TV & Radio
Gay Pride Events in Moscow Erupts in Violence: Moscow Militia Fails to Ensure
Detailed account of the events by ILGA-Europe
On 27 May 2006 at the press-conference by the Moscow Pride organisers and
guests, it was announced that there will be no parade, but instead two separate
actions will take place. Nicolas Alexeyev called for the members of the Moscow
LGBT community and guests individually to come to the Tomb of the Unknown
Soldier, a monument against fascism right next to the Kremlin walls in the
Alexander Garden, to lay flowers at 14:30. Then later at 15:00 the community
and guests were invited to gather around the monument to an ancient Russian
ruler Iuriy Dolgorukii right across from the Moscow City Hall on Tverskaya
Street, a five minutes walk from the Tomb.
Tells one of the guests of honour of Moscow pride, the nephew of Oscar Wilde Mr.
Merlin Holland: “We were in the car of a German TV station, driving around the
place where we were supposed to lay flowers: I, Nicolas Alexeyev, Peter
Thatchell and a couple of other people. At 14:25 we got out of the car and
started to walk with flowers towards the garden. The three of us, Nicolas,
myself and Ed Murzin [LGBT-friendly parliamentarian from Bashkortostan, an
autonomous republic in Russia] were walking towards the gates, which were
closed. There were journalists with cameras who started to come around. They
were 4-5 meters away from the gates [to the Alexander Garden], and suddenly
everything became closed in, it became very squashed, and then Orthodox
chanting started. We were sort of protected by the cameras, and beyond
journalists neo-nazis were standing. Everyone was coming closer and closer, the
circle became very small. The police came into the circle from the outside,
pushed through to join the people at the gates, and then started to push
everybody back. Then we were all pushed back, and I was still with Nicolas. At
that point the OMON [special police forces] managed to separate off Nicolas
from Ed Murzin and myself. Nicolas was dragged into the van by OMON. I was
totally oblivious of the hatred at that stage, all the hate chanting. The sheer
hate of these people was horrifying. And then I went out into the square and
found Peter Thatchell, who said: “One thing we have to do is keep together,
don’t wonder off to see what happens, let’s stay together. If we stick
together, on the bad side they will recognize you as a group. But on the good
side they will be less able to take one person and beat up. So we stuck
together, and the police separated off all the neo-fascist groups. Then there
was a pause of about 10 minutes, the neo-fascists re-assembled and looked as if
they were going to cause more trouble. People started to head towards Tverskaya
Str., and somebody (a woman) recognized me and threw an egg at me. And then at
the beginning of Tverskaya str. cross with Okhotny ryad neo-nazis fired flares
in the air, there was smoke after that. That created a diversion, and so we were
able to move on. At that point Robert [Wintemute, human rights professor at the
King’s College of London] and I realized that people were going up Tverskaya
str. It was a Saturday afternoon, and there were so many violent people on the
main street of Moscow! And then Sophie [In’t Veld, MEP] and Laetitia [Sophie’s
assistant] joined us. I felt something personally as a non-gay person, how gays
feel. I am leaving the country tomorrow, but people are staying. What is their
life going to be like? The tragedy is that you can’t fight this with reason.
You are dealing with people whose only means of communication is violence.”
In total there were around 30-40 pride event participants at the gates to the
Alexander Garden, mostly foreigners, and anywhere between 200-300 extremist
opponents, and according to the local news reports, over 1,000 OMON to ensure
public order. Pride participants, Russian Orthodox extremists and nationalists
were dragged by OMON into special buses and taken to the police station. No
difference was made by the police between pride participants and opponents in
the way people were treated. The extremists were chanting Orthodox songs,
sprinkling ‘holy’ water, throwing eggs and potatoes at pride participants. They
were shouting “Moscow is not Sodom”, “No Faggots in Russia”, “Clean Moscow for
Russians”, etc. A number of people were detained right away, including Nicolai
Alexeev. The advisor to the mayor of Paris Philippe Lasnier was also dragged to
Around 14:50 people started to move towards Tverskaya Street a mixture of pride
participants and neo-nazis started to move towards the monument to Iuriy
Dolgorukii. Very few LGBT people made it. German parliamentarian Volker Beck
was attacked, his face bleeding, and then dragged together with his French
partner by OMON to a special bus. There were at least 50 journalists with
cameras waiting at the monument, but there was no one there to address them on
behalf of the community. Then out of nowhere appeared Russian parliamentarian
Nicolai Kurianovich from the Liberal Democrats Party of Russia, who addressed
the journalists by saying that the parade is a provocation from the West, that
there is no place to sodomites in Russia and it is the start of a campaign for
a ‘clean’ Russia. When journalists asked whom else he plans to clean Russia
from, he could not come up with an answer. The parliamentarian and some of his
supporters started to chant “No sodomites in Russia”, and then Evgenya
Debryanskaya, one of the pride organizers and the first lesbian activists in
the USSR back in the end of the 80’s, appeared and journalists turned towards
her. She spoke only for a couple of minutes, and then someone from the crowd
sprinkled soda at her, and she was roughly dragged by OMON into a bus, at some
point on the way finding herself on the pavement with her face down. Mr.
Kurianovich, and an Orthodox priest with crosses and icons in his hands, who
made his appearance a bit later, continued to give interviews to the
journalists and gather crowds around them. Things continued to be even more
chaotic, and the police started to push people away from the monument. More
people were dragged into the OMON buses, mostly neo-nazis. Two Russian
journalists, from Russian TV channel RTVI and the Russian edition of Newsweek
were beaten and taken to the militia stations. The parade participants were
pushed away from the square next to the monument and the street towards the
crowds of skinheads. The latter were approaching LGBT people and supporters,
shouting right in their face “Faggots, go away from Russia”, and the police
standing right there was just watching and only interfering after the acts of
violence occurred, not to prevent them.
After the picket was dispersed, hundreds of skinheads and Russian Orthodox
extremists were running around the Tverskaya Str. in groups of 10-15 tracing
down and beating up anyone who looked “LGBT” or was a foreigner. Local reports
say that around that time two black men were severely beaten on Tverskaya Str.
despite not having anything to do with the pride. ILGA-Europe board members
Pierre Serne (France) and Kurt Krickler (Austria) were already after the public
events traced down by groups of skinheads and beaten. Pierre was not
hospitalised, but has haematomas almost everywhere, his face is bruised and one
of his legs badly hurt. Kurt has a haematomas on his eye.
All pride participants detained were released the same day from the militia
station. No reports of ill-treatment at the militia stations were received.
