The Estonian Human Rights Center studied afrophobia in Estonia on behalf of the European Network Against Racism and discovered how episodes of race related incidents have been on the rise since the refugee crisis became a pan-European problem. And while dark-skinned people have experienced abuse in public spaces, no problems with colleagues were reported.
In the light of revelations about the abuse suffered by dark-skinned US soldiers in Estonia, the Estonian Human Right Center released the preliminary results of their afrophobia study.
The center interviewed almost 20 people for the study, every single one of whom had experienced racial abuse between March 2014 and March 2015. The preliminary results show that whereas racial discrimination was not felt as a major issue at the beginning of the study period, the situation took a turn for the worse as the Mediterranean refugee crisis erupted, said Anni Säär, who conducted the interviews.
According to Säär, interviewees reported that abuse has become more aggressive since summer and now includes physical attacks.
Inna Toater from the city center police department said they are currently investigating one incident from August, when a dark-skinned person was insulted in Tallinn city center. The incident was reported by the bystanders, and not by the victim.
“It's interesting that many victims do not always feel personally insulted but dismiss abusers' actions as indicative of their intelligence level,” Säär noted.
Yet, Säär also reported a different type of incident when two doctors refused to help a dark-skinned patient on the pretense that the patient might be carrying unknown diseases. The patient was not even a refugee or an asylum seeker, but an EU citizen, Säär said.
Estonian laws currently allow abusers to be punished with a fine or detention for breaching public order regulations.
The interviews revealed that problems actully do most often occur in public spaces and these days even children increasingly fall victim to racial slurs.
“No insults directed at children were reported before but it has now become obvious that people approach Estonian citizens or foreigners who have a dark-skinned child, especially Estonian mothers, and say something inappropriate,” Säär said, adding that fathers of darker complexion have also received abuse.
The Estonian Human Rights Center will publish the completed report next year.
Editor: M. Oll