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September 23 2014

July 29 2013

The Story of South African farms

The Story of South African #farms
http://africasacountry.com/the-story-of-south-african-farms

In 2011 an investigation by Human Rights Watch into working conditions on #South_Africa’s wine and fruit farms drew international attention. The report documented numerous instances of human rights and labour abuses, including instances where workers faced physical abuse from farmers and were exposed to toxic chemicals. While the report was criticized by many in [...]

#MEDIA #Flip_Engelbrecht #racism

January 31 2013

Blackfacing [Anglizismus 2012] | sprachlog

Das Wort Blackfacing ist abgeleitet vom Englischen blackface, der Bezeichnung für eine ursprünglich aus den USA stammende Theater– und Varieté-Tradition, bei der weiße Schauspieler/innen oder Sänger/innen auf meistens übertrieben stereotypisierte Weise als Schwarze geschminkt auftreten.

Einen soliden Einstieg in die Geschichte des Blackface bietet die englische Wikipedia. Für die Geschichte des Lehnworts Blackfacing ist zunächst entscheidend, dass diese Praxis in doppelter Weise rassistisch belegt ist: Erstens, weil die Tradition aus einem zutiefst rassistischen historischen Zusammenhang stammt, in dem ein Auftreten schwarzer Schauspieler/innen als inakzeptabel gegolten hätte, und zweitens, weil beim Blackface nicht nur das Make-Up selbst und die dazugehörige Mimik übertrieben stereotypisiert ist (dicke rote Lippen, struppige Haare, weit aufgerissene Augen, wie auf dem weiter unten abgebildeten zeitgenössische Plakat), sondern auch die Zusammenhänge, in denen es verwendet wurde (Schwarze als naive, immer fröhliche Unterhalter).

[Hinweis: Der folgende Beitrag enthält eine rassistische Abbildung.]

Diese rassistischen Untertöne der Praxis und die Gedankenlosigkeit, mit der sie auch an deutschen Theatern immer wieder eingesetzt wird, führten im Jahr 2012 mehrfach zu Protesten, durch die auch das Wort (manchmal in der eigentlichen englischen Form Blackface, häufiger aber in der im englischen sehr seltenen Form Blackfacing) in die öffentliche Diskussion geriet. Absolut betrachtet scheint das Wort zunächst eher selten zu sein, das Deutsche Referenzkorpus enthält nur vier Treffer, die alle aus dem Januar 2012 stammen. Auch im Duden sucht man es vergeblich.

Nun fehlt im Deutschen Referenzkorpus allerdings bislang die gesamte zweite Jahreshälfte 2012; eine Suche im Google-News-Archiv zeigt aber, dass das Wort das ganze Jahr über zu verschiedenen Anlässen verwendet wurde. Vor 2012 finden sich im Google-News-Archiv dagegen nur vereinzelte Treffer, erstmals 2009 im Zusammenhang mit Günter Wallraffs Film „Schwarz auf Weiß“ (z.B. taz, 22.10.2009). Das Wort war also 2012 in der breiteren öffentlichen Diskussion nicht übermäßig häufig, wurde aber durchgängig und deutlich häufiger verwendet als in den Jahren zuvor. Dass es insgesamt nicht so häufig ist, wie beispielsweise Fracking oder Hashtag liegt mit daran, dass es weniger Anlässe zu seiner Verwendung gab und dass die Proteste gegen die Praxis von vielen Medien noch nicht ausreichend ernst genommen wurden, um darüber zu berichten.

Wm. h. west's big minstrel jubilee – amerikanisches werbeplakat von 1900

Wm. H. West's Big Minstrel Jubilee – Amerikanisches Werbeplakat von 1900

Das Wort Blackfacing erfüllt aber grundsätzlich die ersten zwei Bedingungen unseres Wettbewerbs: Es stammt aus dem Englischen und hat 2012 einen klaren Häufigkeitsanstieg erfahren.

Dass es eine interessante Lücke füllt, zeigt die Diskussion, die sich um das Wort entsponnen hat. Zum ersten Mal erhielt es 2012 im Januar mediale Aufmerksamkeit, als Dieter Hallervorden in einem Theaterstück eine schwarze Figur von einem schwarz geschminkten weißen Kollegen spielen ließ (alle vier Treffer im Deutschen Referenzkorpus beziehen sich auf diesen Vorfall). In Kommentaren auf der Facebook-Seite des Theaters führte das zu Hinweisen auf die rassistische Tradition des Blackface, woraufhin sich das Theater und der Regisseur Hallervorden alle Mühe gaben, auch die letzten Zweifel an einem unterschwelligen Rassismus ihres Vorgehens auszuräumen — das Theater, indem es behauptete, einen qualifizierten schwarzen Schauspieler zu finden, sei schlicht unmöglich gewesen und überhaupt könne es nicht angehen, dass „die Kunst“ sich von „einer Gruppe von Menschen im Internet“ vorschreiben lassen müsse, was Rassismus sei, und Hallervorden, indem er fragte, ob „Sigmar Gabriel sich für Maßnahmen gegen den Hunger in der Welt einsetzen [dürfe], obwohl er über Leibesfülle verfüg[e]” (ganz so, als habe man ihn dafür kritisiert, sich gegen Rassismus zu engagieren, und nicht dafür, Rassismus zu replizieren).