Russian TV channels and some news agencies covered the events in a rather
negative way, ridiculing the parade.
The events clearly illustrate that the problem is the opponents. There are a
small number of peaceful demonstrators, attacked by hundreds of aggressive
opponents. The official position of the city of Moscow is that peaceful LGBT
demonstrations are not allowed, because they say the don’t have enough militia
to provide security (they said there are only 400 militia officers in Moscow in
the court on Thursday), secondly they did provide security for an anti-fascist
march in December 2005, and the Moscow pride was to take exactly the same
route, but that march was supported by the majority population. These according
to Robert Wintemute are the two reasons given in the court by the city of
Moscow, which are not valid justifications before the European CHR. Art. 11
specifically protects unpopular demonstrations and political opinions. If the
fact that it is unpopular means that it attracts violent opponents, it is the
duty of the state to provide protection. The problems we saw today were a
result of the lack of preparations. If the city of Moscow had agreed to the
demonstration, then it could’ve been properly protected. But because they
refused, the Moscow pride participants insisted on their “article 11” right,
the police was prepared to deal with the opponents, but not at any one
location, because there was no one designated location. But because there were
two unofficial events separated and people moving between the two places, the
police were dealing with specific incidents they came across, but any LGBT
participant not close to the police had no protection. Walking up Tverskaya
Str., and the gang of extremists kicked Merlin Holland, and there was no police
around. Whatever route was approved could’ve been more easily protected, so the
police could check the safety when the parade is starting and after it ends.
Otherwise the territory to be protected was too wide to be protected. The
police was not making a difference between pride participants and extremists,
all of them were pushed off the main places of events as one crowd. The police
could not make the difference partly because there were no distinctions on LGBT
Sophie In’t Veld, member of the European Parliament form the Netherlands (D66),
who came to Moscow to support the pride and was part of the street events,
said: “I will make all in my power to make sure that the European Union and the
Council of Europe put pressure on the Russian government for what has happened.
It is unacceptable that only on Thursday EU leaders have met with Mr. Putin for
the EU-Russia summit, and none of them have raised the issue of the banned
parade. The right for a peaceful manifestation is a basic human right. It is
not some sort of a Western value. Everyone in the world wants to leave in
peace, security, speak out for who they are and march down the streets
モスクワでのゲイプライドの集まりが暴力で制圧される (上記記事の日本語訳 by 細見由紀子)
Monday, May 29, 2006. Page 1.
Gay March Overwhelmed by Violent Protests
By Anastasiya Lebedev
Ultranationalists protesting the march, which drew about 100 activists, near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Activists attempting to hold the city's first-ever gay rights march Saturday were overwhelmed by militant Orthodox Christians and ultranationalists throwing smoke bombs.
A handful of activists were injured, including a German lawmaker. The Bundestag member, his face streaked with blood, was detained by police.
Pedestrian movement was blocked for a few hours as riot police cordoned off the square around the monument to Prince Yury Dolgoruky. And traffic on Tverskaya Ulitsa was briefly stopped when smoke bombs -- resembling flares and emitting large plumes of smoke -- were thrown at the intersection at the base of the street, across from the Kremlin.
More than 100 gay rights activists and some of their most vocal foes were arrested by police. Mayor Yury Luzhkov had banned the parade, and on Friday a city court upheld the ban.
Among the first to be arrested were Nikolai Alexeyev, the march's chief organizer, and Philippe Lasnier, an aide to the mayor of Paris. Alexeyev spent the day in custody; Lasnier was briefly detained.
Alexeyev said Sunday that the event had been a great success, despite the low turnout. "A hundred people were not afraid to go out and protest homophobia and fascism," he said.
One French observer at Saturday's event said police had detained the German lawmaker, Green Party member Volker Beck, to prevent him from being further pummeled.
Several hundred ultranationalists descended on central Moscow to protest the march. Some of them wore camouflage. Others sported facemasks or hid their faces in their shirt collars.
Organizers had hoped the parade would be the capstone of a two-day conference bringing together gays and lesbians from Russia, Europe and the United States.
The conference, called Moscow Pride '06, was described as disorganized by gay web sites not affiliated with the event, which included a lecture given by Merlin Holland, grandson of Oscar Wilde. The British author, widely known to have been gay, was convicted of gross indecency in 1895 and sentenced to two years of hard labor.
Organizers of Saturday's march had called for gays and lesbians to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and then walk up Tverskaya and gather at the monument to Prince Yury Dolgoruky, which faces City Hall, to picket the ban. The time and place of the march were announced just hours before the event.
But police blocked the entrance to the Alexander Gardens, where the tomb is located.
When the marchers arrived at the gated entranceway to the garden, they were met by women holding icons and wearing long skirts and headscarves. A small group of men in Cossack dress was on hand to protest the march, among others.
A police officer escorting Alexeyev from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
As the activists laid their flowers at the gate, protesters stomped on them and threw eggs and tomatoes at the activists. And as the protesters' chants -- "Death to fags!" and "Fags out of Russia!" -- grew louder, and as the tenor of the confrontation grew uglier, OMON riot police formed a chain to pry the crowd away from the gate.
The icon-bearing women added to the chorus, chanting "Moscow is not Sodom." Many sang psalms, mostly from the traditional Easter service.
One woman protesting the march accused police officers who were attempting to contain the mob of siding with homosexuals, prompting one officer to point to the cross around his neck.
Conference participants, most of them foreigners, observed the goings-on with concern and confusion. A couple stood under rainbow-colored umbrellas. The six-color rainbow is an international gay and lesbian symbol that apparently was not recognized by protesters, who did not attack people holding the umbrellas.
After the confrontation at the entrance to the Alexander Gardens, some parade organizers began moving up Tverskaya toward the monument. The parade's protesters walked in that direction, too.
The steps of the monument had been occupied by a large swarm of ultranationalists, including Alexander Belov, head of the Movement Against Illegal Immigrants, and Konstantin Krylov, head of the Russian Public Movement.
State Duma Deputy Nikolai Kuryanovich, of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party, in a speech at the foot of the monument lashed out at the "gay mafia" for promoting ideals he called suited for "rotting America and dying Europe."
Kuryanovich also recalled that homosexuality was once a crime in Russia and defended the neo-Nazi salute. He then led the crowd in a chant of "Gays and lesbians to Kolyma," the notorious Soviet-era labor camp.
Riot police tried to block more people from gathering near the monument but did not make an attempt to interrupt Kuryanovich's speech.
