated crimes,” stated Kanev.
“What we are witnessing is a spree of xenophobia and violence inspired by the society and the media,” said Iskra Baeva, a history professor at Sofia University. according to Ana Raycheva, a member of the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria, the neo-Nazis in Bulgaria are protected by the police. She criticized Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetano for his first statement after the June 6 attack in which he says that the public transport fight was the brought about by both leftist and rightist anarchist groups. The Federation or Anarchists even expressed their readiness to provide a “training course” for Tsvetanov and his officers. The organizers of the news conference emphasized multiple times that it did not matter if the crimes came from leftist or rightist groups but that the only important thing is to punish the criminals. “Hate crimes threaten entire groups of people based on religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation. They don't target the individuals but their identity, their being different,” said Radoslav Stoyanov, an activist of the LGBT organization.
“Hate crimes are punishable but not in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Internet space is filled with mushrooming sites of neo-Nazis which freely admit teenagers and train them to hate Turks, Roma, Jews, homosexuals,” he added. An African refugee, Javed Nuri, who has been kept illegally in the Busmantsi facility, declared that he has been living in Bulgaria for eight years and has been fighting discrimination constantly. In his words, he had been the victim of racially-motivated attacks five times, with the police failing to react to his calls, and the prosecutor's office dismissing his suits. “Silence against fascist terror is what makes it possible,” reads a statement of the organizers of the press conference who recently staged an anti-xenophobia rally before the Busmantsi facility. They demand adequate sentences for those who organized and executed the tram beating on June 6.
REPORT DETAILS FEW CASES OF ANTI-SEMITIC VIOLENCE IN RUSSIA
13/6/2010- Only six of 234 xenophoic attacks in Russia last year were against Jews, though anti-Semitism remains a problem in the country, according to a new report. The survey, which was released last week in Moscow, was prepared by Russian experts on anti-Semitism for the World Jewish Congress. The xenophobic attacks resulted in 80 deaths and at least 300 injured, the survey said. Of the six attacks against Jews, four occurred in Moscow; in three cases the targets were Israeli citizens. In 2007 and 2008, eight attacks against Jews had been registered each year. The anti-Semitic vandalism included nine cases of defilement of buildings occupied by Jewish organizations, and 11 cases of violating Jewish cemeteries or Holocaust memorials. The report authors attributed the low level of anti-Semitic violence not to the eradication of anti-Semitism, but because Russian Jews are hard to differentiate from the population at large. The victims were mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews whose mode of dress made them stand out. The authors said that anti-Semitic propaganda has largely moved to the Internet, including social networks. Live Journal, the most popular blog service in Russia, is a hot spot for such propaganda, since its abuse team allows popular neo-Nazi bloggers to remain on the site.
© JTA News
Headlines 11 June, 2010
ANOTHER ATTACK ON JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES (Russia)
11/6/2010- In the wake of an escalating government crackdown on their faith, Jehovah's Witnesses have suffered yet another violent attack, according to a June 8, 2010 report by the Kavkavsky Uzel news agency. On June 8 in the early morning hours, two unknown people entered through the window of a Jehovah's Witnesses prayer hall in Nartkala, Russia (Karbino-Baikal Republic), and assaulted two security guards, who are now in the hospital. The assailants then lit a fire inside the building, which the security guards managed to put out after the assailants left. Police are investigating the incident.
On March 20, arsonists struck a Jehovah's Witnesses prayer hall in Buddyonovsk; no arrests have been reported in connection with that crime. On January 9, a group of youths attacked a Jehovah's Witnesses prayer hall in Sochi. Police refused to open a criminal investigation of the latter incident.
MUSLIM CEMETERY VANDALIZED IN ZLATOUST(Russia)
11/6/2010- Unidentified vandals knocked down 15 headstones in a Muslim cemetery in Zlatoust, Russia (Chelyabinsk region), according to a June 3, 2010 report by regions.ru. Police are investigating the crime.
ANTISEMITIC ATTACK IN ROSTOV (Russia)
7/6/2010- Antisemites attacked a television news reporter in Rostov on the Don, Russia, according to a May 24, 2010 report posted on Jewish.ru. Roman Kosarev, who works for the English language cable channel Russia Today, was reportedly attacked by fans of the St. Petersburg soccer club "Zenit." He suffered a concussion as a result. The assailants reportedly shouted "Beat the kikes!" and "Kill the Jews!" as they attacked Mr. Kosarev. There is no word in the report about any arrests in connection with the assault, but police are investigating it.