Wenn es bei dieser einen Diskussion geblieben wäre, bräuchten wir über das Wort blackface/blackfacing im Zusammenhang mit unserer Wörterwahl nicht weiter zu reden, aber es folgten weitere Diskussionen, z.B. im März im Zusammenhang mit zwei Theaterstücken, die das Blackface sorgsam mieden, im April im Zusammenhang mit einem Aktionskunstwerk in Stockholm und im Oktober, als ein amerikanischer Dramatiker dem Deutschen Theater eine Aufführung seines Stückes untersagte, weil doch wieder zum Blackface gegriffen wurde. Auch ganz aktuell findet sich das Wort wieder in der öffentlichen Diskussion um einen Literaturkritiker, der eine mäßig originelle Besprechung der sprachlichen Überarbeitung von Kinderbüchern mit schwarz geschminktem Gesicht aufzeichnete [Hinweis: Verlinkter Text enthält rassistische Sprache und Bilder].

Das Wort Blackfacing ist also auf dem besten Wege, Teil des deutschen Wortschatzes zu werden. Dass es bereits einen gewissen Integrationsprozess hinter sich hat, zeigt sich übrigens sowohl auf der Ebene der Form, als auch auf der Ebene des Inhalts. Auf der Formebene fällt auf, dass sich im Deutschen fast ausschließlich die Form Blackfacing findet, im englischen Sprachraum dagegen hauptsächlich die Form blackface verwendet wird, häufig in der Kombination in blackface. Während das englische Wort also das Make-Up selbst bezeichnet (bzw. die Tatsache, dass es jemand trägt), bezeichnet das deutsche Wort Blackfacing durch die Partizipialendung –ing einen Prozess, bezieht sich also auf die Praxis des Schwarzschminkens. (Im Deutschen ist Blackfacing natürlich streng genommen kein Partizip, da –ing ja kein deutsches Morphem ist, aber das Prozesshafte vermittelt die Form trotzdem in Analogie zu den vielen anderen entlehnten englischen ing–Formen, die allesamt Prozesse bezeichnen.)

Auf der inhaltlichen Ebene gibt es erste Hinweise darauf, dass sich das Wort aus seinem ursprünglichen Zusammenhang löst und auch außerhalb von (Theater-)Inszenierungen dunkelhäutiger Menschen verwendet wird. So findet sich das Wort z.B. an verschiedenen Stellen im Zusammenhang mit einer Aktion der Gruppe Femen, bei der sich Aktivistinnen auf dem Berliner Slutwalk einen (schwarzen) Niqab auf den Körper malten.

Die Auseinandersetzung mit der eigenen Kolonialgeschichte und der damit einhergehenden rassistischen Vergangenheit ebenso wie mit der rassistischen Gegenwart kommt in Deutschland sehr viel schleppender in Gang, als etwa in den USA, aber immerhin beginnt sie langsam. Es ist anzunehmen, dass dabei auch die Diskussion um das Blackface weiter geführt wird, und dass sich damit auch das Wort Blackfacing weiter verbreiten wird. Es hat also nicht nur eine interessante Struktur und Bedeutungsgeschichte, sondern auch eine hohe gesellschaftliche Relevanz. Es ist damit ein solider Kandidat im Rennen um den Anglizismus des Jahres, durchaus schon in diesem, aber ganz sicher im nächsten Jahr.

Reposted from02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa

April 03 2012

02mydafsoup-01

January 24 2012

02mydafsoup-01
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Serdar Somuncu liest aus dem Tagebuch eines Massenmörders - Mein Kampf (Komplett) [HD]erdar Somuncu liest aus dem Tagebuch eines Massenmörders - Mein Kampf (Komplett) [HD]
Reposted fromcygenb0ck cygenb0ck viam68k m68k

October 10 2011

Trinidad & Tobago: Striving to be Better

“It’s when you know your weaknesses and work on them that you become truly remarkable. And that’s what I want for T&T”: Outlish blogs about the things Trinbagonians won't (but probably should) do.

Jamaica: Hiding “Behind Blackness”

Under the Saltire Flag shares an interesting perspective on the recent riots in London: “I have no problem accepting that in many areas Britain is blindly racist and must be called out on it. It can be frustraiting to realize that in many instances Jamaica is just as blindly racist but we are not equally called out on these.”

October 08 2011

United States: Alabama Passes the Country's Most Strict Anti-immigration Law

On September 29, the state of Alabama passed HB56, the United States' most strict anti-immigration law, following the footsteps of Arizona's also controversial S.B. 1070 which criminalized the illegal migrant status.  The measure, passed by Federal Court Judge Sharon Blackburn of Birmingham, Alabama, allows law enforcement agents, both state and local, to arrest those they suspect of not carrying legal documents.  Moreover, even professors and educational authorities would be obligated to report the presence of undocumented students in their classrooms.