Kuryanovich's web site offers condolences to the family and friends of Dmitry Borovikov, a founder of a violent extremist group killed by police in St. Petersburg earlier this month while resisting arrest.
A few gay rights activists eventually arrived at the monument but were unable to hold their rally.
Yevgenia Debryanskaya, a leader of the lesbian rights movement in Russia since the 1990s, tried to give a speech but was doused with water as protesters laughed at her. She was dragged away by police.
Alexeyev said participation would have been greater if the event had been permitted by authorities.
Organizers did not want to put a large number of people at risk by inviting them to take part, he said, so no notices were posted on gay-themed web sites and no mass mailings were conducted.
Beck, the German legislator, said he had hoped his presence and that of European Parliament member Sophie int Veld would force authorities to provide participants with protection.
On Friday, the Council of Europe issued a statement telling gay rights activists in Moscow that the council supported their struggle against homophobia and calling on local authorities to protect marchers.
Other gay rights activists present Saturday included Eduard Murzin, a deputy in Bashkortostan's regional legislature who tried unsuccessfully to register a gay marriage last year, and Paris Vice Mayor Clementine Autain. Murzin is straight.
A number of activists had opposed the parade and labeled Alexeyev a self-promoter who sought to use the event to build his own reputation at home and abroad.
Monday, May 29, 2006. Page 2.
Bigots Not Discriminating About Their Targets
By Anastasiya Lebedev
Beck standing with his face bleeding after being attacked by nationalists.
One of the victims of the violence that broke out at Saturday's aborted gay rights march had the misfortune of simply being the wrong color.
While walking down Tverskaya Ulitsa with a female companion, the dark-skinned man, who did not give his name, was attacked by ultranationalists looking for prey.
As he was overtaken by some of the mob, the man was knocked to the ground and punched and kicked. The young woman, a Russian, tried to shield him with her body.
An onlooker tried to tear away one of the attackers, and five or six of the assailants fled just before police officers arrived, ushering the man and woman, both in their twenties, into a squad car. None of the thugs who had attacked the man were detained.
What became clear at the march Saturday was that the ultranationalists, Orthodox Church protesters and other opponents of gay rights were not only fighting gay rights -- they were protesting anything they deemed un-Russian. Whether it was South Asians or Westerners or anyone who collided with their nostalgia for a closed, imperial Russia, everyone on "the outside" was a potential target.
One young man who only gave his first name, Alexei, happily admitted that he had taken part in the beating of a German lawmaker, Volker Beck.
"I punched him in the face myself because I'm a normal Russian guy," Alexei said, grinning.
Using a widespread Russian expression, Alexei said he and others came to protest the march to "combine the pleasant things with the useful things" -- hanging out with his friends while physically beating people he considers perverts.
Kirill Frolov, head of the Moscow chapter of the Orthodox Citizens' Union, passed out flyers to passersby saying that European officials involved in the march were seeking to instigate an Orange Revolution-style overthrow of the government in Russia. The flyers also said that the bird flu sweeping the globe was God's punishment for homosexuality.
Frolov added that the union had worked closely with law enforcement agencies.
Alexei Gozhgo, 19, marched with the Cossacks, who, he said, came from the Tula region. He said he opposed gays and lesbians because they would not do anything to boost Russia's shrinking population.
Not far away, on Tverskaya Ulitsa, two women holding hands voiced support for the display of gay solidarity.
"This is a necessary and effective action," one of the women, Yekaterina Shavyrina, said. "We're also a part of society."
Reuters - May 27 10:00 AM
Reuters - May 27 9:27 AM
モスクワでロシア初のゲイパレード中に１２０人拘束 (サンケイスポーツ 2006/05/29)
DIRELAND - MOSCOW POLICE ARREST GAY PRIDE LEADER AND 50-100 OTHERS TODAY AT BANNED MARCH
May 27, 2006
MOSCOW POLICE ARREST GAY PRIDE LEADER AND 50-100 OTHERS TODAY AT BANNED MARCH--Gay German MP Volker Beck, Oscar Wilde's Grandson, and Paris Mayor's Rep All Injured (Updated)
Web posted at: 19:38 JST
Moscou : Bertrand Delanoë condamne les violences contre la Gay Pride
Le maire de Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, a condamné "avec la plus extrême fermeté les incidents inacceptables qui ont émaillé la gay pride" interdite samedi à Moscou.
"Je tiens à condamner avec la plus extrême fermeté les incidents inacceptables qui ont émaillé la gay pride organisée ce jour à Moscou", a déclaré Bertrand Delanoë dans un communiqué.
Plus d'une centaine de personnes ont été interpellées par la police et des dizaines de militants de la cause homosexuelle violemment agressés par des skinheads samedi au cri de "Moscou n'est pas Sodome!" le jour où devait se tenir la Gay Pride interdite par la mairie.
"Il s'agit d'une atteinte grave au respect des droits de l'Homme et de chaque identité, contraire aux principes élémentaires d'une nation démocratique", a ajouté le maire de Paris.
Bertrand Delanoë a précisé qu'il avait veillé à exprimer son point de vue au maire de Moscou.
Mis en ligne le 28/05/06
Russie: heurts et arrestations pour une Gay Pride interdite à Moscou
[28 May 2006]
Plus d'une centaine de personnes ont été interpellées samedi par la police et des dizaines de militants de la cause homosexuelle agressés par des skinheads aux cris de "Moscou n'est pas Sodome!" le jour où devait se tenir une Gay Pride interdite par la mairie.
Le leader de l'organisation de défense des droits des homosexuels en Russie GayRussia, Nikolaï Alekseïev, a été interpellé avec plusieurs militants alors qu'il tentait d'approcher le Tombeau du soldat inconnu, au pied des murailles du Kremlin, pour y déposer des fleurs, a constaté une journaliste de l'AFP.
Ce geste était censé montrer un parallèle entre la lutte historique contre l'Allemagne nazie et la lutte pour les droits des homosexuels, alors que la mairie de Moscou avait interdit la tenue de la Gay Pride que la communauté homosexuelle russe voulait célébrer ce samedi.
Des militants américains, français, néerlandais et allemands étaient venus à Moscou pour soutenir les homosexuels russes et protester contre l'interdiction de la parade.
Volker Beck, un député allemand du Bundestag, a été frappé et avait le visage en sang.
Pierre Serne, un Vert français, et Merlin Holland, personnalité britannique qui est le petit-fils de l'écrivain Oscar Wilde, ont également été agressés. Philippe Lasnier, chargé de mission au cabinet du maire de Paris Bertrand Delanoë, a été brièvement interpellé par la police.
