Feel US – Hate Speech Against Refugees

Feel Us is a blog to fight against hate speech against refugees. The blog is output of Vaccine against Hate Speech on Media project coordinated by  Youth Center “Perspektiva” and supported by Council of Europe , with the financial support of European Youth Foundation. The project derives from the need to combat and prevent hate speech on media.

This blog does not represent the views of the NGO, partners, supporters of the project, donors, or the authors. All materials that contain hate speech, which we will show were taken from online sources and they were reported as hate speech on the Hate Speech Watch, of the No Hate Speech Movement

In our blog we would like to raise awareness about hate speech targeting refugees on media,social media,blogs etc. We would like to share with you some stories of refugees, in order to show you a view from the other side, a view from what being a refugee means.

Here is some example of hate speech on media against refugees

 

Discriminatory discourse incites hatred and enmity against Syrian refugees.

#ForANewDiscourse free from discrimination, racism and violence,

#NoHateSpeech

The video made within the scope of Media Watch on Hate Speech project includes a selection of the items that incites discrimination and hatred against Syrian refugees.

In the print media, Syrian refugees are

  • identified with security concerns and ‘terrorism’;
  • accused of being ungrateful;
  • presented as responsible for economic problems;
  • marginalized with ‘us’ vs ‘them’ dichotomy;
  • presented as a threat against health;
  • Syrian women are subjected to double discrimination.

source : https://hrantdink.org/en/asulis-en/activities/projects/media-watch-on-hate-speech/943-the-video-about-hate-speech-against-syrian-refugees-in-print-media-is-released

A weekend trip turns into cleaning of Holta Canyon

Article by Luis Bekteshi, President of the Youth Center “Perspektiva”

This article is for all Albanians, who are the first ones to scream they are proud to be Albanians, whom are the first to honk when an Albanian team wins a football match, whom are the first ones to react when someone offends us, etc… I am not proud to be Albanian because of a football team. I am proud to be Albanian because of our culture, tradition, history and nature. When we refer to the nature, we Albanians are the ones that are truly blessed with it. We are also the ones that are ruining it. No one else but us. Here, I will tell you a short story about a short trip we had on Saturday.

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On 16th September, myself and a group of friends decided to get out of the city and enjoy the beautiful nature Albania offers. After getting some recommendations on the places to see, we finally decided to visit Holta canyons next to Gramsh. A place which was so beautiful and tragic at the same time. Beautiful because nature over there is simply stunning. Walking through the prehistorical canyons was a really beautiful experience that I highly recommend to anyone who loves nature.

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As I said before, it was tragic as well. The reason why is because people who hiked through those stunning canyons, had a picnic or spent a night with tents … left behind a whole bunch of garbage. I do not know if it was because they were lazy to clean up after themselves, or the fact that they only knew how to produce garbage. Either way it was horrible too see such a beautiful canyon being continuously destroyed by humans. The garbage was everywhere – sticking to the banks of the mountain river or filling in the caverns here and there. The deeper into the canyon we walked, the more “hidden” garbage we could see in the caves and small river pockets along its sides. It amazed me how some people found it easier to hide their garbage under the stones rather than just picking it up and dropping it to the nearest garbage bin. In this case, the garbage bins could be found only in the neighboring village and, I guess, even for those few, who could have bothered about it, it seemed too much of an effort.

20170918_123700-COLLAGEWhen we planned that trip, we wanted to take a break from our daily job, but what we saw there we could not be idle.  As no one should be idle when they see such horrors. All it would take for each one of us to enjoy the beauties that nature has to offer, would be to pick up our own garbage. Nothing more and nothing less. Clean after ourselves.

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That is when we all decided to start cleaning the canyons as we went back to our car. For that I have to thank all the people who were with me and picked up every piece of garbage that we could find. As disgusting as it was to clean the garbage after someone else, none of us regretted or stopped even for a while.