RYAZAN NEO-NAZIS KILL ANTI-FASCIST ACTIVIST (Russia)
7/6/2010- An anti-fascist activist died two weeks after sustaining critical injuries at the hands of neo-Nazis in Ryazan, Russia according to a June 1, 2010 report by the Newsru.com web site. Konstantin Lukin, age 25, was attacked on his birthday (May 23) by a group of neo-Nazis who followed him home after he celebrated with friends. After the assault, Mr. Lukin never regained consciousness, but his friends and relatives pointed the finger at two neo-Nazi high school students, whom the police then detained. However, the youths' parents provided alibis for the suspects, and the police let them go free, leading to accusations that the police are trying to "hush up" the murder.
RACIALLY MOTIVATED CRIME ON THE RISE IN 2009 (Czech Rep.)
11/6/2010- The report by the EU human fundamental rights agency that says the number of racially motivated crimes has been decreasing over the past few years does not include last year when a growth was again recorded, Klara Klaibova, from the Czech NGO In Iustitia, said yesterday. Last year saw the broadly-known arson case in Vitkov, north Moravia, in which a Romany girl, then two-year old, received severe burns to 80 percent of her body. She has survived, but with permanent impairment to her health. The report that compares the number of racially motivated crimes from 2000 until 2008 says the police registered 364 such crimes at the beginning of the decade. The number peaked two years later when it grew to 473. The agency mentions the case in which four skinheads brutally attacked Romany student Marek Polak whom only a by-passing police saved. Five years later Polak received a compensation of 100,000 crowns in the media widely covered case. One of the attackers was sent behind bars and three accomplices got suspended penalties because they were juvenile. In 2008 the police registered only 217 racially motivated cases, but the document says about one third of Romanies do not report attacks they are target of. This makes Czech Romanies one of the most endangered minorities in Europe. Kalibova said the Romanies do not report attacks out of fear of revenge, criminal proceedings, and substantiated or unsubstantiated mistrust of law enforcement bodies. A part of crimes committed out of hatred are not at all investigated as crimes committed on grounds of race, religion or ethnicity, Kalibova said. She, however, conceded that the situation in the Czech Republic has definitively improved compared with the 1990s. Slovakia, on the other hand, has registered an increase from a mere 36 racially motivated crimes in 2000 to 213 in 2008.
© The Prague Daily Monitor
CITY ASSAULTS TREATED AS 'CRIMES OF HATE' (uk)
Police investigating two "despicable" assaults on disabled people in Edinburgh say they are treating them as aggravated "hate crimes".
9/6/2010- A 44-year-old man was trying to pass two teenagers in Oxgangs when they punched him repeatedly and robbed him. The victim was said to be shaken by his ordeal, which happened in Oxgangs Drive at 9:40am on Saturday. Lothian and Borders Police said they want to speak to two cyclists who were in the area and an elderly woman who was walking in Oxgangs Drive. The teenagers ran off in the direction of Firhill Drive. In a separate attack, a woman with ME and chronic arthritis was robbed by a teenager in daylight on Sunday. The 51-year-old was walking in Bonnington Grove at 1:20pm when the boy approached her. He grabbed her purse and ran off towards Pitt Street. The police spokesman said: "The last few days have seen two separate incidents within Edinburgh whereby the victim has been a vulnerable member of the community, and as such the incidents have been rightly condemned as despicable and cowardly." He pointed to new legislation which makes an attack on somebody because of their disability an "aggravated" crime. He said: "Where malice or ill- will is shown towards a person because of a disability, this is treated as an aggravation and as such will be investigated robustly and in the same way as any other hate crime."
© The Scotsman
FAR-RIGHT THUGS MENACE ROME'S TOURIST SPOTS IN WAVE OF VIOLENCE (Italy)
Rise in race attacks is fuelled by drink and election of former neo-fascist as mayor
6/6/2010- On the surface, the good times returned to the Coming Out bar in Rome last week. Music boomed as crowds of drinkers spilled out into what has been dubbed Gay Street to perch on the railings, inches from a brightly lit Colosseum. But for many gay and lesbian revellers the atmosphere was soured by the memory of how, just days earlier, one drinker was badly beaten on his way home by a gang yelling: "Filthy faggot." "We have been joking about the attack to cut the tension, but friends are warning us to take care," said Giovanni, a 33-year-old marketing man from Padua. The attack was the latest in a string of assaults on gays, immigrants and even tourists that have been linked to extreme rightwing thuggery in the traditionally tolerant eternal city, fuelled by a spiralling consumption of alcohol and following the election of former neo-fascist, Gianni Alemanno, as mayor. "These thugs don't get any support from the town hall, but they feel justified and encouraged by the political climate," said Flavia Servadei, who opened Coming Out in 2001. The assault near "Gay Street" was the eighth incident of homophobic violence in Rome in just nine months, including a serious wounding of a gay man by a veteran neo-fascist, two attempts to burn down a gay disco, and the lobbing of a firecracker into the crowd outside Coming Out.
