Position of the BHC on the concern expressed by the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria "Shalom" regarding the withdrawal of the nomination of Ms. Tatiana Christie in the competition Human of the Year 2023 awards

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee sent a response from its chairman Krasimir Kanev to the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria "Shalom" after the concern expressed about the withdrawal of the nomination of Ms. Tatiana Christie in the competition Human of the Year 2023. In the letter, among others:

  • We cite the awards' criteria, which require an assessment of whether the nominees' activities meet the general human rights spirit of the awards. For example, activists who defend the rights of one group but attack another are not eligible.
  • We confirm that BHC highly appreciates the work of Tatiana Christie in support of Ukrainian refugees. The reason for her removal is the social media posts that are mentioned in the letter. One of them, for example, denies the right of the EU and the UN to insist that Israel respect international law. In our view, all organisations and all countries in the world should respect international law.
  • The BHC fully shares the assessment that what took place on 7 October 2023 in Israel was a barbaric and brutal attack by a group of terrorists from the military wing of Hamas on civilians in Israel. It is a war crime from which Israel has not only the right but also the duty to protect its citizens. It is just that there is a generalising speech in Mrs Christie's publications which stigmatises large sections of the Palestinian ethnic group.
  • Accusations that we are restricting Ms Christie's freedom of speech are unfounded, as we are in no way preventing her from continuing to express her views. Not being allowed to participate in the awards is not censorship.
  • We heard accusations of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel positions from various directions. They are unfounded. The BHC is making systematic efforts in the exact opposite direction. For example, without any other organization's support, the BHC achieved the only judgment in the Strasbourg Court against a Bulgarian politician for anti-Semitic publications by Volen Siderov in the case of Behar and Gutman v. Bulgaria.

The letter expresses respect for the work of Shalom. The BHC leaves it to the discretion of the Jewish organization whether to publish the full text of the letter.