Strasbourg, 2 August 2013: With a minute of silence being held at noon beside the Holocaust memorial stone in front of the Palais de l'Europe in Strasbourg, the ERTF remembered more than 3,000 Roma exterminated by the German Nazis during the night of 2-3 August 1944 in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
"The Pharrajimos is by far the biggest tragedy in our Roma history. It has traumatised us till this day. The genocide committed on Roma has determined how we apply ourselves in defense of universal human rights, our need for freedom, and our stance towards well-meant multicultural ideals in today's Europe. With the recent events in some of the Council of Europe Member States, it is shameful to see how little has changed for the Roma people in aalmost 69 years after the Pharrajimos.
The memory of the Holocaust must not be allowed to fade away. The suffering of millions should not be in vain. And yet humanity is confronted time and again with the evil of genocide. Is it possible to avoid that? The survivors teach us not to collaborate with those who espouse hatred, but actively resist it and oppose it" said Mr Kawczynski, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, in his key address to the representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, staff members of the Council of Europe and the citizens of Strasbourg
With the adoption of the Charter on the Rights of the Roma, ERTF has reinforced its commitments to raise awareness of Pharrajimos, which is less well recognised, and frequently separated from that of the Jewish experience, especially in the teaching of the history of this period. The Holocaust commemoration also has a role in combating anti-Tziganism and other forms of intolerance. The ERTF therefore calls upon those working to promote the rights of all Roma, Travellers and related groups throughout the world to organise their own events every 2nd August to ensure maximum visibility of this horrendous crime.
"The European Roma and Travellers Forum calls on the Council of Europe to convene, in association with the European Union and the OSCE an urgent meeting of member states to decide on effective measures to ensure the security of the Roma in Europe." stated Mr. Kawczynski in his concluding remarks.