Wednesday, September 30, 2009


On 30 September 1962, African American student James Meredith was escorted by federal marshals to the campus of the University of Mississippi, where he enrolled for classes to begin the next day.

Interestingly, in June 1966, Meredith began a one man march against fear from Memphis Tennessee to Jackson Mississippi. He was shot during his march, which was continued by civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr and Stokey Carmichael.

On 30 September 1955 actor James Dean, 24, was killed in a two car collision in California.

Sunday, September 27, 2009



Hyatt Hotels said the nearly 100 housekeepers laid off from its three Boston hotels will be offered new full-time jobs, with health coverage and the same pay. The housekeepers had been fired by Hyatt and replaced with lower paid workers. (What a familiar tactic, eh). The announcement Friday came after Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick urged state employees to stop doing business with the hotels unless the workers were rehired.
Boston taxi drivers also threatened to boycott Hyatt Hotel in support of the housekeepers.

After all these years the struggle at Big Mountain continues.

There will be a caravan in Support of Communites On the Front Lines of Resistance at Big Mountain, Black Mesa, Arizona
November 21-28 2009

Black Mesa Indigenous Support Group
PO 23501
Flagstaff Arizona 86002

Wednesday, September 23, 2009



Roma Parents Sent to Jail in Hungary Because Their Kids Skip School

18/09/2009 - Two Roma parents in the village of Sajokaza have received 16-month prison sentences because two of their children stopped going to school, the Budapest daily "Nepszabadsag" reported on September 11. The paper cited a child-protection officer who said that it is unprecedented in Hungary that both parents, who have six children including an infant, have been given simultaneous prison sentences. While three of their other children regularly attend school, the two oldest children have dropped out.

The Association for Freedom has petitioned President Laszlo Solyom to intervene in the case, arguing that the blame does not lie with the parents because the reason the two children avoided school is that they felt very unhappy there. "No doubt because of their Roma origin, they were often put in a disadvantage and, what is more, they were subject to violence more than once," according to the petition.

Source: Bigotry Monitor: Volume 9, Number 35

Monday, September 21, 2009


Budapest, 18 September 2009
Uzhhgorod International Television Festival 2009 Announces Award for Film on Roma in Ukraine
Best Visual Coverage Award for Mundi Romani episode Ukraine 2008 - School Segregation

The My Native Land Uzhorod International Television Festival 2009 announced its winners today. Among the international jury’s choices for Best Television Productions this year, the Mundi Romani – the World through Roma Eyes documentary series ( won the Best Visual Coverage Award with its episode”Ukraine 2008 - School Segregation”. The Romedia Foundation and Duna Television Hungary coproduction is a second-time winner at My Native Land. In 2008, the Best Television Production Award went to Mundi Romani’s „Trapped – the Forgotten Story of the Mitrovica Roma”.

„Ukraine 2008” director Katalin Barsony expressed her gratitude today to the jury for enabling this shocking account of the causes and consequences of school segregation to reach a large Ukrainian public through the recognition brought by the award.

„Ukraine 2008”, the 15th episode of Mundi Romani, was shot in October 2008 in Western Ukraine. Despite worlwide reports that the general rate of poverty in the country has been decreasing for quite some years, the film bears witness to a situation for Ukraine’s Roma minority characterized by a public health disaster, total school segregation, malnutrition and squalor on a level seen in sub-Saharan Africa. An alarming in-depth report from a mere 40 km from the EU’s doors, nearly 20 years after the fall of the Soviet regime.

In Uzhhorod, an ethnically mixed and formerly Hungarian town in Trancarpathia lying close to Hungary’s border, there is so much of last century’s tempestuous history in the story of the Roma that the place really seems like a social scientist’s paradise. Here, the Roma are the minority of minorities and face daunting challenges. Here, Hungarian minority status serves as a basis for the total segregation of Roma children in the region’s schools. A shocking account from Roma men, women and children, the local school director, a human rights activist and a representative of the local authorities offers a complex picture, full of contradictions and very much characteristic of the untold stories this region seems to be so rich in.

In this episode, again, Mundi Romani gives a voice to the voiceless and provides a unique insight into the life of the Roma in Ukraine and into the complex social mechanisms which allow tens of thousands of children across the Eastern European region to be denied basic education on account of their ethnic origins. A testimony from 21st century Europe.

Check the English version:[film][keyvalue]=44#film

Katalin Bársony
Editor in Chief
Mundi Romani
Romedia Foundation
+36 30 532 84 21

Friday, September 18, 2009


Lolo Diklo wishes to extend our wishes for peaceful holy days to our Jewish and Muslim allies.

The following is a message from the Roma Virtual Network.

Religious wishes…

Roma Virtual Network wishes to its Jewish members a heartfelt ‘Shana Tova’ on the occasion of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year,
and ‘Eid Mubarak’ to its Muslim members on the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr, the festival which marks the end of the Ramadan, both being
celebrated this weekend.

Mr. Valery Novoselsky,
Editor, Roma Virtual Network

Thursday, September 17, 2009



September 17, 2009

Swastikas painted on Seattle synagogues highlight need for education, tolerance
The swastikas painted on two synagogues in Seattle's Seward Park neighborhood are a stark reminder that hate and prejudice live. Guest columnists Laurie Cohen and Delila Simon say the vandalism is a reminder that people must denounce hatred when they see it.

By Laurie Warshal Cohen and Delila Simon
Special to The Times

WITH a splash of paint, in the dark of night, some youngsters in Seattle have reminded us that hate crimes, ignorance and intolerance are ever-present, even in our own backyard. Swastikas painted on two synagogues recently in Seward Park are a stark reminder that each of us has the responsibility to shine a light on prejudice and hate whenever and wherever we encounter it.

The swastika graffiti drawn on the synagogues in one of our own Seattle neighborhoods challenges us as a community and as individuals to confront the roots of hate crimes such as this one. It is not enough to tolerate our differences; we must learn to respect our diversity. We must learn to be the ones who stand up to hate and to violence.

Sad to say, the experience of such intolerance can be found every day in almost every area of our lives. Students come up against bullying in our schools. The Muslim community has suffered a narrow-minded anger and prejudice since the tragedy of 9/11. In recent news reports, we see instances of intolerance with anger and hateful speech drowning out thoughtful and reasoned disagreement or discussion.

Whether in the blatant form of swastikas or the more subtle offensive comment, the origin is the same: intolerance. And if we do not stand up when we see it, and teach our children how unacceptable it is, we all remain in the dark.

Since the Holocaust, the swastika has become a symbol of what could happen if hatred is fostered and left unchecked. No matter who painted the swastikas - no matter what motive - they picked this symbol and they selected synagogues to display it. Symbols are powerful in our culture. This one has tragic historical meaning for humanity, but especially for Holocaust survivors who witnessed swastikas scribbled on the shops owned by their parents in Germany on Kristallacht - November 9-10, 1938.

