Friday, August 29, 2008

Recommended reading at

Following is a link to a very good article on the situation in Italy, written by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A friend has recommended this page to you: is the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to seeking justice, monitoring hate, and promoting tolerance. To learn more about the Center, you can visit its website,

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Del Martin, an early Lesbian rights activist, died last night in California. She was 87 years old. Del Martin married her long time partner, Phyllis Lyon in June, one of the first couples to wed after California granted that right to same sex couples.

In 1955 Emmett Till, a black teen from Chicago, was abducted from his relatives' house in Miss. He was taken by white men after he supposedly whistled at a white woman. Days later Till was found dead.

In 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King delivered the "I have a dream speech" before over 200,000 participants in a civil rights rally in Washington D.C.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The experience of Gypsies and Travellers in Britain

Sender's name: M. Ahern

Sender's message:


Article from Socialist Worker (Britain) 2116, 30 August 2008 (



Emma Nuttall from the Friends, Families and Travellers charity works with English Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers. She spoke to Sadie Robinson about the struggles they endure

Gypsies and Travellers in Britain are socially excluded, powerless and often quite dispersed. The lack of resources and services available to them has a drastic impact on their lives. Educational achievement among Gypsies and Travellers is the lowest of any ethnic group in Britain.

They have the highest rate of infant mortality, the lowest life expectancy and higher rates of maternal deaths. Gypsies and Travellers live between ten and 12 years less than the settled population. They have higher rates of anxiety and depression.

You're incredibly vulnerable if you're camped out on the roadside. We've had cases where people have been firebombed.

I think the tabloid press encourages people to see Gypsies and Travellers as not being human. This makes them victims of the last socially acceptable racism. But the reality is that where there are well established sites there are usually no problems.

Currently there are about 4,500 Gypsy and Traveller families in England that don't have an official site to live on. So they stop on the roadside and get moved on. We've worked with some families that have been moved over 50 times in a year.


The tabloid newspapers say it's outrageous that families are living on the roadside but they don't ask why the families are there – they haven't got an authorised site to live on.

This makes it very difficult to access education, employment and healthcare, not to mention basics like electricity and running water.

Local authorities used to have a duty to provide sites for Gypsies and Travellers under the 1968 Caravan Sites Act. People paid council tax and paid rent to live there.

The Tories' Criminal Justice Act in 1994 changed this. They thought that it was too costly to provide sites and that Gypsies and Travellers should buy their own land.

The act also recommended that local authorities should identify which land would be suitable for Gypsy and Traveller sites. But this wasn't compulsory – and only one local authority followed the advice.

This meant that whatever land Gypsies or Travellers bought was disputed. People would pressure councillors and say they didn't want gypsies living near them. Councillors wouldn't identify land that could be used for sites.

The Housing Act in 2004 introduced a duty on councils to do what they called a "Gypsy and Traveller accommodation needs assessment".

The act said that once the councils worked out how many pitches on sites were needed, the local authority had to allocate suitable land to meet that need. Their housing strategy would also have to say how the sites would be delivered.

But the problem is that, where many Travellers have bought land, they haven't managed to obtain planning permission.

The main stumbling block with the 2004 act is the length of time the process takes. It is so slow. Meanwhile you've got thousands of families stuck on the roadside.

For more about the work of Friends, Families and Travellers, go to »


original article at

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Attacks on Roma echo a warning from history

Here's another excellent article. I urge you to visit the original article because it provides links to other good articles.

Sender's name: M. Ahern

Sender's message:


Article from Socialist Worker (Britain) 2116, 30 August 2008 (



John Sinha reports from Rome in the aftermath of a wave of attacks on Roma Gypsy people across Italy

» Jess Hurd's photographs

The image of a Roma Gypsy camp being burnt to the ground by a mob in Naples, Italy, in May shocked the world. It was just one incident in a rising tide of anti-immigrant and anti-Roma racism that has swept Italy following the re-election of Silvio Berlusconi's right wing government.

