Anti-Romani Hate Speech on National Television
03 April 2006
In an interview posted by the Dzeno Association on 29 November 2005, Mr Nicolas Kalinin, head of the Belarussian Roma Lawyers Group reported the broadcasting of a discriminatory documentary entitled "The Tabor Is Living for the Zone" ["zone" is the popular name of labour camps and similar penal colonies in Russian]. The Belarussian government TV channel ONT broadcast the documentary during November 2005. Kalinin believed that the director of the film, Mr Victor Chamkovsky, intended to present negative perceptions in his representation of Roma to the public. The film pointedly suggested that all Romani people in Belarus are criminals and all Romani children are involved in drug trafficking from childhood on, according to Mr Kalinin, and the director declares that all Roma are enemies of the law. Mr Kalinin testified that that Chamkovsky's attempts to incite racial hatred of Roma have not only been successful, but have exceeded expectations.
The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) bans such propaganda in Article 4 which states that state parties must "condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form" and "declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination." Belarus ratified the ICERD on 8 April 1969.
On 17 November 2005, the Belarusian Roma Lawyers Group reportedly prepared a reference to the Head of the Committee on Affairs of Religion and Nationalities, and to the Chairman of the Commission of Human Rights in the parliament of Belarus, in which they asked the authorities to prosecute the authors of the film.
(Dzeno Association, ERRC)