After the recent shooting of Stephen Tyrone Johns at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., museum director Sara J. Bloomfield made the following statement: "The Holocaust did not begin with mass murder. It began with hate. The Holocaust reminds us of the dangers of indifference and unchecked hate - and that each of us has a responsibility to stand up to it."

We all know the tragic consequences of bigotry, prejudice and hatred. The Washington State Holocaust Education Center's mission of teaching and learning for humanity puts it on the front lines of educating our young people. With a multipronged approach, we help students study the Holocaust in the context of human rights and genocide.

As an outcome of our educational efforts we have witnessed students saying they will no longer accept bullying in their classes. They know the difference one person can make. A Lynnwood High School student stated, "After studying the Holocaust and hearing a Holocaust survivor speak, I feel it is my job to help others. I can't just let things happen anymore."

Teaching about the Holocaust is a springboard for connecting lessons of the past to current issues of intolerance in our classrooms. Learning about prejudice and the roots of genocide are other important lessons. Our children will inherit a more diverse world. They are depending on us to create pathways toward a more inclusive society. At the Holocaust Center, we know this can be done through education.

We know that the slogan "Never Again" has fallen short of reality as we are living in an age of modern genocide. We should have learned by now that we cannot wait as bystanders or victims, we must act. We must teach our children to stand up for what is right, for the betterment of our community, our region and our world. We must denounce hatred when we see it and embrace the diversity of our fellow human beings with whom we share this planet.

Laurie Warshal Cohen and Delila Simon are co-executive directors, Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Mary Travers, of Peter Paul and Mary fame died today of leukemia. She was 72.

She died as she lived, with style and courage.

I've always loved Mary's wonderful voice and respected her politics.

She was totally against the war in Viet Nam (and war in general), and worked endlessly for civil rights. I can't think of any demonstration against the war or pro civil rights which I attended, where Mary Travers was not also there, either singing or marching, mostly both. She even showed up in New York City for the funeral for one of the victims of the massacre at Kent State (by Ohio National Guard).

I for one, will surely miss the voice of Mary Travers.
Thanks Mary. The candles are lighted for your journey.


The following article by Rene Beekman appeared on THE SOFIA ECHO

Roma housing demolition policy constitutes ethnic cleaning - Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Wed, Sep 16 2009 17:41 CET by Rene Beekman

If Bulgarian authorities were to continue the practice of demolishing illegal Roma housing, which is estimated at around 50 to 70 per cent of all Roma houses, that would equate to ethnic cleansing, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee said in a media statement sent out on September 16 2009.

Responding to the demolition of houses in the Gorno Ezerovo borough of Bourgas by local authorities on September 8 2009, BHC said it was "seriously concerned".

"This act constitutes the severest human rights violation in Bulgaria this year and the severest violation since the new government took office," the BHC statement said.

Inhabitants of demolished houses in the Gorno Ezerovo borough had been left homeless, BHC said.

According to the BHC, the Sofia municipality has similar plans for houses in the Voenna Rampa area.

"In all cases the houses are demolished under the pretext of their "illegal status" and/or the lack of legal grounds for living in them, irrespective of the fact that these houses are the only homes their inhabitants have, and the fact that they have been living in them for many years," BHC said.

According to the BHC, local authorities had failed to ensure alternative housing for affected families and families had not received any protection from governmental institutions and judicial authorities.

"Extreme nationalist and xenophobic groups, from which the new government is receiving parliamentary and public support, have welcomed the local authorities' initiatives," BHC said, without specifying who it was alluding to.

The BHC said it "addressed the Bulgarian government, the prosecutor's office, the Ombudsman and other responsible institutions, as well as the international institutions, with an urgent request not to allow dozens of Roma families to remain homeless in the face of the approaching winter".

The BHC said that "the new government's tolerance of such practices is a very bad signal for its readiness to implement the 2006 National Programme for Improvement of the Living Conditions of the Roma".

According to the BHC, a large part of Roma housing in the country was formally illegal, with estimates varying between 50 and 70 per cent. "In such a situation, such wide-scale activities aimed at demolishing illegal Roma houses would constitute ethnic cleansing," the BHC said.

Earlier in the year, then Sofia mayor Boiko Borissov commented in local media that the Sofia municipality could not provide housing for, as he put it, everyone who had decided to leave their village and come to the city.



By EMERY P. DALESIO Associated Press Writer
Mon Sep 14, 4:38 pm ET

RALEIGH, N.C. – Crystal Lee Sutton, whose fight to unionize Southern textile plants with low pay and poor conditions was dramatized in the film "Norma Rae," has died. She was 68.

Sutton died Friday in a hospice after a long battle with brain cancer, her son, Jay Jordan, said Monday.

"She fought it as long as she could and she crossed on over to her new life," he said.

Actress Sally Field portrayed a character based on Sutton in the movie and won a best-actress Academy Award.

Field said in a statement Sutton was "a remarkable woman whose brave struggles have left a lasting impact on this country and without doubt, on me personally. Portraying Crystal Lee Sutton in 'Norma Rae,' however loosely based, not only elevated me as an actress, but as a human being."

In 1973, Sutton was a 33-year-old mother of three earning $2.65 an hour folding towels at J.P. Stevens when a manager fired her for pro-union activity.

In a final act of defiance before police hauled her out, Sutton, who had worked at the plant for 16 years, wrote "UNION" on a piece of cardboard and climbed onto a table on the plant floor. Other employees responded by shutting down their machines.

Union organizers had targeted J.P. Stevens, then the country's second-largest textile manufacturer, because the industry was deeply entwined in Southern culture and spread across the region's small towns. However, North Carolina continues to have one of the lowest percentages of unionized workers in the country.

Bruce Raynor, president of Workers United and executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, worked with Sutton to organize the Stevens plants. In 1974, the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union won the right to represent 3,000 employees at seven Roanoke Rapids plants in northeastern North Carolina.

"Crystal was an amazing symbol of workers standing up in the South against overwhelming odds — and standing up and winning," Raynor said Monday. "The fact that Crystal was a woman in the '70s, leading a struggle of thousands of other textile workers against very powerful, virulently anti-union mill companies, inspired a whole generation of people — of women workers, workers of color and white workers."

Raynor said Sutton was also a symbol of the national health care struggle. In a June 2008 interview with The Times-News of Burlington, Sutton said she couldn't get possible life-saving medicines for two months because her insurance company wouldn't cover them. She eventually received the drugs.

"How in the world can it take so long to find out (whether they would cover the medicine or not) when it could be a matter of life or death," she said. "It is almost like, in a way, committing murder."

Sutton's son said his mother kept a photo of Field in the movie's climactic scene on her living room wall at her home in Burlington, about 20 miles east of Greensboro. But despite what many people think, she got little profit from the movie or an earlier book written about her, he said.

"When they find out she lived very, very modestly, even poorly, in Burlington, they're surprised," he said.