M. Delanoë a condamné "avec la plus extrême fermeté" les incidents survenus à Moscou, qu'il a jugés "inacceptables", dans un communiqué adressé à l'AFP à Paris.
Selon le maire socialiste, "il s'agit d'une atteinte grave au respect des droits de l'Homme et de chaque identité, contraire aux principes élémentaires d'une nation démocratique".
Clémentine Autain, adjointe au maire de Paris et militante féministe, s'est étonnée du peu d'empressement des forces de l'ordre à protéger les manifestants des attaques.
"Au moment où la Russie prend la présidence du Conseil de l'Europe, nous sommes inquiets, parce que les autorités russes ne font pas preuve de la volonté de respecter les droits de l'Homme, notamment les droits des minorités et la liberté d'expression", a-t-elle déclaré.
"L'entrée dans le parc (qui mène vers le tombeau du soldat inconnu) était fermée et il y avait une foule de gens à l'extérieur que l'on pourrait décrire comme des néo-fascistes", a raconté Robert Wintemute, un professeur du King's College de Londres, également présent.
"Il y a eu une rixe, les néo-fascistes se sont déchaînés. Ils ont frappé Merlin Holland à coups de pied. Je n'ai jamais vu ça," a ajouté M. Wintemute.
Les policiers moscovites assistés de plusieurs centaines d'hommes des troupes anti-émeutes se sont efforcés d'isoler les militants de la cause homosexuelle de leurs opposants, qui allaient de groupes de skinheads à des Cosaques en passant par des groupes extrémistes orthodoxes mêlant prêtres et vieilles femmes lançant des oeufs vers les manifestants.
Les attaques de bandes de skinheads envers les militants se sont produites aussi devant la mairie, où les militants avaient prévu de déposer une lettre de protestation contre l'interdiction de la parade.
Selon la police, plus d'une centaine de personnes ont été interpellées.
Le maire de Moscou Iouri Loujkov avait interdit la tenue de la parade homosexuelle, estimant qu'une telle manifestation était moralement "inadmissible". Cette décision a été confortée par un tribunal local.
Europe | 28.05.2006
German Politician Beaten By Russian Neo-Nazis
More than 70 people, including a German parliamentarian, were arrested in Moscow after Russian police, militant Orthodox Christians and right-wing extremists broke up a gay rights rally.
The parade to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia took place on Saturday despite being prohibited by authorities. Several people were injured during the clashes, among them German parliamentarian Volker Beck.
Volker Beck of Germany's Green party was one of the foreign activists who traveled to Moscow in support of the city's first-ever gay rights rally. And he was among those who gathered in the city center on Saturday even though authorities had banned the march.
The activists were soon surrounded by dozens of religious and nationalist extremists, who chanted anti-gay slogans and tried to break up the gathering. Police units then moved on the crowd. During the clashes that followed Volker Beck was punched in the face and slightly injured.
"I was attacked by a neo-Nazi. First with a stone then with a fist," he said. "This incident clearly shows that gays are not safe in this country. Police failed to protect us, they even prevented us from escaping, so we were exposed to the dangerous situation without any protection."
Intolerance from mayor
Following the turmoil, the German politician was detained and only released after authorities recognized his parliamentary credentials. Police also arrested gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseyev, the driving force behind the march, along with other demonstrators who attempted to lay flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just outside the Kremlin walls. Several protesters who tried to break up the gay rally were also being held.
City authorities had initially prohibited the first ever gay rights parade in Moscow, and that decision was upheld by a district court on Friday. Moscow's mayor Yuri Luzkhov had warned that the event would "provoke outrage in society" because homosexuality was "not natural." He also claimed that 99 percent of the people in Moscow were supportive of the ban.
Homosexuality was considered a crime in Russia until 1993 and a mental illness until 1999. Even today same-sex couples almost never make a public display of their affection. According to activists, discrimination is still a major problem in Russian society, with gays and lesbians facing widespread public intolerance.
Anja von Cysewski (ncy)
Moscow gay rights march meets with violence, police
Protesters show up to attack activists at banned event
- Michael Mainville, San Francisco Chronicle Foreign Service
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Moscow -- Defying an official ban and threats of violence, gay and lesbian activists attempted to hold Russia's first gay pride march in Moscow on Saturday, but were thwarted by police and neo-fascist protesters shouting "Moscow is not Sodom!"
Police arrested about 120 people, and several gay activists were injured in attacks by religious and xenophobic extremists.
The key organizer of the event, 28-year-old Nikolai Alexeyev, was pulled away by police only moments after the short-lived march began. "This is a great victory, an absolute victory -- look at what's happening," Alexeyev shouted as two police officers dragged him onto a waiting bus.
City authorities had banned the march, which they called an "outrage to society," while religious leaders from all of Russia's major faiths condemned it. It provoked a debate within the gay community over whether the demonstration risked inflaming already widespread homophobia in Russia.
But supporters had insisted it was necessary.
"We can't keep living in the shadows," Alexeyev said in an interview before the rally began. "We deserve the same rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly as anyone else."
Organizers had urged gay-rights supporters to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just outside the Kremlin wall, before marching to a square opposite Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's office. But when they arrived, they found that authorities had closed the entrance to the park where the tomb is located, and hundreds of riot police blocked their path.
More than 100 anti-gay protesters -- including skinheads, Russian nationalists and Orthodox Christian fundamentalists -- had gathered. Women wearing head scarves chanted hymns and held up religious icons, while men in traditional cossack tunics and sheepskin hats shouted at participants.
As police pushed the crowd away from the Kremlin, gangs of skinheads attacked a number of gay activists, kicking and beating them. "We're here to defend the dignity of Russia, to protect our country from perverts and pederasts," said 26-year-old Nikolai Grigoriev.
Shortly before the main rally was to begin, dozens of anti-march youths raced toward the site, throwing flares and setting off smoke bombs. Police made little attempt to clear the square, and the crowd grew. The few gay-rights supporters who attempted to enter the square were arrested by police or beaten by protesters.
While giving an interview to television cameras, a Green Party member of Germany's Bundestag, Volker Beck, was attacked by about 20 youths who beat him in the head. A gang of youths also beat and kicked a Chronicle correspondent attempting to interview one of the participants.
Supporters of the march said the government's refusal to sanction the event had sent a clear signal to police and extremists.
