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Flashmob in support of Romani teen Mitko beaten by a racist spread all over the world (updated)
Mitko is a symbol of the struggle for Roma rights in EuropePhoto by ERRC
Mitko is a symbol of the struggle for Roma rights in Europe

This weekend in Bulgaria the 17-year-old Romani teen Mitko was severely beaten by a bully. The cause of aggression by the 24-year-old Angel Kaleev was only that Mitko dared to say that they were equal. The bully filmed his attack on his own camera and on April 19 uploaded the video* on Facebook. Users began to protect Mitko and launched an online campaign in his support. 

The attack took place in the village Ovchepoltsi near the town of Pazardzhika. Enraged Kaleev first punched Mitko in his face and then having got extremely violent he knocked the teen down and kept beating him.

Mitko told the Bulgarian media that the attacker had approached him when he was returning from the market and asked: "What would happen if you would hit me?" Mitko replied that it was impossible.

“After that he asked me what will happen if I don’t hit him, I told him that we are equal after which he started hitting me”, said Mitko.


The video shows that the guy was not aggressive, he answered good-naturedly.

But Kaleev started hitting Mitko, knocking him to the ground and saying "Did you tell me that I am a Gipsy?" Few hours later Kleev met Mitko again, but this time the boy managed to escape.

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The Detainee Angel Kaleev. Photo by revolution-news.com.

Police arrested Kaleev and detained him for 72 hours. However, he insisted he didn't regret his actions. Pre-trial proceedings were opened against the guy for infliction of light bodily injuries and violent attack on a minor.

"Such attacks against the Roma happen all the time."

Đorđe Jovanović, President of European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), headquartered in Budapest, Hungary, said that attacks such as this one happen all the time.


“In most cases we simply have no evidence to prove the people who don't trust us when we warn the public that Roma suffer not only the attacks, but systematic discrimination. In countries such as Hungary, Czech Republic and Bulgaria, Roma kids are segregrated in classrooms, just because they have different skin color”, told Jovanović Revolution News.

He said that the European court of human rights issued a verdict against this division, but these decisions are not implemented in many countries. The human rights activist hopes that the Bulgarian authorities will make adequate punishment for the attack on Mitko.

“Attacker was arrested, but the prosecutor did not indict him for a hate crime, only for physical assault. It is obvious from their conversation recorded on the video that this is a hate crime. This attack is ‘special’ because Mitko only said that they are equal, and that was what provoked him to attack”, said Jovanović.

Social media responded with the solidarity action

The news about beating Mitko quickly found a response among the users of social network services. In particular on Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag #RomaAreEqual people started commenting and posting photos in solidarity with the teenager.

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Twitter Users. Photo: twitter.com

Here are just a few comments on Twitter:

"The amount of hatred and prejudice against the Roma in 2016 is shameful. #RomaAreEqual and deserve better."

"Mitko is a young Bulgarian Roma. He was brutally beaten, just because he said that # #RomaAreEqual. Support Mitko!"

"#RomaAreEqual - you need the courage to stand against racism. Support Mitko".

"We all are standing with Mitko. Solidarity is more important than ever. Justice, equality and law! #RomaAreEqual"

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The employee of The FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, Boston. Photo: Facebook.

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The user of Facebook Sead Kazanxhiu installed the campaign hashtag in the sculptural composition devoted to the First World Congress of Roma in London in 1971. Photo: Facebook.

Ukraine supports Mitko

Activists of Ukraine also joined the flashmob. Employees of Roma Women's Fund "Chirikli", IRC "Legal Space", Roma Initiative Program of International Renaissance Foundation, Roma NGOs, human rights defenders, experts, mediators, young Roma – participants of the II all-Ukrainian human rights school for young activists of the Roma communities and others placed the photo with #RomaAreEqual on their pages.

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The Director of Chiriklo Romani Radio Fedor Kondur. Photo: Fedor Kondur’s Facebook.

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Left to right: President of the Roma Women's Fund "Chirikli" Julia Kondur, the journalist, presenter of Chiriklo Romani Radio Iryna Tkachenko and the editor of Chiriklo Romani Radio Natalia Zinevich. Photo: Facebook group "Protection of Roma Rights".

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The team of the Legal Space web portal. Photo by legalspace.org

 

"I am joining the international campaign against racism, which recently was experienced by Mitko," - wrote on his Facebook the journalist, head of NGO “Romani Cherhen" Myroslav Horvat.

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Left to right: expert Stefan Muller, human rights activist Mykola Chernyavsky, Director of the Roma Program Initiative of International Renaissance Foundation Olga Zhmurko, human rights defenders Eduard Pukaluk and Andriy Panchenko. Photo: Facebook community "Protection of Roma Rights".

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Left to right: expert Stefan Muller, human rights activist Mykola Chernyavsky, Director of the Roma Program Initiative of International Renaissance Foundation Olga Zhmurko, human rights defenders Eduard Pukaluk and Andriy Panchenko. Photo: Facebook community "Protection of Roma Rights".

*Video in the app.

**The full letter in pdf format in English attached.

More photos in the gallery to the article.

Based on materials from  revolution-news.com and trud.bg

 

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