Thursday, April 30, 2009
30 April 2009 | 05:26 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. Bulgaria is among the countries, where the Roma minority feels least discriminated, an EU survey on minority rights reveals. According to the paper, just 26% of the Roma people in Bulgaria feel victims of discrimination. Bulgaria comes second in the top list of most tolerant countries, right after Romania, where 25% of the Roma say they’re discriminated.
The survey involves seven EU Member States – Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary. The Czech Republic is reported as least tolerant to its Roma population, as 64% of it say their rights are not observed.
I would have picked Bulgaria as one of the countries in Europe which is least oppressive to Gypsies.
That Romania came in second in the polls blows me away.
Things must be far worse in Europe than even I suspected when Romania, where Gypsies are consistently harassed, oppressed and victims of pograms, comes in second best of places for Gypsies.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Czech Rep: police detain former KKK leader on hate crime charge
Prague, 24/04/09 - Czech police reported Friday detaining David Duke, former leader of US extremist group the Ku Klux Klan, on suspicion of denying the Holocaust in a book.
Duke arrived in Prague earlier this week at the invitation of local neo-Nazis to publicize the Czech translation of 1998 memoir My Awakening. Police have charged him with denying in the book that the systematic mass murder of Jews and other ethnic groups by Nazi Germany during World War II ever took place, a hate crime in the Czech Republic punishable by up to three years in prison, police spokesman Jan Mikulovsky told the German Press Agency dpa.
Duke was planning to give talks in the capital as well as in the country's second largest city of Brno. Earlier this week Prague's Charles University banned Duke for giving a lecture on extremism. The university said it cancelled the talk out of a fear that it could have been attended by neo-Nazis.
Political activities of Czech far-right groups have been on a rise in recent months, including provocative marches through Roma ghettos in troubled Czech towns.
France: Drancy 1944 and Drancy 2009
Rome evicted again.
(note: Drancy is a town in Paris suburb. During the Second World War, Jews were deported from the rail station of this town to death camps)
The one who does not know where he comes from, does not know where he goes. However, knowing where you are coming from, remembering the history, is it enough for improving the present and future? Four days on 22 April 2009, some 200 Rroms from Romania have been expelled manu militari from the place they were staying, in the
immediate vicinity of that station, now rightly a place of collective memory.
No consideration for Mrs. E.C, pregnant, shaken by the police and the impounder, who came to take her trailer. Having mentioned her pregnancy, she was given the reply of impounder "I don’t care, you are not pregnant from me".
No more consideration for Mrs. E.B, under dialysis care, whose caravan was
also removed. All this was done to "clean" for this commemoration. Have we forgotten the meaning of the word "clean"? If yes, this is not good for the memory’s duty we are exercising today.
Have we forgotten that in Auschwitz, Jews deported from this rail station because born Jews, met with Rroms because born Rroms ? If so, this exercise of memory loses much of its purpose.
NEVER FORGET! The dehumanization of human beings leads straight to the wall!
La voix des Rroms - Centre Aver contre le racisme - Centre culturel gitan - Rromani Baxt - Ternikano
Berno - Reseau solidarites roms
INTERNATIONAL ROMANI UNION APPEALS TO
Member States of European Union and, especially, to the governments of Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Italy to stop the racism, nationalism, fascism and attacks on Roma!
Enough with aggression against Roma people.
We call the European Union and governments of other member states to demand from you to stop the discrimination of Roma and to start solving the problems.
President International Romani Union
Monday, April 27, 2009
AS ECONOMIC TURMOIL MOUNTS, SO DO ATTACKS ON HUNGARY'S GYPSIES.
From the New York Times
Written by Nicholas Kulish
TISZALOK, Hungary —
Jeno Koka was a doting grandfather and dedicated worker on his way to his night-shift job at a chemical plant last week when he was shot dead at his doorstep. To his killer, he was just a Gypsy, and that seems to have been reason enough.
Prejudice against Roma — widely known as Gypsies and long among Europe’s most oppressed minority groups — has swelled into a wave of violence. Over the past year, at least seven Roma have been killed in Hungary, and Roma leaders have counted some 30 Molotov cocktail attacks against Roma homes, often accompanied by sprays of gunfire. But the police have focused their attention on three fatal attacks since November that they say are linked. The authorities say the attacks may have been carried out by police officers or military personnel, based on the stealth and accuracy with which the victims were killed.
In addition to Mr. Koka’s death, there were the slayings of a Roma man and woman, who were shot after their house was set ablaze last November in Nagycsecs, a town about an hour’s drive from Tiszalok in northeastern Hungary. And in February, a Roma man and his 4-year-old son were gunned down as they tried to escape from their home, which was set on fire in Tatarszentgyorgy, a small town south of Budapest.
Jozsef Bencze, Hungary’s national police chief, said in an interview on Friday with the daily newspaper Nepszabadsag that the perpetrators, believed to be a group of four or more men in their 40s, were killing “with hands that are too confident.” Military counterintelligence is taking part in the investigation, Hungarian radio reported, and Mr. Bencze said the pool of suspects included veterans of the Balkan wars and Hungarian members of the French Foreign Legion.