By the end of the trip, we collected that much garbage that we hardly could fit it in the car. It took us around 2 hours or so to clean the garbage that was around, but I am sure it would take less than 10 minutes for each of those “nature lovers” and “campers” to pick up their own garbage and throw it into the bins along the road on the way back. If everyone would clean after themselves, then we all could enjoy the stunning beauties that Albania has to offer without being disgusted by horrible views of garbage piles that sadly accompany most of the Albanian roads.

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If you think that it cannot get any worse, I am sorry to disappoint you again – the worst is yet to come. As we were loading the garbage in the car, we asked a man living in the village next to the canyons, where would be the closest garbage bin in which we could throw what we have gathered. His wrinkled face smiled when he kindly nodded “over there” by pointing at the river, which runs through the canyons. Shocked by the response, we started explaining the old man that we spent all day cleaning the canyon and that was exactly what we were trying to avoid.

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As we talked to him, explaining that his “over there” was one of the reasons why the canyon was so polluted, his face lost the smile. He blamed the tourists for the pollution. There is some truth to it as well, as the garbage we gathered was mostly picnic garbage. Though, I do believe that people from the nearby village of Holta are to be blamed as much as the tourists. More than that I believe that the lack of state control and care, as well as the lack of education are the key factors behind the pollution of protected areas. And yet, each one of us, as long as you consider yourself a proud Albanian, can take an action to preserve our wonderful nature.

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Do Not Let Hate Blur Us Out: Albanian youth marked the European Day of Victims of Hate Crimes

20205772_10155597664054744_217057805_oOn 22 July 2017 in Tirana, Youth Center “PERSPEKTIVA”, in partnership with NGOs “Beyond Barriers”, “PVN Albania”, “FASH” (Fondacioni Arsimor Shqiptar) and cooperation with Olen Dashi, organized the workshop “Do Not Let Hate Blur Us Out!” (Albanian: “Mos e lejoni urrejtjen tё na zhdukё!”) to mark the European Day of Victims of Hate Crime.

The workshop was organized in support of the No Hate Speech Movement Action Day for Victims of Hate Crime that is commemorated on 22 July 2017. The activity gathered around 30 young people, including 4 French guests from the “Interfaith Tour”. The workshop went on for around 2 hours, due to the sensitivity and scope of the topic, and nature of intense discussions between participants.

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The main objective of the workshop was to provide participants with general information about hate speech and its connection to hate crime, as well as their negative effects in the society. In the beginning of the workshop, we spoke about the tragedy that took lives of 69 young people on 22 July 2011 in Utøya. That attack became a breaking point in realizing devastating connection between hate speech and hate crime, which urged the Council of Europe to develop specific policies and initiatives to tackle the problem including the youth-led No Hate Speech Movement campaign. Many participants were not aware of the Utøya tragedy and were shocked by the fact that a lot of evidence of the planned attack was published online weeks prior to the massacre. We discussed why there was such a big need to have a campaign, which main focus would be to monitor, combat and prevent hate speech online and offline through human rights education and youth work.3

We continued the discussion with deconstructing hate crime. What defines the hate component in those crimes? How can hate crime evolve on social media? How spread is the phenomena in today’s Europe and which socio-political trends contribute to the scope of the problem? These and many other questions provoked an intense debate between the participants, which naturally led to a discussion about the situation with hate crimes in Albania and treatment of victims of hate crimes.

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During the practical part of the workshop, the participants worked on the cases of hate speech and hate crime that were developed by the Online Activists of the No Hate Speech Movement. The cards #22reasonswhy, which were used for the case study, are available here. One of the cases brought up the arson attacks against dwellings inhabited by some 40 Roma families that occurred in Albania in February 2011. Over several days and nights neighbors of the settlement, using weapons, threatened, intimidated and physically attacked members of the Roma families; they also burned down at least two dwellings. Another case invited participants to elaborate on the impact of nationalistic political discourse, tackling the tragic incident in the UK, when Jameel Muhktar and his cousin were acid-burned by a stranger.