The new government has launched an offensive against the Roma and other immigrants. It aims to make all Roma inhabitants – citizens and non-citizens, adults and children – to submit to fingerprinting for a racial database.

Some 900 soldiers have been mobilised against immigrants in Rome, Italy's capital city. Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, said the number of Roma camps would be reduced in the capital, with the people living there moved into "solidarity villages".

The right wing Northern League, which is part of Berlusconi's government, has organised campaigns against Roma camps, sparking vicious attacks on them.

Ettore Fusco, the League's mayor of Opera, said at a council meeting about a Roma shantytown, "Let's all go and resist. Residents' interests don't include solidarity with travellers." The shantytown was set on fire later that evening.


The increased persecution of Roma across Italy is the most recent example of the horrific oppression the Roma have faced for generations.

The Roma are a distinct ethnic group. There are thought to be over 12 million Roma spread across many countries throughout the world today. Official numbers are not available as they are often not recorded in official census counts.

The Roma have faced large-scale, state-sponsored persecution. The Nazi Holocaust during the Second World War saw the slaughter of six million Jews. The Nazi's racism also extended to the Roma – up to 1.5 million were killed.

Today, although Roma Gypsies have become more established and integrated, they remain one of the most marginalised and persecuted groups in Europe. They face poverty, ill health, racism, violent attacks and unemployment.

The recent experience in Italy shows that the scapegoating of the Roma for society's problems continues to this day.

'Where we live isn't fit for dogs'

We spoke to a Roma woman who lives at the Via della Martora nomad camp situated on the outskirts of Rome.

"I've lived in Italy for 17 years. I was born in Serbia, but my parents died here and are buried here. All my children were born here. We lost everything when we left Serbia – we have no ties left with that country.

"Where we live isn't even fit for dogs. Look at how we live – we are next to an open sewer. In the winter we have a major fire risk because these shacks are all made of wood. My shack has burned down three times. Once when it burned down we were left with nothing but the clothes we were wearing.

"Our shack is also damp because of the mud from the sewer. We have one toilet to serve over 100 people. We have to wash ourselves from a plastic tub. The council does nothing for us.

"There is mud everywhere. When my daughter goes to school I have to carry a flannel with me to remove the mud from her shoes. I don't want my children to have this life."

'My children have been taken into care'

Cazim Rustic and his family are homeless and spend their lives near Tiburtina railway station in Rome. They told us about the tragedies that have hit their lives.

"I have lived in Italy since 1969," said Cazim. "We have been homeless for the past 12 years. All of my family are living in car parks. My wife had bronchitis. She caught a cold from sleeping outside. We sent her to the hospital. The following day she died."

Miso, Cazim's son, told us, "I was born here in Rome – but the authorities put me in detention for 60 days for no reason. They won't give me a passport or an ID card.

"My brother Adja was killed by a drunken Italian motorist six weeks ago. He died because he was sleeping in the streets."

Adja's widow said, "My children were taken into care because I was living in the streets. The authorities tell me I can't have my children back until I find a home."

'The government sends soldiers against us'

Cesim Casic lives at the Via Pontina camp 20 miles outside Rome next to a busy dual carriageway.

"I am 24 years old," he said. "I was born here in Rome, but I'm still a foreigner. My children were born here. They too remain foreigners.

"We are in the same position as clandestine immigrants who come from Africa or Albania. I have never been to the land of my parents.

"It seems as if Italy is becoming like the 1940s when Benito Mussolini and the fascists were in charge. For me this is no longer a free country. The government is putting soldiers on the streets against immigrants. Why? We are not at war."

'My children have to play in dust'

Zubeida Hibeshid is a 62 year old woman who also lives at the Via Pontina camp. "I came here from Bosnia with my husband 40 years ago," she said.

"I was living in another camp in Rome until two years ago. It was much better than here. We built our own shacks and had our market stalls.