Experts on Roma issues describe an ever more aggressive atmosphere toward Roma in Hungary and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, led by extreme right-wing parties, whose leaders are playing on old stereotypes of Roma as petty criminals and drains on social welfare systems at a time of rising economic and political turmoil. As unemployment rises, officials and Roma experts fear the attacks will only intensify.
“One thing to remember, the Holocaust did not start at the gas chambers,” said Lajos Korozs, senior state secretary in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, who works on Roma issues for the government.
In the Czech Republic, where radical right-wing demonstrators have clashed with the police as they tried to march through Roma neighborhoods, a small child and her parents were severely burned after assailants firebombed their home in the town of Vitkov this month. The police in Slovakia were caught on video recently tormenting six Roma boys they had arrested, forcing them to undress, hit and kiss one another.
But nowhere has the violence reached the level it has in Hungary, spreading fear and intimidation through a Roma population of roughly 600,000. (Estimates vary widely in part because Roma say they are afraid to identify themselves in surveys.)
Last Wednesday, Mr. Koka, 54, had just finished a cup of coffee and brought his wife supper in their bedroom when he went outside to start his orange Opel Astra for his nightly drive to work. His wife, Eva, said she heard his body hit the ground, but did not realize it until she went outside and found him lying in a pool of blood a few paces from the doorframe.
“I tried to lift his hand and his head, but he didn’t say a word,” said Ms. Koka, whose brother rushed over from his home across the street and tried to perform CPR on Mr. Koka, who had been shot in the chest. “If he had not been dead he would have said goodbye to me,” Ms. Koka said in an interview at their home.
Viktoria Mohacsi, a Roma member of the European Parliament, said the police — who still decline to explicitly name ethnicity as a motive in the cases — were slow to recognize the blossoming violence against the community. “At the beginning, they said it was illegal money lenders or that it was Roma killing each other,” Ms. Mohacsi said, as she visited the Koka family here in Tiszalok on Friday.
“In the past five years, attitudes toward Roma in many parts of Eastern Europe have hardened, and new extremists have started to use the Roma issue in a way that either they didn’t dare to or didn’t get an airing before,” said Michael Stewart, coordinator of the Europe-wide Roma Research Network.
The extreme-right party Jobbik has used the issue of what its leaders call “Gypsy crime” to rise in the polls to near the 5 percent threshold for seats in Hungary’s Parliament in next year’s election, which would be a first for the party. Opponents accuse the Hungarian Guard, the paramilitary group associated with the party, of staging marches and public meetings to stir up anti-Roma sentiment and to intimidate the local Roma population.
The group held a rally last year in Tiszalok and in 2007 in Tatarszentgyorgy, the town where the father and son were killed in February, an act that some residents deplored while in the same breath complaining about a spate of break-ins in town that they blamed on Roma.
“The situation is bad because of the many Roma,” said Eva, 45, a non-Roma Hungarian in Tatarszentgyorgy who declined to give her last name, out of what she said was fear of reprisals. “When the guard was here, for a while they weren’t so loud. It helped.”
Since the attacks in Tatarszentgyorgy, some local residents have joined their terrified Roma neighbors in nighttime patrols, looking for strange cars armed with nothing but searchlights.
“We are living in fear, all the Roma people are,” said Csaba Csorba, 48, whose son Robert, 27, and grandson, also named Robert, were killed by a blast from a shotgun shortly after midnight in the February attack. They were buried together in one coffin, the little boy laid to rest on his father’s chest.
The child’s death in particular shook Roma here. “It proved to us it doesn’t matter whether we are good people or bad people,” said Agnes Koka, 32, the niece and goddaughter of Mr. Koka, who relatives said loved to bring candy and fruit to his grandchildren. “It only matters that we are Gypsy,” Ms. Koka said.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Czech Roma anger at arson attack
The Roma (Gypsy) minority in the Czech Republic has called for nationwide protests following an arson attack that left a two-year-old girl in hospital.
On Saturday a house was set on fire in the eastern Czech village of Vitkov, leaving the girl with 80% burns. Her parents were also injured in the blaze.
Roma groups have also offered a reward for information about the attack. Police suspect right-wing extremists.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus described the fire as a "heinous crime".
Ivan Vesely, deputy head of the government council for Romany community affairs, said the demonstrations would be staged in 10 to 15 towns and cities across the country on 3 May, including Prague and Usti nad Labem, where neo-Nazis staged a march last weekend.
Both the girl, who is called Natalka, and her parents are said to be in a critical condition in a hospital in the near Vitkov, about 300km (190 miles) east of Prague.
The Czech Republic's largely impoverished 300,000-strong Roma population has repeatedly complained of endemic racial discrimination.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Gypsies suffer widespread racism in European Union
Ian Traynor in Brussels.
