The violent anti-¬Roma protests that have occurred across Bulgaria over the past weeks call for an urgent response to combat racially-¬motivated extremism while achieving visible progress on the socio-economic integration of Europe’s most marginalized and discriminated population. Romani communities have been faced with a total rebuff for nearly a thousand years, which has stripped them of their identity, fundamental rights, dignity and opportunities. The European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) is deeply concerned with the wave of anti-Gypsyism in Bulgaria. In response, ERTF is organizing a hearing on Thursday, 10 November 2011 (from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) in Triaditza Meeting Room, Grand Hotel in Sofia (1 Gurko str), to raise awareness on situation and consequences of anti-Roma sentiments and actions. Representatives from the Government, Political Parties, the Ombudsman, International organisations and Roma NGOs have been invited to participate at the hearing. The event will look at the legal framework for human rights protection and will discuss the steps taken by the government, international organizations and civil society to improve the situation of Roma in Bulgaria. The report of the hearing will be presented at the Meeting of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. On the 10 and 11 November 2011, the ERTF will also visit Roma settlements in Sofia.
“Almost 67 years after the Pharrajimos, we are assembled here today to honour and to remember over 3,000 Roma exterminated during the night of 2-3 August 1944 in “Zigeunerlager BIII” at Auschwitz - Birkenau; to remember the fear and the brutality. 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.” 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.
Today I would like to welcome the decision by the Polish parliament, from few days ago to declare 2nd of August as the official Roma Genocide Remembrance Day. This is a historic step forward in the official recognition of the persecution and extermination of Roma during World War II. I encouraged other Council of Europe member states to follow Poland’s example in Recognising and commemorating the Holocaust on Roma, the Parrjimos. stated Mr. Kawczynski in his concluding remarks.
Strasbourg, 26th July 2011
Mr Petter WILLE
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative of Norway to the Council of Europe
On behalf of all the members of the European Roma and Travellers Forum and on my own behalf as President of the Forum, I wish to express our most heartfelt condolences for the barbaric assassination of so many innocent people last week in Norway.
It is indeed saddening that such a tragic event should happen in your country, which has been for decades a model of democracy and liberty, and has succeeded in achieving the peaceful integration of thousands of migrants. We are convinced that these brutal murders will not sway Norway from remaining a beacon for all countries that aspire for freedom and solidarity.
It is our earnest hope that this tragic event will serve as an eye-opener to all European countries on the dangers of extremism that might be lurking within their territory.
We pray to God to grant to the bereaved parents and relatives of these innocent victims comfort and succour to withstand this difficult moment.
INTERNATIONAL ROMA DAY - 8 APRIL
The past four decades have seen enormous changes confronting both the Romani people, and those who study us and work with us. For so many Roma, these changes have meant adapting once again to new and typically hostile surroundings, seeking security in employment, education, housing and in health and legal care. For the non-Romani world it has meant making room for newcomers who arrive with a complex baggage of stereotypes and a legacy of persecution.
Anti-Roma hate speech and violence stir dark memories of events more than 70 years ago which brought this continent to the brink of the moral abyss. Extremism is once again finding its range and its voice, bringing a poisonous cocktail of ancient gossip, medieval superstition and callous discrimination into mainstream politics.
“We must stand together as believers in common decency and the fundamental values of human rights and the rule of law and condemn in the strongest terms those whose only purpose is division and discord. Politicians and media organisations should not have license to use their bully pulpits to whip up anti-Roma prejudice.” said Mr. Rudko Kawczynski, President of the European Roma and Travellers Fourm.
“The Council of Europe has been the pioneer in promoting the protection of the Roma and has been making efforts for a long time now to improve their situation,” stressed Annette Groth (Germany, UEL), who is currently preparing a report on "The Situation of Roma in Europe: movement and migration," at the opening ceremony of the Plenary Assembly of the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF). However, “I am a little bit ashamed that we have produced so many papers, so many reports for so little results,” she added. In order to move forward, “we need to explode some myths and deep rooted prejudices,” she said, especially those asserting that “Roma are all nomadics,” that “they are all from abroad,” and that “all Roma migration is illegal”. “This is simply not true.” “We need to substantially improve the situation of Roma and fight for their rights,” she insisted. “We must therefore work very closely with Rudko Kawczynski, the ERTF Chair, and with John Warmisham, Congress rapporteur, to collect examples,” concluded Mrs Groth. In January 2011, PACE and ERTF concluded an agreement to reinforce their cooperation.
The 2010/11 Plenary Assembly of the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) will take place from 30, 31 March to 1 April 2011 in Room 1, Palais de l’Europe, Strasbourg, with the participation of over 60 delegates from Council of Europe Member States and from international ERTF member organisations.
The opening ceremony of the 2010/11 Plenary Assembly will start at 09:30 a.m. on Wednesday 30 March 2011 and will be officially opened by Mr Rudko Kawczynski, President of ERTF. Keynote speeches will be delivered by Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms. Annette Groth, Rapporteur on The situation of Roma in Europe: movement and migration, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mr. John Warmisham, Thematic Rapporteur on Roma and Travellers Issues, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Ambassador Judit József, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the Council of Europe, on behalf of the Hungarian EU Presidency, Mr. Gunnar Jansson, former Member of the Finnish Parliament and PACE and Ms. Elena Băsescu, MEP. Ms Livia Jaroka, MEP will address the Plenary via video message.
It will be followed by a commemoration ceremony for the victims of the Romani Holocaust at the memorial stone in front of the Palais de l’Europe.
The European Roma and Travellers Forum deeply regrets the sudden death of Mr Kasum Cana on 22 February 2011 in Zagreb. Mr Cana represented Croatia in the Forum and made a valuable contribution towards its expansion and influence. He was a respected colleague, a hard worker and fully committed to the promotion of Roma interests.
Apart from his multiple activities in favour of the Roma cause, Mr Cana was also a talented painter, photographer and poet and highly respected by all who knew him.
We will all miss his pleasant company, his steadfast support and his good personality.
The European Roma and Travellers Forum conveys its deep sympathy and condolences to Mr Cana’s family.
O Evropako Forumo e Romengo thaj e Phirutnengo si but dukhado palal o sigutno meripen e Raje Kasum Canasko and-o 22 februaro 2011 and-o Zagreb. O Raj Cana sas o reprezentanto e Hrvatskako and-o Forumo thaj andjas jekh bari kontribucja palal lesko barvalipen thaj zoralipen. Vov sas jekh pativalo kolego, jekh butivarno manush savo djas piro zutipen te promovirinen pen e interesura e Romenge.
Avrjal e akvititetura vash e situacja e Romengi, o Raj Cana sas jekh prindzardo piktoro, fotografo thaj poeto, but pakivjardo katar e manusha kaj prindzarde les.
Savorre ame kam rovas lesko shukar manushipen thaj lesko zutipen.
O Evropako Forumo e Romengo thaj e Phirutnengo bichalel peski dukh thaj mila karing i familia e Raje Canaski.
Strasbourg, 27 January 2011: As the world marks International Holocaust Memorial Day, the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) remembers the Roma community, the only other population apart from the Jews targeted for extermination on racial grounds, but whose difficult situation is less recognised, and frequently forgotten, in the teaching of the history of this period.
Taking time to remember all Holocaust victims on this Day is vitally important for all nations, not just so that we remember those who were abused and murdered by the Nazis, but to also encourage us to take a critical look at the world today and to challenge racism and intolerance head on.
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