Saturday, February 28, 2009


headlines] OSCE concerned about continuing attacks and hate speech targeting Roma across Europe

2009-02-28 11:08:22

WARSAW, 27 February 2009 -- The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today expressed concern over continuing attacks and hate speech targeting Roma and Sinti communities in several countries across Europe.

"We observe with great concern the emergence of a climate of hatred directed against Roma and Sinti minorities in some OSCE participating States, which in some cases has led to violence and even deaths," said Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, ODIHR's Director.

"It is the responsibility of governments to speak out against any form of violence motivated by racial hatred, bring the perpetrators to justice, and take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of minority communities," he added.

The recent killing of a Roma man and his son in Hungary was only the latest in a series of attacks on Roma and Sinti in the country and elsewhere in Europe.

Although these incidents have generally been condemned by the authorities, investigations have rarely succeeded in identifying and prosecuting perpetrators.

"In these times of economic crisis, the risk is increasing that Roma and Sinti are being made scapegoats for problems they are not responsible for," said Lenarcic.

OSCE participating States adopted an Action Plan in 2003 to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti in the region. However, a report published by ODIHR in October 2008 concluded that minimal progress had been made in closing the significant gaps that remain between mainstream society and Roma and Sinti communities in areas such as education, housing, employment and access to social services and justice.

Insufficient funding and scattered and piecemeal programmes mean that efforts to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti have been largely ad hoc and symbolic, with little hope of long-term sustainability.

ODIHR hosts the Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues which offers assistance to participating States in implementing the commitments they made in the OSCE Action Plan.

ODIHR also supports participating States with strengthening the implementation of hate crime legislation and providing law enforcement officers with the skills to address hate crimes.

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On Feb. 27, 1973, members of the American Indian Movement occupied Wounded Knee in South Dakota.
Wounded Knee is the site of a massacre of Sioux men, women and children in 1890.

Please visit the website below.
Sorry, it's another cut and paste, but worth the visit.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Giving and taking away
Phil Chamberlain The Guardian, Wednesday 25 February 2009

Travellers' rights champion recognised for forthright campaigning faces a battle of her own over eviction from her home

Bridgette Jones will be at Buckingham Palace next month to collect an MBE for service to her community.

A week later she will be at the high court hoping that her home outside Canterbury will not be taken from her.

"They give you a medal with one hand and they try and take your home away with the other," she says.

Jones, known to everyone as Bridie, has championed Traveller rights for the last 15 years. During that time she says that overt racism against Gypsies and Travellers may have diminished in the UK but discrimination still exists - nowhere more so than in planning regulations. Since 2001 she has been fighting to stay on the plot of land that she, her son, daughter and seven grandchildren call home.

"It has been seven long and depressing years," she says. "We have been given planning permission by the county council and by two inspectors but some villagers have set up a group to stop us and they keep appealing. It is very aggravating. You have children born and bred on that land."

Through her work with the Canterbury Gypsy Traveller Support Group, Jones gets a lot of calls from Travellers about similar planning problems.

"In some cases it is just ethnic cleansing," she claims. "In Basildon the council is spending £3m on bailiffs to evict Travellers from a site. There are 300 children on that site and some are sick and some are dying. We're supposed to be in a credit crunch and yet they spend all this money to put people off their own land."

Jones began volunteering back in 1992, working with young people in Kent. She found then that ethnic minority children didn't access traditional youth services so she tried to open up the services to the whole community.

"I've always tried to break down barriers and build bridges," she says. "When I get a phone call now I try to make sure they get the right services and go to the right people. It's about bringing people around a table and discussing problems."

When Jones got the letter in the post back in October with the royal motif on it, asking if she would accept an MBE she thought it was a joke. A follow-up letter inviting her to the palace in March was met by "complete out-and-out shock".

Jones has been to Downing Street to petition for Traveller rights on several occasions, but she just plans on enjoying this trip. She is saving her energy for the high court battle.

"People get very angry when they see what is happening in Italy with [Roma]Gypsies," she says , "but I don't think people know that it [discrimination] is on their own doorstep."

Monday, February 23, 2009


A frame of reference.

Remember the movie Latcho Drom?
The Boyash Rroma of Hungary were the people who danced for the little boy and his very sad mother awaiting the arrival of a train.

If you've never seen Latcho Drom you should. It's great.


Roma father, 5-year-old son shot dead in Hungary

Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:56pm EST

BUDAPEST, Feb 23 (Reuters) - A father and his 5-year-old son were shot dead in an attack on a Roma family home in Hungary on Monday, and two children were injured when the house caught fire, local news agency MTI reported citing local police.

The attack in Tatarszentgyorgy, a village 65 km (40 miles) southeast of Budapest, is the latest in a series on Roma houses in which seven people have died over the past year.

Peter Papp, criminal director of the county police, told MTI that a preliminary autopsy report showed the father and his son were shot dead. Two other children were hurt in the blaze.