The Guardian, Thursday 23 April 2009
Racism and discrimination across the EU is far more widespread than previously thought, with Europe's estimated 12 million Roma, or Gypsy, population, being a special target, an EU agency warns.
In what is claimed to be the most comprehensive survey of victimisation suffered by Europe's minority and immigrant communities, the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency said "racially motivated crime is an everyday experience".
While all minorities reported disturbing levels of harassment, the Roma, scattered mainly across central Europe and the Balkans, and black people, were particularly singled out for abuse, the survey said.
Based on detailed questioning of almost 30,000 people in all 27 EU states, the survey found that 55% of immigrant or minority populations believed racism was rife in their countries, with more than one in three having suffered racist conduct, 12% being victims of racist crime and 4% being physically assaulted or threatened.
One in four Roma respondents said they had been assaulted, threatened, or harassed four times on average in a 12-month period. "They emerge as the group most vulnerable to discrimination," said Morten Kjaerum, director of the Vienna-based agency.
Levels of racism and discrimination were not reflected in police or official statistics, the report said, because of the victims' lack of confidence in the authorities.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Hungarian Neo-Nazi lead war on gypsies
April, 2009, 09:30
In Hungary, fascist groups are targeting Roma gypsies, but the government seems to turn a blind eye on the problem of ethnic minorities, and offers no protection for them.
A cold and brutal crime has torn a young family apart. Robert and his five-year-old son were shot dead, and his two other children seriously injured when their home was attacked. A homemade bomb was thrown through the front door and immediately sent the entire house up in flames. The young family had just finished building their small but modern house.
Their only crime was being Roma gypsies.
Robert’s family lives next door, and are reminded daily of the terror of the tragedy, but what haunts them more is the way the criminal investigation is being carried out.
“They pretended not to see 18 bullet holes in the small boy’s body. How is it possible that an experienced police official could not see this? Then it was reported that the fire was electrical. But there are remnants of a bomb everywhere,” says Robert’s mother Erzsebet Csorba.
The European Roma rights centre strongly supports the family’s claims.
“The police were not acknowledging that a murder had taken place. I’m not aware that there has been any progress,” said Rob Kushen from the European Roma Rights Centre in the Hungarian capital of Budapest.
Fighting for their rights, activists also fear that the economic crisis will lead to an increase in hate crimes against Roma in poorer EU countries.
“So far they have done a good job in keeping the peace – which is a recipe for disaster,” Kushen believes.
Attacks on Roma haven’t only increased since the onset of the crisis, but a neo-Nazi trend is also growing in Hungary. The far-right Jobbik party, said to be affiliated with a banned fascist group called the Magyar Guarda, is growing in popularity. They often hold protests against Roma, insisting they are criminals.
Bela Kovacs, President of the Jobbik Party for a Better Hungary is unequivocal in his views:
“Gypsy crimes are growing every day, and it's getting so bad that people are afraid to go out at night,” he said.
But the party refused to comment on its connection with the extremist group which often attends their protests.
Robert’s family believes the Magyar Guarda brutally attacked their loved ones, and will never be punished, especially under the wing of a growing political party.
In the past year alone in Hungary, there have been 18 attacks on Roma homes, and six people have been killed. No one has been caught.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Declaration on violence against Roma by Vladimir Spidla Member of the European Commission 20. 4. 2009:
"Following a brutal arson attack on a Roma family - including their small child - in Vitkov, Czech Republic, I wish to express my deep sympathy to the victims and assure them of my solidarity.
Similarly to a recent case in Hungary, I do not intend to comment on the details of this case, as it is clear that the normal judicial process must now take its course. I trust that the Czech authorities will investigate the crime properly and bring the perpetrators to justice.
However, I do wish to reiterate my deep concern about the increasing level of aggression against Roma in the European Union. It is clear that there is a pattern of violence targeting Roma, and that this is not a phenomenon which concerns only one or two Member States.
I am particularly concerned that the public debate in various Member States is continuously being influenced by populist anti-Roma rhetoric which might be taken, in extreme cases, as instigation to hate crimes.
The issue of personal safety of Roma is directly related to the broader problem of their being persistently discriminated against and marginalised in European societies. Unless both the EU and the Member States make significant efforts to overcome the exclusion of Roma, they will remain particularly exposed to attacks on their lives and property.
The European Commission strongly condemns all forms of violence against Roma and calls for Member States to increase their efforts to facilitate the transfer of active, evidence-based policies aiming at the social inclusion of Roma. The Roma should be able to enjoy their full rights as European citizens with full access to mainstream education, mainstream jobs and mainstream housing.
In this context, I welcome the joint efforts of the Czech Presidency and the European Commission to launch an EU Platform for Roma Inclusion on Friday 24 April in Prague where common principles on the inclusion of Roma will be agreed."