"Now the council has put us in these metal boxes in the middle of nowhere. They are too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. We do not have adequate running water or electricity. This place is laid out like a concentration camp.

"And if you don't have a car, you are a prisoner here. Look at the dust my children have to play in. It is no good for their health. All my children were born here. But they are not citizens and receive no welfare."

These interviews and more will appear next issue of Reel News, the anti‑capitalist DVD magazine. Go to »


original article at

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Work on the virtual fence project scheduled on the border between Mexico and Arizona has been stopped indefinitely.

The Interior Department has rejected an environmental assessment made by the U.S. Border Patrol.

That laughable assessment said that..."towers with radar, cameras and communications equipment would have no significant impact on Interior Department Lands."

The proposed fence is part of the Bush Government's war against immigrants.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


We are still trying to secure the return of Dina Babbitt's heartfelt and brilliant portraits of the Roma at Auschwitz. Please check into this situation (photo and information on this blog, Sat. 26 Aug. 08) and think what we can do.

Pope appears to back fascism warning

Here's another good article. Perhaps there's more to El Popo than I realized.


Pope appears to back fascism warning

August 20, 2008 - 12:00AM
To view the entire article, click on:

Monday, August 18, 2008


On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the right of all American women to vote, was ratified as Tennessee became the 36th state to approve it. Neither Susan B Anthony, nor Elizabeth Cady Stanton lived to see the day.

In related news, Dino Rossi, Republican candidate for governor of Washington, is referring to himself as a member of the GOP (Grand Ole Party) in all his ads. Hmmm. Is he trying to trick people into thinking he's not a Republican. Ha.


The entry below is the link to a very good article. It's pretty long, but if you can, take a look at it. Contains a lot of information about the situation of Roma/Sinti in Italy and in the Balkans...

There is also a photo show with the article and I recommend it.

[From: M. Ahern] 'Why do the Italians hate us?'

M. Ahern spotted this on the site and thought you should see it.

To see this story with its related links on the site, go to

'Why do the Italians hate us?'

Saturday, August 16, 2008

[From: M. Ahern] Czech far-right party activist to address BNP

M. Ahern spotted this on the site and thought you should see it.

To see this story with its related links on the site, go to

Czech far-right party activist to address BNP
Jo Adetunji
Saturday August 16 2008
The Guardian

The head of an ultra-right wing party which advocates a "final solution" for Roma in the Czech Republic is due to speak at the annual festival held by the British National party today. Petra Edelmannova, chair of the Czech National party, is booked to give a 25-minute speech at the BNP's Red White and Blue festival in the village of Denby in Derbyshire.

The event faces strong opposition from local residents and anti-racism campaigners who are mounting a demonstration. The protest has been organised by a number of groups including Unite Against Facism (UAF), Love Music Hate Racism and Derby Racial Equality Council. The TUC and unions CWU and Unite are giving their support. UAF said it was expecting more than 500 people and coaches from around the country.

Edelmannova's party recently announced it was working on a 150-page "study" called The Final Solution to the Gypsy Issue in the Czech Lands, which it said it would present as part of a 2010 general election campaign.

Although the title evokes the Nazi plan to eradicate Jews in wartime Germany, the party told Lidove Noviny, a national Czech newspaper, its aim is only to offer Roma voluntary relocation to land bought in India. The NS is a marginal party in the Czech Republic, gaining only 0.17% of votes in the 2006 parliamentary elections. Judy Mallaber, MP for Amber Valley, said she had deep concerns. "[The BNP's] attempts to present a respectable image are still masking some deeply disturbing underlying views."

Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP, said: "There is a Gypsy problem there. What's wrong with people who talk frankly about their problems?"

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008

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Friday, August 15, 2008


Here's an interesting tidbit.

This week,"Familia Cristina" Catholic Newspaper in Italy, condemned Berlosconi's Nothern League's policies towards Roma/Sinti.
The newspaper compared the policies of the present right wing Italian government with those of Mussolini's government towards Jews and Gypsies in the 1930's-40's.

