ICARE Hate Crime News - Archive June 2015

Headlines 26 June, 2015

Macedonia Gays Charge Govt With Homophobia

As part of Gay Pride Week in Skopje, Macedonia, gay activists are protesting in front of the government headquarters, accusing officials of ignoring homophobic violence

26/6/2015- Macedonian gay rights activists on Thursday laid a funeral wreath in front of the government headquarters to symbolically "bury" the embattled government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Slavco Dimitrov, one of the activists, told the protest meeting that the government routinely turned a blind eye to anti-gay violence. "Two years ago, when we started Pride Week... some 40 masked people attacked us in the presence of the police. Since then, the government has not taken a single step to apprehend the culprits," he said. "The education system also remains a source of homophobia, conservative and patriarchal values," Dimitrov added. Activists announced a similar protest with the same message on Friday in front of the State Prosecutor's office. Pride Week in Skopje will also include awareness-raising and educational workshops as well as a lesbian picnic in Skopje City Park and a free HIV testing.

The third Pride Week in the Macedonian capital takes place against a backdrop of unresolved attacks on LGBT people. At least ten such attacks, attributed to homopho-bia, remain unsolved. Last October, hooded hooligans tried to wreck the second birthday party of the LGBT community centre in Skopje, vandalizing the Damar cafe in the Old Bazaar area, where the event took place. A woman was injured when hooligans threw a bottle at her head. In June 2013, a group of hooligans virtually demo-lished the LGBT centre in Skopje, following the city's first Skopje Gay Pride Week. Video footage showed a group of violent youngsters committing the crime, but the police never found the culprits. Gay rights activists insist that the sluggish response on the part of the authorities creates an impression that violence seen as legitimate.

The crimes concerned “a group of people that could easily be traced if the police had the will to do so”, Dragana Drndarevska, from Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities, an NGO, told BIRN. The authorities insist that they remain engaged in solving the attacks. “We are available to check any new information that would help us solve this case,” police spokesperson Ivo Kotevski told BIRN, asked about the 2013 attack on the LGBT centre. The ruling VMRO DPMNE party of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski is not seen as gay-friendly, however. An annual report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Rainbow Europe Index, has for years ranked Macedonia among the worst countries in the Balkans when it comes to legal protection for gays.

Local and international rights groups complain of frequent hostile remarks by ministers and officials. They also note that Macedonia’s anti-discrimination law, adopted in 2010, does not offer protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights also says the authorities either ignore or conceal crimes inspired by ethnic, religious or gender-related hatred.
Balkan Insight

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UK: Plea for Scotland Yard unit to tackle trolls as police forces face rising tide of online hate crime

25/6/2015- Scotland Yard is failing to tackle internet trolls and should become the centre for a new national specialist unit to stop other forces being “overwhelmed”, a report today warns. It says police in England and Wales lack the specialist skills needed to deal with online hate crime as reported offences soar. The report says that in London online hate crime is “not specifically budgeted or resourced” for, while police methods vary greatly across boroughs and are “insufficient”. The failure of all forces to tackle the issue is allowing trolls to “act online with impunity and has fostered a breeding ground for hate crime”. The report, due to be published today but seen in advance by the Standard, also calls for the Government to introduce a “stand-alone offence” for online attacks, making it easier to prosecute offenders. It points to figures showing that last year the Met received 1,207 crime reports in which Facebook was mentioned, a 21 per cent rise in two years, while the number involving Twitter increased by 19 per cent.

The report, which surveyed hundreds of alleged victims, suggests that only nine per cent of alleged online hate crimes nationwide are investigated. London Assembly member Andrew Boff, author of the report, said: “Victims are left feeling isolated by online hate attacks and often feel like there is nobody to turn to. “They feel police can’t be turned to because they are overwhelmed by the number of cases and are unable to provide the level of support somebody would expect. If the police can’t help, who do they go to? That’s why this unit is needed. We’re talking about pretty appalling hate crimes.” Although it is a problem for all forces in England and Wales, the report says that the unit of IT specialists should be housed within Scotland Yard and coordinate a nationwide response. It would act as a “point of liaison” with internet service and social media providers, with each force contributing funding.

The report, #ReportHate: Combating Online Hatred, says: “With online hate crime on the rise and draining police force resources, the proposed unit is necessary to alleviate the burden currently faced by police officers. Additionally, it would create a better service to victims of hate crime online.” It says existing legislation is “muddled” and “obsolete”, and calls for new laws to create specific offences relating to online hate crime. It adds that reported abuses are “just the tip of an ever-growing iceberg”, with only 16 per cent of alleged victims in London surveyed by researchers saying they reported it to police. A Met spokesman said: "The Metropolitan Police Service is committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms, and has long since recognised the impact of hate crime on communities and the hidden nature of this crime, which remains largely under-reported. "We take positive action to investigate all hate crime allegations, support victims and their families and bring perpetrators to justice. We are always seeking ways to further improve our response to hate crime and increase reporting, and are willing to consider alternative ways of enhancing our investigative response and victim support, working closely with our partners.

"The Met's recently formed hate crime senior partnership group focuses on creating and delivering an effective hate crime operational strategy for London. This is being developed in partnership with strategic and community partners, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to reducing the harm caused by hate crime and increase the confidence of victims. "In addition, the Met's online hate crime working group has been set up to respond specifically to online hate crime and explore ways to tackle the issue. As part of this work, the group will consider the publication of the London Assembly report and the suggestions made. "If anyone feels that they are the victim of hate crime, we would urge all victims to come forward and report any incident or crime as soon as possible. "All 32 London boroughs have a dedicated Community Safety Unit (CSU) with more than 500 specially trained officers across the Met who investigate hate crime and domestic abuse."