Elena Gorolová, spokesperson for the Group of Women Harmed by Forced Sterilization
travels to Geneva to present at the UN Durban Review Conference
Presentation by this fighter for women’s rights to take place 21 April 2009
Elena Gorolová, spokesperson for the Group of Women Harmed by Forced Sterilization, coordinator of the Human Rights Team of the Ostrava-based nonprofit organization Vzájemné soužití (Life Together) and civil society member of the Czech Government Council for Roma Community Affairs will be the first speaker on a panel including other victims of racial discrimination from the USA and Zimbabwe . The event will be moderated by Ms Gay McDougall, UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues. The panel is part of a week-long event entitled VOICES taking place as part of the Durban Review Conference on Racism at the UN in Geneva from 20 – 24.4 (see program below).
Elena Gorolová began to seek justice for herself and others five years ago, when she participated in a meeting of women who all had in common the fact that doctors in the former Czechoslovakia and the present-day Czech Republic had sterilized them without their informed consent under various misleading circumstances. The Czech Public Defender of Rights (the ombudsman), JUDr Otakar Motejl, recommended various corrections for this situation in his “Final Statement” on the issue in the year 2005. He found that in all the cases he had reviewed, the patients’ rights to integrity had been violated and serious flaws existed in the area of informed consent. The English translation of his “Final Statement” on these unjustified sterilizations can be found here:
To this day, the government of the Czech Republic has yet to respect or apply these recommendations in the area of unjustified sterilizations of women from the Romani or any other ethnicity. The Czech government has not sufficiently guaranteed that similar practices will not occur in future. The state bears full responsibility for the failure to protect the human rights of these specific victims of illegal sterilizations and is the only subject that can guarantee the prevention of similar events in future. As not only the Czech ombudsman, but also various UN Committees (the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, etc.) have recommended, the government’s task is to arrange for the compensation due to the victims of these practices and to help them should they decide to initiate legal proceedings. The state should also arrange to investigate those responsible for these illegal practices.
For more information, please contact:
Elena Gorolová (Czech or Romanes only), mobile: + 420 775 761 194, email: LPT.firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, April 17, 2009
On April 17, 1961, 1500 CIA trained Cuban exiles, under the authority of President
John F. Kennedy, launched the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in a failed attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro.
Might President Obama heal these wounds. Hmmmm.
This week also marks the 60th anniversary of Pacifica Radio; 60 years of dissent one might add.
I love Amy Goodman. Hi ho.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
On 15 April, 1947, Jackie Robinson, baseball's first African American major league player, made his official debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
15 April, 1965, President Lincoln died after being shot the night before at Ford's Theater.
15 April, 1986, the United States launched an air raid against Libya. 37 people, mostly civilians were killed.
Refugees from Kosovo conflict have developed severe health problems after decade on contaminated land.
By J. Malcolm Garcia - Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Published: April 14, 2009 21:02 ET
Updated: April 14, 2009 22:21 ET-A
+ANORTH MITROVICA, Kosovo — Displaced by conflict and stranded by bureaucratic inertia, dozens of Roma families remain on toxic land 10 years after they were relocated there by the United Nations following the Kosovo war.
Osterrode Camp and Chesmin Lug Camp were established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999 as a temporary measure, when the 9,000-member Roma or gypsy neighborhood on the southern shore of the Ibar River was burnt down by Albanians in the dying days of the Kosovo conflict. The Albanians had accused the Roma of collaborating with the Serb army, a charge the Roma dismiss as unfounded.
Whatever the truth behind the charges and denials, almost everyone agrees that moving Roma families near the now closed Trepca mining and smelting complex, onto land highly contaminated with lead, zinc, arsenic and other metals, has resulted in severe health problems in the community.
When the World Health Organization tested the Roma's blood for lead in 2004, the readings for 90 percent of the children were off the scale, higher than the medical equipment was capable of measuring. Such children fall into the category of "acute medical emergency" and require immediate hospitalization.
Instead they have remained in the camps, ingesting lead through the air, the dirt they play in and through their clothes dusted with lead tailings while drying on laundry lines. Even before their birth, lead enters their bodies from drinking water consumed by their mothers.
According to internationally accepted benchmarks drawn up by the United States Center for Disease Control, 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter causes the beginning of brain damage.
The measurements from the camps were much higher than in the surrounding population and at levels that exceeded any region WHO had previously studied. Twelve children had exceptionally high blood lead levels, greater than 45 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, more than four times the amount that causes brain damage.
"The Roma are victimized by lead," said Thomas Hammarberg, European commissioner for human rights. "It is sad the international community has not found a solution 10 years later. It is the single most major environmental disaster in Europe."
Zoran Savich, a pediatrician with the Health Center of Kosovo Mitrovica, saw more than 300 patients in Osterrode and Chesmin Lug between 2005 and 2008.
In that time, Savich said, 77 people died of lead poisoning, many of them children.
"I treated as many I could but they were living in the same conditions and absorbing lead,” Savich said. “When the treatments stopped, their levels went back up. It was useless."
Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since June 1999, after the NATO bombing campaign on the troops of then-president Slobodan Milosevic, aimed at halting Belgrade's repression of the majority ethnic Albanian population seeking independence.
