Euro Realist

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE – EUROPE

News Releases

Paris, 1 June 2009

Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, urged the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) “to launch an investigation into the financing and promotion campaigns of MEPs who will be elected this week to the new European Parliament and who espouse antisemitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Roma, homophobic or other discriminatory platforms. Such enquiry should also focus on the Libertas pan-European bloc’s reported affiliation with those MEPs.

The letter to FRA Chairperson, Anastasia Crickley, noted that, “Last month, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre launched a campaign to educate its constituency across Europe in regard to the positions of the candidates and parties, calling for a high voter turnout in order to contain those promoting hate and discrimination.”

Samuels added that “the Centre’s Notice No. 3, its last before the vote, points to extremist parties and individuals reportedly affiliated to the Libertas bloc, founded in 2006 by the Irish-based magnate, Declan Ganley, in order to combat the Lisbon Treaty on European integration.”

The Centre continued, “Libertas is running some 600 candidates in over 20 of the elections in the 27 member-states. Some of those standing are known antisemites, homophobes and anti-migrant racists. These include:

– Ryszard Bender and Anna Sobecka of the Polish League of Families. Both are supporters of the widely criticized antisemitic Radio Maryja, where Bender was recorded as stating that Auschwitz was ‘not a death camp but a labour camp where Jews and Gypsies were killed by hard labour – not so hard, not always killed.’

– Georgios Georgiou, of the Greek LAOS party which was described by the United States State Department as antisemitic, racist and xenophobic. Uschi Winkelsett, head of the German extreme right Republikaner party, claimed to have received congratulations from Libertas upon her election. There are also press reports of Libertas’ outreach to the Austrian BZO party of the late Hitler admirer, Jörg Haider.”

“Libertas is running candidates either under its own name, or as affiliated parties or individuals, according to press reports, in: the Czech Republic (29 candidates), Estonia (6), France (147), Germany (11), Greece (22), Ireland (Ganley himself leads the list), Latvia (8), Malta (1), Netherlands (24), Poland (128), Portugal (22), Slovakia (13), Spain (50), United Kingdom (56).”

The letter acknowledged that “funding for Libertas’ campaign against the Lisbon Treaty referendum in Ireland is currently under investigation by the Irish Standards in Public Office commission (SIPO), for ‘compliance with the laws on elections and referenda’.”

Samuels emphasized concern at “the possible cartelization of the European elections with massive public relations resources, coopting or endorsing groups or individuals known to incite to hatred.”

The Centre recalled that, “in 1933, a potent mix of economic crisis, racism and a leadership vacuum brought Europe – and subsequently the world – to the abyss.”

“Europeans have painfully learned that democracy cannot be defined only by the holding of popular elections, if those elected are bent upon the violation of fundamental rights.”

“Our Centre is advising our members to use their vote wisely within this context,” concluded Samuels.

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE – EUROPE

66 rue Laugier – 75017 Paris

Tel. +33-147237637 – Fax: +33-147208401

e-mail: csweurope@gmail.com

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