Today we commemorate the liberation of those who survived the genocide in Auschwitz, amongst them the Roma who survived the thousands that were massacred in the gas chambers. It is the occasion to retain fresh in our memories the thousands of men, women and children who were killed simply because they were Roma. It is also the occasion to reflect on the continuing persecution of the Roma in all European states and the discrimination that they suffer in all walks of life. The racist philosophy that led half a million Roma to their death is the same that maintains the Roma in all European countries as a persecuted minority. And yet several European countries will still not admit that the massacre of those thousands of Roma was a genocide- that the intention of the Nazi regime was to annihilate the Roma race.
The discrimination against the Roma community is perceptible and attitudes have hardened since the economic crisis has severely affected Spain. According to a survey conducted by El Mundo, 40% of the Spanish would not tolerate a Roma as neighbor.
Spain is commonly accepted as a role model when it comes to the Roma Inclusion within Europe. Yet, despite several projects, policies and actions undertaken by the government and mostly by non-governmental organisations, this common idea should be reevaluated.
United for Cultural Action has called for a campaign to mark 9 November as the International Day against Fascism and Antisemitism - a praiseworthy initiative if it were not tainted by a limited and subjective view of the victims of Fascism.
Six million Jews perished in the Holocaust but five million others were exterminated by the Nazis, amongst them half a million Roma, and thousands of homosexuals, Witnesses of Jehovah and other deemed to be inferior beings. This call ignores that seventy years after the extermination of the Roma, few countries officially recognise this barbaric act as the crime of genocide. Seventy years after the end of the Second World War the Roma are still marginalised, discriminated against, confined to ghettoes, refused employment, education and health services. All inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations agree that the Roma are today the most marginalised and most oppressed community in Europe. And yet, in a campaign against fascism and right wing extremism no mention is made of 10 million Roma persecuted today throughout Europe.
Strasbourg, 6 November 2015: In a letter addressed to His Holiness the Pope the President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) Mr Gheorghe Raducanu welcomes his recent initiatives to combat discrimination and racism against Roma, Sinti and Travellers, but regrets that some of his well-intentioned remarks are likely to have a negative effect on the majority population.
“Asking the audience to be good Christians “avoiding all that is not worthy of this name: lies, frauds, swindles, altercation”, is excellent advice to be addressed to all Christians but, in the context of an audience with Roma and Sinti, this advice seems to be addressed exclusively to them. There is undoubtedly, amongst the Roma and Sinti, individuals who are not worthy of the name “Christian” but no more than in other communities.” said the President of the ERTF in its letter.
The European Roma and Travellers Forum wants to express its dismay at the damage done to the memorial in Berlin to Romani people murdered by the Nazis during the Second World War. The memorial has been spray-painted by a swastika and by the words “Gas them.”
We are grateful to the German authorities for their quick reaction: the graffiti has been removed and an investigation has been opened. We are nonetheless saddened by the fact that seventy years after the Nazi genocide some people do not seem to have learnt anything from history. Extreme right-wing parties are on the increase in several European countries where the population seems to be suffering from amnesia.
The words “Never again” seem to have lost their meaning.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
The Strasbourg court has condemned Hungary in a first-instance ruling for failing to investigate into a racist attack. The applicant is a 23 year-old Roma who was attacked with his girlfriend in a night club in 2011 by a group a 3 people when a man identifying himself as a policeman intervened and later verbally abused the applicant (calling him a “dirty gypsy”).
Relying on Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) read in conjunction with Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Mr Balázs complained that the authorities failed to conduct an effective investigation into the racist attack against him, and in particular that they had not taken sufficient action to establish a possible racist motive for the assault.
The Court in its judgment agreed and stressed that “a vigorous investigation” is required into allegations of racist violence against Roma. The Hungarian authorities had failed to do so, making them liable for discrimination. The Court therefore held, by six votes to one, that there has been violation of Article 14 read in conjunction with Article 3 of the Convention.
15529/12 Balazs v. Hungary 20/10/2015.
Read more here.
The European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) will take part in the 10th meeting of the Ad hoc Committee of Experts for Roma Issues (CAHROM) organised by the Council of Europe on 27th - 30th of October 2015 un Bucharest, Romania.
The focus of the meeting will be on the situation of Roma in Europe and recent policy developments at national level in the fields of forced marriages and human trafficking, the role of local and regional authorities for Roma inclusion, thematic priorities for 2016/17, Roma youth and the recent developments at the international level.
ERTF will provide an update on the situation of the Roma in Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey, as well as the ERTF papers on the gender dimension within the National Roma Integration Strategies and the introduction to the latest developments regarding the “Forgotten voices “ and the “Participation of Roma women in politics” projects.
The spate of evictions which we witnessed all over Europe during the summer season (see statement by ERTF of 3 September 2015: http://www.ertf.org/index.php/8-news/250-evictions-unlimited) has not abated as winter sets in. The sufferings of women, children and sick people left out in the cold winter weather, the disruption of schooling and the resulting psychological trauma are no consideration for several mayors throughout Europe, whose main objective is to please the populace and get re-elected.
On 20 October, in the early hours of the morning the Turin police threw out the Roma inhabitants of a shanty town and demolished 12 of the barracks. 30 persons were left homeless in temperatures of 4 to 5 degrees centigrade. The demolition of this shanty town has been going on, little by little, for two years. 35 families – around a hundred individuals - are still living there but are threatened with the same fate in the next few days.Meanwhile 5 million euros intended for settling these Roma seem to have disappeared in the coffers of a number of associations responsible for managing their settlement.
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