"In 1999, we had to respond to an emergency and found the camps as a temporary facility," said Francesco Ardisson, senior protection officer of the office of Chief of Mission, UNHCR. "Unfortunately, we have been unable to find an alternative site because neither the Albanians and the Serbs want them."
Within the U.N., however, questions have been raised about its handling of the Roma.
“The U.N. put the Roma in camps even though the U.N. knew the place was poisoned,” said Ilija Elezovic, the health department director for the U.N. Mission In Kosovo, northern Mitrovika. “The place where the camps are, the U.N. had a plan to build a fence around it and say, 'danger.' But they didn't do that. Instead they put the Roma there."
Mercy Corps, an American aid organization, has budgeted $2.4 million to resettle 50 Roma families — about 250 individuals — this year in either north or south Mitrovica away from the contaminated sites.
Most of the budget would be used to build new housing although treatment for lead poisoning is also included, said Catherine Rothenberger, mission director for Mercy Corps in Kosovo.
"Other donors are interested and could affect 30 to 50 more additonal families," Rothenberger said. "Resources are not an issue but a clear plan is. Donors are risk adverse. People are reluctant to invest unless it results in productive resettlement. We are in regular discussions with other donors telling them here are the gaps in services but nothing is assured."
Meanwhile, after years of waiting, the Roma continue to wait.
"I feel myself losing power," said Muhamud Smajliji, a father of nine children in Chesmin Lug. "I get nervous, start to shake, and it takes a long time to calm down. I am losing concentration. I feel like collapsing."
(Malcolm Garcia and Darren McCollester reported from Kosovo on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
MOB ATTACKS GYPSY CAMP IN SOUTHERN CHILE
Written by Cathal Sheerin
Monday, 13 April 2009
A mob of more than 100 people attacked a gypsy encampment near southern Chile's Puerto Montt (Region X) last Friday. The attackers reportedly sought to avenge the death of a local resident, whom they wrongly believed was killed by a gypsy.
The crowd of locals used fire and stones as weapons against what authorities called a peaceful gypsy community that had been there since November 2008.
The crowd had been acting in the belief that a gypsy was responsible for the recent hit-and run accident which killed a local man, Juan Alvarado, 29. Police maintain there is no gypsy connection to the accident.
Four cars were set on fire, and tents and other property were destroyed as the gypsies fled to safety. During the assault, the mob tried to stop the gypsies from escaping. The police tried to help the gypsies, but the crowd turned on them.
When a local fire-fighting unit arrived at the site to put out the flames, it, too, was attacked by locals throwing stones.
District Attorney Sergio Coronado emphasized there was no connection between the gypsies and the car-death case. “The line of investigation does not lead to the gypsies. They were ruled out at the very start. The investigation is leading in another direction, and the family of the victim is aware of this,” he said. Local officials said the gypsy community was a victim of “prejudices” on the part of the locals who attacked them.
Francisco Estevez, the director of the Region X Division of Social Organizations, said he hoped to meet with Regional Governor Sergio Galilea in the next few days to discuss the matter. Estevez said the anti-discrimination initiative currently under discussion in a Senate committee will offer victims of discrimination special recourse in law and will provide special sanctions for those convicted of discrimination crimes.
The gypsies did not formally complain to the police after the attack, but did abandon their site.
Gypsy camp spokesperson Juan Carlos Farias said his group will travel to Santiago to meet with the “King of the Gypsies” in order to discuss the matter and consider what legal action they might pursue.
Locals have asked that the gypsies never be allowed back into Puerto Montt. Octavio Alvarado, head of a local neighborhood association, asked for concrete measures to be taken against the gypsies returning. “This place has been converted into a dump, full of waste and rats. The owner of the land should come and take a look,” he said.
Francisco Nicolich, a gypsy who fled the site on Friday said, “Gypsies have never killed anyone. Every time that something happens, gypsies are blamed.”
SOURCES: LA TERCERA, EL LLANQUIHUE
Monday, April 13, 2009
International Roma Day celebrated in Chomutov despite animosity of the town leadership
Chomutov, 11.4.2009, 17:05, (ROMEA)
Despite the animosity of those at the top levels of local government, International Roma Day celebrations took place in the town of Chomutov. A traditional meeting at the "tree of reconciliation" took place in the Podkrušnohorský Zoo with the blessing of a Roman Catholic priest. The meeting was attended by Czech Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb and representatives of the US Embassy: First Secretary for Political Affairs Martin Strong, Second Secretary Lori Johnson and political specialist Helena Markusová.
Part of the celebrations included the screening of video greetings and wishes from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Roma on the occasion of their greatest holiday.
Under pressure from the Chomutov town hall and the zoo management, Minister Michael Kocáb did not speak during the sanctification of the "tree of reconciliation", but spoke later at Pizzeria Rigoleto, where the celebrations continued. According to zoo director Iveta Rabasová, the minister's participation meant the event was of a political nature. After a week of complicated negotiations and several demands, the blessing took place at the traditional site on the grounds of the Zoo and outdoor museum despite city authorities having banned it.
