By Nevada McEniry-Hatajlo
The subject material of my project is engaging, but difficult in the sense that I’m writing about something that is still ongoing. This means that I have been challenged with having to write broadly, but succinctly and precisely at the same time. I’ve chosen to focus on many countries, and while that assures my project will be comprehensive, it’s also a lot of work to take on. I’ve definitely had moments of panic, and I constantly need to refocus myself instead of allowing myself to get overwhelmed.
I recognize now that this project would have been perfect to take on in person. The difficulties of working remotely have impeded my ability to truly engage in the material, which is disappointing, but expected for a time like this.
What’s been really fun, however, is that I’ve been introduced to two legal advisors at BCNL, Aylin Yumerova and Zahari Yankov, who have given me ample information about the political climate in Bulgaria right now. I have really loved learning about this, and it just reinforces the fact that I need to visit Bulgaria once the pandemic has subsided. Everyone has been so helpful and personable; it makes me miss a place I’ve never even visited before.
What I’ve been reading about lately is the rhetoric surrounding rioting and violence that overlaps with public demonstrations. While I don’t condone violence, I ultimately value human life over property damage. And considering that I am white, because of this I will never truly understand the Black, Indigenous and POC experience. Instead, I strive to be the best ally I can be, and to not be critical of what I think is the right or wrong way to protest.
The discussion around violence and free assembly in Bulgaria is nonexistent, and there is a strict emphasis on the need for peaceful protest, and only peaceful protest. This is fascinating to me. In discussing this with Aylin and Zahari, they expressed the fact that Bulgarian protests right now are primarily focused on disrupting main traffic arteries in the capital. Another reason I wish I was in Sofia right now, because it would be fantastic to witness this in person. They told me that people are camping in the streets, and while yes there have been instances of government corruption and police misconduct, these protests have continued steadily and calmly.
Canada and Bulgaria have different histories and relationships with colonialism, discrimination and political turmoil. I can assume that this results in these countries having different perspectives on violence. It’s one of the interesting intricacies I have observed throughout my internship and uncovering this has motivated me to explore more.