The state's governor, Republican Robert Bentley, hopes that other proposals are included to strengthen this law even further, such as prohibiting the housing or transporting of undocumented immigrants and preventing students without legal status from enrolling or studying in public universities.  And in the event that these proposals are not incorporated in this law, the governor promised he would appeal.  As expected, President Obama's administration applied for a federal appeal to prevent the implementation of the anti-immigration law in the Eleventh Circuit, located in Atlanta.

Hundreds of demonstrators protested the HB56 Law in Alabama. Image from acnatta on Flickr. (CC- BY NC 2.0)

Amidst all of this, the HB56's consequences are becoming apparent.  According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Latino students began disappearing from classrooms as a result of the court's decision. According to official sources, a multitude of immigrant families took their children out of classes, fearing retaliation or possible arrests.  Likewise, civil rights groups, agricultural owners and religious leaders have expressed their discontent before the measure, since many of them ensure that their duties will be hindered.

The blogosophere has unhesitantly reacted. In the “Re-think Immigration” section of the MATT Blog, Verónica Morales pointed out that the HB56 Law will have devastating effects on the communities that live in this state:

This law has the capacity to harm communities of every minority. It harms businesses of every kind by making it more difficult and expensive to hire new employees. It harms the whole education system- fear and intimidation do not provide a conducive learning environment and puts an extra burden upon school districts and administrators who are trying to teach. In other words this law harms the everyday life of all Alabamans.

On the other hand, a blog on Al.com had a post in which an anonymous user expressed their disagreement with teachers who presumably fail to report students:

When I see and hear a teacher say, “It is not our job to police our students to determine if they are here legally, we are educators”; or a superintendent say “our primary concern is the education of our students and thus we will not interfere with their presence, legal or otherwise, so they need not worry,” I am dumbfounded.

Maureen Costello from the blog Teaching Tolerance calls the Alabama anti-immigration law “The New Jim Crow” in reference to the law that segregated African Americans and whites from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century:

Alabama’s new law—with provisions against hiring, harboring or transporting undocumented immigrants—is bad enough for adults; but it is potentially disastrous for kids….On the surface, Alabama’s H.B. 56 appears to be fashioned after Arizona’s infamous S.B. 1070 law. But the real model wasn’t so far away. Take a good look. This law was inspired by something a lot closer to home: Jim Crow.

The Foundry's Cully Stinson and Hans von Spakovsky celebrate the law's passage:

There is more good news today in the fight against illegal immigration at the state level (and bad news for the Obama Administration’s policy against enforcement of immigration laws)… The Administration can appeal Blackburn’s ruling, but major portions of Alabama’s new law are now in effect.

On Facebook there are groups that, in addition to opposing the law, provide general information, such as “I am against Alabama's Immigration Law HB 56.” By contrast, another group, “I Support Alabama (Against Illegal Immigration),” celebrates HB56's passage.

Latino Rebels (@latinorebels) implied that the jobs that Latinos carry out are those that the average American does not want to do:

So basically Latino families are fleeing #alabama so will American workers now work at poultry farms? These are jobs being “stolen”

Others like ResistTyranny (@ResistTyranny) noted that the law is accomplishing its mission:

Alabama's tough #immigration law is having EXACTLY the intended effect - illegals are LEAVING: http://is.gd/Q1oYlh #NoAmnesty

October 07 2011

Curacao: Inadequate Narrative on Slavery

A Netherlands-based Curacaoan blogger shares his impression of the debate on the television series “De Slavernij” (The Slavery): “It seems…that the production team (I’m excluding the historians and experts for now) has put little to no thought in how to structure the complex narratives surrounding the subject of slavery.”

October 05 2011

Mauritania: Black Mauritanians Fear for their Citizenship as Census Proceeds

Bakari Guèye in Magharebia reports that the city of Kaedi erupted into violence on September 24th and 30th because the black community feared that the census would be used as a discriminatory tool to relegate them to second class citizen status. Babacar Justin Ndiaye explains that only Black Mauritanians are asked to produce documentation[fr] that would justify their Mauritanian citizenship.

October 03 2011

Zambia: Appointment of White Vice President Causes Online Buzz

Apart from Zambia’s new President Michael Sata’s faux pax (his nomination of more members of parliament than are allowed by the constitution, which largely went unnoticed) it was the shocking, but not entirely unexpected, appointment of Vice President Guy Scott that has been creating a buzz online. Guys Scott is an indigenous white Zambian.

Scott who is ruling party, Patriotic Front's (PF) vice president, first held a ministerial post between 1991 and 1995 as Minister of Agriculture.

Zambia's new Vice President Guy Scott. Image from the ruling Patriotic Front website.

Zambia's new Vice President Guy Scott. Image from the ruling Patriotic Front website.

Some Sub-Saharan African countries including Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa have had whites and people of Asian origin as ministers but none of them have occupied a the high position of national vice president, which in the case of Zambia, is just a heartbeat away from the presidency. The constitution provides that in case of vacation by death or other prescribed means, the vice president takes over in an acting capacity until elections are held within 90 days of such vacation.