"I must caution against the course taken by the Zoo and the town of Chomutov. The situation in this country is now under a microscope. Our country is attracting much more international attention after the collapse of the government during the EU Presidency and after the visit by President Obama's delegation. I consider the ban on this commemoration to be very dangerous for the reputation of the Czech Republic. It escalates social tension and leads to a coarsening of the social debate," Minister Kocáb said.
"Twenty years after the Velvet Revolution I was prevented from speaking in public at your celebration. It is really very interesting when a local mayor decides to ban a speech by a member of the government in a public place. I consider this to be a real joke about what is possible under democracy," Michael Kocáb said during the private part of the celebrations.
Chomutov Mayor Ivana Řápková played down the impact of the ban on the country's reputation. "I believe this entire matter should be framed completely differently. If a closed gathering is to take place somewhere, in a closed space, those who want to gather there, even Minister Kocáb, must have the permission of the director of that space. They sent a letter to the town hall, but we do not decide about this at all. They have to reach agreement with the director," Řápková said on Czech Television's "Studio 6" program. Řápková even claimed the celebration was taking place at a site to which an entrance fee was required. "The celebrations took place at a site for which there is no entrance fee, but I did not give permission for them," Zoo director Rabasová told the web server Romea.cz.
The mayor refused to grant the auspices of the town of Chomutov to the celebrations in any way whatsoever. "Why should the town share in the celebrations when the Roma were not even decent enough to announce them to the town hall?" the mayor insisted, even though she had already stated that the Roma had requested permission for the celebrations from the town hall.
The event at the "tree of reconciliation" ended with the Čilágos musical group from Náchod performing the Roma national anthem "Dželem dželem". Afterward, the celebrations moved to Pizzeria Rigoleto, where in addition to other events there were lectures, e.g., Iveta Pape spoke about the education of Romani children.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
FROM ROMANO LILORO:
While the World's Roma people attempted to celebrate International
Roma Day on 8th April, in Kosovo there was in fact, very little to
These children from Cesmin Lug and Osterode Camps in Kosovo beg to be
saved from their lives of poisoning on the most toxic site in Eastern
Europe, where they were placed by the United Nations. In the protest,
their banners proclaimed "God Save Us from UNHCR" and "Welcome to
Kouchner's Hell" as well as others begging to be saved from lead
poisoning. They accused Bernard Kouchner the former Special
Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, and now
Foreign Minister for France, of failing to save them as he had
promised. There are currently 83 deaths among those from these camps.
Pictures courtesy of Kosovo Medical Emergency Group and Society for
Threatened Peoples International :
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Holocaust of Roma and Sinti exhibition opens in Bucharest
The exhibition 'The Holocaust of Roma and Sinti populations. Present day racism in Europe,' opened on Thursday, April 9, at Romania's National History Museum (MNIR) of Bucharest, as a four-part event depicting highlights of the history of the two populations in 20th century Europe.
The first part presents the effects of the cancellation of the right to vote of the Roma and the Sinti populations of Germany as a result of the ascendance to power of the National Socialist Party.
Once WWII broke out, the first deportations of these ethnics from the Nazi-occupied Poland occurred, MNIR museum curator Ralua Malancioiu explains. Malancioiu says the second part of the exhibition depicts moments of the Nazi occupation.
The images on display reveal various persecutions against the Romany and the Sinti ethnics in the Nazi-occupied or Nazi allied countries.
The death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau was the venue of systematic killing of the Romany and the Sinti populations from almost all European countries, which is presented in the third section of the exhibition, says Malancioiu.
The fourth part, she says, is a visual depiction of overcoming the historical moment identified as the dictatorship of the national socialist political current after 1945. The fourth part of the exhibition recreates the European awareness over the Nazi genocide against the Romany and Sinti populations, and one of the first actions for resuming normalcy in the relations that define the European civilisation, namely the beginnings of the civil rights movement for the Sinti community in the then Federal Republic of Germany.
A distinctive note of the exhibition, says Malancioiu, is the presentation of current discrimination against the Romany population of Central and Eastern Europe.
After the official opening hosted by the European Parliament of Strasbourg, the exhibition 'The Holocaust of Roma and Sinti populations. Present day racism in Europe,' has travelled to Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, to great public acclaim. After the stopover in Bucharest, the exhibition will travel further in Europe.
Chairman of the Central Council of German Roma and Sinti Romani Rose says that the regime in Romania of Ion Antonescu, a close collaborator of the German National Socialists, is guilty of genocide, as hundreds of thousands of Jews and Roma were deported to Transdnistria in an attempt at their final destruction.
Rose hails the initiative of ex-President Ion Iliescu, who in 2003, under his tenure, commissioned an international board to review this part in Romanian history, an initiative Rose says is an important step forward toward the country's acknowledging the holocaust of Roma. Rose also says that reports by the European Union indicate that Roma and Sinti populations are subjected to discrimination and are socially underprivileged in Europe, more so than any other minority.
