On March 21, progressive sections across the world observed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This year, the day against racism was observed worldwide under the theme “Youth standing up against racism”. The day has been observed since 1966, under the call of the United Nations General Assembly to fight to eliminate all forms of racism. It was established to honor the 69 apartheid protesters killed by police on March 21, 1960 in Sharpeville, South Africa. Youth groups across Europe marked this year’s anti-racism day by mobilizations and statements highlighting the spike in racism and problems faced by refugees and migrants in Europe.
Progressive organizations of the Republic of Cyprus organized a dynamic anti-racist, anti-fascist mobilization on March 21 at Freedom Square, Nicosia. The event was led by the activists from the United Democratic Youth Organisation (EDON). The general Secretary of the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL), A.Kyprianou, addressed the gathering.
In his speech, Kyprianou called on the Anastasiades-DISY Government in Cyprus to fully acknowledge that migrants and refugees are people, and to realize that it must fulfill its duty towards them. “The government should be held to account about where the 100 million plus European funds given to Cyprus to host refugees went”, he added.
In the French city of Lyon, organizations demonstrated in front of the National Popular Theatre, at Villeurbanne, demanding to ensure rights for refugees, immigrants and for the closure of detention centres. The protesters demanded justice for the victims of racial violence and called for repealing of the repressive global security bill and racist bill on anti-radicalism. The call for the mobilisation was given by Collectif Sans Papiers and organizations including Young Communists (JC) of Lyon participated in the protests. They also condemned the imperialist wars which continue to make millions of refugees across Asia and Africa.
In Belgium, mobilizations were organized in 14 cities including Liège, Antwerp,Brussels, Ghent, Charleroi, Genk, Ostend etc. Activists from the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) and its youth/students wing; RedFox and Comac participated in the protests. Peter Mertens, president of the Workers Party was present in the mobilizations in Brussels.
The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) has stated that “in recent times, there has been an upsurge of protests against racism all over the world. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of the US repressive apparatus and the growth of protests under the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ all over the world are some of many examples of this.”
“The international anti-imperialist youth must confront any kind of social inequality and discrimination and stress out the true reasons that drive the people towards such perceptions and behaviors, thus fighting to eradicate every exploitation and each one of its manifestations,” added WFDY.
Last year, the killing of 46-year-old African American, George Floyd, by police officers in Minneapolis on May 25, triggered massive and widespread protests within the US and across the world. Justice For George Floyd protests also resulted in increased awareness about the systematic racism in society and the necessity to counter the far-right.