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International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

21 Mar 2017

Attacks against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are unacceptable

On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Congress Global Solidarity Committee calls for a strong response to racist and xenophobic attacks against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, and calls on government to uphold their international obligations in this regard. 

Across Europe, there has been a marked increase in such attacks. Hate speech rooted in hostility to ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity is being expressed more openly, not only by extremist groups but also by politicians from across the political spectrum and on social media. 

“We know that millions of workers around the world are suffering from discrimination based on colour, cultural difference and ethnic or national origin, and as a result are prey to racism, xenophobia, intolerance and ethnic and religious conflict, both in the world of work and society. “ said Mags O'Brien, Committee Chair.

Trade Unions are playing a leading role in defending and protecting the rights of those affected by direct or indirect racism and xenophobia by raising awareness and dismantling the structures underlying racism and emphasising the positive contribution that migrants make to our society and should be highly valued. 

On this day we reaffirm our commitment to the core values of trade unionism - and the fundamental rights of equality and non-discrimination in our workplaces and societies. We have a duty to condemn hate crimes and all other manifestations of racism and xenophobia, respond swiftly to intolerant behaviour, and to counter hate speech in the messages we deliver.

Background note: The United Nations designated 21 March the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1966, in memory of the 69 people killed six years earlier in Sharpeville, South Africa, during a peaceful demonstration to protest the apartheid system.  

An anti racism message is also included in "The Europe we want" a message by civil society organisations across Europe.