Rose argues that the members of the Roma and the Sinti communities are treated as foreigners, and although they have been living in their native lands for centuries they are not seen as part of the common history of the society where they live. Rose also says that in order to overcome the anti-Gypsy sentiment deeply ingrained in the European culture the genocide of the German National Socialists against the Roma and the Sinti should be urgently presented.
Official of the German Embassy in Bucharest Holger Scherf says the Roma and Sinti populations have suffered twice: first because of the National Socialist regime, which subjected the two populations to racism, and secondly because of the ignorance to which they were condemned after the collapse of the regime.
The Roma, he says, should be seen as fellow citizens, not as targets for discrimination and stigmatisation. The exhibition, which stays open throughout April 29, is organised by the Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma in cooperation with other non-governmental institutions and organisations.
Friday, April 10, 2009
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SLOVAK POLICE EXPOSED OVER GYPSY ABUSE
By Tom Nicholson in BratislavaPublished: April 8 2009 13:22 | Last updated: April 8 2009 13:22
Wednesday may be International Roma Day, but Slovakia will not be celebrating any improvement in the status of its gypsies.
Instead, police inspectors will be poring over tapes depicting their colleagues humiliating Roma children in scenes reminiscent of Abu Ghraib.
This article can be found at:
"FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks of The Financial Times.
Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Roma Are Scapegoats During Downturn
WASHINGTON Apr 8 (IPS) - On International Roma Day Wednesday
human rights groups voiced their concern for the discrimination
and violence against Roma in European countries.
Held on Apr. 8 every year since 1990 International Roma Day
draws attention to discrimination directed at Roma and gypsy
communities globally according to Amnesty International (AI).
Roma are stigmatised as criminals based on the actions of a
few according to Paul Legendre director of the fighting
discrimination program at Human Rights First (HRF). Roma are
often viewed as a scapegoat for broader societal ills often
characterised as outsiders who are less than citizens and are
unwanted in their respective communities he explained.
The present economic crisis has garnered increasing resentment
and violence against Roma as some politicians and extremist
groups blame them for taking away jobs.
HRF’s Hate Crime Survey: Violence Against Roma documents
violence and other forms of intolerance against Roma in eleven
countries during 2007 and 2008. The most widely reported
incidents occurred in Italy where efforts to vilify Roma
involved high-ranking government officials.
The report notes that Roma like members of other visible
minorities routinely suffer assaults in city streets and other
public places as they travel to and from homes workplaces and
markets. In a number of serious cases of violence against Roma
attackers have also sought out whole families in their homes or
The scope of discrimination is often difficult to assess as
governments don’t generally report on violence against Roma
Roma are not only ill treated at the hands of private citizens.
The report found that police and local public authorities are
sometimes complicit in driving Roma from their homes and seeking
their relocation to other towns or cities.
According to the HRF report in Italy violence was triggered
by the heinous 2007 murder of Giovanna Reggiani a naval
captain’s wife which was attributed to a Romanian immigrant of
Roma origin. The government responded with roundups of Romanian
immigrants and summary expulsions of some two hundred mostly
Roma disregarding E.U. immigration rules.
AI reports that several EU governments plan to forcibly return
Roma to Kosovo where they face severe discrimination. Forcible
returns are expected from Switzerland with whom an agreement
was concluded in February 2009 France and most of the
In many areas of Europe Roma are confined to segregated camps
or ghettos are denied access to basic education and prospects
for formal employment and may even be refused recognition as
citizens in their own countries.
According to AI discrimination against Roma continues in the
Czech Republic. An anti-Roma march by far-right protesters
through the Romani community in Prerov descended into violence
on Saturday when demonstrators clashed with
AI’s also states that in Slovakia huge numbers of Romani
children are inappropriately placed in special schools for
children with mental disabilities where they receive a
substandard education and have very limited opportunities for
employment or further education. Independent studies suggest
that as many as 80 percent of children placed in special schools
in Slovakia are Roma.
In Kosovo over 200 families have lived since 1999 in camps
sited on wasteland contaminated by lead. Despite reports in
2001 by the World Health Organisation and others that the degree
of lead contamination in the blood of both children and adults
is one of the highest in the world the Roma remain in these
Since 2007 the Italian authorities have increasingly adopted
security measures which appear to be discriminatory
affecting disproportionately the Roma and Sinti minority. The
mayors of Rome and Milan signed Security Pacts in May 2007
that envisaged the forced eviction of up to 10000 Romani
people. The clearance and destruction of Roma settlements
without prior notice compensation or provision of alternative
housing was reported throughout the year according to HRF’s
The human rights agencies European Union Agency for Fundamental
Rights (FRA) the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human
Rights the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
(ODIHR) and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
(HCNM) issued a joint statement calling on governments
intergovernmental organisations and civil society to step up
their efforts in tackling the human rights violations that the
Roma continue to face in Europe.
As the economic crisis deepens political leaders need to
unequivocally and publicly condemn any form of violence
targeting Roma the agencies said.