Not surprisingly to students of history, the official voice of the Catholic Church has distanced themselves from the condemnation of the racist policies of the present Italian government by "Famiglia Cristina".

Whoa. Deja Vu all over again.

It is no surprise that the "official" Catholic position is one of appeasement. Exactly the same as during the WWII times.

Several Catholic newspapers in the United States supported the position of Famiglia Cristina. This is good news.

This reminds me of Liberation Theology, under which philosophy, Catholics all across Latin America supported the struggles of common people over those of the ruling class. Once again, the Vatican and "official" Catholics begged to differ.
Amen, eh?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


In August 1974, a young Frenchman secretly rigged a cable between the World Trade Center Twin Towers in Manhattan, and proceeded to walk across the cable 1/4 mile above the street.

He crossed between the towers 8 times in 1 hour.

He was immediately arrested when he returned to the tower after his 8th crossing.

He had captured the heart of New York City, and thanks to public support, his punishment was to perform (in controlled and lower venues)for the city's children for free.

This seemed like justice as it should be.

Of course, in the same time period, people were slaughtered at Attica, life sentences were being imposed for people caught with any amount of marijuana, Mamia Abu Jamal....

You can Google Philippe Petit for several good articles.
There is also a new movie about him and the World Trade Center named

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


In the following entry I forgot to mention that the Ahikuntikas are Gypsies of Sri Lanka

Please view the comment on Monday's blog. It will bring you to an informative entry on the Anikuntikas.

Thanks to MD for leaving the link.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Daily Mirror Breaking News

This is a very good article. I tried to reprint it, but you'll have to go there directly.
Courtesy of
Article Headline:Ahikuntikas attacked on World Indigenous People's Day
To view the entire article,click here

Visit for updated local and world news

Sunday, August 10, 2008


The man who fulfilled his dream by creating the American Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee died in 2006, and now the museum's existence is being threatened.
Funding has dried up since the death of James Cameron, himself a survivor of a racist attack which left his friends dead.

The museum desperately needs money to continue operation.
If you can help
will provide the information you'll need.

It would be shameful to let this museum disappear, though it seems to me that would please white America just fine. We don't want to face the truth of the genocidal policies of this country against Native and African Americans.

As a person who lost people and heritage in the Holocaust of Germany, I've become familiar with the "we didn't know", "it was so long ago, it has nothing to do with us" philosophies.
Give me a break.
We must,as a country acknowledge what was done to Native and African Americans in the name of progress in the United States.

We condemn the policies of the Nazis while refusing to accept the murderous policies of this country against Native and African Americans.

How can we talk about reparations when we will not even admit our guilt?


yesterday was a day of many anniversaries. The most important are

1945--- Three days after the bombing of Hiroshima, the United States dropped an atomic bomb over Nagasaki, Japan. At least 75,000 people were killed immediately.

1974--- Nixon's resignation took effect and Gerald Ford became president. One of his first acts was to pardon Richard Nixon. Hmmmm.

1936---Jesse Owens won his forth gold medal at the Berlin Olympics. Hitler was furious that an 'inferior' (Owens was an African American) beat the super men at the Olympics.

Friday, August 8, 2008


On August 8, 1974, President "Tricky Dicky" Nixon resigned from office.

We haven't learned much in 34 years, eh

We really do need to impeach the crew that's in the White House now.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Romani/Travelers are pretty downtrodden in England. The debate continues (after years) about where they can set up camps and or where they can set up communities.

They are considered low lives, beggars, thieves, undesirables.

So it's interesting (though not unique) that Graff, a hotsy totsy London Jewelery house has just announced its "Gipsy Collection" Graff states that the collection is inspired by the bohemian "gipsy" lifestyle. Their hoop earrings begin at prices higher than most Rom/Travelers make in a year.