"It was shocking and disturbing. What I saw was a complete failure of police protection that was directly linked to the mayor's banning of the march," said gay-rights activist John Fisher, co-director of the ARC International gay lobby group in Geneva.
By banning the march, authorities gave "free rein to those who would perpetrate acts of violence," Fisher said. "We can only hope that what we saw was representative of only a small segment of society."
Organizers had timed the event to coincide with the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia. Despite growing tolerance for homosexuals since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia remains a deeply homophobic society. In one poll last year, 73 percent of Russians opposed same-sex marriages, and 43 percent said gay men should be incarcerated.
Page A - 4
First Pride parade over before it began
Despite attacks on marchers, activists declare victory in defying official ban
May 28, 2006. 01:00 AM
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
MOSCOW—Defying an official ban and threats of violence, gay and lesbian activists attempted to hold Russia's first-ever gay Pride march in Moscow yesterday but were thwarted by police and neo-fascist protestors shouting "Moscow is not Sodom!"
Police arrested about 120 people and several gay activists were injured in attacks by religious and nationalist protestors.
The key organizer of the event, 28-year-old Nikolai Alexeyev, was pulled away by police only moments after the short-lived march began.
"This is a great victory, an absolute victory," Alexeyev shouted as two officers dragged him into a waiting bus.
City authorities had banned the march, which they called an "outrage to society" while religious leaders from all of Russia's major faiths condemned it.
Many in the gay community also opposed the event, saying the march risked inflaming already widespread homophobia in Russia.
But supporters insisted it was necessary.
"We can't keep living in the shadows," Alexeyev said in an interview before the rally. "We deserve the same rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly as anyone else."
Organizers had urged gay-rights supporters to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just outside the Kremlin wall, before marching to a square opposite Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's office.
But when marchers arrived, they found the entrance to the park where the tomb is located sealed and hundreds of riot police blocking their path.
More than 100 anti-gay protestors had also gathered, including skinheads, Russian nationalists and Orthodox militants.
Women wearing headscarves chanted hymns and held up religious icons, while men in traditional Cossack tunics and sheepskin hats shouted at participants.
As police pushed the crowd away from the Kremlin, gangs of extremist youths attacked a number of gay activists, kicking and beating them.
"We're here to defend the dignity of Russia, to protect our country from perverts and pederasts," said Nikolai Grigoriev, a 26-year-old skinhead.
Shortly before the main rally was to begin on the square, dozens of nationalist youths raced toward the site, throwing flares into Moscow's main street, Tverskaya, and setting off smoke bombs.
Police made little attempt to clear the square and the crowd grew. The few gay-rights supporters who attempted to enter the square were set upon by gangs or arrested by police.
Earlier, gay-rights activists from Canada, the United States and across Europe joined their Russian counterparts in an unprecedented conference on the rights of sexual minorities.
Among them were a number of European parliamentarians who said they planned to raise the issue of discrimination against homosexuals with the Council of Europe, the continent's chief human rights body, which Russia is currently chairing.
While giving an interview to television cameras yesterday, a Green Party member of Germany's Bundestag, Volker Beck, was severely beaten by a gang of about 20 youths before being escorted from the scene by riot police.
Prominent British gay activist Peter Tatchell, who also took part in yesterday's event, said he hoped Western leaders would condemn Russia for what happened.
"This isn't just about protecting the rights of the gay and lesbian community, it's about the rights of all Russians to democratic freedoms," he said. "The world can't shut its eyes to what's happening here."
Supporters of the march said the government's refusal to sanction the event had sent a clear signal to police and extremists.
"It was shocking and disturbing," said Canadian gay-rights activist John Fisher, a former executive director of EGALE Canada and currently co-director of the Geneva-based ARC International gay lobby group.
"What I saw was a complete failure of police protection that was directly linked to the mayor's banning of the march."
By banning the march, authorities gave "free rein to those who would perpetrate acts of violence," Fisher said. "We can only hope that what we saw was representative of only a small segment of society."
Despite what happened, Fisher praised the organizers of the event for having the courage to raise the issue of gay rights.
"If there is one thing we've learned in Canada and the West, it's that the enemy is silence; the enemy is invisibility," he said.
Organizers had timed the event to coincide with the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia.
Despite growing tolerance for homosexuals since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia remains a deeply homophobic society. In one poll last year, 73 per cent of Russians opposed same-sex marriages and 43 per cent said gay men should be incarcerated.
The weeks leading up to the parade were marked by growing tensions, protests outside Moscow gay clubs and homophobic attacks. The Russian Orthodox church denounced the event as "the propaganda of sin."
The leader of Russia's Muslim community, cleric Talgat Tadzhuddin, said: "If they come out into the streets, they should be bashed."
120 arrests at Moscow gay protest
May 28, 2006 - 12:41PM
Moscow police have arrested about 120 people during an unsanctioned gay rights demonstration at which a German MP was injured in a scuffle with right-wing activists.
Municipal authorities had banned a planned gay and lesbian parade through the capital despite a court appeal by organisers who pledged to hold a rally regardless.
About two dozen gay activists mounted an initial protest in front of the city hall, where violence ensued as other groups of citizens, reportedly including right-wing radicals, tried to break up the gathering.
Police units then moved on the crowd and made numerous arrests. Up to 200 other protesters also moved along the city's Tverskaya main street.
Volker Beck, a member of the German Bundestag who took part in the event, was punched in the face in a clash with alleged extremists.
Police stood back during the violence, he said.
"There was no aggression from our side, we were simply there," Beck told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. "It is unacceptable that the police offer no protection to gays on the streets."
The politician was detained in the fracas and kicked into a police bus. He was released with an apology when officers saw his parliamentary credentials.
City authorities were unrelenting at the hard line taken by police. Gay protesters had acted provocatively, said Sergei Tsoi, spokesman for Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, who had banned the event.
Smoke canisters were tossed and signal flares fired, prompting police retaliation, Tsoi said.
Gay activists were also detained approaching the Alexander Garden by the Kremlin wall, where police prevented them from laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Most of those detained were later released, law enforcement officials said.
Riot police also clashed with groups of presumed right-wing extremists and made about 50 arrests as they approached the gathering.
About 120 drivers also took part in a gay car rally in a western Moscow suburb.
A spokesperson for the Duma lower house of parliament called the gay protest a "provocation" and praised the actions of the police.
Mayor Luzhkov claimed earlier that 99 per cent of Muscovites supported the ban on the event. While European countries were more accepting of the gay community, a parade was impermissible in Russia for "moral and ethical considerations", the mayor said.
