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Press Release: European Action Week Against Racism – “Strength in Diversity”

UNITED Press Release 18-03-2016

Strength in Diversity!
European Action Week Against Racism – 12-21 March 2016

Diversity gives so much to European societies. In every part of our continent, people of different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds work together to build communities, deliver services and improve each other’s lives. It seems clear that diversity is an integral part of Europe.

And yet, many people view diversity as a threat. Fuelled by the multiple crises facing Europe, political rhetoric and public discourse on subjects such as migration and the treatment of minorities has reached ugly depths that have not been seen since the tragedy of the Second World War. It is now more important than ever to take action to stand up for diversity and defend the common European values of respect for human rights and human dignity.

We must make sure that hope overcomes fear by sending a powerful message and reminding Europe that there is Strength in Diversity.

Every year, UNITED coordinates the European Action Week Against Racism around 21 March. For ten days, activists, NGOs, universities, schools, municipalities and a wide variety of different organisations carry out hundreds of activities all around Europe in order to challenge racism, discrimination and intolerance, and promote an inclusive, diverse vision of Europe.

In this year’s European Action Week Against Racism hundreds of actions are being organised by grassroots organisations and different groups in over 40 countries. In many countries the campaign has become a nation-wide event. Through these activities, hundreds of thousands of people speak out against racism, discrimination, intolerance and for diversity. With the encouragement and support of the UNITED secretariat, major cities around Europe have also joined the campaign, speaking out against racism by supporting and organising local activities, and displaying campaign materials in public spaces. Many city representatives have also joined on behalf of their cities, providing photos and comments to show the Strength in Diversity of their cities. Cities that have already joined include Berlin, Lisbon and Dublin – and there is still time to encourage your city government to join the campaign.

For this year’s campaign, UNITED is has also organised a special poster competition! Check out our online gallery of entries for inspiring images of the Strength in Diversity all around Europe, and stay tuned on social media for announcement of the winners on 21 March. If you are in Budapest, you can also see some of the best entries presented at a special event on 21 March at Aurora, co-organised by UNITED alongside our network organisations Foundation for Subjective Values and Migszol.

To get more information on the Action Week 2016 like the campaign on Facebook, follow UNITED on Twitter, check out our hashtag #StrengthInDiversity and check the website to see where you can JOIN an activity.

Change the Situation In Europe

Today, antiracist and human rights activists are presented with an extremely difficult and complex situation in Europe: the ongoing arrival of large numbers of refugees and migrants at the European borders, financial and political instability of many European states and the European Union, frosty diplomatic relations between certain European countries, and the aftermath of several horrific terrorist attacks in Europe last year. In such an environment, it is easy for populist politicians and far-right activists to promote a narrative in which refugees, migrants and minorities are a danger to European people, the answer to which is to close the borders and treat all social outsiders with suspicion. It is vital that we confront this narrative, and act against hate and intolerance and in favour of a diverse, tolerant and inclusive Europe.

We, the European antiracist movement, must remind the people of Europe that the answer to the problems facing our continent is solidarity – not division.

Through its Europe-wide campaigning initiatives, by brining the antiracist movement together for meetings and conferences, and by advocating for the movement at high-level European institutions, UNITED ensures that there is a platform for Europe-wide activism against racism and intolerance and in favour of diversity and inclusiveness.

Why 21 March?

On 21 March 1960, 69 anti-apartheid demonstrators were brutally murdered in Sharpeville, South Africa, in an event that became known as the Sharpeville Massacre. Apartheid was a legal system of systematic racial segregation and inequality enforced by the government of South Africa from 1948 to 1990. Since 1966, the United Nations has officially recognised 21 March as the International Day for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the declaration of this International Day.

UNITED for Intercultural Action

The campaign is coordinated by UNITED for Intercultural Action – the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees. Within the UNITED network more than 550 organisations from a wide variety of backgrounds, from 48 European countries, work together in common activities and projects. As well as coordinating the European Action Week Against Racism, UNITED coordinates a campaign for the International Day Against Fascism and Antisemitism on 9 November, monitors deaths due to European border policies, and brings together the European antiracist movement for two annual conferences. The next UNITED conference “Moving Stories: Narratives of Migration Crossing Europe” will take place in Torino, Italy, from 22-27 April 2016.

Press material:

Map of Activities: http://weekagainstracism.eu/activity-map/
City representatives who joined the campaign: http://weekagainstracism.eu/cities/
Poster competition gallery: http://weekagainstracism.eu/poster-competition/poster-competition-gallery/
Follow and like the European Week Against Racism on Facebook UnitedActionWeek
Campaign material: http://weekagainstracism.eu/about/campaign-materials/
UNITED website: http://www.unitedagainstracism.org

For further information contact:

Email: 21March@unitedagainstracism.org
Phone +31-20-6834778 – fax +31-20-6834582
Website: WeekAgainstRacism.eu
Facebook: UnitedActionWeek
Twitter: @UNITED__Network, #StrengthInDiversity