Jordan said his mother spent years as a labor organizer in the 1970s. She later became a certified nursing assistant in 1988 but had not been able to work for several years because of illnesses.

"She never would have been rich. She would have given it to anyone she called the working class poor, people that were deprived," Jordan said.

Sutton donated her letters and papers to Alamance Community College in 2007. She said: "I didn't want them to go to some fancy university; I wanted them to go to a college that served the ordinary folks."


Associated Press writer Martha Waggoner contributed to this report.

Monday, September 14, 2009



Add Canada to the list of nations that, to varying degrees, make pariahs of Roma


September 13, 2009
Rosie DiManno

PRAGUE–The music is mournful, a painfully slow lament that evokes longing and loss.

There are slides – glissandi – between chords that pluck at the heartstrings as well, as if all of a people's suffering can be encapsulated in the notes of a song.

In a smoky cabaret, the audience is appreciative, even if the lyrics aren't understood.

But it has always been thus: The gypsy-entertainer, bohemian and romanticized; minstrels for their supper, valued for talents with the violin, the guitar, the lute, pan-pipes and castanets.

Perhaps, as musicians of distinct skills, they might even gain easier work-visa access to Canada. Why not? It worked for strippers. And it's a tactic that could get Roma around entry restrictions recently imposed anew against Czechs, a spate of asylum-seeking gypsies the clear target.

"The Canadian environment is extremely correct," observes Prague sociologist and researcher Ivan Gabal, with wry emphasis.

The view here is that, if there was chicanery afoot – with many of those near-3,000 refugee claimants over two years misrepresenting their purported persecution – it was a two-way con: Agents for Canadian employers luring cheap labour from among Czech Roma eager to migrate.

"It's well-organized," says Gabal, author of an exhaustive report on the social exclusion of Roma, commissioned by the Czech government. "In a way, it's human trafficking. But both sides, Canada and the Czech Republic, are extremely politically passive about blaming each other."

In a chic Prague entertainment district, gypsy performers are thick on the ground, whether serenading diners in expensive restaurants or rocking young fans in noisy clubs. Many are gypsies-for-display, even if they are the genuine article; exotic, admired and respected for their artistry, but not necessarily someone you'd want for a neighbour – as, indeed, nine out of 10 Czechs surveyed in one poll cited by Amnesty International admitted.

A truer representation of gypsy life can be found in gritty Prague enclaves such as Zizkov and Smichov. These are not so colourful a postcard tableau: crumbling tenement buildings, wretched flats, unemployed youth loitering, exhausted women, vacant-eyed men.

And music, too, though nobody is paying to hear it there.

There was a time, when gypsies were forbidden to play music for their own pleasure. Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, issued rules in the 18th century: "They shall be permitted to amuse themselves with music, or other things, only when there is no field work for them to do."

That was almost a benign proscription. Vlad the Impaler tossed gypsy slaves into boiling cauldrons of oil. In Hungary, "gypsy hunts" were a common and popular sport. Henry VIII made transporting gypsies to England illegal, the punishment for such passengers the noose. In this very city, Joseph I issued an edict in 1710 that all adult Roma men be hanged without trial, boys and women mutilated.

And, of course, Hitler exterminated perhaps half a million of them — nobody knows the number for sure — in what Roma call O Porraimos, the Great Devouring.

But no gypsies were summoned to testify at the Nuremberg Trials.

Over the centuries, they've been blamed for the plague, cannibalism, baby-stealing, witchcraft, natural disasters, spies and traitors to Christian countries.

Roma – or Romany or Rom – all the terms are acceptable, including "gypsy," which many use to describe themselves, even though North Americans (wrongly) consider that word a pejorative.

They are the eternal pariahs, ill-understood, demonized, endlessly and unspeakably persecuted, seen as asocial, a foreign body within the national politic; shunted into ghettoes and encampments when not outright expelled.

And still they have the spirit to make wonderful music, from sad ballads to whirlwind dances to something called Nu Gypsy Sound: gypsy jazz, gypsy rap, gypsy hip-hop. These are the arts they've never lost over a millennia of restless nomadic wanderings: Music, fortune-telling, animal-training, metalwork, tinkering and blacksmithing. Also, as even the NGOs that have created an industry out of serving their needs will admit: thievery and begging.

Criminality isn't innate, despite the racist view of gypsies throughout Europe.

The judgment that most of those Roma who flooded into Canada over the past two years, seeking asylum, were actually fleeing poverty rather than persecution – and covetous of Canadian welfare – prompted Ottawa to re-impose visa requirements in July.

Just as in Canada, however, crime is more often an underclass response to poverty and social exclusion. In the Czech Republic, unemployment among Roma is a staggering 70 per cent. They live in ghastly housing, shunted to the outskirts of town, most especially since the post-communist transformation of Czech society, herded into decrepit estates through a council flat allocation system.

If some gypsies are thieves and pickpockets, more substantial crime is being committed against them, provoked by resurgent fascism and marauding skinheads, the kind of louts who march through the streets chanting: "Gypsies to the gas chambers!"

The European Roma Rights Center in Budapest says 35 gypsies have been killed in the Czech Republic alone since 1989.

All of this is also well-known to Canadian authorities, with two reports released by the Immigration and Refugee Board after a fact-finding mission in May – homes firebombed, Roma turned away from restaurants and refused housing, how gypsies rarely travel by train for fear of being intimidated and attacked, the consensus among Czechs that Roma are scroungers who prefer an idle "lifestyle." Recently, a video prepared for the extremist right-wing National Party was broadcast on Czech TV, calling for "the final solution" to the Roma "question."

Only in 1991 did the Czech government formally cease sterilizing gypsy women, though critics allege the practice continued for more than a decade, via non-informed consent.

Theirs is a story of continuous struggle and persecution, their entry into Europe through Persia and Armenia a mysterious diaspora that historians have yet to comprehend.

Legend has it that a Persian shah asked an Indian king to send him 10,000 luri – musicians – for distribution throughout his empire. What's accepted as fact is that the ethnic nomads migrated from Rajasthan in northern India around 1000 AD. The term "gypsy" comes from the erroneous belief that they originated in Egypt.

Whatever their genesis, there is no single Roma culture anymore, not even a common Roma language. The original tongue, related to Sanskrit, has splintered into dozens of dialects. Although variously segregated or forced into assimilation, they largely adapted into the dominant culture and religion of wherever they ended up – when they were permitted. Just as often, they were enslaved and ostracized, subjected to pogroms and genocide simply for being what they were, dark-skinned and perceived as alien, inferior, parasitic.

There are an estimated 6 million Roma now living throughout Europe. It was only in 1998 that the governor of New Jersey repealed that state's anti-Roma law.

Many have tried to integrate, others stick to themselves, pre-emptively shunning rather than being shunned. Some do, in fact, keep their children out of school but this might be because they see no profit in education, can't even afford to buy their kids shoes.

