In the Estonian internet space, new racist groups emerge every day where people post secretly taken photos of people of other skin colour than white; some photos have been photoshopped to depict a noose around a person’s neck; the Estonian police has not taken any action.
According to Reporter, the evening news programme of Estonian TV channel Kanal 2, secretly taken photos of black and Asian people are in Estonian online groups an every-day phenomenon. Racist trolling even goes as far as photoshopping a noose around a black person’s neck or adding other violent content, the news programme said.
The news report interviewed a Nigerian man, living in Estonia, who agreed to talk under the condition of anonymity. “I came in contact with a group and initially I wasn’t bothered, but while going through the group, I saw my pictures, and then I saw a few videos – I don’t know if they’re Estonians – but the guy actually took a video of Africans, Asians boarding a bus,” the interviewee told the TV programme, adding that the pictures and videos were taken without the knowledge of the people depicted.
“For me, I feel like this is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. Because I feel unsafe, because if someone can take my picture without my knowing, then what’s the point? As a matter of fact, I’m standing here and I’m not sure if someone saw me and that person is about to shoot me.”
The young man finds it necessary to speak about the issue publicly because he lives in Estonia legally, goes to work and pays his taxes, the news programme said. “He doesn’t feel he has deserved to be alienated or looked down at – something that has happened to him on the streets of Tallinn and online,” the programme noted.
The police has not taken any action
“I totally get there’s racism everywhere,” the man told Reporter. “The most important thing is the approach of the police and the government. “It’s good when the government wants to integrate foreigners, but on the other hand, integration comes on two sides. It’s fine if you want to integrate foreigners, but at the same time, you should try to integrate your citizens on how to relate with foreigners as well.”
“For me, I’ve learned the Estonian language at A2, I really love Estonian culture, but the society isn’t making it easy for me.
According to the news programme, a police report was filed on one of those racist groups on the Telegram platform. However, the filer got a reply from the police that there wasn’t anything in the group that would incite violence and no further action was taken.
A lone concerned voice in the Estonian police
A web constable of the police still called people for responsible behaviour. “It’s important that all people living in Estonia feel safe, despite what colour their skin is,” Maarja Punak, a web constable of the Estonian police, told the programme. “Calling on taking photos of people on the streets with a darker skin – this is not okay.”
Even though the Estonian police has so far failed to take any action, Punak still called everyone to report if they are seeing such incidents occur – or if they are being bothered, unpleasantly interacted with, being filmed, or photographed.
“And if a person says, ‘Please, don’t do it’, then it must be stopped. And if it is not stopped, call the police. We’ll find that person who is unable to behave in the public space,” the officer added, ignoring the fact the Estonian police has so far done nothing – and in fact, has failed to take any action against the racist groups in the country throughout the years.
Cover: A screenshot of a post in one of the racist online groups.