"One should not demonstrate publicly his deviations from the norm in the organisation of life and sex," he said.
A senior leader of Russia's Muslims had also opposed the event, saying participants should be "given a thrashing".
Homosexuality was considered a crime in the Soviet Union and was legalised in independent Russia only in 1993.
According to activists, the country still suffers from state sanctioned gay rights abuses, while gays and lesbians face broad public intolerance.
German MP attacked by thugs, detained by police in Moscow.
BERLIN, May 27 (Itar-Tass) -- German MP Volker Beck was attacked by nationalists and detained by police in Moscow during an unsanctioned sexual minority march on Saturday.
“At first I was hit by a rock and then a young neo-Nazi hit me in the face,” he told DPA.
Beck, who is the executive secretary of the Union-90/Greens faction in the Bundestag and a known homosexual, and other participants in the event were then detained by police. After identification apologies were offered and he was let go.
The doctor at the German embassy in Moscow examined Beck’s injuries.
Beck accused Moscow police of having failed to ensure the security of the gays. “It is inadmissible that police wouldn’t protect peaceful gays and lesbians from hooligans,” he said.
Co-chairmen of the Greens faction in the parliament, Renate Kunast and Fritz Kuhn, urged Russia to respect human rights, which also include peaceful demonstrations and the protection of their participants.
They said discrimination based on sexual orientation is inadmissible.
Earlier in the day, police detained about 120 people for public order violations in the centre of Moscow. Those included sex minority activists, who had made an abortive attempt to organise a rally, and their opponents.
At about 2.30 p.m. Moscow time (1030 GMT), representatives of gay organisations tried to stage an unsanctioned march in the central part of the city. About 200 young men, who claimed they supported the gay movement, had joined them.
“While marching along Okhotny Ryad they started hurling smoke candles at the passersby and police. In order to prevent casualties, it was decided to detain the most aggressive young men,” a city police department officer told Itar-Tass.
“When a small part of the participants reached the monument to Yuri Dolgoruky, they faced protesting Orthodox believers and other opponents of the gay movement. … In order to prevent possible law offences it was decided to isolate some of the participants in the event by putting them in police buses,” the officer said.
He said, “120 detainees were taken to different police stations. … After they have been lectured they will be let go.”
“Administrative protocols will most likely be drawn up against the organisers of the unsanctioned event,” the officer added.
He did not confirm reports claiming that there were several European Parliament deputies among the detainees. However he said the deputy mayor of one of the German cities had been detained along with the participants in the sex minority rally.
Police also detained about 16 nationalists who wanted to prevent the gays’ march. “They have been taken to the nearest police station where they will be lectured, then registered and let go,” the official said.
About 100 representatives of gays' organisations, who intended to go to the Alexandrovsky Garden by the Kremlin, were detained near one of the central metro stations.
At the same time, policemen in Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street, near the Bolshoi Theatre, blocked a group of 150 people who headed for the mayor's office to express protest against the planned gay action. Police asked them to leave.
The police officer denied media reports about a fight between gays and radical groups in the Alexandrovsky Garden. OMON anti-riot policemen prevented homosexuals from laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The participants in the unsanctioned action were detained and taken to a police station.
On Friday, Moscow’s Tverskoi Court upheld the Moscow Mayor Office’s ban on gay parades in the city as lawful.
Representatives of sexual minorities had applied to the Moscow administration with a request to hold a parade. But the city government rejected the application, explaining its decision by “problems with blocking motor traffic,” as well as by “apprehensions concerning the procession participants’ security.”
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov told Russian News Service Radio that “such events may be appropriate only for European countries that are more ‘advanced’ in this regard than Russia.”
“I believe that such a parade is inadmissible in our country above all for moral considerations,” Luzhkov said, stressing that “people should not make public their deviations in the sphere of organisation of life and sex.”
The Moscow mayor recalled that his decision to ban the gay parade “caused a storm of publications in the Western press, severely criticising the actions of the city Mayor’s Office.”
“However, I said at once that we would not even consider a possibility of holding such a parade,” he said.
Luzhkov said 99 percent of Muscovites had supported the ban.
［コラム・招待席］「文化系女子」と男の視点 千野帽子（寄稿） (読売 2006/05/27夕刊)
2006 年 05 月 25 日 19:58
2006 年 05 月 26 日 18:16
世界的バイオリニスト・ゴールドベルク氏 精神受け継ぎ、今秋から音楽祭 (読売・富山版 2006/05/27朝刊)
同性愛者ら１２０人拘束 モスクワ中心でデモ強行 (共同 2006/05/28)
Moscow's First Gay Pride Parade Disrupted by Police and Hecklers
By Peter Finn
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, May 28, 2006; Page A16
MOSCOW, May 27 -- Riot police broke up an attempt by gays and lesbians to stage Moscow's first gay pride parade Saturday. Gay activists who attempted to lay flowers near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Kremlin wall and then assemble across from city hall were heckled and assaulted by skinheads, Orthodox Christians and radical nationalists.
Police said they had arrested about 120 people, both supporters and opponents of the parade. Gay activists were dragged away by riot police when they began speaking to reporters, but opponents of the parade, including a nationalist member of parliament, were allowed to speak and chant, "Moscow is not Sodom."
Police officers detain a gay activist outside the Kremlin, part of a contingent who planned a gay rights march to Moscow's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (By Sergei Ponomarev -- Associated Press)
Several international activists and politicians traveled to Moscow in a show of support for Moscow's gays and lesbians. Volker Beck, a member of the German Parliament from the Green Party, marched with the group and was struck in the face by skinheads outside city hall. He was briefly detained after the incident. A Canadian journalist was also assaulted by opponents of the parade, who threw smoke bombs and eggs before police moved in to disperse them.
"Lesbians and gays have to cope with major problems in Russia," Beck said at a news conference earlier in the day. "There is a massive threat of violence, and it is also frightening that there is no clear support from the state for the rights of lesbian and gay citizens. On the contrary, the mayor of Moscow deprives people who advocate tolerance and equal rights of the freedom to demonstrate."
The city had banned the parade on the grounds that it was anathema to the values of most residents and therefore presented a threat of violence. A city court upheld the ban Friday.
Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said in a radio interview Friday that a gay parade "may be acceptable for some kind of progressive, in some sense, countries in the West, but it is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow, for Russia."
He added: "As long as I am mayor, we will not permit these parades to be conducted."
