LET’S SPEAK UP!!!
"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. THEN THEY CAME for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. THEN THEY CAME for me and by that time no one was left to speak up." (January 6th, 1946 Frankfurt, Father Martin Niemöller)
On June 6th this year, in Sofia, Bulgaria, masked thugs - armed with metal rods, knuckle-dusters and knives - brutally attacked in a tram five youth on their way to a protest action against the illegal detention of foreigners. The five - aged between 17 and 25 - sustained serious injuries. A 17-year-old high school student is in hospital, following surgery of his left arm, and a 25-year-old Sofia University student suffered serious head trauma.
The Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior, Minister Tzvetanov, and most media, are playing with fire by attempting to trivialise the incident
We strongly oppose attempts to present the case as a confrontation between warring radical youth gangs.
The equation of perpetrators and victims is completely inadequate and equally dangerous!
While the mask-wearing attackers are people with extensive criminal records, their victims are evidently guilty of having a clearly defined and peacefully expressed political and civil stance.
The failure to institutionally recognise neo-Nazism, on the part of the Bulgarian government and police force, is a threat to society
The attack, carried out ahead of the migrant solidarity demo at the “Busmantzi” detention centre, is obviously a well planned and executed political provocation. It aims to check to what extent Bulgarian society is willing to tolerate racist, xenophobic, homophobic, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi acts.
Such acts abound!
There are numerous cases of brutal violence carried out by racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups in Bulgaria.
There is a marked increase in attacks on citizens based on their appearance, sexual orientation, skin colour, ethnicity, or political views. Mihail Stoyanov, a student at the Medical Faculty in Sofia, was killed two years ago when a group of neo-Nazis went on a gay bashing raid in the central park of Sofia. The results of the investigation were not revealed until last week.
There are persistent attacks on religious buildings, cemeteries, schools /desecration of Turkish and Jewish grave sites, Nazi symbols daubed on the walls of a Hebrew-instruction school/
Bulgaria hosts international neo-Nazi gatherings. Sofia municipally gives legal permits for “Blood and Honour” marches, annual commemorations of Bulgarian fascist General Lukov, with the participation of neo-Nazi and fascist organisations from Germany, Romania, Italy, Switzerland and elsewhere. The nationalists held a march on May 1st this year, distributing neo-Nazi propaganda and using neo-Nazi symbols.
The beating of participants in a demonstration in defends of foreigners’ rights points to a dangerous trend of eroding freedom of expression and assembly!
We cannot leave this provocation unanswered. Politically and racially motivated violence is not a concern only for the immediate victims. Attempts of intimidation and limitation of the freedom of expression - through terror and violence - pose a violent challenge to democratic principles in Bulgaria, becoming an issue of concern for all democratically minded people.
Everyone is in danger!
If the thugs are today trying to silence activists, or to “cleanse” the city of the ethnically, racially, religiously and sexually “inappropriate”, then the victim tomorrow may be any one of us who dares express an “inappropriate” opinion.
LET’S SPEAK UP!!!
Remaining silent about fascist and neo-Nazi violence is what makes it possible.
That is why we, a group of citizens, who protested against the arbitrary and illegal detention of immigrants in the Busmantzi detention centre, stand up in defence of the five victims of political violence. Similarly, we stand up against the rising racism, xenophobia and neo-Nazism in Bulgaria.
Such acts of violence should not be written off as 'hooliganism' because the so-called 'hooligans' are politically active in anti-constitutional paramilitary organisations motivated by anti-democratic ideologies such as anti-Semitism, fascism and Nazism.
How should we make sense of the rise of neo-Nazi violence and activity lately? Are these paramilitary groups and organisations enjoying any serious institutional and political backing?
Do they have influential and powerful relatives who protect them and make sure their crimes will go unnoticed and unpunished?
Do they enjoy illicit political support and encouragement from influential Bulgarian politicians who are officially in favour of democratic European values?
a diligent investigation and due detention of the perpetrators and immediate, transparent and unequivocal results from the police investigation.
adequate charges against the neo-Nazis. Moreover, we insist this time they take full responsibility for their actions. There have been too many cases of physical assault whose perpetrators, despite their 'impressive' police record, were released even though there had been sufficient evidence against them.
goes to all citizens, civil society groups, non-governmental organisations, media, and institutions who want to live in a truly free, tolerant and democratic society asking them to join our platform.