As Kristallnacht Is Remembered, Antisemitic Violence Still Rising in Europe

For Immediate Release

As Kristallnacht Is Remembered, Antisemitic Violence Still Rising in Europe

NEW YORK - Tad Stahnke, Director of Human Rights First's Fighting Discrimination Program and co-author of the group's recent 2008 Hate Crimes Survey, released the following statement commemorating the 70th
anniversary of Kristallnacht, a date being marked as antisemitism and
other forms of violent hate crime are on the rise across Europe and North America.

"We
join with others around the world in remembering the tragic events of
Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass," seventy years ago. On that
night alone, more than two hundred synagogues were destroyed, many
dozens of Jews were murdered and thousands arrested and sent to
concentration camps.

Kristallnacht
served as a prelude to the Holocaust, in which the Nazi regime
systematically exterminated six million Jews. Thousands of others -
including Slavs, Roma, religious minorities, sexual minorities, and
disabled persons - were also brutally slaughtered en masse as a result
of government-led antisemitic, racist, xenophobic, antireligious and
antigay policies. The anniversary of Kristallnacht reminds us of the
vigilance necessary still to ensure that such horrific incidents do not
occur in the future.

Europe
has changed dramatically in the past 70 years, yet millions of Jews and
other minorities continue to face the threat of personal violence
motivated by racist, antisemitic and other biases. Antisemitic and
other forms of violent hate crime are on the rise, reflecting an
increase in xenophobic attitudes across Europe and North America, a
revival of antisemitism, and a continuation of prejudice against
Muslims, Roma, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
persons. Direct government policies are no longer the driving force
behind this violence, but governments are largely failing to live up to
their commitments in preventing and combating bias-motivated attacks.

On
this anniversary of Kristallnacht, we urge European and North American
governments to implement sound policies to combat antisemitic and other
violent hate crimes, by condemning violent hate crimes whenever they
occur, ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable for their
crimes, investing in police and prosecutorial training, instituting
systems of monitoring, data collection, and public reporting, and
strengthening criminal laws to cover all forms of bias-motivated
violence."

RISING HATE CRIMES ACROSS EUROPE, NORTH AMERICA

Human Rights First's 2008 Hate Crime Survey,
released in September, showed that most governments have failed to
establish systems to monitor and publicly report on hate crimes and to
implement hate crime laws. More than 40 states among the 56 surveyed do
not collect and publish data on violent hate crimes. At the same time,
the problem is growing in many countries across the region, evidenced
by the findings of the Survey:

  • Racially motivated violence in Russia rose 17.4 percent from 2006 to 2007, while racially motivated murders increased 36.5 percent.
  • The number of violent antisemitic assaults in the United Kingdom rose dramatically last year, making 2007 the worst year on record since monitoring began in 1984.
  • Incidents of violence against LGBT people in the United States rose 24 percent in 2007.
  • Despite ample evidence of acts of violence targeting Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims across Europe and North America,
    only five of the 56 member states of the Organization for Security and
    Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) governments publicly report on such
    incidents.

Some key findings of the 2008 Hate Crime Survey pertaining to antisemitism are summarized in the Fact Sheet on Antisemitic Violence,
which draws attention to the rise in such violence -manifested in the
form of personal assaults on Jews and incidents of arson and attacks
targeting Jewish cemeteries and synagogues - as well as the inadequate
government response.

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