The constitution also states that only a Zambian whose both parents were born in Zambia qualifies to occupy the office of president but this clause was invalidated by the Supreme Court in a case involving Zambia’s first President Kenneth Kaunda who ruled Zambia for 27 years but was barred the second time when he attempted to contest the elections after his successor amended the constitution. The Supreme Court held that Zambia did not exist prior to independence but was known as Northern Rhodesia.

Tweeps immediately took to their keyboards when it became known who was included in President Sata's cabinet:
@missbwalya wondered:

Zambia is the only African country with a white VP. Wonder how that will be received by “anti-white African” militants.

She declared further:

We don't care, Guy Scott is Zambian FULL STOP

@Kamukwape retweeted the same Scott announcement:

RT @zambiaelections: Zambia has white vice president, as Sata creates another ministry - Zambian Watchdog: bit.ly/rm7A4a #bantuwatch

@yowela stated the general feeling of many Zambians: 

In our Zambia, it does not matter what tribe you are, or what race you are. All that matters is that you are…  (Zambian and we will all get along. It even gets beyond that, as visitors from abroad come into Zambia we make them feel at home. Zambia: Let's explore!) fb.me/LgmODBzo

On the Facebook group, Zambian Peoples Pact, which largely supports the PF and its presidential candidate, questions, comments and banter were posted by members on the appointment of Dr Scott.

In a political dispensation where someone’s political fortunes are marked by the ethnic group one hails from, Mambo Phiri asked, tongue-in-cheek:

What tribe is Vice President Guy Scott?

Chilapa Chanda ascribed Scott to the Bemba ethnic group to which President Sata also belongs. Scott is said to have coined the PF’s slogan, “Dochi Kubeba” (Donchi, a corruption of the English word Don’t and Kubeba which means tell, an instruction to party supporters to get materials the now opposition MMD was dishing out to people during the campaigns but not to tell them who they would vote for):

All those complaining that there are too many bembas in cabinet, don't leave out Guy Scott! White bemba dude!

On the Zambian Watchdog website there varied responses to the appointment of Guy Scott. Bullman had this to say:

Zambians are a funny lot. You are prepared to stop someone on tribal bases and accept some who’s origin is from a different continent. Its only been 47 years guys. Please educate me of a European country which has an African origin leader? America is a totally different case that’s a country of immigrants. The land owners were wiped out and same case with Australia.

A reader by the name of Integrity rubbed it in:

I think a lot of zambians are fascinated by white people! It does not matter whether the person has qualifications or not, they just have to be white! By nature Zambians think they deserve it. How easily we forget that his ancestors were the ones selling our grandfathers and raping our grandmothers in the name of Christianity and civilization. Have the jews forgotten holocaust, no, even now they are still demanding reparations for something that happened years ago. Zambians on the other hand, “we need to show the world that we have no prejudice” America deserves Obama as a black president because the blacks make up the majority. Do whites in Zambia make up any percentage? When the whole world is recognizing achievements and the the progress of black people, we on the other hand are making headlines for sidelining our own race.

Asher defended the appointment:

From my understanding you choose a team you trust and are confortable with to work with you and is a right a president in our Country enjoys. I congratulate his excellency for being so brave as to pick beyond peoples expactation and colour. By the way the USA has a black president and not a vice from Kenya!

On Lusaka Times, Observer had this to say:

thank God Guy Scott is VP, this man is seen PF sail through difficult times and I for one I am happy that is now VP. I wish him all the best.

October 02 2011

Brazil: Protest Condemns Violent Death of African Student

All links lead to Portuguese language pages.

Around 100 people gathered in Cuiabá, the capital of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, on September 23, 2011, to protest against violence and call for justice in the wake of the murder of Toni Bernardo da Silva, a 27 year old Economic Science student from Guinea-Bissau on Thursday, September 22.

The protest, which took place in front of the pizzeria where Toni was beaten to death, was organised by a group of African students who are part of an exchange program between the Brazilian government and lusophone countries in Africa. Toni was a a student at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT).

Toni Bernando. Photo from personnal archive.

Toni Bernando. Photo from personnal archive.

Vicious attack

According to the civil police, the former student arrived at the restaurant around 11pm and started asking clients for money. While passing one of the tables, Toni bumped into a woman.

The woman's boyfriend, a 27 year old business man, and two military policeman who were in plainclothes at the site, forcibly removed the university student from the establishment and began to attack him with punches and kicks. The medical report indicates that death was caused by disruption of the trachea, caused by a sharp blow by a person who practices martial arts.

The suspects were charged in the act and will respond in court for the crime of murder. In a statement, they said that they had only immobilised the youngster.

Community outrage

The crime has caused outrage among the academic community, which is demanding justice and greater security for the students. In 2010, Global Voices reported [en] on another case of aggression against a student from Guinea Bissau.

Photo of protest, by Deivison Almeida (used with permission).

Photo of protest, by Deivison Almeida (used with permission).

UFMT released a message regretting the incident and contacted the Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs, who coordinate the exchange program, as well as the Federal Police.