Viktoria Mohacsi, a Roma Hungarian member of the European Parliament, told Reuters after visiting the scene that the two Roma were shot as they were trying to escape the house.

Local and national police declined comment, saying it was too early to give any details.

It was not immediately known whether the attack was racially motivated, but Mohacsi said Monday's attack resembled similar ones on Roma elsewhere in Hungary over the past year.

"I believe this (fire) could not have been caused by anything other than a petrol bomb," Mohacsi said.

"My assumption is that this attack was racially motivated," she added.

Erno Kallai, ombudsman in charge of national and ethnic minority rights, said in a statement that attacks on Roma people were alarming and he would raise this in parliament on Tuesday.

"In the past year there have been over 10, or according to some opinions even more, violent crimes committed against Roma families or their houses," Kallai said.

"A common feature of these cases is ... that perpetrators are still unknown," he added.

Hungary has one of the largest communities of Roma, also known as gypsies, in eastern Europe, making up 5 to 7 percent of the 10 million population.

A deepening recession and job losses is stoking resentment against the Roma in Hungary and has led to a strengthening of the far-right which fights against what it says is a rise in "Roma crime." (Reporting by Krisztina Than and Marton Dunai; Editing by Charles Dick)


Check out this video.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


On 21 February 1965, political activist Malcolm X was assassinated in New York.
He was 39 years old.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Please visit the Mundi Romani website to see this and many great videos.

Roma in Turkey – the Untold Struggle

Mundi Romani

With thorough investigation and through admiration for the untold stories, Mundi Romani, a documentary series co-produced by the Romedia Foundation and Duna Television Hungary, explores the world of the Roma from Kosovo to Spain through Romania, France, Macedonia, Italy or Israel. The 16th episode of Mundi Romani was shot in Edirne and Izmir in November 2008. The film focuses on the struggle of the Roma in Turkey to save the last shreds of their Roma identity.

In the Turkish democracy, with its 70 million people of many different origins, minority-oriented civil initiatives are developing under constant state control. While having successfully made Turkey a modern republic, Ataturk’s early 20th century nation building policies designed the secular Sunni Turk as the prototype of the modern Turkish citizen, thus throwing all other identities out of the public realm. Turkey has still not worked on deconstructing this rigidly defined identity. So minorities, those who cannot represent their identity like the majority, are neglected. They cannot even exist. National minority rights such as minority language education for Roma are non-existent in Turkey, not to mention anti-discrimination measures. Romanes is disappearing among the Roma. Traditional Roma self-awareness is under great strain as the Roma remain one of the most underprivileged ethnic groups in Turkey. In the 21st century, the Roma are still slaves to Turkey’s 20th century identity formation.

In this episode, again, Mundi Romani gives a voice to the voiceless and provides a unique insight into the struggle of the Roma of Turkey to reassert their ethnic identity in a country where the development of ethnic minority cultures is considered the greatest threat to internal stability and is fought against accordingly.


By FRANCE 24 (text) / Carlotta Ranieri - Gulliver CRAGG - Virginie HERZ - Willy BRACCIANO (video) Created 19/02/2009 - 23:49

http://www.france24 .com/en/20090219 -caring-on- the-road- with-roma- people-france- romania

This is a very good video. Might have to cut and paste.

Also want to remind you to visit Mundi Romani to watch excellent videos. You can link directly from the list of internet connections down a bit on the right.


This whole ecoomic mess has got me thinking about Marx Theories on Capitalism and its inevitable collapse.


Sorry this wouldn't publish as a direct link so you'll have to cut and paste.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Happy Birthday Yoko Ono.

76 years old today, and still performing.



ROMA VIRTUAL NETWORK On-Line Bulletin 18/02/2009

Hungary, Italy and a Broader Europe Bring Roma Struggles to the Fore 15/02/2009 -

A wave of violence, EU expansion and a surge of targeted legislation have cast a spotlight on Europe’s largest minority, sparking worries that an era of persecution and prejudice could return once again, or may have never left. Much of the recent attention has focused on the Roma population in Italy, which has come to symbolize a threat to the country’s well-being in the eyes of the newly elected Berlusconi government. However, debate surrounding crime rates and poverty in Hungary has brought the plight of the Roma people to fore once again.

Faced with a faltering economy, Hungarian authorities have seen a spike in blame for the country's ills on the minority Roma population, evidenced by the comments of a police chief who remarked that all burglary and theft in the town of Miskolc could be traced back to Roma criminals. Read more on Essex parish prepares to take in evicted Traveller families

LONDON, 16/02/2009 - A parish in Essex is preparing to accommodate dozens of Traveller women, children and babies in its church hall, after the local council was given permission to evict them from their camp. Families will be given just 45 minutes notice to leave, before the bailiffs arrive.
An Appeal Court ruling on 22 January opened the way for Basildon Council to demolish homes at Dale Farm, in a £1.9million operation. With more than 350 residents, Dale Farm is the largest Travellers site in Europe.

