Jesse Jackson: Lund party ‘a racist spectacle’

The American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson has reacted strongly against the ‘slave auction’ held recently at a student association in Lund and the subsequent racial slurs directed against the person who reported the incident to the police.

Jesse Jackson: Lund party 'a racist spectacle'

“About a week ago a racist spectacle was held at one of your most respected institutions,” Jackson wrote in a letter to Swedish minister for education Jan Björklund.

Jackson urged Sweden to have the perpetrators questioned and take measures to ensure that Swedes are made aware of the brutal reality of the transatlantic slave trade and the part Sweden played in it.

It was in April that two student associations at Lund University in southern Sweden were reported for hate speech after a party featuring the sale of “slaves” complete with blackened faces and ropes around their necks.

The incident further escalated after Jallow Momodou, the member of the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) who reported the two affiliated student associations, became subjected to racial slurs and posters featuring his face superimposed on the image of a naked man in chains.

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) based in Brussels, later wrote an open letter to Sweden’s Minister for Democracy and European Affairs Birgitta Olsson expressing its utter disgust at the incident in Lund.

The organisation requested that the Swedish government take action to identify and prosecute the perpetrators.

Kitimbwa Sabuni, chairperson of the The National Afro-Swedish Association is happy with the support from the well-known civil rights activist Jackson.

“This incident has sent shockwaves all over the world. People are surprised that there have been no consequences in Sweden,” Sabuni told Swedish daily Aftonbladet’s blog Politikerkollen.

According to the Aftonbladet blog, the letter, which was sent by post to Sweden, has yet to reach minister for education Jan Björklund.

Björklund has so far declined to comment on the matter until he has read the missive from Jackson himself.

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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.