Toni was a fellow at the university and should have been graduating later this year in the course that he began in 2006. However, according to a spokesperson of the institution, he had abandoned the course:

Em 2010, a Pró-Reitoria de Ensino de Graduação apoiou o então aluno e tentou auxiliá-lo para resolução de seus problemas acadêmicos e pessoais, que geraram o abandono dos estudos e a reprovação. Foi prestada assistência e oferecido acompanhamento psicológico ao estudante, por meio da Coordenação de Assistência e Benefícios (Cabes), sem a sua adesão satisfatória. Consequentemente, o desligamento ocorreu em fevereiro de 2011, conforme as exigências estabelecidas pelo Convênio PEC-G/MEC/MRE, entre as quais o abandono dos estudos e a reprovação.

In 2010, the Dean of Undergraduate Studies supported the student and then tried to help him to solve his personal and academic problems that had led to the abandonment of his studies and eventual dropout from the course. Assistance and counselling was offered to the student, through the Coordination of Assistance and Benefits without satisfactory accession. Consequently, the “shutdown” occurred in February 2011, according to the requirements established by PEC-G/MEC/MRE Agreement, which include the course drop-out.

According to student Catende Malan Domingos, 23, who is also part of the international exchange program, Toni had abandoned his studies due to discouragement or to some diesase. On the other hand the police state that he was a drug addict and had a record of theft. Since February 2011 his family had been sending him money to survive on while he was looking for a job. He has left a Brazilian girlfriend who is pregnant.

“The biggest threat is the silence”

The journalism student Adoniram Magalhães, on his blog Jornalismo Liberto, has written an analysis that sums up the way the case was covered by the local media:

Students light candles in mourning for Toni. Photo by Deivison Almeida (used with permission).

Students light candles in mourning for Toni. Photo by Deivison Almeida (used with permission).

(…) alguns veículos publicaram e ainda publicam o fato de uma forma estranha, parecem até que estão procurando justificativa para o fato, desvirtuando o foco da morte de um ser humano que poderia ser brasileiro, africano ou iraquiano.

some [media] vehicles have published and are still publishing the fact in a weird way, it looks as if they are trying to find a way to justify the fact, distorting the focus of the death of a human being who could be Brazilian, African or Iraqi.

The photographer Lucas Ninno, on his blog, has published an audio interview with a Cape Verdean student in Cuiabá, a friend of Toni's, telling a “version that the media doesn't show” about the case:

An email in circulation that talks about the climate of fear that has been instilled amongst African students at UFMT, for whom “the biggest threat is the silence” asks:

que a Universidade (UFMT) [tome] alguma atitude no sentido de os representar, bem como ao jovem assassinado, pressionando a justiça brasileira a não permitir que o caso [seja] (mais uma vez) abafado e que os culpados recebesse a punição merecida. Fizeram uma passeata a pedir Paz. A polícia não deve estar confortável com esta atitude. Há indícios de que a polícia esteja a tentar silenciar as testemunhas e a fazer contra-informação. A polícia ronda o bairro escuro e pobre onde a maioria destes estudantes moram. Por alguma razão estes jovens não se estão a sentir mais seguros com isso.

the University (UFMT) [needs to take] some attitude towards the representing them as well as the murdered boy, pressing the Brazilian justice system not to allow the case [to be] (once again) muffled and the guilty to receive the deserved punishment. They marched to ask for peace. The police should not be comfortable with this attitude. There is evidence that the police are trying to silence the witnesses and make counter-intelligence. Police round the black and poor neighbourhoods where most of these students live. For some reason these young people don't feel safer with it.
Friends and university colleagues of Toni have put candles in front of the crime site. Photo by Lucas Ninno (used with permission).

Friends and university colleagues of Toni have put candles in front of the crime site. Photo by Lucas Ninno (used with permission).

And finalises:

Se ninguém mais no mundo souber do que se está a passar ali o que será que lhes pode acontecer mais? O medo instalou-se. A História conta-nos que o medo é inimigo da razão, da sensatez. Quantos não são os casos de escaladas de violência nas ruas que começaram exactamente assim?

If no one else in the world knows what is happening there, what more can happen to them? Fear has settled. History tells us that fear is the enemy of reason, of prudence. How many cases of street violence have begun exactly like this?

The Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio de Aguiar Patriota personally presented his apologies to Ambassador Queta, Chancellor and future Minister of Justice of Guinea-Bissau, on behalf of the Brazilian government for the violence committed against the youngster.

The heads of state are in New York because of the 66th annual meeting of the United Nations.

September 26 2011

Jamaica: Gratitude to Garvey

In his ongoing effort to petition President Obama to exonerate Marcus Garvey, Geoffrey Philp says: “Marcus Garvey's cause was justice, plain and simple. And it is ironic that unjust methods were used to malign his good name and to bring about his eventual imprisonment on fraudulent charges.”

September 25 2011

Bulgaria: Clashes Between the Roma and Ethnic Bulgarians in Katunitsa

Violent clashes in the Bulgarian village of Katunitsa, near Plovdiv, broke out Friday night, following the death of a 19-year-old ethnic Bulgarian local, Angel Petrov, who had been run over by a vehicle driven by a man linked to the local Roma clan leader.

