media punk

On the 15th of May in 1934 Karlis Ulmanis as an authoritarian leader took over power in Latvia, dismissed the parliament, abolished all political parties and later made himself a president.

It was a plain coup d’etat, albeit without bloodshed. However, after installing himself as the incontestable land-father, Ulmanis conducted many things which would be seen as unacceptable today, e.g. all political parties were outlawed, part of the constitution of the Latvian Republic and civil liberties were suspended, all newspapers owned by political parties or organisations were closed. Thousands of people were detained on political grounds, some of them faced prison terms of several years. The policy of Ulmanis was to eliminate the minority groups from economic life and give Latvians access to all positions in the national economy.

You can read more about this date and the time that followed in this Wikipedia article.

Sadly, there are people even today who worship Ulmanis as a fantastic leader, and they celebrate the 15th of May each year. Even more sadly, a government party, National alliance, is celebrating this day of coup d’etat and destruction of parliamentary democracy. Some of the parliament members of this party are going to take part in the celebration this year.

In a sense this is no surprise. Leading members of the party have, among other things, been openly claiming that a mild form of fascism is better than democracy, that homosexuals are to be treated like animals, that Russian speaking “colonists” should be deported to Russia, etc.

On another nationalist celebration, the Legionnaire Day which takes place on the 16th of March, even radical right-wing activists are allowed to participate.

This year, some people holding a banner of Wolfsangel (forbidden in Germany) were spotted at the event, which took place right next to the Monument of Freedom.

neonazi.

Tomorrow (15th of May) the nationalists plan to drive in cars and on motorbikes in Riga and other cities, waving OUR national flag in commemoration of a man who committed a criminal action of overthrowing the government. Besides the law, Ulmanis has made such a harmful impact that people even today are often turning away from democracy and embracing authoritarian ideas.

Just try to imagine the absurdity of this situation. We are not allowed to burn the flag in Latvia, since it is counted as desecration of a state symbol and thus punishable by law. But these people can desecrate the flag in the most obvious way without even being questioned on a political level.

I reacted on Facebook, writing that perhaps some citizens should burn the flag in protest of this madness, or put some barricades on the roads to stop the parade. This would be a sort of civil disobedience.

And this is what some nationalists replied there:nazipigs

The 15th of May is a day when I really feel deeply ashamed of my country. But this year is special. National alliance, which is one of the central forces behind the celebration, is part of the government coalition now. And I start to wonder — don’t the other parties see and understand what is going on? Prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis — is he blind?

How can anybody call Latvia “a success story” when creepy nationalist radicals a la 30-ies are slowly taking more power to themselves and infringing the rights and freedoms of others in our country?

They have stolen OUR flag, and they worship authoritarianism with it. How long will this be tolerated?

Perhaps there is nothing we can do about it. Perhaps it is a European tendency, with nationalists on the rise and democracy declining.

But still, while I have my freedom of speech, let me say it very clearly.

Yes, I do think that celebrating coup d’etat, no matter of what the context was back then when it took place, is despicable action, harmful to democracy and human rights. By claiming that the respective date is “just a symbol” one only reiterates the obvious fact that they admire things that not only do not belong to a democratic country. These are the things which have as their utmost goal to destroy the very basis of democracy. Sadly, by using democracy itself. Just as Hitler came to power through democratic means (well, more or less, the details can be debated)… This is why it is important for any responsible citizen to realize that democracy is not something naturally given, it has to be upheld by people themselves. And on such occasions, when the day of coup d’etat is celebrated, all responsible citizens have a duty to resist and raise their voices against such madness.

Vive la démocratie!

¡No pasarán!

Didzis Melbiksis

Multilingual citizen. Europe, Sweden, media, politics.



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