Gabal, the sociologist, likens gypsies to North American native Indians more than oppressed blacks, though Roma were certainly enslaved, abolition of Romani slavery – Slobuzenja – occurring in the Baltic states only in 1856.

In former Czechoslovakia, as in all communist bloc countries, the Roma were forcibly assimilated, nomadism banished. Only recently, however, has the Czech Republic turned serious attention to effective Roma integration, largely at the insistence of the European Economic Community, with the Court of Human Rights repeatedly citing discriminatory violations. The Czech Republic is the only EU member with no anti-discrimination laws on the books.

"It was a shock, even for me," says Gabal, who in March 2008 tabled the country's first in-depth study on Social Inclusion in Roma Localities, which identified 333 such communities. "This is the first picture we had of how it actually looks, the first time we've have the courage to face the situation. You cannot run proper policies being stupid and uninformed."

While post-Communist Czech society has embraced a free-market economy, with greatly improved lifestyles, "Roma have simply not caught up to everybody else," says Gabal. "They've fallen further behind. There's a whole new generation born and brought up in an environment that offers none of the protections Roma used to have under the old system. These are people living outside the welfare structure.

"It is a lifestyle of social destruction with no chance of upward mobility."

Even the widely welcomed abolition of compulsory military service deprived Roma of a ticket out of social isolation. "At least, with military service, boys were able to leave these communities, live without their families, learn a skill," notes Gabal.

His report makes a slew of recommendations, some of which are already being implemented. These include hiring Roma teacher's assistants for the classroom – "demonstrating that even a Roma can obtain a reputable job and that education is meaningful," as stated in the report – and minority liaison officers in policing.

Certainly there's money to implement all the integration efforts. Europe is four years into a "Decade of Roma Inclusion," launched when governments with large gypsy populations (Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) agreed to close the gap in education, employ, health and housing, with $17 billion available from an EU social fund.

But it will be a long and incremental process, with no guarantees of success. Meanwhile, such funding has further inflamed hostility among Europe's non-Roma population, many seeing it as financial pandering for the inherently indolent. Polls repeatedly show mainstream society as blaming the Roma for their situation, citing their purported aversion to education, low motivation to work and unwillingness to take responsibility for themselves.

Given these prevalent attitudes, it is understandable that, in poignant Roma tradition, the birth of every child is heralded as a sad event – a promise of poverty and misery to come.

THE CZECH REPUBLIC - World - No hope for Roma in Czech ghettos

David, 5, front, and other children had their first-day-of-school excitement dashed when the bus driver refused to let them board because they are "gypsies." The Roma face deep-rooted racism in the Czech Republic. Rampant discrimination explains why 'gypsies' in former Eastern Bloc seek Canadian asylum

September 12, 2009

KLADNO—It is the first day of school. The children are well-scrubbed and neatly dressed. Some, the littlest and most excited, have their mothers in tow as they wait at the bus stop.

The bus pulls in. The doors fold open. The driver glares.

And forbids them from boarding.

"I don't take gypsies."

Moms, incensed, start to yell. Kids, confused and frightened, begin to cry. The driver, unmoved, slams shut the door and the bus rumbles off, leaving youngsters stricken and adults seared with shame.

Many of these children have just had their introductory lesson in what it means to be Roma – reviled and excluded – in this so-civilized country.

Ask the question: Why did 2,869 Czech Roma wash up at Toronto's Pearson airport between Oct. 2007 and June 2009, seeking asylum as alleged political refugees?

Here is an answer: Rust-belt Kladno – birthplace of NHL star Jaromir Jagr – a mining eyesore 25 kilometres northwest of cosmopolitan Prague, where gypsy children are unwelcome in public schools and on buses, where families live upwards of 10 to a single room in a dilapidated tenement building on the hardscrabble edge of town.

A single water meter serves nearly 700 residents. Toxic asbestos insulation oozes from the walls.

It was this address – a one-time meat-packaging plant known as Masokombinat – that was fire-bombed by skinheads last year, though fortunately the projectiles landed in a clump of bushes out front. Unlike, say, the Molotov cocktail assault in April on a Roma home in the town of Vitkov that left a 22-month-old girl with burns to 80 per cent of her body.

These are not isolated incidents. In Czech towns with a heavy Roma population, in the gypsy ghettos of Prague, violent attacks against the ethnic minority have escalated alarmingly in recent years. Right wing groups and the anti-immigrant political parties that feed on Roma resentment are on the march across all of Europe, most especially in former Iron Curtain countries.

The Czech Republic is not even the worst offender in making pariahs of Roma. Unlike neighbouring Slovakia, there are no gypsy villages or squatter camps. But it is the Czech Roma who brought the issue of a people's crippling discrimination to political prominence in Canada, with Ottawa this summer making the controversial decision to reimpose visa requirements in order to staunch the flow of asylum seekers. Some 3,000 Roma have settled in Hamilton, overwhelming social services.

In Kladno, Canada might as well be Oz.

That is an underlying complication in the exodus to Canada – those who can afford to leave are most often the Roma suffering least from privation and racism. Many, it is believed, paid "mediators" – both here and there – who helped facilitate asylum applications, which included advice on how to exaggerate their experience of racial discrimination.

Isabella Tokarova would not need to exaggerate.

The 38-year-old lives at Masokombinat with her husband and three children, the oldest son already emigrated to England.

She is still fuming that her 5-year-old boy, David, was not permitted on the school bus, heatedly stating her case to a female police officer.

"They let all the white people come on board but not the gypsies. I told the driver: `You are a racist!' He just sat there and continued to insult me, said we didn't have the right to ride on the bus or attend white schools.

"I swear, if I had the possibility of leaving this country, I would pay everything I have to get out. But we are stuck here, where we don't want to be and where they don't want us to be."

Tokarova pinches her dusky flesh. "This is who I am. This is why nobody will give us a chance to prove that we are decent people, too."

Vera Benakova, 47, recalls when her daughter started at the local school and was assigned to share a desk with a white girl. "Her mother came to the school and slapped the teacher across the face."

Prague was severely censured by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled the Czech Republic was discriminating against Roma children by putting them in special schools – for "backward" kids – as a matter of public policy, a systematic streaming that precluded them from advancing academically and led to early drop-out, usually after Grade 8, which is required to obtain a driver's license.

The government has, formally, phased out that program but many gypsy students are still segregated in Roma-only classes within mainstream schools, where they follow a different curriculum and are stigmatized from the get-go.

The Czech Republic is the only EU country that has no anti-discrimination laws that could prevent such things.

The collapse of communism in the Czech Republic, while sparking a vigorous free market economy for most citizens to enjoy – this is a wealthy nation – had only lousy consequences for Roma. Under the Communist regime employment was mandatory, meaning at least menial jobs for gypsies, and guaranteed housing.

State socialism did provide a tattered security blanket and, arguably, restrained the worst of racial prejudices. That buffer has disappeared. Local authorities sold municipal and social housing to private owners in the red-hot real estate market that ensued. In many towns, Romas were relocated to designated areas and housing estates that developed into ghettos.

