Posted on Sep 04, 2020
A joint statement has been issued by the European Network Against Racism, together with 80+ organisations across Europe and MEPs in solidarity with Portuguese anti-racist activists who have been targeted and threatened by the far-right (including hate speech, death threats and judicial harassment).
It says, "We call for an urgent institutional response from Portuguese authorities to conduct proper investigation and prosecution of those inciting hatred and violence against human rights defenders. We also call on the EU institutions to take effective measures to ensure that human rights defenders are protected in Europe."
In recent months, there has been a very concerning rise of racist attacks of the far right in Portugal, confirming that the hate messages are fueling more aggressive tactics targeting human rights defenders (HRD) from racialised minorities.
Since 2019, when the Portuguese far-right party for the first time gained seats in parliament, far-right activists have been emboldened to commit racially motivated crimes against people of colour in Portugal. Prominent HRDs and their families have been personally targeted and threatened, and have faced hate speech, death threats, and judicial harassment.
ENAR and 88 civil society organisations and MEPs say they stand firmly in solidarity with our fellow activists who work tirelessly to promote justice and challenge racism to protect our communities.
"We call for an urgent response from Portuguese authorities to effectively protect racialised groups from racist crime, ensure proper investigations and prosecution of perpetrators, and sanction those inciting hatred and violence. We also call on the EU institutions to take effective measures to ensure that HRDs are protected in Europe.
"In January this year, a Portuguese woman of African descent and her daughter were racially attacked due to a missing bus ticket in Lisbon. In February, two Brazilian women were victims of police brutality during the street carnival festivities close to a Cape-Verdian nightclub. In the same month, the football player of African descent Moussa Marega was verbally attacked and insulted by supporters during a national match. In July, the Portuguese actor of African descent, Bruno Candé was murdered in an explicitly racially motivated crime in the streets of Lisbon. These are the more prominent cases, but SOS Racismo has collected data on more than 700 racially motivated crimes since 2012.
"In this context, anti-racist organisations and activists are not safe either. SOS Racismo, one of ENAR’s founding members, and its leader, HRD Mamadou Ba, are under a protracted attack, as are other activists. In the beginning of 2020, Mamadou received a letter with a death threat and one bullet case at his home. Since June, the headquarters of SOS Racismo were vandalised twice with swastikas and racist slurs. In August, SOS Racismo, Mamadou, Beatriz Gomes and Joacine Katar Moreira (two Black MPs) received threats by e-mail. The far-right group leading all these attacks informed them of a deadline of 48 hours to leave the country, threatening to murder them and the members of their families if they did not leave. The brutality, volume and frequency of attacks are increasing and leaving HRDs unsafe, especially in a context where they do not feel protected by authorities: the latest ECRI report reports an increase in the number of far-right affiliates in national police forces."
The statement goes on, "We therefore urgently call for an institutional response from Portuguese authorities. They should conduct sound and effective police investigations and hold all those inciting hatred and promoting violence against HRDs to account through a full process of law. A lack of institutional response only reaffirms the historical sense of impunity for perpetrators of racist violence and denies the state of urgency to address racism in Portugal.
"We also call upon the European Union, especially the German Presidency, to denounce the rising racially-motivated violence and threats against HRDs in Europe and address the threat of far-right extremism. While the EU is renowned for its support for HRDs worldwide, it must start looking inward and take effective action to address the increasing threats faced by HRDs within Europe, especially those acting against racism and promoting non-discrimination in Europe.
'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere' said Martin Luther King. We do not need martyrs. We need protection for our leaders and our communities."
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