Valentin Gonzalez

Valentin Gonzalez

In today’s world, the best way to protect against history repeating itself is to … protect the victims of hate crimes—to make hate crimes visible. […] When they are visible, citizens start to watch and consequently policies start to be implemented.”

Valentin Gonzalez, President of Movimiento Contra la Intolerancia

Why do you care?

Well, it’s a long story. In the early 1990s, I got to know a survivor of the Auschwitz prison camp. I learned a lot doing activist work with her and listening to her testimony. Her experience was so eye opening that from that time I became very active in the cause against intolerance and hatred. In today’s world, the best way to protect against history repeating itself is to deal with the right and left extremes and protect the victims of hate crimes — to make hate crimes visible. This is why I am personally motivated to do this work.

What would be needed for the implementation of a victim-centred approach?

At the end of the day, we are talking about victims, people who have suffered extraordinarily painful traumas because they’ve been attacked. I got to know the mother of children who had been killed by Nazis and of young people who were killed because of race. To look in the face of a mother and to understand what she’s experienced is absolutely awful. For this reason, a victim-centred approach is important. It is important to create a narrative of their experiences, to use the proper rhetoric. In the communication process, we need to get less technical—sometimes in this kind of conference we are too technical on how to cover the data, how to use the legislation, what provision you can use, etc. In order to make (hate crime awareness) effective, in the political sphere and in the communication areas, I think a powerful narrative of individual cases is needed so that we can understand the meaning behind it all.

What do you think is the added value of the Facing Facts! Initiative?

I think basically the most important value is, since the project started 3 or 4 years ago, hate crime has become more visible. I remember when I first learned about its goal of “Making hate crimes visible”; it was a phenomenon. I don’t think anything like that had been done before. It’s important to do that work here at the European level, to gather organisations to discuss the proper rhetoric to define hate crime and to gather experts, activists, NGOs and others in order to make hate crimes visible. When they are visible, citizens start to watch and consequently policies start to be implemented.