Non-Roma already living in those areas who couldn't afford to buy up – their own house values plummeting when Roma moved into their midst – are seething side-by-side with the newcomers, ripe for overtures by fascists, neo-Nazis and fringe xenophobic parties.

No less than Jiri Cunek, head of the Christian Democratic Party and former deputy prime minister, made retrograde racism acceptable when, as mayor of Vsetin, he ordered dozens of Roma families removed from a rundown building in the centre of town to a decrepit housing estate on its periphery.

These housing estates have become the scene of far-right marches and riots, extremists portraying themselves as defenders of the working class against gypsy criminals and welfare parasites; Roma leaders in turn have called for the formation of patrols to protect their homes. It's a perfect incubator for spiralling violence.

A government study in 2006 found that 80,000 Roma – out of a gypsy Czech population of about 300,000 – were living in some 300 ghetto-like communities, four-fifths of which had come into existence in just a decade. Predictably, as occurs everyplace where an underclass is bottled up and denied a lifeline, criminality jumped. Little wonder that, according to polls, nine out of 10 Czechs don't want Roma neighbours.

In much of Europe, but rarely here, Roma beg, sending their kids out into the streets in what Westerners regard as scandalous child abuse. For many gypsies, however, it's a genuine profession – so many others had been closed to them.

"Roma were excluded from society for such a long time, all over Europe," explains Martin Simacek, former head of the Kladno city branch of People in Need, the largest Czech NGO dealing with gypsies. "They are not a popular topic in Czech society."

In fact, there are upwards of 400 Roma-oriented NGOs in the Czech Republic, shouldering a burden that had too long been ignored by Prague. Only now is the government willing to give state-administered status to the Agency for Social Inclusion in Roma Localities, with Simacek appointed to head it. Twelve "localities" – from small towns to large-size cities such as Brno – have been identified so far for integration efforts emphasizing education, employment and health care. But municipal authorities have been resistant. "They don't want anybody controlling them," sighs Simacek. "We are in a fight."

These are the same authorities who privatized the pre-existing social housing, pushing Roma to the physical and psychological edge of mainstream existence.

"Unemployment in the Czech Republic used to be very low. Now, there is no work for Roma and they are unable to pay for their own living costs. But there's no social network capacity for them either. We need to rebuild that whole capacity for social living."

Simacek estimates that up to 30 per cent of adult Roma have never held a job in their lifetime. "It's not because they don't want to work. There are so many fairy tales about Roma. The fact is they are unskilled and there are no jobs for them anymore. They left the special schools when they were 15, 16 years old, unprepared for life and dysfunctional, although there was nothing wrong with their brains.

"Now we have children who can't speak their own Roma language and are not fluent in Czech either. What are they supposed to do?"

Many, he acknowledges, become involved in crime. "They do robberies, become pickpockets. We see a lot of usury and prostitution and drug-dealing. But most of this criminality is tightly connected to their own communities.

"It's true that in the Czech Republic, Roma don't beg. But this is still a horrible life for them."

Simacek, however, does not consider Czech Roma legitimate candidates for asylum status in Canada. The Czech Republic has been a member of the European Union since 2004. There is freedom of movement among all European countries, no visas required.

That begs the question why Czech Roma would turn to Canada for escape, when they could easily look for improved prospects anywhere in Europe. Of course, an asylum claim in Canada comes with guaranteed welfare assistance attached while it wends through the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) process. That's not available to internal EU migrants.

Simacek suggests – though he has no proof – that mediators in both the Czech Republic and Canada were behind the exodus of the past two years, with employers in Canada on the hunt for cheap labour.

Canada sheltered Czechoslovakian political refugees in 1948 and 1968. There was a wave of immigration that followed the collapse of Communism in 1989. Ottawa, in October 2007, lifted the visa requirement imposed 10 years earlier. Around that time, a Czech TV documentary showed refugees enjoying their new lives in Canada.

Nearly 3,000 Czech refugee claims were filed in the next two years – compared to five in 2006. While Canada doesn't record ethnic origin, it was obvious the applicants were Roma. Ottawa reimposed visa requirements in July.

So far, the visa shift has had immediate and dramatic effect: Between July 16 and July 31, there were only two Czech refugee claims, compared to 155 in the two weeks preceding visa imposition.

Back at Kladno – population 70,000, 5,000 of them Roma – residents of Masokombinat have little understanding of the diplomatic fandango between Canada and the Czech Republic. With or without a visa, Canada is beyond their grasp.

"My flat was destroyed by fire and the government moved me here," says Helena Misalkova, single mother of three. "They said it would be only for three months. That was eight years ago."

And then there's David, the little boy who had been so eager and excited to start school.

"I am sad," he says, eyes downcast. "But I will never go to that school now, even if they let me on the bus."

Saturday, September 12, 2009



Pan-Hellenic Union of Greek Roma (PUOGR)

We would like to inform you that PUOGR is completing the construction of a place in Athens of 8 337 square metres dedicated for a commercial center with 82 small shops belonging to local ethnic Romani owners. At this Romani Mall we would like to have employees from other European countries, Roma and non-Roma, who reside in Greece for, at least, 5 years.

The funding for this project had been provided by the organization EOMMEX that gives to each Roma businessman 55% from European funds and 45 % as a loan to support his/her new work. PUOGR also provides the funding, human resources and logistics for the project. This project also includes the scheme on construction of a village with 369 homes for the people working at the Romani mall. This part of a project is also going to be supported by PUOGR.

Please help us in any way you can to build a new road for Roma!

Friday, September 11, 2009



Kosovo: Investigate Attacks on Roma 07 Sep 2009 11:24:32 GMT
Source: Human Rights Watch

(Brussels) - Kosovo and international authorities should act in concert to halt the recent wave of attacks and harassment targeting Roma communities, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. The action should include both speedy investigations leading to identification and prosecution of the perpetrators and measures to prevent any future attacks.

The attacks were initially reported in the Kosovo Roma media in mid-August, 2009. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, in cooperation with Roma nongovernmental organizations, have worked since then to document the incidents and the responses made by the authorities.

"These incidents underscore how vulnerable the Roma in Kosovo remain," said Wanda Troszczynska-van Genderen, Western Balkans researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The only way to stop these attacks is for both Kosovo and international police and prosecutors to make it clear that they will bring the perpetrators to justice."
A Roma language television program (Yekhipe) on Radio Television Kosovo, the state broadcaster, reported on August 13 that a flurry of attacks against Roma by ethnic Albanians took place in Gnjilane (Gjilan) in the last week of July. At least four Roma, including a community leader, were physically assaulted and injured in separate incidents, the program reported. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission in Kosovo said that the victims had reported the assaults to the police and that investigations have been opened.

The Yekhipe program reported that additional attacks had taken place at that time but that they were not reported to the police because the victims feared retaliation. Sources at the OSCE Mission in Kosovo also confirmed a burglary of a Roma house in Gnjilane the same week.

