Statement on Srebrenica Memorial Day 2017

Srebrenica Memorial Day

This year, we are recognising the 22nd anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, during which thousands of men and boys were systematically murdered, simply because they were Muslim. As an organisation that works with people affected by racism, we feel it is vital to commemorate Srebrenica to take a stand against hatred and discrimination that targets groups based on their religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or any type of difference.

During the course of the conflict that took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s, between 20,000 and 50,000 women were raped, and sadly in societies all over the world, including our own, there still remains a lot of stigma around sexual violence. This year, we are working with the charity Remembering Srebrenica to commemorate the genocide, and to reflect on the experiences of women in conflict. Remembering Srebrenica’s theme this year is Breaking the Silence: Gender and Genocide, you can read more about it on their website: www.srebrenica.org.uk

As part of this, we want to recognise the strength and resilience of women who have survived conflict, and our commitment as an organisation to challenge sexism and gender based violence within our own communities.

It is now more important than ever for us to come together as people in the UK, no matter what our background, to celebrate diversity and to stand together in solidarity against hatred and discrimination. We hope you will join us in mourning the loss of those who died at Srebrenica, and reflecting on how we as individuals, groups and communities can come together to build a better future without hatred.

Response to Government Hate Crime Action Plan

At the time of writing, we have just witnessed yet more atrocities across France and Germany and, yet again, words fail us as to why these senseless, cowardly acts keep on happening and our thoughts and condolences go out to all the people involved and affected.

On the same day, the British Government reaffirmed its pledge to tackling Hate Crime in the UK, with newly appointed Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, announcing the Government’s Action Plan on Hate Crime.

Stop Hate UK welcomes this plan and is pleased to see the Government moving to recognise the seriousness of such crimes and why there has to be a zero tolerance approach to any form of Hate Crime.

No one should want to live in a society filled with hate and it should not be commonplace, in today’s world, to simply accept these horrendous acts as ‘part of life’. Hate crime, in any form, is not welcome here and we must stand together to tackle it and rid our society of such harrowing incidents.

Obviously, the recent increases in reported incidents of Hate Crime (since the referendum result) are deeply saddening and has felt like a real backwards step for the UK as a whole, in its attempts to stamp out Hate Crime; but let’s not kid ourselves. Racism, hate, intolerance – call it what you will – is still an odious undercurrent in the UK and, for some, the referendum result was merely a vehicle to jump on the back of and vent draconian views, like they suddenly had a right to do, which, of course, they did not.

It is the Government’s duty to spearhead the campaign against hate, working with organisations, like Stop Hate UK, to set out a clear message of zero tolerance, so we are pleased to see the Action Plan’s pledge of help where it is needed, particularly the promise of new training and advice for schools and journalists, improving victims’ support and creating a database of racist symbols so police can recognise them.

As an organisation that provides 24-hour support to anyone affected by Hate Crime, we are here for anyone who is targeted or is a witness to Hate Crime. Therefore, we want to see a more robust, consistent and accessible approach across the UK to independent reporting services. We hope that this focus on Hate Crime will lead towards this and, also, an understanding that to stop Hate Crime we need to ensure that we are all able to get support when we need it.

Over the next few days, Stop Hate UK will be publishing its own report, based on our Helpline statistics, comparing the 4 weeks prior to the referendum, to the 4 weeks directly after and we expect this to reaffirm the need for everyone to present a united stance on Hate Crime.

The message is clear – Hate Crime has no place in today’s society and no place at the table. No one should live in fear because of their disability, faith, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, age, alternative sub-culture, or any other part of their identity.

Brexit – Almost 2 weeks on, what do we now know?

June 23rd 2016 is indelibly etched in the UK’s political history, yet now, almost 2 weeks on from ‘Brexit’, we’re still not really any further informed as to what course the good ship UK will traverse through the choppy waters that lie ahead.

As a charity set up to tackle Hate Crime, we’ve seen first hand the ugly fallout from the referendum and some of the reports we’ve had, in the last 10 days or so, have been nothing short of shocking and it feels a little bit like, after Brexit, the UK has regressed about 20 years in its fight to tackle hate, discrimination, harassment and prejudice.