According to Focus Information Agency:

127 people were arrested in the southern village of Katunitsa where Bulgarian and Roma communities entered into clashes, following a fatal road accident involving relatives of a Roma boss - Kiril Rashkov, dubbed Tsar Kiro. The arrested were indicted for vandalism, arson and numerous other offences.

The clashes involving some 2,000 people started when relatives of a teenager who was run over by a Rashkov family vehicle attacked the Roma patriarch's home. Another person died and five others were injured.

Three policemen and two civilians were hurt in the riots, while a 16-year-old at the scene who suffered from heart problems was taken to hospital, where he later died. […]

Online responses to the riots reflect very well the dangerous tensions on the ground.

On Facebook, there is a page [bg] demanding death to the Roma boss Kiril Rashkov (”An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.)” - and more than 23,000 people appear to “like” this cause.

One of the page members wrote [bg]:

We are Bulgarians, we are in Bulgaria - enough of this torment! In our own country we feel as foreigners! They want war? We will give them war!

Another Facebook page [bg] has been created in support of the ethnic Bulgarian rioters arrested in Katunitsa - as of now, 41,001 people have “liked” this page.

Riot police in the village of Katunitsa. Photo by Georgi Kozhuharov/Dnevnik.bg, used with permission.

Hot debates are taking place elsewhere on Facebook as well. On the Anti-Racism Movement in Bulgaria page, people have reported more than ten pages and groups with hate-speech content. One member of the Anti-Racism Movement wrote [bg]:

Racism is awful because of the association of ethnicity with crime. There is a proverb saying “Because of our Elijah, I started to hate Saint Elijah” [”Pokrai nash Iliq namrazih i Sveti Iliq.”] Rashkov (Tzar Kiro) is one of the many criminals and traffickers in Bulgaria and he uses the ethnicity trump card without a second thought. If the authorities take care of this kind of criminals by legal means then this will reduce many times the ethnicity tensions, which are created by the same criminals to affirm their control over the given minority.

One of the places where people are organizing protests against the Roma people is the Facebook fan page [bg] of the football team “Botev” (Plovdiv). One of the fan group's members wrote this [bg]:

The dirty Roma scum must be cleaned!

On the Bulgarian blog Bai Dalai, the author wrote another opinion [bg]:

It is easy to see that this is an uprising against the painful social injustices, against the fact that the authorities are protecting the rich criminals but they are unable to provide basic security for the common people.

On Twitter, @lazarov (Alexei Lazarov) wrote [bg]:

Racial clashes in Katunitsa, Putin will run for president again - time sometimes seems to be moving backwards.

September 23 2011

Russia: Racial Propaganda in the State-Owned Media

Is the pen really mightier than the sword? Or, in today's age, is the keyboard greater than the laser-sighted assault rifle? For some purposes, the answer is yes. Whether seeking to inflame passions, discredit an individual, or simply reshape the debate, powerful interests have often eschewed coercion and instead planted false or misleading stories in the press to transform public opinion. Just ask the United States military. In 2005, the Pentagon - desperate to capture the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people - paid millions to Iraqi newspapers to ensure that pro-American stories would appear in the Iraqi press.

These techniques of misinformation and misdirection are particularly widespread across Russia. Drawing on a rich tradition of “political technology” honed under both the Tsarist and Soviet police states, the Russian media are now rife with paid stories (vbros) planted to advance specific agendas. The smoke and mirrors characterizing Russian public life is often unimaginably difficult for the outsider to decipher. Consider, for instance, Mikhail Prokhorov's recent departure from his leadership of the political party Right Cause: numerous versions are possible, including that the whole thing was stage-managed from the beginning. No wonder Kremlinologists are so frequently wrong.

A recent example suggests this phenomenon reaches far further than the release of pictures of politicians in bed with prostitutes or false reports of candidate deaths on the eve of an election. Last Thursday, Vesti FM’s Ksenia Krikheli - a seemingly mild-mannered journalist who normally covers local issues like schools - published an article [ru] on a small Moscow suburb in Liubertsy called Krasnaya Gorka. In an article laced with racial stereotypes and innuendo, Ms. Krikheli reported how local residents were living in fear as their quiet suburb was being transformed into an “African ghetto” overrun by an influx of unruly, violent, and sex-crazed African migrants. Ms. Krikheli described a “local” population unable to sleep and scared to venture onto the streets because of late night African drum playing, African prostitution (women supposedly asking “3 rubles for sex”), and criminal activity.

This article - which has spread across Russian online media - was followed by another article. In this follow-up article, Ms. Krikheli - clearly portraying herself as an investigative journalist seeking to find the truth - reported visiting a police station where a number of African migrants were being detained (in response to her article, she mused). She then had the following to say:

Не исключаю, помешала сотрудникам полиции еще и потому, что в участок на роскошном “Лексусе” как раз приехал африканский босс, видимо, выручать собратьев из плена. Уже возникли какие-то договоренности, и мой визит совсем некстати.
Сотрудник полиции говорит африканцу: “Мы с вами свяжемся через 10-15 минут, обо всём договоримся”.