Another series of episodes was reported on August 25, when 20 Roma families from the Halit Ibishi neighborhood in the town of Urosevac (Ferizaj) submitted a petition to the Urosevac Municipal Community Office saying that the families had been verbally and physically harassed on a number of occasions between August 17 and 22 by "unknown perpetrators." They sought protection from the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) and the municipal authorities. The police are investigating the allegations.

International organizations mandated to monitor security and conditions for minorities in Kosovo - including the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), OSCE and the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo (EULEX) - initially did not respond to the reports. The organizations have since been looking into the incidents, and they currently lack sufficient information to determine whether they were ethnically motivated.
Kosovo and local police in Gnjilane and Urosevac have reportedly increased patrols in tense areas in response to the incidents. But no arrests have been made and neither the Kosovo government nor international authorities in Kosovo have issued any official statements condemning the attacks.

"It is not enough to react when an incident occurs," said Sian Jones, Balkans Researcher at Amnesty International. "A proactive response is needed, including expanded police patrols, to protect the rights of the Roma community, as well as outreach to these communities to encourage people to report incidents to the police, who should promptly and impartially investigate all such allegations."
Over the last decade, the Kosovo and international authorities have routinely failed to protect minority communities from violence and intimidation. This has left the Roma vulnerable to repeated attacks, including a series of ethnically motivated attacks in March 2004.

Human Rights Watch has documented these shortcomings in its reports, including "Not on the Agenda: The Continuing Failure to Address Accountability in Kosovo Post-March 2004" and "Kosovo Criminal Justice Scorecard" See also Amnesty International's Annual Report 2009: Serbia, including Kosovo,

HRW news



Hungary’s Roma protect themselves

by Patricia Treble
Thursday, September 10, 2009 3:40pm

Hungary’s Roma population is so afraid of attacks by right-wing groups that they have started protecting their neighbourhoods through nighttime patrols. Their fear is justified: six Roma have been murdered in violent assaults since last November. After a huge police investigation, four men, alleged Roma haters who carefully planned their crimes, were detained for the deadly attacks in late August.

One of the worst attacks occurred in Tatárszentgyörgy last February. Erzsebet Csorba woke up to the sound of gunfire outside her house. She discovered her mortally wounded son not far from his firebombed house. Her grandson was nearby. “His whole small body was full with holes from the bullets,” she told Voice of America. The child soon died.
Many fear the violence directed at the nation’s 660,000 Roma will continue, despite the arrests. For the poor ethnic minority, segregation and discrimination increased after the fall of Communism when unskilled and unemployed Roma tended to concentrate in rural villages. Life was cheaper than the cities, but with little chance of work.

Tomás Polgár, a popular right-wing blogger, voices a common refrain among Hungarians: “They are criminals and they are a threat to us, the majority. They make more children, they’re taking over.” Ominously, he states, “It’s a war.” In June, Jobbik, a far-right party with a platform of getting tough on “Gypsy criminality,” captured 15 per cent of the vote in European elections.

The intimidation can be frightening. Viktória Mohácsi, a former Roma European politician, receives countless email threats. “I feel like I’m in a war,” she told a Dutch newspaper. While she isn’t sure if patrols of Roma areas are a good idea, she concedes there are few alternatives: “We can either set up an army or flee.”

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Army Archerd, long time entertainment columnest, died yesterday.

It was widely acknowledged and respected that Archerd's columns were gentlemanly and respectful. He tried not to exploit his subjects.

I respected him for the position he took in 1999, speaking against the honorary Oscar to be awarded to Elia Kazan, and for the postition he took during the red baiting era of the 1950's.

The following is a quote from

"Although much of Archerd's work was nonconfrontational, when film director Elia Kazan was to be given a honorary Oscar in 1999 for his work, Archerd wrote, "I, for one, will not be giving him a standing ovation."

Kazan had provided testimony in 1952 to the House Un-American Activities Committee, admitted past membership in the Communist party and named others from his group.

"Army's finest hour was his courageous stand against the blacklist at a time when almost all other Hollywood columnists were red-hunting," said Peter Bart, vice president and editorial director of Variety. "He really was a passionate reporter and a champion of causes he believed in."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


On 8 Sept 1974 President Gerald Ford granted an unconditional pardon to former President Richard Nixon.
Meanwhile, Leonard Peltier and and Mumia Abu Jamal continue to languish in prison, Abu Jamal on death row.
And the beat goes on......
Buffy St. Marie has a new CD, her first in 14 years and it's great.

Monday, September 7, 2009



Production – France
Gatlif’s Liberté (Freedom):

"An historic episode that has resonances in the current European political context, that of the destiny of a gypsy family in the German-occupied France of 1943.

The film stars French actor Marc Lavoine (Frenchmen), Canadian actress Marie-Josée Croze (Tell No One) and Swiss actor James Thiérrée (The Vanishing Point).

Based on real-life characters, Liberté will follow the journey of a family led by its head of clan (a woman) and its "hero", Taloche (Thiérrée), a whimsical childlike bohemian. They will be helped by the Righteous, Théodore, the town mayor (Lavoine) and Ms Lundi, teacher and mayor employee (Croze).
Written by the director, the story deals with the tragic destiny of gypsies in France. But it is also a story of love and friendship between two Righteous who try to protect, right to the bitter end, an abandoned child and a Roma family.

Gatlif accompanied the announcement of the project with a declaration highlighting his intentions: "I wanted to give them another image other than that forged by fear and hate, which led directly to gas chambers for gypsies and bohemians, a free and nomad people".

Produced by Princes Productions, the filmmaker’s company.
Written by
Fabien Lemercier for

LIBERTE premiered in France last week.
Tony Gatlif is the director of many wonderful films including

I plan to review all these films. Morgan

"Korkoro"/"Liberte" played at the Montreal World Film Festival this weekend where it won the audience prize and the Grand Prix des America, the festival's top jury prize.
Yeah Tony Gatlif.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Several nights ago the BBC aired a documentary as part of their THE WORLD series. The documentary is GYPSY CHILD THIEVES, by Liviu Tipurita.
I've tried several times to see the movie on the internet but the BBC is not releasing beyond Britian. That's pretty interesting. One can easily access England's Got Talent.

From what I've read about the movie it reminds me of TIME OF THE GYPSIES. While a very interesting film I always hesitate to include it in my film series because it only presents Roma as exploiters of children. The things portrayed in both these films do happen, but by a small number of Roma. Focusing on them without presenting the intolerable conditions in which MOST Roma live in Europe is exploitative and likely to fuel the anti Roma sentiments already rampant throughout Europe and in England.

People with severly limited options will often pursue the only paths available to them.