In March four men boarded a night bus in the trendy Trastevere district and methodically beat up a black man and a homosexual student. "Young people in Rome who are joining extremist groups, and who are no longer being warned off violence against minorities, are increasingly deciding that such violence is legitimate," said Paolo Patanè, the president of Italian gay rights group Arcigay, which is pushing to make homophobia a crime. With almost a third of young Italians out of work and immigrants now accounting for 7% of the population, racist attacks in Rome have also become a regular occurrence. In March, 15 masked men armed with sticks destroyed a Bangladeshi-owned internet café, injuring four. In the tough neighbourhood of Tor Bella Monaca, immigrants from Moldavia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Albania, China and Tunisia have all been beaten up or stabbed in recent months. Last month four men were arrested in possession of machetes on suspicion of planning to assault the head of Rome's Jewish community.
Wearing jeans, polo shirts and sunglasses, the youths swigging lager and looking for trouble in piazzas today resemble their rightwing forebears like Alemanno, who battled young Communists during Italy's politically charged 1970s and 1980s. "The difference is that today they are less ideological and more interested in identity, in opposing anything and anyone who is different," said Michele Sorice, a sociologist at Rome's Luiss university. The other generational shift is an emphasis on alcohol, as the old Italian fixation with maintaining a bella figura gives way to pride in losing control. City officials said they were considering a repeat of last summer's ban on drinking in Rome's piazzas to cut violence. "Alemanno is not responsible for the political climate in the city; he is a product of it," said Claudio Cerasa, author of The Taking of Rome, a book about the rise of the right. "Just look at the way student elections were going before he was elected in 2008." In student council elections in 2007, after decades of leftwing rule, a quarter of Rome's schoolchildren voted for Blocco Studentesco, an affiliate to the far-right Casa Pound.
Casa Pound leader Gianluca Iannone is described by Cerasa as a "fascist for the third millennium" who mixes eulogies to Mussolini with praise for Che Guevara and now counts on 2,000 recruits up and down Italy as well as sympathisers on Rome's city council. But judging by the proliferating swastikas, the problem is that a number of Romans appear quite happy to stick to the old ideas. "There is a simply a different atmosphere here to towns up north like Venice and Padua," said Piero, nursing his drink nervously at the Coming Out bar. "People on the far right here feel they have political cover."
© The Guardian
NEO-NAZIS ATTACK PROTESTERS AGAINST BULGARIAN GUANTANAMO
6/6/2010- A group of Neo-Nazis has beaten black and blue young people, who were on their way to rally against the illegal detention of foreigners at the Special Centre for Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners in Busmantsi, widely known as the Bulgarian Guantanamo. The attackers, who wore dark and hooded sweatshirts, turned on the passengers aboard a public transport tram in Sofia Sunday morning. The accident occurred for no apparent reason shortly after 10.30 am close to the stop at Iskar station. Four passengers were seriously injured. The rally gathered about fifty people, who wanted to voice disagreement with the illegal and random detention of foreigners in the center, including those, who are awaiting to obtain refugee or humanitarian status, those who pose no threat to the society, people with serious heath problems, pregnant women and mothers with children.
The protesters demanded that lawmakers adopt an amendment to the Law for Foreigners in Bulgaria, which will provide for the status of illegal immigrants, so that they can have access to education, health care, labor market and the right to a private and family life. The center, also called a "home", is supposed to serve as temporary residence for illegal immigrants or people whose application for refugee status was rejected and are waiting to be deported. It however has come under fierce criticism by NGOs and intellectuals for making locking people up pretty much the norm, holding people not temporarily but for years, providing no information how long they are going to be detained, imposing information blackout on the self-abuse and suicide attempts many detainees resort to.
BULGARIAN SKINHEADS, ROMA CLASH CLOSE TO PRESIDENCY (Bulgaria)
10/6/2010- One man was injured after skin heads attacked a group of Roma people late Wednesday evening in downtown Sofia, close to the presidency. The attackers, about 20 skinheads, turned on the Roma people for no apparent reason and beat them up with bats and glass bottles. The Roma people from the Bulgarian town of Panagurishte has come to Sofia to attend a folk music concert. One of them had his nose broken. Police however soon intervened alerted by a security officer at the nearby Bulgarian National Bank and prevented further injuries. A team of medics came to check on the beaten Roma people. The incident comes days after a group of Neo-Nazis attacked young people who were on their way to rally against the illegal detention of foreigners at the Special Center for Temporary Accomodation of Foreigners in Busmantsi, widely known as the Bulgarian Guantanamo.