I cannot ignore the fact that it seemed that I was suddenly interfereing with police work because an African boss soon pulled into the parking lot in a luxurious Lexus to bail his brothers out of jail. Some kind of agreement had already been worked out, it seemed, and the timing of my visit seemed inopportune. The police officer said to the African boss, “Lets talk in about 10-15 minutes and figure out what to do.”

Muckraking bloggers investigate these allegations

As this news story spread across the Russian media landscape, prominent photo-blogger Ilya Varlamov (LJ user zyalt) traveled to the “African Ghetto” to investigate [ru]. In three hours of interviews, he found nothing to support Ms. Krikheli's article. He did not find a single person who had spoken with Mr. Krikheli. Furthermore, everyone he spoke to denied having any problems with African migrants living in their neighborhood.

For instance, one woman with three children said:

«Нормально живется. Никаких проблем. . . А в соседнем доме живет Пьер Нарцисс, «Шоколадный заяц». Но вообще с ними никаких проблем нет — всегда здороваются, не шумят. Что-что? Ночью играют на барабанах во дворе и танцуют африканские танцы?! Бред какой-то, первый раз слышу. Наоборот, вообще никакого шума от них. У нас в школу ходит много их детей, все прекрасно ладят. Это вам какую-то чушь рассказали».

“Everything is fine. There are no problems. My neighbor is Pierre Narciss, the “Chocolate Rabbit.” In general there are no problems with them - they are always saying hello, and don't make much noise. What's that? At night they play the drums and do African dances? Those are lies, that's the first I have heard of this. On the contrary, there is absolutely no noise. Our school has a number of African children and everyone gets along fine. What you have heard about is absolute nonsense.”

Ilya also spoke with a local African migrant from South Africa who had moved to Moscow to manage a nightclub. He was clearly worried about the effects of the article:

Было видно, что к прессе у него очень подозрительное отношение. . . «Мы собираемся подавать в суд на них», — заявил он. «Они все переврали. Здесь живет много африканцев из разных стран, и все всегда жили спокойно, а они там наговорили непонятно что. Я не понимаю, зачем надо так врать».

It was clear he had a very negative view of the press. “We intend to take them to court,” he said. “They have distorted everything. Many Africans from different countries live here, and we have always lived peacefully, and then they write this stuff. I do not understand why they would do this.”

Why would Vesti-FM publish this kind of nonsense?

If the fair residents of this quiet suburb were not terrorized, what could possibly motivate Ms. Krikheli and Vesti FM to print this kind of racist misinformation? As Varlamov poses it:

зачем серьезной государственной радиокомпании надо раздувать абсолютно несуществующую в реальности проблему? Да еще описывать все в таких страшных красках? Ради сенсации? И как у журналистки, готовившей материал, обстоит дело с журналистской этикой? Слышала ли она об ответственности за разжигание межнациональной розни?

For what reason would a serious government radio station need to fabricate a nonexistent problem? And to paint it in such vivid color? Just to create a sensation? And doesn't a journalist, preparing material, have professional ethics? Has she heard about responsibility for stirring up inter-ethnic conflict?

Although it is unlikely that a definitive answer will ever emerge from the murky world of Russian misinformation, one strong possibility is that this series of articles were paid for by wealthy interests (one possibility: construction companies) who have an interest in deflecting anti-immigration attitudes toward African migrants. There are some clues in Mr. Khrikeli's articles themselves. At one point, she writes:

Анастасия говорит, что жизнь рядом с мигрантами из стран СНГ ни в какое сравнение не идет - они просто ангелы на фоне африканского народа, заполонившего подмосковные Люберцы. “Что вы, таджики и узбеки - тихие, спокойные, никогда не собираются большими компаниями, не шумят. Африканцы же всегда после себя столько мусора оставляют. Очень плохо мы живем здесь”, - отмечает она.

Anastasia says that there is no comparison between these African immigrants and life next to migrants from the CIS countries [former Soviet republics like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan] - they are simply angels in comparison with the African people, who are overrunning the Liubertsy suburbs. “The Tajiks and Uzbeks are quiet, peaceful, never congregate in big groups, and do not make a lot of noise. The Africans are always leaving trash everywhere. It is awful living here.”

Articles around the web have appeared which further support this explanation. One article on Islam News proclaims that the residents of Liubertsy “now sorely miss living next to Tajiks and Uzbeks.”

A great deal still remains unclear. Since Vesti FM is state-owned, what role did the Russian government play in these articles? Whatever the explanation, however, Ms. Krikheli's articles are a sad reflection on the state of journalistic ethics in the state-owned Russian media as well as the ease with which it is manipulated. For the African immigrants of Liubertsy, let's hope that the ramifications end there.

September 22 2011

Russia: Jokes and Xenophobia

Donna Welles writes about Russian jokes (and a blog that translates Russian and Ukrainian jokes into English) - and about xenophobia.

World: Mourning the Execution of Troy Davis

Despite the reprieve granted to Troy Davis earlier today, just over four hours after our last report, Davis was executed.

