The experience of a foreign student in Riga
An Indian citizen, a foreign student went to a store after an event in the Old Town of Riga. The young man was approached by three local men at the entrance of the store. Asked if the student had a lighter. The student replied that he does not smoke and does not have a lighter himself, but said that he can definitely buy one in the store.
The men responded rudely to the young man and pushed him. The student tried to leave, but the men surrounded him and did not allow him to leave, spoke loudly and rudely, touched him several times, and issued threats.
The attackers repeatedly said in English that there was no place for him in Latvia and that he should go back to India.
What to do in a similar situation?
Practical advice: in such a situation, it is important to get to safety quickly and avoid any provocation. If you are in the company of several people, it is useful to make a photo, video or audio recordings of how the attack, provocation take place, as well as to identify any witnesses that could confirm the facts of a possible attack.
Hate crimes should be reported to the State Police as soon as possible by calling 110 or contacting the nearest police station. The victim must describe what happened to the police officer in as much detail as possible, paying attention to the special indicators of hate crimes, such as the fact that the attacker has expressed racist, xenophobic, homophobic, etc. notes or slogans, the attacker had special clothing or inscriptions on it, tattoos with various symbols, etc.
Hate speech on the Internet can be reported to the administration of a particular website by using the reporting tools or by writing to mentioned contact email.
Why is it important to report hate speech?
Hate speech and hate crimes are dangerous because they attack the core of a person’s identity, which is made up of characteristics such as age, gender, skin color, nationality, religious beliefs, physical and mental abilities, sexual orientation, etc.
Hate speech and hate crimes are dangerous because they convey a message not only to the person directly targeted, but to all members of a particular group, that they are not welcomed in this society, that they do not deserve certain rights, and that they are less valuable than other members of society.
Hate speech and hate crimes are also dangerous because they can cause long-term psychological damage to victims, affecting not only the victim himself, but the community to which it belongs, as well as the wider society. Verbal abuse divides society and can escalate into regular attacks, and lead to wider disturbances.
The State police
Čiekurkalna 1.līnija 1, k- 4 , Rīga, LV – 1026
The Ombudsman’s Office
Baznīcas ielā 25, Rīgā, LV-1010
The Latvian Centre for Human Rights
(Latvijas Cilvēktiesību centrs)
Skolas ielā 21, 609C, Rīgā, LV-1010
Tālr.: (+371) 67039290
This informative material is created as part of the project “Towards a more tolerant society: information, education, support and cooperation.” The project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and the Norwegian grant programme “Active Citizens Fund”. Make Room Europe and the Latvian Centre for Human Rights are fully responsible for the content of this material.