Oliver Twist is alive and well and living in mainland Europe. OK, maybe not well, because he lives in squalor, but he is just about alive. Or rather they are alive, because there are lots of them: Artful Dodgers, Charley Bateses, Oliver Twists, Olivia Twists (many are girls). They're the kids in This World: Gypsy Child Thieves (BBC2), young Romanian Roma, living in camps on the fringes of Madrid, Milan and society in general. They're sent into town by their controllers, their Fagins (often their parents) to thieve. Sometimes they're beaten, locked up or sold. It's extraordinary and terrifying that such Dickensian scenes can be happening today, in Europe.

And there's no nice Mr Brownlow to rescue them. Well, in Madrid there's a residential centre that's supposed to assess the family situation of every child that ends up there. But often they're handed back to the same adults, who send them out to steal and sell off their daughters to be married at 13, because no one really cares. In Milan, there's a charity that offers shelter to Roma whose shacks have been bulldozed; it tries to integrate them into Italian life. But Milan also has a deputy mayor, the one who orders in the bulldozers, who says Roma don't understand the concept of work. And one charming Milan citizen says: "These people should be killed, but we're not allowed to." Perhaps it's not surprising that so few Roma take up the charity's offer.

Their best hope may be Liviu Tipurita, whose excellent film this is. Not that it's his job to help; he's just a journalist, investigating a story. But highlighting the Roma's plight has to be a good thing. And he obviously cares passionately about these kids. The film is not hand-wringing or heart-bleeding, though; it's not too charidee, or sociedee. As well as highlighting the extreme prejudice these people have faced for centuries, Tipurita is not afraid to point out their serious faults – sending their kids out to go thieving on the streets of European cities, for a start.

It's not boring or worthy either, which a film about Romanian Gypsies could so easily have been. You know the type: it's important, you should watch it, you know you should; but it's been a hard day and you really just fancy a bit of Location Location Location. But this gives films about underprivileged people a good name. There's lots of covert filming, lots of staking out places, even a car chase; it's practically a thriller. There's some excellent Gypsy music, too, and I like the gangstery accent of the actor doing the English interpretations.

There's even room for humour. Tipurita goes to Romania to see the fruits of some of all this crime. In a Romany village, among the shacks, the dirt streets and the donkey carts, are the residences of some of the big shots who've done so well they've come home to retire. These houses are fabulous neoclassical palaces of tackiness; it's like that film Lucky Break but Gypsy style, and shows that you may be able to steal wealth, but you can't steal taste. Tipurita's guide, who drives him around in a Mercedes 4x4, says it's all got a bit out of hand, the stealing. Which is a bit rich coming from a guy who wears a black fedora, who is head of a clan called the Thieves, and whose ringtone is the theme from The Godfather.

Quite amusing, then, as well as exciting. None of which hides that fact that it's also a fabulously thorough piece of investigative journalism, about a story that is both barely comprehensible and desperately sad. Good work.


Dear friends and colleagues,

Last night, the BBC broadcast a film made by Romanian journalist Liviu Tipurita about "Romanian Gypsy child thieves" in Spain and Italy. As I know that many of you have done important work and extensive field research in Spain and Italy, which has been published by OSI and ERRC, I would like to encourage you to watch it if you can (please see the links below). It is, in my view, a very alarming, unbalanced and racist account which contains some hard-core stereotypical views about Romanian Roma, especially in connection with child exploitation. Very misleading, racist and potentially very dangerous, especially in the current political, economic and social climate.

Today, I have have conversations with several people here in the UK who watched it last night. Most of the people I have spoken to are really enraged, upset and frustrated by this: they want to generate debate around the quality of the programme that BBC has produced. Mr Tipurita made sure that he interviewed only certain types of people and professions, policemen in the main. He did not refrain from asking "rhetoric" questions such as "is child exploitation inherent to Roma culture?" or from quoting a right-wing Italian senior voter who said that all Gypsies are disgusting and they should be killed. No critical note or explanation was provided by the journalist; as a result, the statement came across very strongly, as the racist person had originally meant it. In the sixty minutes of the programme, only one NGO was interviewed (Case de la Caritas, I believe); no reference to the work of OSI and ERRC, or the Fundacion Secretariado Gitano.

I would be happy to know what you reckon and whether you think there is a chance of us taking a joint initiative.

Kind regards,

Lucie Fremlova

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


The following story was broadcast Wed. 2 September 2009 on National Public Radio
Morning Edition.
Could the media finally be paying attention to the conditions of Roma/Sinti throughout Europe.

The Roma minority, known as Gypsies, unfortunately, are used to discrimination and violent attacks. But recent violence in Eastern Europe has reached a new level of ferocity.

Several Roma, including children, have been killed in attacks this year involving firearms, gasoline bombs and hand grenades. Roma activists blame right-wing groups, which appear to have grown in strength as the economic crisis has deepened across much of Eastern Europe.

The latest victim was single mother Maria Balogh, 45, and her 13-year-old daughter Ketrin. In early August, the Baloghs were asleep in their house in Kisleta, a quiet farming village in northeastern Hungary near the Ukrainian border. An unknown number of armed men broke into their house and fired on the women. Maria was killed, and her daughter remains hospitalized with critical injuries.

Family member Virag Lakatos, 20, who lives near the victims, says Maria worked hard at local agriculture jobs and kept to herself.

"Her husband died a while ago, and she worked very hard to raise her daughter alone," Lakatos says. "She lived for her daughter. Sometimes I walk past her house now, and I keep thinking, why isn't she calling out my name and inviting me in, as usual?"

In February, attackers struck a different rural village in Hungary. They set fire to the Roma family's house during a nighttime attack using a Molotov cocktail, or homemade gasoline bomb. When the father and his 5-year-old son tried to run away, they were shot dead.

Since 2008, Hungary has seen at least nine arson attacks, eight shootings and two assaults involving hand grenades on Roma communities. Violence against Roma also has flared in the Czech Republic, Romania and elsewhere in recent months.

Roma activist Juci Csik walks up to Balogh's freshly dug grave in a small cemetery that hugs a field of tall corn. The grave is covered with pine wreaths and flowers browned by the summer sun. Csik sees the rising violence and intimidation against Roma as a Europe-wide problem.

"In Italy, they also regularly shoot at Gypsies in their caravan settlements outside the cities," Csik says. "In Ireland, there are tensions with the authorities. In the Czech Republic this year, we've seen attacks by gangs using Molotov cocktails and guns, like here in Hungary."

Hungarian police have arrested four men and charged them with murder, attempted murder and arson for alleged involvement in the attacks. Hungarian newspapers report that the suspects were extremists well-known to some police and intelligence officials.

There are questions as to why authorities didn't monitor the group more closely. One of the suspects reportedly was involved in an arson attack on a synagogue in 1995, and another is a neo-Nazi skinhead.

Police are looking for other suspects, but the arrests have done little to calm fears in Kisleta. Roma men are still conducting all-night car and foot patrols of their neighborhoods.

"I'm just defending my family and the other Roma in this village," Istvan Horvath, 28, says. He's staying vigilant, unconvinced that the racist crime wave is over.