Around the world, and particularly in the United States, Twitter is in a state of morning. The hashtag #RIPTroyDavis is currently trending, and individuals are expressing their feelings about Davis's case, as well as about the state of capital punishment in the United States.

From Philadelphia, @ShamaraOnAir reports:

Watching CNN 11:08 was time of death #RIPTROYDAVIS

From Iowa, @Jasminenkelly tweets:

Racism and injustice still exists just on a different scale… we dnt have KKK's in sheets anymore they are our law makers. #RIPTROYDAVIS

Journalist Dan Gillmor rails against the death penalty, saying:

Bad enough that death penalty exists. But tonight, our system of “justice” killed another person whose guilt was hugely in doubt. Travesty.

From Barbados, @bajanswaggboy remarks:

#RIPTroyDavis. No murder weapon, no DNA, 7 of 9 witnesses recant their testimonies. Seriously? How do you execute someone without evidence?

And from the UK, @tweety_coco says:

Still in shock. Just cannot believe this can happen in 2011. #riptroydavis

Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour), a Palestinian-American activist, states:

#TroyDavis will be the fuel I need to continue my quest for social justice. He will never be forgotten. #RIPTroyDavis

While the case of Troy Davis has certainly drawn interest from the public, many are cynical that the case is a one-off, and that US citizens will not continue to fight against the death penalty. Or as Palestinian @Falasteeni put it shortly before the execution took place:

What saddens me most abt expected murder of #TroyDavis is tht nothing will happen, no movement will grow to make sure it never happens again

September 21 2011

World: Twitter Rallies for #TroyDavis

In the United States, where capital punishment is legal in all but fourteen states, the case of Troy Davis has drawn ire from abolitionist activists. Davis was convicted of murdering a police officer in 1989 during a trial in which there was no DNA evidence implicating him, but merely the testimony of witnesses, several of whom later recanted their statements.

Davis was given the death penalty, and his first execution scheduled for July 17, 2007. After appeals by Davis's lawyers, NGOs, and numerous celebrities, Davis was granted a stay of execution. Twice his execution was re-scheduled, and both times Davis was granted a stay; then, following a federal appeal in 2010–which was rejected–his execution was once again scheduled, for September 21, 2011.

https://twitpic.com/6og5wc

Photo credit: BigBoi, Twitpic

Along with Davis's lawyers, organizations like Amnesty called for a stay of execution, prompting even celebrities like Kim Kardashian and rapper BigBoi to appeal to their Twitter followers.

In the hours and minutes leading up to the execution, scheduled for 7pm local time, individuals from all across the globe continued to rally for a stay of execution. Using the hashtags #Troy Davis, #TooMuchDoubt, and #TheWholeWorldIsWatching.

From the UK, @Rachel_McCormack tweeted:

Georgia I am outside the US Embassy in London freezing and watching #thewholeworldiswatching

Also from the UK, @CatherineBee shared her thoughts:

“It is better to risk sparing a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.” Voltaire #thewholeworldiswatching #troydavis

@LizLemonCologne expressed a sentiment likely shared by many:

Following the #thewholeworldiswatching hashtag is just breaking my heart. #troydavis

@monstris lamented:

Watch Democracy Now. Now. Watch democracy fall apart for #TroyDavis. And people wonder why I left America…. #thewholeworldiswatching

And from Greece, @helion spoke:

a western democracy, a supposed bastion of human rights, should not take the life of a possibly innocent citizen #thewholeworldiswatching

In the end, their tweets–along with ample offline activism–served as a rallying cry against the execution of a potentially innocent man. Just a few minutes after 7pm, news broke on Twitter that Davis had been granted a stay of execution. Said @Colorlines:

Speechless! @democracynow is reporting a literal last-minute stay of execution! Livestream: http://democracynow.org #troydavis

From the UK, @GrahamSimmons commented:

tonight is a victory for humankind #troydavis #thewholeworldiswatching #fb

But amidst the excitement, @graceishuman–relaying news from @DemocracyNow reporters in the room–clarified the news, explaining:

SCOTUS has issued a reprieve for #troydavis execution - which means it's delayed (for further review?) not stayed. (via Democracy Now)

ABC News confirmed the story, stating that “The Supreme Court could decide at any time tonight or in the next seven days whether to go through with his execution.”

September 17 2011

South African: Facebook Profile Picture Creates Controversy

South Africa's Facebook profile photo creates controversy: Authorities in South Africa are investigating a white man’s Facebook profile picture with a hunting rifle and a big grin kneeling in a classic hunter’s pose over what appears to be the lifeless body of a black boy – as if he is his “prey”.

September 16 2011

Curacao: Images of Slavery Inappropriate

TRIUNFO DI SABLIKA takes issue with certain images on the Golden Coach, which has become the symbol of the Dutch monarchy: “The sidebar ‘Tribute of the Colonies' activates great resistance from us. On that side are half-naked black men and women who offer their riches to the royal king. In the colonial era and the aftermath of slavery this seemed like a very ordinary picture. Now it reminds us of a horrible period in Dutch history.”

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