Silence is not an option!
Sunday 7th June 2020, HARAVGI newspaper
Article by Stavri Kalopsidiotou, Lawyer-International Law expert, Member of the Central Committee of AKEL
The death was caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest” due to the pressure exerted on his back and neck. Mortality method: “homicide”.
The tragic findings of the independent forensic report on the death of George Floyd represent the most brutal depiction of the ruthless murderous form racism can take. Its the racism, which, to borrow a phrase from the writer Lily Zografou, who of course was referring to the innate phenomenon of fascism, “is not some celestial phenomenon that unexpectedly manifests itself as a storm”, but “is fermented for years, artfully and systematically.” The question is, paraphrasing it, how much will people’s stomachs endure being fed this structure? How long will the people endure the poison of hate racism which is nurtured directly or indirectly, impersonally or formally, given that sooner or later it comes to sweep away the right to hope, but also life itself.
Much as hardline politicians and the mass media insist on focusing on lootings, abuses and violent acts, trying to shift the debate away from racism and discrimination, these criminal acts do not bear the stamp of the overwhelming majority of the protesters who have had enough of the racist poison. They stand against marginalization and fear, against the murdered hope that has driven thousands of people to take to the streets these days, and not just in the United States, defying even the very danger of the pandemic.
This racism, sometimes hidden behind hoods, sometimes backed by the gun barrels of a small or big power, sometimes invoking freedom of speech, is the same racism that explains precisely why in the US the number of Afro-Americans murdered by the police are at least two and a half times more than their white fellow citizens, despite the fact that they make up a much smaller percentage of the population.
But how far away is what is actually happening abroad from here? Don’t perhaps the erroneous statements made by the current Minister of the Interior and his predecessor on the handling of the refugee and migrants issue, encourage the cultivation of a collective immunity towards refugees and immigrants? What’s more, don’t their statements make it easier for racism and xenophobia to increase its impact on all aspects of social activity and its agencies?
The generalised equating of migrants and refugees with terrorism and crime, the abolition of their fundamental rights through the government’s handlings (for example, the Pournaras reception centre issue) and the attempt to adopt summary procedures of handling them that test the limits of international legitimacy are another informal excuse for numerous institutional and personal deviations.
Like the criminal negligence shown by the police when foreign immigrant women workers had disappeared to be subsequently found murdered; like the lethargic reaction of the authorities to the exploitation of immigrants by networks engaging in trafficking of people; like the tolerance of abuse – physical, verbal and emotional – of foreign workers.
Like the tolerance shown towards the racist discourse of acquaintances and friends or the racist “jokes” that are reproduced in front of our children with descriptions that qualitatively separate people according to their colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and/or their ideological beliefs.
Or when press releases about the suitability of foreigners are published under the caption of “Statements” issued by state and government officials, distinguishing them into rich and heirs of oligarchs who are considered absolutely useful, from the toilers who have to take on the burden of work that Cypriot workers don’t cover and to the “scabies infected” refugees who, if they are not called terrorists, are, to say the least, undesirable numbers that the sea has washed ashore, let alone if the sea of occupied Kyrenia or Famagusta has washed them ashore.
For a country that is still reaping the tragic results of various forms of discriminations, silence is not an option. The choice is the combatting of racism and xenophobia, diseases as deadly as Covid-19 as the head of the UN Human Rights Council himself correctly points out. The choice is to break the vicious circle of rhetoric and of the policies that nurture a racist “pure nationalism” (and I’m not talking about the national pride that everyone can carry on all the lengths and breadths of the earth) that is channeled through public life and education, while maintaining intolerance and discriminations, even against the other community on our island.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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