The families bought the derelict green belt land about ten years ago. They pay council taxes and have built semi-permanent homes there. The children are settled in local schools. But they did not have planning permission from Basildon Council. Each time they applied, their applications were refused.


Rome to dismantle illegal camps 16/02/2009

The authorities in Rome have begun dismantling illegal camps amid an outcry over three rapes last weekend that have been blamed on immigrants. Mayor Gianni Alemanno supervised the demolition of about 30 camps, home to many Roma, or Gypsies, from Romania. A 14-year-old girl was raped in a park in the capital on Saturday, allegedly by two men from Eastern Europe.


Sunday, February 15, 2009


Ah ha. Yesterday plans were
announced to construct a Gypsy caravan site in Reybridge, England, next door to the home of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

A protesting local resident said, "The Duchess will have to see the camp every time she leaves or enters her estate." Oh poor Camilla. Will the indignity never cease.

Prince Charles has declined comment.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Estelle Bennett, one of the Ronettes, the trio whose 1963 hit "Be My Baby" epitomized the famed wall of sound techique of Phil Spector, was found dead in her New Jersey apartment. The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Another indication of the end of an era.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I received this e-mail from a friend. It's worth passing on.


Have you heard that Ken Starr -- and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund -- filed legal briefs defending the constitutionality of Prop 8 and attempting to forcibly divorce 18,000 same-sex couples that were married in California last year? The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on March 5, with a decision expected within 90 days.

The Courage Campaign has created a video called "Fidelity," with the permission of musician Regina Spektor, that puts a face to those 18,000 couples and all loving, committed couples seeking full equality under the law.

Please watch this heartbreaking video now. If you have the same reaction that I did, please help me spread the word by sharing it with your friends and family ASAP:

The more people who see this video, the more people will understand the pain caused by Prop 8 and Ken Starr's shameful legal proceeding.

After you watch the video, please join me and over 150,000 people who have signed a letter to the state Supreme Court, asking them to invalidate Prop 8 and reject Starr's case.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009


On Feb 10, 1968, U S figure skater Pegging Fleming won America's only gold medal of the Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, France.
And she's still wonderful.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


February 2: Flora Crater, Women's Rights Activist, Dies
The Richmond-Times Dispatch reports: "Flora M. Trimmer Crater, the founder of the state's first chapter of the National Organization for Women and a leader in Virginia's campaign for equal rights, died today at her daughter's home in Delaware. She was 94....In 1997, the Virginia General Assembly honored Mrs. Crater with a resolution commending her for her lifetime of work empowering women and minorities. Among her efforts was a group called Crater's Raiders that she led in 1972 to lobby Congress to pass the Equal Rights Amendment."

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Published on

Hindus and Jews have appealed the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to visit the savagely burnt Indian immigrant in a Rome hospital to send a strong message against the xenophobia.

Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman; and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada and California in USA; in a statement in Nevada, also demanded adequate compensation by the Italian government for the victim Navtej Singh Sidhu who was reportedly brutally beaten, insulted and set on fire with petrol while asleep in Nettuno, south of Rome.

This Berlusconi visit would also show a sense of solidarity of Italian government with marginalized groups like immigrants, minorities, and Roma, who reportedly continually faced human rights violations in Italy, Zed and Rabbi Freirich argued.

The two religious leaders pointed out that Italy needed to do deep introspection of her heart and be kind to immigrants, minorities, and Roma people as xenophobic tendencies were not in tune with this great country of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Tintoretto, Verdi, Fellini, and longstanding history and traditions of tolerance.

Rajan Zed, who is the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, further urged the Italian government to improve its human rights record and come up with a more compassionate immigration policy. The reportedly continual social discrimination and victimization of Roma should also be dealt with emergently and they should be treated humanely. Culture of exclusion, intolerance and rejection should come to a halt.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Yoy. Recently I said that I was going to begin doing some book reviews. Here's my first one.

Lola's Luck My Life Among the California Gypsies

By Carol Miller


Succinct yet accurate.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Three young Italian men are suspected of a brutal attack on an immigrant from India. The 35 year old man, who was sleeping on a train station bench in Nettuno, Italy, was beaten and set on fire.

This incident has again fueled the debate on Italain attitudes towards immigrants and Rroma.


On Feb. 3rd, 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


WHO urges Kosovo to close lead-contaminated camps
The Associated Press Published: January 31, 2009
Article appeared in the International Herald Tribune

PRISTINA, Kosovo: A World Health Organization official says Kosovo must close down lead-contaminated camps in the tiny Balkan country's industrial north where about 100 Gypsy families live.

WHO regional director Dorit Nitzan says tests have shown levels of lead contamination are "severe" though they are falling.

Nitzan said Saturday the area should be declared hazardous for humans, and its residents should be moved.

The makeshift camps are located near a smelter that is part of the Trepca mining complex in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica.

The Gypsies, also known as Roma, have lived in the camps since their homes were torched just after Kosovo's 1998-99 war with Serb troops. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia