Online petition calls for European Parliament to sanction controversial Bulgarian MEP Dzhambazki
Eleven days after it was launched, an online petition posted in Bulgarian calling for the European Parliament to sanction nationalist Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki for controversial statements against Roma had gathered 1060 signatures.
The petition, addressed to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, cites numerous statements by Dzhambazki on social networks and in the media.
Dzhambazki is a member of the VMRO, a constituent party of the United Patriots, the grouping of far-right and ultra-nationalist parties that is the minority partner in Boiko Borissov’s third Bulgarian government.
One example cited is a Facebook post by Dzhambazki, referring to the death of an 18-year-old “who was beaten by a criminal gypsy because he did not give him a cigarette”.
“Talk to me about integration. About tolerance. About ‘liberalism’. About ‘humanism’. About the BHC (Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights NGO) and the whole Sorosite gypsy-defending gang. And I shall tell you how to use a rope,” Dzhambazki posted.
The petition refers to other statements by Dzhambazki, including that Western Europe is amid a “civil war on the streets”, that the Western model of integration is failing and that Bulgaria is also on the road to civil war.
It also highlighted a post by Dzhambazki, in response to a photograph of Roma people arrested after a clash in Assenovgrad, of the single word “euthanasia”.
The petition alleges that Dzhambazki was conducting aggressive propaganda “aimed at provoking ethnic and religious ‘war’, as he himself says, in the territory of the European Union”.
In an interview at the beginning of July, Dzhambazki said that “Islamic State” fighters were passing through Roma neighbourhoods and “radical Islamisation” was happening. Sooner or later, “the clash would be eye-to-eye,” he said.
Citing European Parliament resolutions against discrimination, the petition calls for Dzhambazki to be expelled from EP committees and delegations, and says that if the EP fails to act, this would call into question the effectiveness of the European Parliament and the confidence of EU citizens in it.
If such behaviour by an MEP was allowed for years with no negative consequences for him, “then that would be a clear signal to the extreme nationalists throughout the EU that this behaviour is being tolerated by the EU itself”.
“We, the signatories of this petition, believe that the statements and actions of the European deputy Angel Dzhambazki pose a real threat to us and our relatives because they contribute to enhancing ethnic hatred for the Roma and dangerous radicalization of nationalist groups in Bulgaria and Europe. That is why we sincerely hope that our petition will be considered with due attention because we are European citizens and our voice must be heard today, tomorrow may be too late.”
In recent interview with Bulgaria’s Nova Televizia, Dzhambazki said that “the state has a huge gypsy problem, and if we do not see this, these cases will become more and more. Crimes must be punished, rigorously and justly. These crimes have not been punished for years…there is a huge problem with the lack of justice in these cases of domestic ethnic violence and the murders committed by such groups”.
He rejected claims that the VMRO organised protests only when the murder was committed by Roma people
“Nothing like that. I say that there is a huge problem with the non-recording of the Roma in Bulgarian society, with the aggression in this community, with the manifestations of this aggression, with the absolute escape from the problem, with the fact that there are a number of organizations that receive money to overcome this problem. We are talking about systematic disregard for legality, “Dzhambazki said. “Why does the court not convict the criminals and they are not in jail?”
Dzhambazki has not commented publicly on the petition.
In a post on the Hope not Hate website, Bernard Rorke wrote: “The most recent Dzhambazki controversy over anti-Roma hate speech should prompt some kind of response from the European Parliament. The ‘Patriotic’ coalition partners of the ruling GERB party in Bulgaria are beyond the pale when it comes to hate speech, racism, incitement to violence and links with neo-Nazi extremists.
“Dzhambazki embodies all the poison and prejudices stirring in the dark side of our democracies. There should be no place in the European Parliament for racism and xenophobia, and we repeat MEP Soraya Post’s call on the ECR group to take action to send a message to its members that there must be zero tolerance for those who propagate hate and intolerance,” Rorke said.
Dzhambazki’s career in public office began in 2007 when he was elected to Sofia city council on the ticket of the citizen’s quota of GERB. In 2011, he was returned on a VMRO ticket.
In the May 2014 Bulgarian elections to the European Parliament, Dzhambazki was elected as one of two MEPs (Bulgaria has 17 seats in the EP) on the ticket of the populist Bulgaria without Censorship party. Soon after his election, he fell out with BWC’s Nikolai Barekov.
In November 2013, the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office said that pre-trial proceedings had been opened against Dzhambazki for alleged hate speech at an anti-migrant rally in Sofia.
In October 2015, he was a failed candidate, on the VMRO ticket, for mayor of Sofia. In September 2016, Dzhambazki said that he was in talks with conservative MEPs for a petition for an EU-wide referendum on policies on refugees.