‘I believe they are out of their depth’
Suzanne Fernandes, a youth worker from west London, was sent racially offensive material on Twitter, including photographs, pornography and death threats. The troll, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also obtained a picture of her young son through Facebook and used it to create a fake account sending lurid tweets. She told the Standard: “I’m not the same person. I felt completely panic-stricken, and when they used my son’s picture it was the breaking point. I had to get counselling. “I decided to report the matter to the police and in the early days of the investigation was given the impression I was wasting the police’s time. They are out of their depth. I feel there should be a dedicated unit for victims.”
The London Evening Standard.

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UK:Neo-Nazi attack on Asian dentist was a 'terrorist act', say family

Zackery Davies, 26, shouted 'White Power' as he targeted his 24-year-old victim with a machete and a claw hammer at a Tesco supermarket

25/6/2015- Relatives of an Asian dentist who was viciously attacked with a machete by a white supremacist have claimed the incident would have been reported as a terrorist act if their races had been reversed. Zackery Davies, 26, shouted “White Power” and “I did it for Lee Rigby” as he targeted his 24-year-old victim with a machete and a claw hammer at a Tesco supermarket in Mold, North Wales, on January 14. He was found guilty of attempted murder at Mold Crown Court.

Davies is thought to have been inspired by the far-right group National Action, and posted an online image of himself in a balaclava with a large knife hours before he carried out his violent attack. Davies, from Mold, caused Dr Sarandev Bhambra “very severe” injuries to his hand, back and head which were described as life-changing. The incident happened while the dentist, who is from a Sikh family, was shopping at the store during his lunch break. Witnesses reported seeing a white man chasing an Asian man through the store with a knife and hammer. Davies was only stopped when a member of the public, former serviceman Peter Fuller, stepped in.

Speaking after Davies was convicted, Dr Bhambra’s brother Dr Tarlochan Singh Bhambra accused the media of largely ignoring the case – and refusing to refer to the attack as terrorist – because the attacker was white and the victim Asian. “We are in no doubt, given the racial and political motivations, that this should have been defined as an act of terrorism,” he said. “By his own admission, the defendant had extreme neo-Nazi views and is a member of a white supremacist organisation. “Sarandev was singled out because of the colour of his skin. The media have a responsibility and an obligation to report these aspects of the trial and bring to the fore the major implications of this.” Surrounded by family members and other supporters, he continued: “We are in no doubt had the racial disposition of this case had been reversed this would have been reported as an act of terror with wider media coverage.

“All extremists groups – including white supremacists – that advocate racially motivated hatred and violence on innocent people should be dealt with as terrorists. “Ethnic minorities have and continue to contribute to the multi-cultural Britain of 2015, and indeed Sikhs have sacrificed their lives in both world wars to facilitate the freedom that Britain enjoys today. Racial intolerance is a thing of the past and should not be accepted in any society.” Davies was said to have been obsessed with Nazi ideology, with associated literature found in a police search of his home. Posters relating to the 2013 murder of Fusilier Rigby by two Islamic extremists were also discovered. Giving evidence, Davies said he was “fascinated” by “Jihadi John”. Davies had admitted wounding with intent but denied attempted murder. He will be sentenced at a later date. Gareth Preston, senior prosecutor, said: “Zackery Davies is a dangerous young man whose distorted and racist views led him to commit a terrifying act of violence. “This was an attack against a complete stranger, singled out for no other reason than his ethnicity.”
The Independent

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Bulgaria: "Brothers, Help Us!" Anger, Fear and Insecurity among Roma

21/6/2015- Emiliya Dancheva from the Sharen Kon Web Portal spent the last night in the Pirogov Hospital in Bulgarian capital Sofia. She visited Roma twins and their father who have been beaten by Skinheads while traveling in bus No 88 on their way back home to the “Drujba” (Friendship) residential area in Sofia. The victims who are devoted Christians were coming back from church when a group of young Bulgarians suddenly attacked them with bats and brass knuckles. No one from the other passengers in the bus tried to help them. The bus driver even opened the doors to let the attackers out. We are publishing the text written by Emiliya Dancheva, Romani woman and Journalist herself, because the Roma in Bulgaria do not trust the mainstream media. The silence of major world news agencies after the Anti-Roma riots in Bulgaria also raises many questions. More than 35 people were arrested by Police and 10 people were hospitalized during the violent clashes between Bulgarians and Roma that burst out in the village of Garmen and in Orlandovtsi area in Sofia, in May and June this year.

Anger, fear, insecurity; this is what I felt in the “Drujba” area where yesterday two brothers and their father were severely beaten up by Skinheads in the bus No 88. The residents of the area, who gathered to protest outside, after the incident, know that they are victims of political interests. They also know that the ethnic peace in the country is seriously endangered. In their opinion, the local protests cannot achieve the necessary effect, and for this reason they appealed to the Roma in Bulgaria, and especially to those living in the Sofia largest Roma neighborhoods – Philipovtsi, Fakulteta and Hristo Botev, to show their solidarity with the Roma from “Drujba”. They said, the politicians must stop using Roma as scapegoats. The very fact that similar attacks on Roma happen always around elections means for them that someone is doing something wrong considering the whole society, and the Roma issue has been used for distraction which is to divert public attention from the faults of the government. The Roma from “Drujba” are calling for peaceful protest, but they will not allow participation of people who want to exploit their discontent for political gains. “We will expel everyone who wants to use us. We do not want to hear about political parties. We are not going to vote” this was the common opinion of the protesters. The people feel panical fear for the safety of their children and their families. There is also a rise in the number of cases of attacked women from the area, who work on the streets for waste-collecting companies.
Free Roma

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