Friday, March 25, 2011

OSCE Human Rights Meeting Takes Sweden to Task

Malmö Police Refuse to Allow Use of Security Cameras
At a recent Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting the Simon Wiesenthal Center presented its findings and suggested corrective measures on the situation in Malmö, which SWC has been tracking for some time. SWC’s Shimon Samuels, a permanent representative at the 56-state organization, attended the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institution and Human Rights (ODIHR) High Level Meeting on “Confronting Anti-Semitism in Public Discourse”.
 In a press release the SWC notes it has characterized Malmö as “A case-study of chronic anti-Semitism”. With an eye to the worsening situation in Malmö, the SWC issued a travel warning in December 2010 urging extreme caution for Jews visiting Malmö.  The travel warning was issued only after repeated appeals to the Mayor and authorities were met with inaction and often scorn on the part of Malmö’s mayor Ilmar Reepalu (Social Democrat). 
Readers of SIJ are familiar with the Malmö’s failure to provide protection to the city’s Jews, and rising rates of hate crime. As listed by the SWC, grievances include police failure to prosecute cases of  violent attacks in the street, no police protection for Jewish freedom of assembly, anti-Semitic diatribes by Mayor Reepalu which further inflame the situation, and the resultant “Jew tax”—meaning that the community must pay exorbitant security fees out of its own pocket.
The most shocking new point in the press release is that the Malmö police refused to issue the necessary permits to install security cameras:
“During our one week fact-finding mission, we met with Jewish, Muslim and Roma leaders who all concurred that the municipality, the police and the State were obfuscating their responsibility to protect their citizens. Even security camera permits, for community institutions at risk, have been denied as a violation of privacy.”
Let’s be clear:  it’s not about privacy. (Anyone who opens up a Swedish paper to the photos in the bars or follows Julian Assange’s “rape” case can see that Swedish privacy is nearly nil.) “Privacy” here means either protecting elites—not exposing the Queen’s father’s Nazi  past—or not creating evidence which the authorities will have to act on. Actionable events create statistics, and in the la-la-land of Sweden where the government funds the media, if your stats look good, life is good.  So, denying camera permits means you can ignore what’s happening.  That’s why when Malmö’s rabbi files complaints because he is assaulted in the street, the police can barely be bothered to record a complaint, let alone pursue the attackers.
We urge Malmö’s authorities and the Swedish government to act on the SWC’s reasonable suggestions for improving community relations and for the police to assume responsibility for security for the Jewish community and all minorities. A wastebasket for complaints is not city management—current policy is endangering lives and denying basic human rights.
By Chanah Shapira

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