So, while we're discussing fashion, Madonna has announced her new "Boho Gypsy" look.
Ah Eugene (Gogol Bordello) we knew this would come to no good.

By the way, Dan Quayle turned down an opportunity to be a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. He said that he didn't want to make a fool of himself.
A little late for that eh ?


August 6, 1945
The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
There were more than 140,000 deaths in this, the first use of a nuclear weapon in warfare.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Toting automatic weapons, Italian troops in body armor were deployed Monday in major cities in the newest program which Berlusconi is calling "urban crime patrols".

Several hundred soldiers were deployed, with 3000 more scheduled in the next 6 months. Government officials have said that the number of soldiers involved could reach 30,000.

Berlusconi announced that this action is part of his pledged "crackdown on immigrants and Gypsies".

Sunday, August 3, 2008


The treatment and conditions of the Roma/Sinti in the European Union are deteriorating quickly.
There has been another revival of the radical right throughout Europe.
The harsher the economic uncertainty, the more the least powerful are scapegoated as the cause of problems.

The other/alien/immigrant becomes the target of hate which is encouraged by governments and the press. Sometimes the encouragement is subtle, sometimes overt.
Consider the Italian Government's census of Roma /Sinti.

Romani/Sinti groups throughout Europe are calling for politicians to stop spreading right wing/anti Roma ideologies.

In Hungary the number of physical attacks on Roma have been rising at alarming rates.

Finland has announced a crackdown on Roma immigrants.

Forced sterilizations of Roma women are still being performed in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia.

The Czech National Party has announced it will soon release their plan called "The Final Solution to the Gypsy Issue in the Czech Lands".

Oh course they say they don't want to kill Romanis, just ship them all to India.

How immigrants/undocumented people are treated is important and revealing.

The treatment of people without documents in this country is deplorable: families broken up, people locked up.....

In Europe, Roma are targeted as the other and blamed for everything from crime to disease to society's woes in general.

In the US it is Spanish speaking people.

The " immigration debate" is framed in terms which I find disturbing and dehumanizing---- illegal alien, undocumented worker.
I gag when I even write 'undocumented'. It's one of those words that immediately sends visions of nazi germany.

Dehumanization is a step.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Today the Seattle Times reported a crime committed against old men. A woman seduced these men and together with an accomplice, duped them out of money. This is a sad story.

King 5 News on line reported this as a "Gypsy" crime, and that both suspects are Gypsy.

It's very revealing when the ethnic identity is inserted into a story. Almost always in a negative way. Associate crime with the targeted victims, and publicize the identity of any member of that group who is involved in a crime.

It reinforces stereotypes and helps justify oppression against an entire group.

That's been one of the propaganda techniques Italy is using to justify the fingerprinting of Roma/Sinti.


Well, we try to consider ourselves sophisticated here on Vashon Island. Sort of live and let live. But last weekend someone broke into the Jewish center and wrote hateful graffiti on the walls. I will not repeat what was written.
Local churches called for a demonstration of support for the Vashon Jewish community.
As with most things, the demonstration, which called for people to wear yellow stars of David, was problematic.
People with a history of genocide certainly don't want to wear the symbols of their oppression.
Jewish people under Nazi rule were forced to wear yellow stars of David, while Roma/Sinti were forced to wear black triangles....
I do understand the choice of the yellow Star.
During WWII, after being invaded by Germany, Dutch Jews were ordered to wear yellow stars.
Most of the non Jewish population wore them also in a show of solidarity with their Jewish compatriots.

I admit to being jarred last night at the gathered people wearing the bright yellow stars.

Today is the 64th anniversary of the annihilation of the Gypsy camp at Auschwitz. The thousands of Roma/Sinti in the camp in the evening were all murdered that night, including some of the Roma Dina Babbitt painted. Please see past posts.


I prefer to write blogs but sometimes I encounter an article that says it all.

Activist demands abolition of extremist party