HoRa (People-against-Racism) warns: nationalist and neo-Nazi tendencies made provocations during today’s (Feb. 24, 2013) procession, which started officially from the Ministry of Economics in protest of high electricity bills.
HoRa supports the majority of protesters in their justified criticism of the political and economic system. What follows is not an analysis of the protest as a whole. Please understand us correctly: neo-Nazis were only one part of the protesting citizens, yet they caused trouble. An initiative aimed to point out neo-Nazi activity for the purpose of citizen protection against neo-Nazi terror, we here take position on the concrete problem caused by the presence of far-rightist formations at the protest.
According to information from a HoRa activist who attended the protest as a citizen (i.e. without engaging the initiative), neo-Nazis attacked and beat other participants in today’s protests in Sofia. Attacks took place before and during the protests. The attacked were recognized as leftists, anti-capitalists, anti-authoritarians, anti-fascists, anarchists and communists. (According to the media the group Che Guevara were also attacked but we have no such information). Since the morning we have information that six members of the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria, including one woman, were attacked by over 20 neo-Nazis while handing leaflets in the Kristal park. There were contusions and one person was more seriously hurt.
Here is our activist’s story:
Upon arrival at Eagle’s Bridge, the procession’s mobile platform made a skilled attempt at showering nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric on the multitude. First, a woman standing on the platform gave a rousing welcome to the fans of Levski and CSKA soccer clubs and expressed her great (womanly) regret that the fan clubs were unjustly accused of violence during the past protests, an accusation that only served to split society. The fans, on their part, met the greeting with loud applause. The opening climaxed when a man hard to recognize from behind took over the courting of the “youth” asking, completely out of the blue, the rhetorical question: “Will we allow them to build a second mosque in Sofia?” “Nooooooooo” – was the cheering reply of the fans and many others around them.
Some in the crowd made a stand against the racist calls by raising universal slogans for solidarity and shouting “Racists out!” These people were then verbally attacked.
Shortly after, a girl and several guys were attacked physically. They had not sought the confrontation. Their attackers accused them for criticizing Nazism and racism.
Immediately following the assault, neo-Nazis chased the group of young people who had tried to raise slogans for universal solidarity. “Go to a protest of your own!” yelled the neo-Nazis. How can we speak of a nation-wide protest if the protest is open only to neo-Nazis and citizens of the “correct” ideology, religion and ethnicity?! Let’s hope that the majority of the common protesters open their eyes to the issue and stop these dangerous tendencies.
Luckily, media captured a portion of the beating. Unfortunately, the media once again equate offenders and victims, presenting the victims’ attempted self-defense as a “fight,” while automatically qualifying the victims as leftists and anarchists as if such a qualification could explain the attack. There is no excuse for neo-Nazi violence!
It is important to note that anyone could get hurt in this way. Any passerby (like one of the guys hurt), will be attacked should she intervene in the beating. Inter-group clashes are not the explanation for what goes on. Neo-Nazis’ main concern is to find people they can beat. Anyone who opposes them in some way can become their victim.
A previously existing assumption that provocations of the protests had been in preparation were finally confirmed. However, the nationalist and Islamophobic rhetoric coming from the mobile platform supposed to carry the protest’s vanguard makes us ask whether the provocateurs have some special support among the organizers, granting them a sense of impunity and the freedom to beat others?! And if they do indeed have such support, then whose interests are served by such a criminal disposition that puts at risk the democratic expression of positions and protest by citizens, as well as their bodily integrity should they dare express their positions?
Why the very same megaphone passing for the voice of the organizers incites ethno-religious animosity?! Yes, meaningful words were spoken through it, too, but the calls against religious and ethnic groups cannot be justified. We condemn the abuse of justified indignation at the price of electricity and the economic situation in order to ascribe racism, xenophobia and extreme nationalism to the Bulgarian people.
What worries us the most is that these aggressive calls find expression in real terror on the spot against anyone who expresses a different opinion.
In the end, we repeat: let us not forget that neo-Nazis, as aggressive, loud and offensive as they are, do not constitute a representative sample of the Bulgarian citizens or of the
thousands of people who came out to express their indignation all across the country!
The problem is that our civil society is still learning to recognize and respond in time to the neo-Nazis and their claims.
No to terror! No to fear! All people together against terror, against the far-right aggressors’ attempts to steal the protests!