On 17th of June, young people from all over Estonia and Europe, who wanted to know more about the topic of hate speech and take real steps to reduce hostility, gathered in Tartu. The international interactive youth event “Active young people taking action against hate speech – possible or not?” was also a part of the Estonian Human Rights Centre’s and its international partner’s two-year project “Active European Citizens Against Hate Speech“.
The main goal of the event was to explain the impact of hate speech on European solidarity, democracy, the protection of minorities and also on the well-being of young people themselves. At the beginning of the day, the facilitators Heili Griffith and Kelly Grossthal gave a thorough overview of the topic and in addition to the theoretical side, participants also shared their own experiences. For example, we learned that hate speech against the Roma people is a concern both in Slovakia and the UK, while in Germany and Estonia people with an immigration background are the ones the hate is directed towards. In Spain, on the other hand, Ukrainians have been welcomed almost unanimously, but for immigrants from certain countries stereotypes are persistent to disappear.
In the seminar’s workshops, young participants came up with suggestions and proposals for both young people and politicians:
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
- Dear young people, if you happen to notice hostility and hate, don’t be afraid, please intervene!
- Listen to and be considerate about minorities’ standpoints, think about the consequences of hate speech for them.
- Check the facts and remember that everything that is published, may not always be true.
- Words have power, use them wisely.
- Although hate speech could be eliminated, it does not eliminate people’s thoughts and feelings – think about the things you contribute to and what are the consequences of hate speech to others.
- Make sure you know the difference between freedom of expression and hate speech.
- Contribute to bring awareness to the problem of hate speech and its consequences.
- In case you notice hate speech on social media, report immediately!
- Don’t forget that hate speech is often the first step to restrict the rights of minorities. We have enough examples from history, where hate speech was a tool for conducting genocide.
FOR POLITICIANS AND POLICY MAKERS
- Include and listen to minorities more, they know best what is best for them. Invite them also into politics and offer them jobs in the public sector.
- Stop demonizing and exploiting minorities!
- Adopt and apply conventions and other international agreements that convey the rights of women and the LGBT+ community.
- Human rights education is really important, please allocate resources for it.
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