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RACISM

Thousands demonstrate against racism

Over 4,000 people gathered in central Stockholm on Monday to demonstrate for diversity and against racism, with the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats in focus as the party took its place in parliament for the first time.

Thousands demonstrate against racism

The demonstrators gathered on Sergels Torg in central Stockholm to listen to speeches and then began a march towards Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag, on Myntorget.

Behind the demonstration were the anti-racism groups the “September Alliance”, Stockholm’s anti-racist culture association, and various Facebook groups, with speeches held by, among others, Left Party leader Lars Ohly.

Similar, if smaller, demonstrations were held across the country on Monday evening.

The demonstration was a repeat of the massive spontaneous turnout on the day after the Swedish general election, which left the Sweden Democrats with 5.7 percent of the vote and 20 seats in parliament.

Monday was the first day the new members of parliament gathered in the chamber, for a roll-call and to vote on various officials, including the speaker and deputy speakers.

The Sweden Democrats had attempted to use the speaker election to push for negotiations with the major parties as the party stood to hold the balance of power, but neither the Moderates nor the Social Democrats took up the offer.

While the Sweden Democrats in the end elected to vote with the Alliance candidate, Per Westerberg, the party’s 20 votes had no impact on the outcome as he was returned to the post by 194 votes to 153.

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RACISM

Black Lives Matter wins Swedish rights prize

The international civil rights movement Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation on Friday won Sweden's Olof Palme human rights prize for 2020.

Black Lives Matter wins Swedish rights prize
A Black Lives Matter protest in Malmö, June 2020. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

The foundation was honoured for its work promoting “peaceful civil disobedience against police brutality and racial violence all over the world,” prize organisers said in a statement.

The Black Lives Matter movement, founded in 2013 in the United States, has “in a unique way exposed the hardship, pain, and wrath of the African-American minority at not being valued equal to people of a different colour,” the statement said.

The movement had its major international breakthrough in the summer of 2020 following several cases of extreme brutality in the US, including the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

READ MORE: INTERVIEW: Sweden's anti-racism protests aren't just about what's happening in other countries

Prize organisers noted that an estimated 20 million people have taken part in Black Lives Matter protests in the US alone, and millions more around the world.

“This illustrates that racism and racist violence is not just a problem in American society, but a global problem.”

The Olof Palme Prize is an annual prize worth $100,000 awarded by the Olof Palme Memorial Fund.

It commemorates the memory of Sweden's Social Democratic prime minister Olof Palme, an outspoken international human rights advocate — and vehement opponent of US involvement in the Vietnam War — who was assassinated in Stockholm in 1986.

Since 1987 the award has honoured human rights defenders around the world including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

An online prize ceremony will take place in Stockholm on Saturday.

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