Homel ideology officials advise local newspaper to refrain from anti-Roma discrimination
Homel human rights defenders Ales Yauseyenka and Maryia Klimovich have received a response to their petition to the Main Directorate of Ideological Work, Culture and Youth Affairs of the Homel Regional Executive Committee. The petition stemmed from a publication in the newspaper Chyrvony Kastrychnik (Aktsiabrski district, Homel region), where local police urge citizens to be vigilant against the Romani people, warning them that they often targeted elderly people as victims of their crimes. “In case Roma people appear in the settlements of the district, as well as suspicious social workers, employees of housing and communal services, please immediately notify the Department of the Interior,” read the article.
“In order to prevent illegal acts and to eliminate the causes that contribute to their occurrence, awareness-raising and prevention work has been carried out both with the representatives of national minorities and with the public, which is not aimed at inciting ethnic hatred, but at an effective solution to the existing problems,” later said Aliaksandr Nekrashevich, deputy head of the Homel Regional Police Department.
In their reply, ideology officials thank the human rights defenders for their active citizenship and note that the “newspaper Chyrvony Kastrychnik has been recommended to refrain from producing materials that discriminate against the Roma ethnic group”.
“We are not very happy with the response. Warning is good, but the violation has been already committed. Roma people were insulted and the souls of the readers were poisoned with xenophobia. Why did not the leaders of the ideological vertical recommend the local newspaper to write a positive article about the Roma, or at least apologize to them It’s in the interests of officials – to show that they watch it over, so that national minorities are not harassed,” comments Maryia Klimovich.
Another recent publication in the Homel-based newspaper Savetski Rayon entitled “Roma do not violate the law more often than other residents of Homel” refers to the police chief Aliaksandr Slesarenka, who argues last year there were only two crimes in the district that involved Roma suspects. Similarly, in 2013 the Mazyr newspaper Zhytstsio Palessia published a material about “Roma criminals”. The article says that over the year the district citizens committed over two thousand crimes, of which only a few were committed by Romani people. However, the police emphasized the nationality of the criminals.