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but the gay community in Moscow remains largely underground. Some gay activists had objected to the parade, which was the culmination of a gay pride festival, saying it was likely to provoke a backlash that could damage efforts to build tolerance.
Other activists, backed by international supporters from the United States and Western Europe, decided to go ahead with the demonstration. Unable to march legally, they decided to place flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Saturday afternoon but to act as individual citizens to avoid being charged with staging an illegal protest.
A phalanx of riot police sealed off Alexander's Garden where the tomb is located. Women singing hymns and skinheads jostled with the several dozen gay activists when they arrived.
Nikolai Alexeyev, a leading gay rights activist, was arrested at the monument. "This is a great victory, an absolute victory -- look at what's happening," he shouted as he was taken away.
After the marchers were prevented from reaching the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a small group of activists followed by an even larger crowd of reporters made their way to a square across from city hall where their opponents had already assembled.
"We are going to clean ourselves of the dirt of the last 15 years," said Nikolai Kuryanovic, a member of parliament for the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, speaking at the foot of a monument to Yuri Dolgoruky, the founder of Moscow. "This provocation failed."
Riot police looked on as Kuryanovic spoke, but moved in as soon as Yevgenia Debryanskaya, a leading lesbian activist, began to speak to reporters just in front of Kuryanovic. She was dragged away.
Police also stood by as skinheads crowded around Beck and Scott Long of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, who had unfurled a rainbow flag.
"The police were encouraging the skinheads," Long said. "It was disturbing but not surprising. Luzhkov spent months encouraging violence by his public homophobia."
Police and protesters break up Moscow gay parade
Sat May 27, 2006 1:55 PM ET
By Oliver Bullough
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian police, militant Orthodox Christians and neo-fascists broke up a first ever gay rights march in Moscow on Saturday, but the homosexuals said their short-lived protest as a "great victory".
Activists led by 28-year-old Nikolai Alexeyev had planned to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier -- a symbol of the World War Two struggle against fascism, and one of Russia's most sacred places.
But police closed the gates to the park where the eternal flame burns under the Kremlin walls, and a heavy scrum of women singing hymns and shaven-headed nationalists tried to charge into the gay activists as the march arrived.
"This is a great victory, an absolute victory -- look at what's happening," Alexeyev said as he was dragged, bent almost double, away from the gates by two policemen.
City authorities had banned the march, which they called an "outrage to society", while religious leaders from all major faiths condemned it. Interfax news agency reported police had detained around 100 people after the clashes.
Even some rival gay activists said the march risked inflaming Russia's widespread intolerance of homosexuality, and wished Alexeyev had chosen a less direct way to protest against discrimination and homophobia.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, and although some gay clubs exist in big cities, same-sex couples almost never make a public display of their affections.
A gay German member of parliament who attended the rally, Volker Beck, was punched in the face. Beck, a leader of the Greens party and a prominent gay rights leader, was shown in German TV getting hit in the face.
"I was attacked," Beck told German television. "It was a stone and a fist. It shows we're not safe in this country. The security forces did not protect us but instead prevented us from retreating. We were left without any protection."
"MOSCOW IS NOT SODOM"
The marchers, who seemed to number about 40 although an exact count was impossible in the mob, were outnumbered at least twofold by men and women carrying Russian Orthodox icons and chanting "Moscow is not Sodom".
"We must stop them at this first stage, or they'll come and corrupt our children," said Kirill Bolgarin, 24, who had come to protest despite the pouring rain.
His friend Andrei, 25, interrupted, and gestured at the eternal flame.
"We are Russians. We are Orthodox. These soldiers died so we could live like Russians, not so these people could come here and tell us what to do," he said.
Alexeyev had invited gay activists from all across Europe to the march, the culmination of three days of events that were a first Russian attempt to hold a Gay Pride festival like those in Western cities.
"We came here to lay flowers at this anti-fascist memorial, but the mayor is so terrified of us that he took the step of ordering the gates closed," said Peter Tatchell from the British gay rights group OutRage.
"As soon as we arrived we were set upon by fascist gangs and police. Today is a great shame for Russia because a peaceful protest has been suppressed."
Later, when police had formed a line between the two sides, a group of skinheads -- young Russian nationalists who have grown in number in recent years and have been behind a series of attacks on foreign students -- rushed toward the gay activists.
Their faces masked, they threw flares as they ran, but OMON riot police stopped them and dragged them to waiting buses.
Passers-by on the pavement outside parliament, which is on one of the capital's main streets, looked on in disbelief.
"I think it is a sexual abnormality, but if these gays want to do it, they should," said Robert Antonov, 35. "Why shouldn't they do what they like? They are people too."
Cops, Protesters Prevent Moscow Gay Parade
Sunday May 28, 2006 1:31 AM
By HENRY MEYER
Associated Press Writer
MOSCOW (AP) - Gay rights activists were pummeled by right-wing protesters and detained by police Saturday, preventing them from putting on a display of gay pride in defiance of a city ban.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said in a radio interview Friday gay parades ``may be acceptable for some kind of progressive, in some sense, countries in the West, but it is absolutely unacceptable for Moscow, for Russia.''
``As long as I am mayor, we will not permit these parades,'' he said.
Police detained the rally's main organizer, Nikolai Alexeyev, as he attempted to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a symbol of Russia's victory against fascism in World War II, just outside the Kremlin wall.
``We are conducting a peaceful action. We want to show that we have the same rights as other citizens,'' Alexeyev had told a news conference a few hours before the rally was to have begun.
But police closed the entrance to the garden where the tomb is located, and the first half-dozen activists arrived carrying flowers were set upon by about 100 religious and nationalist extremists who kicked and punched them.
``Moscow is not Sodom!'' they shouted. Women wearing head scarves held up religious icons while men in Cossack white sheepskin hats and black-and-red tunics stood by.
``We were expecting this. It's the authorities that are allowing this to happen,'' said a woman holding a limp red carnation who identified herself only as Anna, a lesbian.
Riot police rushed in to separate the assailants from the activists but detained Alexeyev ``as the ringleader,'' said British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, who was in the group.
Police said later they had detained 120 anti-gay protesters and gay activists.
``Both the authorities and the fascists had the same objective - to suppress the Moscow gay pride,'' Tatchell told The Associated Pres.
Saturday was the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia, and a number of foreign activists traveled to Moscow this week for an unprecedented forum on gay rights in Russia and the Russian capital's first gay and lesbian pride parade.
By the time of the start of the rally, more than 100 youths were standing in the square opposite the mayor's office, chanting: ``Glory to Russia!''
