Bulgaria: 18 NGOs sign declaration against hate speech and for banning of pro-fascist Lukov March
Representatives of 18 non-governmental organisations signed on February 16 a declaration “Against the hate that divides us” that states rejection of hate speech and calls for the banning of the Lukov March.
Held annually in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia since 2003, the Lukov March, organised and backed by extreme far-right groups, is a torchlight procession in honour of Hristo Lukov, who led the pro-Nazi Union of Bulgarian National Legions at the time of the Second World War.
Lukov was assassinated on February 13 1943. The march, which culminates outside his central Sofia house, has over the years attracted participation of neo-Nazi groups from elsewhere in Europe and the world.
The signatories to the declaration included representatives of civil organisations protecting the rights of women, LGBTI, the Roma and Jewish communities, media freedom and other human rights groups.
The signing was attended by diplomats from EU countries, the United States, the State of Israel and the United Kingdom, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova, representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev.
A statement by the Prosecutor’s Office quoted Geshev as saying that the Prosecutor’s Office would make every effort, together with other institutions, to prevent this year’s Lukov March, which is scheduled for February 25.
He said that at the beginning of next week, a meeting would be held at the initiative of the Prosecutor’s Office and involving the Sofia municipality, the Interior Ministry, the State Agency for National Security and other state institutions, at which specific actions would be taken to prevent the illegal demonstration from taking place.
Earlier, the Lukov March was condemned by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and in a joint statement by the We Continue the Change party and the Democratic Bulgaria coalition.
It also has been condemned in declarations by the US embassy, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Antifa Sofia, which is organising a “No Nazi on Our Streets” event starting on February 25 at 4.30pm outside the Palace of Justice in Sofia.
In a message on Twitter on February 16, the Embassy of Israel in Bulgaria said that it strongly urges the Bulgarian authorities to prohibit the holding of Lukov March that is planned to take place on February 25.
“Lukov March is a neo-Nazi procession in honor of a person who propagated antisemitism, xenophobia, hate speech and ideologically stood behind the deportation of Jews from the territories administered by Bulgaria to the death camps,” the embassy said.
“The strong statements of condemnations issued by the @MFABulgaria, major political parties and partners in the diplomatic community against Lukov March, should be followed by concrete actions in order to forbid this horrendous event, once and for all.”
(Photo via the Facebook page of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria ‘Shalom’)
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