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Croatia: From mapping to action

6 November 2023

Zagreb, Croatia: Summer 2023

Our Croatian MARIO partner, Centar Za Mirovne Studije (CMS) (or, Centre for Peace Studies (CPS)) is assessing the needs of minority communities in Croatia and igniting activism. Their project ‘Strength for Change’ aims to raise awareness and combat the different types of racism and discrimination targeting different racialized communities in Croatia, primarily through work with minority-led organizations.  

As part of the project, CMS mapped organizations and individuals working in the field of anti-discrimination and integration, with the main focus on organizations that are minority-led, as well as minority activists engaged in different types of advocacy in combatting discrimination. As a result of the mapping activity, an internal database was created, gathering different Roma-led associations; associations of Nepalese and African citizens living in Zagreb; different initiatives that gather both locals and newcomers and are active in the field of culture and sport. It also included NGOs active in the field of integration but also the field of support to victims of crimes; as well as individual refugee, migrant and Roma activists that have at some point worked or talked publicly on the issues of discrimination in Croatia.

Based on the mapping exercise, CMS organized five needs assessment meetings with minority-led associations and individuals: these meetings gave CMS useful insights into what the biggest issues and challenges the communities in question are facing in the area of racism and discrimination. The meetings also made it clear that the racism and discrimination these communities face is in some ways similar, but also that each has its specificities connected to instances of racism, due to different historical, political and social contexts.

Based on the needs assessments, CMS created specific trainings – the first training focused on issues of Islamophobia and xenophobia and gathered primarily refugee and Muslim migrants, and the second focused more on issues of anti-Black racism and Afrophobia and gathered the African and Black community. The trainings covered similar themes – such as general theories and definitions of stereotypes and prejudices, discrimination and racism, as well as a broad minority rights framework, legislative ways of mapping and combating discrimination, advocacy, building networks and alliances, and media and campaign work. CMS also created a database of instances of racism and discrimination together with these organizations and activists, with the idea that since they all have direct contact and a high level of trust with their communities, individuals will more freely report their experiences of racism and discrimination to them. The map will serve to hopefully become a shadow database of instances of racism and discrimination in Croatia, as communities in question lack trust in institutions such as the police due to negative experiences they or others from their community previously had. The map would thus serve another purpose as well – to highlight why this reasonable distrust in the institutions among minorities in Croatia exists and to amplify the conversation on what should be done about it.

CMS also began mapping a database of instances of racism and discrimination together with these organizations and activists, with the idea that since they all have direct contact and a high level of trust with their communities, individuals will more freely report their experiences of racism and discrimination to them. The activists also connect all the people who want to take their case further to the legal team of CPS. The map will serve to hopefully become a shadow database of instances of racism and discrimination in Croatia, as it is clear that often, communities in question lack trust in institutions such as the police due to negative experiences they or others from their community previously had. The map would thus serve another purpose as well – to highlight why this reasonable distrust in the institutions among minorities in Croatia exists and to amplify the conversation on what should be done about it.

CMS is a civil society organisation that protects human rights and pursues social change based on the values of democracy, anti-fascism, nonviolence, peacebuilding, solidarity and equality using activism, education, research, advocacy and direct support. They work with communities, initiatives, organizations, media, institutions and individuals in Croatia and internationally.

This content is a guest post from one of our partner organizations about their work as part of our ‘Minorities, Accountability, Rights, Independence and Organisational Development’ (MARIO) programme. Learn more >

MARIO is funded by the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (2021-27) of the European Union (ref: 101091387).