The EU Must Speak and Act Against Racism. Always.
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The European Union's fundamental values are of respect for human dignity and human rights, with freedom, democracy, equality, and the rule of law, within the member states and internationally. To do so, European Institutions are strongly involved in missions of international aid and diplomatic work aimed at the promotion of stability, democracy and fundamental freedoms.
Several times, the European Union has spoken out against injustices and abuse of powers. Between 2012 and now, the European Parliament and European Court have often spoken in condemnation of the Russian government about LGBTQI+ persecution and oppression. In 2018 the Parliament condemned Vietnam for human rights violations and the oppression of free speech. In 2019, the European Union condemned the state of human rights in China, specifically regarding the Tibet and Uyghur persecution. Today, in front of the abuses of power and violence that are happening in the United States, the European Union is staying silent. This cannot be accepted.
In 2010, the EU agreed to apologise for the historical wrongs of slavery and colonialism and promised to provide aid and promote investment. While the Union did not accept legal liabilities, it did embrace the moral responsibilities of years of wrongdoings. This apology would be emptied of any meaning if European Institutions do not stand by it in a moment of crisis such as this. Now it is the time to act on that moral responsibility. The murder of George Floyd is only the last one of a long list of black men and women’s lives taken by a discriminatory, abusive policing system. Black people are dying for police abuses, in the US but also in the EU. In 2017 a black French man (Théo) was beaten and raped by police forces in Aulnay-sous-Bois, requiring two full months in the hospital to fully recover. Only one year earlier, Adama Traoré died by the hand of the French police, and the family is still waiting for justice. In 2018, Soumaila Sacko, a syndicalist in Southern Italy advocating for better living and working conditions for African migrants in the agricultural field got shot and killed in Calabria (Southern Italy). In the past 4 years, police violence towards migrants at the border between Italy and France have escalated, with migrants reportedly being beaten, deprived of their legal rights and of access to food and water for more than 24 hours.
European Institutions must act now to stop racially motivated violence, starting from police forces, both on its territory by legislation and abroad by advocacy and diplomacy. It is important to do it now, because to remain silent is to remain an accomplice. As citizens, we ask the European Union to abide by its values and to:
1) Issue a public declaration of the European Parliament condemning the use of violence of the American police and the systemic discrimination of the justice system,
2) Begin work on the passing of an EU law requiring individuals of law enforcement in member countries to be clearly identifiable while on duty in gear that would conceal the face, with a readable identification number on their uniform at all times.
3) Actively work on the de-militarisation of police forces, especially in the managing of external borders, reducing deaths and violence.
As European citizens, we cannot remain silent while systems of discrimination carry on murdering black men and women. In a crucial moment like this, we cannot afford to have the people who represent us and our interests to remain silent in the face of such injustice. We cannot remain silent as the same law enforcement which protects us, continue to threaten these communities. As European citizens, we must demand that those values of human dignity and human rights be held high, in every country in the world, starting from us. Because what is happening now is not only an internal political moment but a wakeup call for the rest of the international community To pick the right side. To choose human lives, respect and dignity. More than ever, the European Union needs to take a position. Now.
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