It’s important to note, however, that we must recognise that ‘Leave’ voters are not now all racist and, similarly, ‘remain’ voters are not now all ageist – something that certain groups and areas of the media seem to be trying to imply and sensationalise.
Hate Crime is a massively underreported crime and I also want to stress that point right now too. However, calls to our Helpline, which can include specific reports of Hate Crime or calls from people affected or touched by the issues, looking for help, support and advice remain high.

This last weekend (Friday 1st July to Sunday 3rd July) saw around double the normal levels we would handle and, since the vote result was known, the volume of calls to our Helpline is up around 4 times the volume of an average similar period.

Obviously, it is what we are here to do, but it’s not a statistic we are particularly happy or proud to report and, like the recent comments and pledges from David Cameron, we too condemn all forms of hate and welcome the pledge of a new action plan from the Government.

One thing that has happened, which we are pleased to report, is that we are seeing increased numbers of people coming forward to show support for the various charities and organisations set up to tackle these issues and there’s a real sense of the public and various organisations coming together to present a united stance on Hate Crime.

I’d like to go on record to say we’ve witnessed this first hand and to personally thank all the people that have sent messages of support to Stop Hate UK, via calls, emails and social media. Your support, in any form, is much appreciated.

Our message remains constant, throughout the turmoil of the last week or two – when it comes to Hate Crime, please REPORT IT. Don’t think twice to do it or try to rationalise actions that are wholly unacceptable.

Whilst the protracted affairs take place in Westminster, we want to see our existing and prospective leaders try and calm the country down and set peoples’ minds at rest. Not least, the groups of non-British people and those perceived to be non-British, seeking reassurance that being forced out of the UK is absolute nonsense and diatribe of the worst order.

What we need to do now, most of all, is to address the concerns and fears of ALL groups, British or otherwise and make community cohesion and safety our united goal.

Let’s hope the next two weeks sees a sense of clarity and calmness descend into society, but I rather think there could be more storm before the calm.

Stop Hate UK Statement – The rise of Hate Crime incidences after Brexit

Last Thursday’s referendum vote marked an historic day, in terms of the UK’s political landscape – it was always going to, whatever the outcome.

However, I am now certain that, with the dust still far from settling, no one really anticipated what this particular outcome really meant for the UK, in terms of repercussions and ramifications upon society as a whole.

As the weekend has shown us, the turmoil is far-reaching, with claims, counter-claims, u-turns and a general feeling that, at present we are somewhat rudderless and those that need to be our inspirational rocks are left floundering.

Sadly but, perhaps, not surprisingly, the UK’s immigration issue was probably at the forefront of many voter’s minds, given the type of campaigns run by the two main groups involved in the weeks and months leading up to the vote. To an extent, this was probably inevitable, given that immigration is such a sensitive, emotive and divisive issue in current times.

However, since last week’s vote, we have seen some alarming stories, across social media and in the press, where some people who are perceived to be non-British, are being verbally abused and, in certain cases being shouted at in the street that it was time for them to ‘pack up and go home’ or some having leaflets pushed through their letterboxes echoing similar sentiments.

Even more alarming is that such abuse and hostility is also being directed towards schoolchildren in the classroom and playground – a place they should feel absolutely safe.

Obviously, this is wholly unacceptable and perpetrators should be brought to justice.

Stop Hate UK has also spent time, since the vote was known, talking to people who are representative of the people in question and it’s very sad to hear them talk about no longer feeling safe in the UK and feeling isolated, vulnerable and genuinely scared to be here.

The vote on Thursday should not be seen and used, as a vehicle to engender Hate. This country, helped by many agencies and charities, such as Stop Hate UK, has worked tirelessly, to try to stamp out Hate Crime, in all its many and complex forms and we feel very strongly that, somehow, certain segments of the public now feel that the Brexit vote means that wholly inappropriate views and offensive language can now be used freely and without consequence and provides an excuse for xenophobic attacks.

The reported events of the weekend are, of course, extremely worrying and we must act quickly to ensure that the message to anyone affected by this is one of reassurance, empathy and determination to allay any fears they might currently have.

Therefore, Stop Hate UK echoes the many calls, from the likes of London Mayor Sadiq Khan and other leading politicians and councillors, not to tolerate such incidences of Hate Crime and to report them immediately to the police, via the Stop Hate UK helpline 0800 138 1625 or other local Hate Crime service.

Rose Simkins

Chief Executive – Stop Hate UK