“As kids we were growing up with a lot of hatred towards whoever is different without even realizing it – through our jokes, stereotypes of the neighbor and stories of the past. How could we know, if everybody around us thought that that was normal?”

Participant

The workshop revealed that activities like this are extremely important in raising awareness among young people about how prejudices can easily evolve into hate speech and even hate crime, and how each one of us is responsible and capable to prevent those.

#NoHateSpeech

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Human Library “One of Us” International Human Rights Day in Tirana

On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day on 10th December, Youth Center “Perspektiva” in partnership with NGO “Projekte Vullnetare Nderkombetare” (PVN Albania) and NGO “LiburnEtik” organized a Human Library event under the motto “One of Us”. You may ask – what is Human Library? It functions like a normal library – with books and readers. Well, almost. You choose a Book from a catalogue. With one exception. Each Book is a real person with a real story to share.

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Human Library as a tool was developed by the Council of Europe long ago in 2003 – being polished by hundreds of initiatives around the globe, it has proven to be a very powerful way to challenge stereotypes, stigmas and make a step beyond one’s barriers. The rules are as easy as they may be challenging – “don’t destroy the pages of the Book” – or, in other words, be respectful and don’t judge. Often even very pressing prejudices can be challenged in an honest face-to-face conversation. In the end of the day, each one of us is unique, but we all love and suffer in the same way – no matter your skin color, religion, sex/gender, sexual orientation, health and wealth…

Human Library is a very new concept for Tirana and Albania in general. And that’s why we were even more happy to see a truly engaging group of young people – Albanians, Roma, Ashkali and expats -among the participants. Three Books… Three very different life stories united by strength of the character and not giving up.

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Sokoli had everything – a smiley girl, who just became his wife, a nice job and a shiny Vespa motorbike. He was just 25, having all his life ahead. Sokoli and his young wife were expecting a first baby, when a terrible traffic accident paralyzed half of his body and doomed Sokoli to spent his life in a wheelchair. It was too much for his wife. His story is a story of a stubborn struggle with the system that doesn’t fulfill the basic provisions, with indifference of people, who are not used to see socially active people with disabilities. A struggle, where the only source of Sokoli’s energy for several years was shared pain and optimism of hundreds of people with physical disabilities in Albania, many of whom are completely excluded from public life. Today Sokoli is married again and enjoys support of his new family and his soulmates in the Albanian National Association of People with Disabilities.dsc00988

Rami is an elegant young gentleman, who got his education in the UK, became known for his strong position against discrimination in Albania, and after a long time he has finally convinced the father of his beloved one to bless their marriage. Sounds like a great story, which wouldn’t be full if I wouldn’t tell you that Rami belongs to the Roma community in Albania. Every single step for Rami, while climbing the social ladder, was poisoned by prejudices and stigmas in his native Albania, yet his struggle makes him a great role model for youth.

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Klodi was born blind, which left almost no choice for his mother, who had to follow her husband on a dream trip to America after the dramatic fall of Albanian communism. Klodi was left to the Albanian social care, which does not offer much to kids in his condition. A miracle happened when Klodi reached teenagerhood. One day he woke up, seeing blurry shadows, not understanding what’s going on. While Klodi spent long months training to strengthen his eyesight, Albanian media was fast to pick up on the case and spread the miracle, having the boy being brought to the conferences all around the region. Shortly afterwards he had his first contact with the mother. He passionately speaks about going to the US one day to meet with his mom, and sadly adds that he is more needed in Albania because there are too many abandoned children with disabilities, like he was until recently.

Each one of us has a story to tell. Human Library offers a unique opportunity to see the world through the eyes of a person, One of Us, to whom you probably would never talk otherwise. Judging a book by its cover takes a way an opportunity of a powerful journey.

Human Library “One of Us” was realized in the framework of the No Hate Speech Movement Albania activities – a youth campaign for human rights online and offline. Please, follow our Facebook page to learn about the upcoming activities.