SIX SUSPECTED FAR-RIGHT SYMPATHISERS ARRESTED AFTER BRUTAL ATTACK IN SOFIA (Bulgaria)
7/6/2010- Six men have been arrested following a brutal attack on tram 20 in Sofia on June 6 2010, Sofia police said. The masked men burst into the tram, allegedly armed with metal rods, and proceeded to attack four youths in the vehicle. Reportedly, the victims were supporters of the rights for asylum seekers in Bulgaria. The attackers are speculated to be far-right sympathisers. Three of the six arrested have previous criminal records, all of them for hooliganism, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) said. One of them had been arrested for grievous bodily harm in January 2010. One of the victims is in hospital.
© The Sofia Echo
OREGON UNVEILS NEW ONLINE HATE CRIME REPORT FORM (usa)
10/6/2010- he Oregon Department of Justice is attempting to make the reporting of hate crimes quicker and more confidential. This week Oregon Attorney General John Kroger unveiled a new online form that allows victims to document hate crime incidents from home. ODJ officials will review complaints, make follow up calls, and inform local law enforcement if necessary. Kroger says Oregon has a serious problem of underreporting hate crimes. Without a police report there is no way to investigate a case. "What we are trying to do here is increase the comfort level, provide a little more confidentiality and make an easier way for victims to interact with the law enforcement community," Kroger said.
To report a hate crime go to: https://www.doj.state.or.us/hate_crime_report.shtml
SWASTIKA BRANDING IN FARMINGTON PART OF ONGOING VIOLENCE AGAINST NAVAJO PEOPLE (usa)
7/6/2010- In April, three Farmington men used a heated coat hanger to brand a swastika into the arm of a mentally challenged Navajo man. The community was shocked, but the branding was part of a recent spate of violence against Navajos that began in 2006, just a few years after the New Mexico Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights returned to the city to assess how things have changed since another violent incident 30 years ago.
Farmington has struggled with racial violence
In the mid-1970s, an economic boycott and weekly protests by Navajos brought attention to the city after three young Anglos were sent to reform school rather than jail after torturing and killing three Navajo men. In 1975, the Commission on Civil Rights produced The Farmington Report: A Conflict of Cultures, which described a city ill-equipped to handle a “crisis in race in relations” and detailed the discrimination faced by Navajos. In its 2005 follow-up, The Farmington Report: Civil Rights for Native Americans 30 Years Later, the commission noted continued discrimination in the city but also said significant progress had been made. But then, in 2006, two brutal incidents in Farmington led the Navajo Nation to create an official human rights commission. First, a young Navajo, Clint John was killed, shot four times by a police officer in Farmington. The police officer was cleared of wrongdoing in the case, but many thought the officer had used excessive force. A few days later, three white youths beat and robbed a middle-aged Navajo man. They were convicted under New Mexico’s 2003 hate crimes law after admitting they intentionally targeted a Navajo.
Now, there is the branding of the 22 year old man—who has the mental capacity of a 12-year old—with a swastika; the three perpetrators also shaved a swastika into his hair and wrote racial epithets on his body. The victim said he felt treated like an animal. Authorities haven’t released all of the evidence found at the crime scene, but they told The Navajo Times that they found memorabilia and items associated with white supremacists. Authorities have indicated they will charge the three perpetrators under New Mexico’s hate crimes statute, which allows for stronger sentencing when a jury finds that a criminal act was motivated by bias. In this case, while two of the perpetrators are white, defense attorneys have pointed out that the third is American Indian—part Navajo and part Sioux. One of the white perpetrators told authorities that the victim wanted to be branded with the swastika because it’s a tribal symbol, which the victim disputes.
Duane “Chili” Yazzie, Chairman of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, believes the act is a hate crime regardless of the ethnicity of one of the perpetrators. “Whether or not he’s a young native person is beside the point,” Yazzie said in an interview with The Independent. “He participated and therefore he’s a perpetrator of a hate crime.” Yazzie swiftly dismissed the idea that the victim would want to be branded with a swastika. “The idea that it isn’t a Nazi symbol, but more of a Navajo symbol, is an excuse to minimize that it’s a Nazi symbol,” Yazzie continued. “It doesn’t explain away what they did. They had no thought that it was a Navajo symbol when they branded the young man.”