"We patrol until dawn," Horvath adds. "But if we see anything suspicious, we stay out longer."

Across Eastern Europe, the Roma population is increasing — and so is resentment as the economic downturn has worsened. The crisis has only sharpened old social tensions.

The government in Hungary predicts that the economy will contract by 6.7 percent this year. Unemployment is rising.

Just 10 blocks away from where Balogh was murdered, wheat and corn farmer Imre Madach says the slumping economy has worsened anti-Roma feelings.

Hungarian government figures show that less than one-quarter of Roma work legally in the country.

Madach says he doesn't condone violence and hate but accuses Roma of being lazy welfare cheats.

"Gypsies don't work but have eight or nine children, and then get all this money from the state to live on," Madach says. "And this state sucks the blood out of the Hungarian working people in high taxes to pay them. It's just not fair! So, of course this sharpens the social tensions."

Roma activists say the Hungarian extreme right-wing Jobbik or "better" party has recklessly stoked the anti-Roma climate. Jobbik is growing in popularity based in large part on an anti-Roma platform. Jobbik leaders regularly lash out at what they call "out of control Gypsy crime" and call for a cut to welfare benefits to the long-term unemployed.

"The motivation can only be racist, as all of the victims are Roma," says Jeno Kaltenbach with the European Roma Rights Center in Budapest. He says Jobbik's fierce anti-Roma rhetoric has contributed to the climate of hate and fear.

"Jobbik uses this [racist] language openly," Kaltenbach says. "It can justify such actions saying 'we are only protecting ourselves against Roma crime.' "

Asked about the anti-Roma attacks, Jobbik spokesman Zsolt Varkonyi points to an attack nearly three years ago in which a mob of Roma attacked and killed a Hungarian man after a traffic altercation. Varkonyi denies that Jobbik's paramilitary wing, the volunteer Hungarian Guard, has anything to do with the recent wave of anti-Roma violence.

Instead, he blames shadowy foreign secret agents trying to discredit Hungary.

"These killings were done so professionally, that it could not be the guy next-door," Varkonyi says. "The members of the Hungarian Guard are the guys from next-door. The professionalism is a sign that it is a secret service. We suspect people in the Slovak Secret Service."

A Hungarian police official says there is no evidence that Slovakian secret agents are behind the anti-Roma violence.

The extreme right-wing party accuses Jews of buying up land across rural Hungary and believes so-called Gypsy crime is the top problem in the country.

Recent polls show between 15 and 18 percent of Hungarians support the party. If those numbers hold through elections next spring, Jobbik is poised to become the third most powerful political party in Hungary.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009



Mass. Health Bill Would Allow Warrantless Arrests, Quarantines

Written by Alex Newman

Tuesday, 01 September 2009 17:00

A pandemic and disaster preparation bill (S. 2028) passed unanimously by the Massachusetts Senate earlier this year is receiving wide-spread criticism as citizens mobilize to oppose its passage in the commonwealth’s House of Representatives.

“Under this bill, Massachusetts becomes a medical police state. There is no debating it,” wrote Natural News editor Michael Adams in an August 28 article entitled "Wake Up, America: Forced vaccinations, quarantine camps, health care interrogations and mandatory 'decontaminations,'" where he suggested America was delving into medical fascism. “The citizens of Massachusetts will have no rights, period. The Constitution is ancient history. You are now the property of the State.”

The bill contains a number of controversial, alarming, and blatantly unconstitutional provisions. Under an emergency declared by the governor, the statute purports to give the health commissioner, and law enforcement and medical personnel broad authority to mobilize forces, vaccinate the population, enter private property with no warrants, and even quarantine people against their will.

The legislation provides severe penalties — $1,000 fine per day and possible jail time — for not complying with state orders, while also claiming to shield everyone involved from liability. It gives local health authorities the power “to restrict or prohibit assemblages of persons” and gives government agents the authority to “arrest without a warrant any person whom the officer has probable cause to believe has violated an order” while using “reasonable diligence to enforce such order.” Also, law-enforcement authorities “shall assist” medical personnel in the “involuntary transportation” of people to “treatment centers.”

The provision on vaccines does give citizens the authority to refuse the vaccination, but people who do can be “isolated or quarantined.” The same fate awaits those are “unable or unwilling to submit to decontamination or procedures necessary for diagnosis.” One part of the legislation requires that owners or occupiers of a property “permit entry into and investigation of the premises,” and another section creates price controls.

Draconian measures like this to supposedly deal with pandemics and outbreaks of disease are getting a boost with the hysteria surrounding swine flu, but critics are warning of the dangers of such tactics and fighting back. “In this time of fear, we can’t let that fear take away our freedom to make voluntary health decisions,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, the president of the National Vaccine Information Center. She offered a chilling analysis of the legislation in Massachusetts and the national situation, saying “it looks like few choices will be allowed.” But she encouraged people to find out what their rights are.

Though it breezed past the Senate with a 36 to 0 vote, the Massachusetts bill is still languishing in the House after being referred to the committee on health care financing. “One of the reasons the bill is stalled in the house is because those house reps are being bombarded with phone calls from constituents saying, ‘I will refuse the vaccine,’” explained writer Devvy Kidd in a piece about important bills to defeat where she said the reaction to this legislation may have been blown out of proportion.

But while opposition to the plan may be mounting, there are many in power who believe — like Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel — that the government shouldn’t let “crises” go to “waste.” This bill has been debated in the Massachusetts legislature before, but the House and Senate could never agree on a final version. So some lawmakers are using concern over the swine flu outbreak as a tool for pushing their agenda and getting it passed this time around.

“It’s too bad that we have to have something like that pending to get us to finally act,” said Democratic Massachusetts Senator Richard Moore in a televised interview, referring to the spread of the H1N1 virus. “This was actually on the calendar before that became a news story,” he explained, but “it does give us another reason why it’s a good idea to have this one the books.” If the House passes it, a veto by the governor will likely be the last thing that could stop it.

Unfortunately, people hoping that the judicial branch will step in an restore some sanity may be left wanting. “Judges will not stand in the way of emergency actions taken to protect the public from a clear and present danger, and if they do, the state appeals court will over turn their rulings in a matter of hours,” explained a piece written by Louisiana State University director of the program in law, science and public health Edward Richards and Dr. Katherine Rathbun. “The history of judicial restraint on emergency powers is one of blind obedience to civil and military authority.”

A great deal of tyrannical federal statutes dealing with health emergencies already exist, and some other states are considering vast power grabs of their own. Maine recently had its National Guard engaging in swine flu vaccine scenario drills at a school while the military draws up plans to help FEMA with the swine flu situation across the country.

But it is past time for citizens to demand that their leaders respect the people’s medical freedom and individual rights. Massachusetts should kill this bill and other states should fight to preserve the liberty of their citizens. Government officials at all levels should finally obey their oaths to the Constitution and the bill of rights, especially in the life-and-death field of healthcare.