(Nicosia, 20/03/12): On the occasion of the European-wide Action Week Against Racism (17-25 March) and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March), the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) is calling for greater diversity of voices in the mainstream media. CCMC believes that diversity and media pluralism not only give citizens access to a wider variety of quality programmes but also reflect the cultural, social and political realities of society and can improve our understanding of other communities. Lack of diversity in racial representation in the media can negatively impact upon social issues such as lack of acceptance, intolerance and disunity.
The Cyprus Community Media Declaration (November 2011), endorsed by the Community Media Forum Europe which represents 18 European countries, calls for an enabling environment for community media on the island and for the relevant authorities to ‘recognise Community Media as a distinct sector, operating in a pluralistic media landscape’. Greater media pluralism and representation of diverse voices can play a vital role in combating racial discrimination.
The theme of this year’s Day is ‘racism and conflict’ and serves as a stark reminder of the way in which racism has been used as a weapon of warfare to engender hatred and fear. Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has issued his annual address to mark the Day, saying:
“Racism thrives on ignorance, prejudice and stereotypes. Where societies have been shattered by conflict, the United Nations strives to promote peace processes and peacebuilding that foster inclusion, dialogue, reconciliation and human rights. Uprooting racism and prejudice is essential for many war-torn societies to heal.”
CCMC hopes this week of initiatives by civil society around the world will once again highlight the way in which racism continues to be pernicious in many walks of life. The media, including community media, must do more to ensure diverse voices are heard and reflect the true make-up of our multicultural and intercultural societies.
About the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is marked every year on 21 March. The day was established by The General Assembly of the United Nations in 1966 following the brutal murder of 69 protestors in the South African township of Sharpeville in 1960. Every year around 21 March, the UNITED network coordinates the European-wide Action Week Against Racism and calls upon the international community, NGOs and individuals to bring an end to racism, discrimination and intolerance through direct action.