Several trampled on a rainbow-colored ribbon - a symbol of gay rights - into the ground.
``This is a perverts' parade,'' said one protester holding an icon of the Madonna. ``This is filth, which is forbidden by God. We have to cleanse the world of this filth,'' said the woman who gave only her first name, Irina.
A member of Germany's Bundestag, Volker Beck, was giving an interview before TV cameras when about 20 nationalist youths surrounded him and pummeled him, bloodying his nose. Volker Eichler, a gay activist from Berlin who witnessed the beating, said police did not intervene.
City authorities cited the potential for violence as the primary reason for banning the parade. But they also voiced disapproval of the very idea of gay rights. Russian religious leaders, Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Jewish, have all vocally opposed the parade.
The issue has split Moscow's gay community, many of whom say that Russian society is still too conservative and a parade would only provoke more violence from skinheads and radical groups.
Gay rights activists estimate that 5-8 percent of Russia's 143 million people are gay and lesbian.
First Russian gay rights parade ends in violence
Updated Sat. May. 27 2006 10:44 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Russia's first-ever gay rights march descended into chaos and violence Saturday as Russian police, neo-fascists and Orthodox Christians clashed with demonstrators in Moscow.
The activists planned to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The memorial is a symbol of the Second World War struggle against fascism, and one of Russia's most sacred places.
Police closed the gates to the park, however, barring the marchers from their destination. Then a group of about 100 people, including women singing hymns and shaven-head Russian nationalists, tried to head-off the group and charge into the parade.
They chanted "Moscow is not Sodom," and kicked and punched the demonstrators, according to CTV's Ellen Pinchuk, reporting from Moscow.
"It was kind of violent out there, it was tense. There were people who were looking for someone to beat up out there," Pinchuk told CTV.ca.
Police arrived quickly, Pinchuk said.
"Special forces showed up and started kicking people out of the square where this whole situation was unfolding."
There did not appear to be any serious injuries resulting from the clash, though Pinchuk said a number of "random beatings," took place and police appeared to be focusing on the group of about 40 gay rights activists.
"It did appear they were more interested in arresting members of the gay and lesbian community than those who had come there to beat them up, so that was closely watched by international observers here from human rights groups, and members of the European Parliament."
Police later separated the two sides, forming a human barricade between the activists and a group of skinheads who tried to rush towards the activists.
The skinheads, wearing masks over their faces, threw flares as they attempted to rush the group, but were stopped and dragged away by riot police.
Demonstrators called the clash a step forward for the gay rights movement.
"This is a great victory, an absolute victory -- look at what's happening," said the leader of the march, 26-year-old Nikolai Alexeyev as he was dragged away from the gates by police.
Interfax news agency reported police had detained around 100 people after the clashes.
The march had been banned by city authorities, and had been condemned by religious leaders from all major faiths.
"Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has said right from the beginning there will be no gay pride parade in Moscow," Pinchuk said.
She said the clash, though described as a victory by some, was also terrifying. Such was the case for Canadian gay rights activist John Fisher.
"It was a chilling experience and I'm still a little shaken, to be honest," said Fisher, who is co-director of ARC International.
"I think what we saw was a complete failure of police protection, and that was directly attributable to the mayor's condemnation of a peaceful gathering."
Other gay activists had disapproved of the demonstration, claiming it was a risky move given Russia's widespread intolerance of homosexuality.
Organizers kept the location secret for fear of violence.
The parade was meant to mark the culmination of several days of festivities planned as part of Russia's first Gay Pride festival.
Gay activists from across Europe had been invited to the march. According to reports, about 40 activists took part.
Homosexuality was illegal in Russia until 1993, and public displays of affection between same-sex couples are almost unheard of.
With a report by CTV's Ellen Pinchuk in Moscow
モスクワ・プライド：警察がアレクセイエフ氏他120人を拘束 2 - 独国会議員も負傷
READERS IN COUNCIL
Who runs checks on the Japanese?
By ROBERT McKINNEY
It is a pity that other countries in Asia don't have a similar law (and the fingerprinting technology) to discourage corrupt Japanese businessmen, Japanese sex tourists, Japanese drug peddlers and yakuza from visiting those places. It will seem odd that known Japanese criminals can easily enter Narita Airport from overseas and go briskly through airport security, while a group of American Boy Scouts are fingerprinted and photographed. We live in very strange times.
The Japanese pimp bringing in a young girl from Thailand won't be fingerprinted, but the girl who has been illegally transported to Japan for sexual exploitation will be! Go figure. And who will fingerprint the corrupt politician who agrees to price fixing and bid rigging?
No doubt some foreigners will leave Japan to protest this seemingly discriminatory law, but it would be pointless for any American to do so, since the U.S. government is already fingerprinting and photographing all foreign visitors to the United States. Why is it that Japan must ape America so often?
Pity that the gender-equality laws in Japan are not imitated so strictly! Or the laws against racial discrimination. In time, the Liberal Democratic Party will get around to such humanistic legal protections, but not today, not soon. For now, government control is a big deal. Eventually, the Japanese people will regret passively agreeing to such new security measures. Big Brother wants to reform the Education Law as well. Bashing foreigners will feel so very patriotic.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
The Japan Times: Sunday, May 28, 2006
(C) All rights reserved
虚偽の難民申請でオランダ入国 国会議員の国籍はく奪 (西日本新聞 2006/05/28朝刊)
Comment & analysis / Letters Print article | Email article
Radical few must not mar Muslims' reputation
By Munjed Farid Al Qutob
Published: May 27 2006 03:00 | Last updated: May 27 2006 03:00
From Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob.
Sir, I really cannot fathom what the fuss is about regarding the decision to strip Ayaan Hirsi Ali of her Dutch citizenship ("Hirsi Ali's case is only the start", May 20/21).
Instead of opposing unconscious prejudice and hatred towards Muslims and striving for inter-religious dialogue, Ms Hirsi Ali's anti-Muslim slurs and polemical descriptions of Islam have done little to disperse the clouds of intolerance, stereotype and ethnocentrism that have truly blinded us from seeing each other and appreciating our differences in times of domestic and international discord.
We need to stand together as allies, to bridge the widening chasm between Muslims and non-Muslims, to sow the seeds of tolerance and understanding of each other's faiths. Muslims are peace-loving, law-abiding people.
Islam, like other divine faiths, does not tolerate the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians. Muslims' shining reputation, like that of their fellow Christians and Jews, must not be marred by the radicalised few.
Munjed Farid Al Qutob,
London NW2 4DX