ROUND TABLE “TOLERANCE AND YOUTH”
On 8 of October 2002, a round table was hold in the Center for Interethnic Cooperation devoted to the problem of spreading racist and xenophobe mind among young people. The leaders of national youth associations (Abkhazian, Azerbaijan, Ingush, Latvian, Ossetian, Tadzhik, Tatar, Uighur, Ukrainian, Chechen), people from Africa – representatives of the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, leaders of different Moscow youth organizations (“Association of Young Leaders”, Moscow Social Youth Chamber, Fond “Garanty”), representatives of the American Center in Moscow, the MBOO “The Warm House”, the fond “Novid”, the Moscow Ecological Federation, the Institute of Philosophy RAN as well as journalists from “Radio Russia” and from the Social Information Agency took part in the rather heated discussion .
The following questions were discussed on the round table:
Reasons for the spreading of racist and xenophobe minds among young people.
What corresponds to the interests of young people – the promotion of the ideas of tolerance or the advancement of one’s own interests over these of others?
Which steps must be taken to stop violence by youth groupings on racial and ethnic ground?
All have agreed that the common situation around ethnic minorities is alarming. This situation is in no way acceptable for a country that requires a leading role in the modern world. Among the main reasons for the display of intolerance against the representatives of other nationalities the following were mentioned: the social order (search for an enemy); economical reasons (capture of the markets); the absence of political correctness in the mass media (it is often simply disinformation); not realized or absence of youth policy; a wrong migration policy by the state (deficiency of law), the possibility of self-realization for young people in extremist organizations; information deficiency about the peoples living in the country; absence of a state anti-discrimination policy.
Maria Belozerova from the "Association of Young Leaders" spoke about the interesting work of her organization at Moscow schools, which is directed to the development of tolerance among pupils. This kind of tolerance lessons, carried out by them in Moscow, would be useful for other schools in Russian cities, too. The head of the public charitable society "The Warm House", Natalija Nelidova, informed about trainings at schools carried out by her organization in order to promote the ideas of tolerance. It has to be emphasized, that a small Chechen girl having lost her mum by war is brought up in her house. The representative of the African youth, which most of all come in contact with "charm" of xenophobe and racist moods, Taddele Gabriel, declared, that the authorities are responsible for the infamous actions of skinheads.
During the partly quite heated, partly controversial discussion, various variants were proposed, which could soft the international situation grown in this country. The participants of the round table paid particular attention to the necessity of a closer dialogue, of meetings on different forums and of festivals, concerts and evenings representing various nationalities. The proposition was made to organize a mass action against racism and ethnic discrimination in the Moscow House of Youth with participation of actors as well as state and public persons known and popular by young people. Special importance was attached to the work with young people in education, especially to the realization of trainings for pupils and students on tolerance and to the realization of tolerance lessons at schools.
A successful opposition to racism and xenophobia substantially depends on the level of knowledge someone has about the rights and duties. Therefore the proposition to study foreign experience directed on development of tolerance and the creation of a multicultural society. In different statements it was mentioned, that the lawyers of national communities could play an important by using legal mechanisms of protection of the human rights in each case of racism and xenophobia that appears. No crime on national ground should remain without judicial investigation.
Nevertheless, the most important an most effective factor for the promotion of a tolerant society is the existence of a state policy which shows interest and which works firm in the protection of the rights of the citizens not depending on their national, racial, religious or other belongings. Besides, a clear and precise migration and youth policy that is directed on education of the future of the country is very important.
After the official part of the round table, the participants continued their discussions over a cup of tea. They broke up late in evening, previously by exchanging addresses and telephone numbers and with the firm intention to meet again one month later to discuss already concrete steps for opposing racism and xenophobia.