Ongoing violence against Navajos has multiple sources
Farmington is one of a series of “border towns” that bridge the intersection of the Navajo Nation with non-native communities. Located in San Juan County, in northwestern New Mexico, the town is home to about 43,000 people, roughly 70 percent of them white, according to Census figures. Almost 17 percent are American Indian, higher than the statewide average of 10 percent. The town is an economic hub that is heavily reliant on both the oil and gas industry and members of the surrounding Navajo community who come into town to shop and do business. An expansion of the oil and gas industry over a period of recent decades has led to an influx of people, Yazzie said. “These relative newcomers seem to be one source of insensitivity that’s been targeting our people,” he said. According to Yazzie, mass protests and a boycott by Navajos after the 1970s incident led community leaders to take notice and improve the environment for Navajos in Farmington. “Our action back then had a strong impact,” he said. “The education of the community was substantial and it led to the people refraining from that kind of activity for many years. We’d hear of people being cheated over counters and disrespected, but not this violent type of activity until 2006.”
But according to Navajo educator Dr. Larry Emerson, who lives near Shiprock, a Navajo town not far from Farmington, the violence Farmington has deeper roots. “Certain Farmington white youth seem to carry on a violent tradition of venting their unresolved rage, loss, and anger on disadvantaged Diné,” Emerson wrote in an e-mail to The Independent. Both Yazzie and Emerson made a point of acknowledging that many of white society in Farmington strives for change in the racial pattern of the area that has led to violence against Navajos. “There are white folks in Farmington who appreciate and value cultural and racial diversity and tolerance, too,” Emerson said. “They bother to understand Diné history, culture, identity and politics. Many whites work for such values, but I don’t know if they are in the majority. I suspect not.” Yazzie said the solution is ongoing education, which is why the commission is actively working to develop partnerships with surrounding border towns and major cities in New Mexico and Arizona, with the goal of expanding coordination and cooperation in educating young people and newcomers. But in addition to public programs, Yazzie said, in order to rid society of hate crimes families have to do internal education as well. “I think the city of Farmington and the business community is doing all it can to prevent this kind of incident—there’s a focus on education for the public,” he said. “They need to continue doing what they are doing. But also, every person who has an understanding of these issues should set an example, both in public and when with their families.”
© The New Mexico Independent
Headlines 4 June, 2010
ANOTHER ANTI GAY INCIDENT IN AMSTERDAM (Netherlands)
4/6/2010- A man reported to the COC that he was spit on, insulted and beaten in the face. The victim said he and a friend were walking near Amstel trainstation, when passing three boys, they had just spit. "When we said something, those guys said we were dirty gay men and we 'shouldn't check them out, followed by more spit. Then I got a fist slap in my face. " 'The COC says the police were quickly on the spot with four agents and even a helicopter, but the perpetrators were already gone. The victim file charges next week whit the police team 'Roze in Blauw' (Pink in Blue). According to police the incident took place around 20.00 pm on the Julianaplein and the perpetrators are between 15 and 20 years old. Witnesses to the incident are urged to report to the police.
"It confirms the picture that homophobic violence is persistent," says Dennis Boutkan (Chairman COC). In 2009 the number of recorded incidents against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders in Amsterdam rose by 23 percent. COC calls for identifying "black spots", where much anti-gay violence occurs, so for instance, surveillance camera's can be placed. Boutkan calls on the LGBT community to continue to report (violent) incidents.
translation I CARE
© AT 5
SYNAGOGUE VANDALIZED WITH HATE SYMBOLS (usa)
Swastika, racial slur spray-painted on temple
4/6/2010- Symbols of hate were found spray-painted on a Warwick Synagogue Thursday, leaving members stunned and saddened. "I just want to cry," said Paula Olivieri, a member of Temple Am David on Gardiner Street. "This is awful, simply awful." The graffiti included a backwards swastika and a racial slur. Investigators believe the vandals struck sometime Wednesday night. Olivieri says the symbols are especially hurtful because of the work done at the temple. "I truly feel that if it were kids who did this, they didn't even understand what it meant, Olivieri said. "We work with survivors of the Holocaust. Some people were in the camps, and some lost everyone in their family." Police said the vandalism may be investigated as a hate crime. Officers found a spray paint can nearby. Investigators are also reviewing footage from the temple's surveillance cameras.
Police charge 2 in synagogue vandalism
7/6/2010- Two people were arrested in connection with vandalism at a synagogue, Warwick police said Monday. A swastika and the first four letters of the N-word were spray-painted on Temple Am David last week. Ryan Johnson, 20, of Warwick, and a juvenile were charged. Police said the two are also responsible for several other instances of graffiti on buildings in Warwick that were not religious in nature. Police said they don't believe the vandalism was motivated by hate, but they said the attorney general’s office will determine if any additional charges will be filed.
NBC 10 News
© Fox Providence