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Civic Solidarity Platform Statement: On the Attack against the Chair of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Krassimir Kanev


The Civic Solidarity
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31 October 2016

We, members of the Civic SolidarityPlatform[1],strongly condemn a violent attack in Sofia against Krassimir Kanev, one ofthe most prominent human right defenders in Europe and the chair of the BulgarianHelsinki Committee (BHC). BHC is the largest human rights organisation inBulgaria and a member of our network. We express our solidarity with Krassimirand members of Bulgarian human rights community.

Mr. Kanev was attacked by two unknown men in downtown Sofia in the morning on27 October 2016. He was hit in the face and stomach. His attackers did not saya word and immediately fled the scene after the incident. Police were called tothe site after the attack. Mr. Kanev sustained minor injuries.

Members of BHC have been repeatedly harassed and threatened in the past becauseof their human rights work. However, the attack on Krassimir Kanev is the firstcase of direct physical violence.


The work of the BHC is well known at theinternational level and is highly respected. Among its many activities, BHC isactively involved in the protection of minority rights and takes a publicposition in this respect. Increasingly, xenophobic and homophobic expressionsand views are spread in the public media and statements by politicians andpublic figures in Bulgaria. Speech inciting hatred or violence againstminorities has been allowed, approved and even praised in this country.Aggression is directed towards both members of minorities and NGOs who stand insupport of their rights.

The inabilityand/or unwillingness of the Bulgarian authorities to take a clear anduncompromising regarding manifestations of intolerance, hate speech andhate-motivated violence and effectively investigate hate crimes has created anatmosphere of impunity where a violent attack against a prominent human rightsdefender has become possible.

We, as humanrights NGOs working across Europe, Asia and North America and as members of theCivic Solidarity Platform, call upon the Bulgarian authorities to takeimmediate action to identify the perpetrators of the attack against KrassimirKanev and its masterminds. They must use all necessary means for a swift andeffective investigation of the crime in order to bring the culprits to justice.

We also urge thegovernment of Bulgaria to implement its international obligations by taking allnecessary steps to protect human rights defenders in the country, especiallythose working to defend the rights of minority members, and refrain fromnegative rhetoric regarding human rights and those working to defend them.

Signed by the following members of the Civic Solidarity Platform:

Albanian Helsinki Committee

Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation andConsultations (Georgia)

Article 19 (UK)

Association of UkrainianHuman Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House(Lithuania)

Belarusian Association ofJournalists

Belarusian Helsinki Committee

Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)

Center for the Development of Democracy and HumanRights (Russia)

Committee against Torture (Russia)

Crude Accountability (USA)

Freedom Files (Russia)

German-RussianExchange (Berlin, Germany)

HelsinkiAssociation of Armenia

Helsinki Citizens Assembly –Vanadzor (Armenia)

Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights(Poland)

Human Rights Information Center (Ukraine)

Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania)

Human Rights Movement “BirDuino-Kyrgyzstan”

Helsinki Committee of Armenia

HumanRights Center of Azerbaijan

Humanrights.ch (Switzerland)

HURIDDOCS (Switzerland)

Institute "Respublica"(Ukraine)

International Rehabilitation Councilfor Torture Victims (Belgium)

International Partnership for HumanRights (Belgium)

International Youth Human Rights Movement

Kazakhstan International Bureau forHuman Rights and Rule of Law

Kharkiv Regional FoundationPublicAlternative” (Ukraine)

Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims

Legal Transformation Center (Belarus)

Moscow Helsinki Group (Russia)

Netherlands Helsinki Committee

Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Nota Bene (Tajikistan)

Office of Civil Freedoms (Tajikistan)

SOVA Center for Information and Analysis (Russia)

Promo LEX Association (Moldova)

“Protection of Rights without Borders” (Armenia)

Public Association “Dignity” (Kazakhstan)

Public Foundation “Golos Svobody” (Kyrgyzstan)

Public Verdict Foundation (Russia)

Regional Centerfor Strategic Studies (Georgia/Azerbaijan)

Swiss Helsinki Committee

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

UNITED for Intercultural Action – European network against nationalism, racism,fascism and in support ofmigrants, refugees and minorities

World Organisationagainst Torture (OMCT)

ZARA – Zivilcourageund Anti-Rassismus-Arbeit (Austria)

Anki Wetterhall,Swedish OSCE Network (in personal capacity)

MelissaHooper, Human Rights First, USA (in personal capacity)

[1] Civic Solidarity Platform is a network of more than 80 human rights NGOsfrom Europe,Asia and North America. For more information, please see http://civicsolidarity.org.

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