International legal and political bodies have taken up and
issued decisions in cases of police violence against Roma and
In spite of the existence of strong anti-discrimination
legislation and policies to promote the inclusion of the Roma
in many countries evidence shows that discrimination against
the Roma persists. In July 2008 the United Nations Human Rights
Committee found in the case of Andreas Kalamiotis v. Greece
that the government of Greece violated several articles of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The case
concerned the lack of an effective investigation into
allegations of police brutality against Andreas Kalamiotis a
Roma man on Jun. 14 2001. The Committee ruled that Greece must
provide the victim with an effective remedy and appropriate
reparation as well as take measures to prevent similar
violations in the future.
HRF calls on governments not only fight anti-Roma violence but
to improve the socio-economic status and social inclusion of
Roma across Europe.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 8 APRIL 2009
Violence Against Roma
Hate Crime Survey
A pattern of violence is directed at causing immediate harm to Roma and physically eradicating the presence of Roma in towns and communities in many parts of Europe.
Human Rights First’s Hate Crime Survey: Violence Against Roma examines incidents of anti-Roma violence against persons or property, analyzes official and nongovernmental data, and assesses government performance in response to bias-motivated violence in the 56 European and North American countries that comprise the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Trends and Characteristics of Anti-Roma Violence and Discrimination:
Roma routinely suffer assaults in city streets and other public places.
Attackers have sought out whole families in their homes, or whole communities in settlements across Europe: for example, Racist attacks on campsites have been reported in Hungary, Italy, the United Kingdom.
Racist violence against Roma is gravely underreported. Official monitoring of hate crimes in Europe is limited and even countries with adequate monitoring systems on racist violence do not provide disaggregated data on violence against Roma.
Roma are often viewed as a scapegoat for broader societal ills, often characterized as outsiders who are less than citizens and are unwanted in their respective communities.
Police and local public authorities are sometimes complicit in driving Roma from their homes and seeking their relocation to other towns or cities. In Ukraine, police illegally arrest and harass members of Roma communities.
The bias-motivated violence against Roma often occurs in a hostile environment, as political leaders speak openly of desire to expel Roma from their communities. In Italy, a campaign of vilification of Roma involved members of the highest levels of government, while Roma became the object of a national clamor for expulsion from cities and deportation encouraged by political leaders.
Anti-Romani discrimination has intensified and grown into a broader framework, extending to the full range of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. In many areas of Europe, Roma are confined to segregated camps or ghettos, are denied access to basic education and prospects for formal employment, and may even be refused recognition as citizens in their own countries.
Incidents of Anti-Roma Violence:
Violent incidents targeting Romani individuals and communities have been reported in 2007-2009 in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, the Russian Federation, Serbia, and Slovakia.
Hungary. On February 23, 2009, Robert Csorba and his five-year-old son Robika were shot and killed while fleeing from their house—which was set on fire by the attackers—in Tatárszentgyörgy, Hungary. According to the TASR News Service, more than 50 attacks against Roma, in which ten have been killed, have taken place in Hungary in recent years.
Italy. On May 11, 2008, attackers set fires with Molotov cocktails in a Roma camp in Via Novara, Milan. On May 13, a mob threw stones and Molotov cocktails at two Roma squatter camps in the Ponticelli district of northern Naples; many of the estimated eight hundred inhabitants fled. On May 14, attackers returned, including scores of young men on motor scooters, armed with iron bars and Molotov cocktails. They moved systematically through the area, burning the camp to the ground. On June 9, a settlement of approximately 100 Roma in Catania, Sicily, was attacked and burned to the ground by the perpetrators.
Czech Republic. Violence erupted in the town of Litvinov on November 17, 2008, when the police prevailed over some five hundred anti-Roma protestors trying to enter the town’s Roma-inhabited district. In another incident, in Olomouc, on August 24, 2007, a group shouting anti-Roma epithets attacked two young Roma Czechs, aged 18 and 23, at an open air cinema. The younger victim received facial injuries while the other, who was knocked to the ground and kicked, suffered a broken nose and a concussion.
Serbia. In Belgrade, on the night of August 16, 2007, three men armed with chains attacked Femija Bajrami, a 45-year-old Roma man, knocking him to the ground and beating him. Bajrami, a resident of the suburb Zemun, required medical attention.
Bulgaria. On the night of August 12, 2007, a group of an estimated dozen skinheads assaulted six Roma—three men and three women—as they were returning to their homes in Fakulteta, a predominantly Roma neighborhood of Sofia. Four victims were injured and one of them required hospitalization.
There is a need for immediate initiatives to fight anti-Roma violence, which must be done concurrently with improving the socio-economic status and social inclusion of Roma across Europe. Human Rights First has recommended the implementation of our Ten-Point Plan to combat hate crime, which calls for
condemning attacks when they occur and make clear that there is zero tolerance for violent hate crimes;
strengthening criminal laws to cover all forms of bias-motivated violence;
instructing and adequately training police and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute cases, working in partnership with victims, their communities and civil society groups;
improving monitoring, data collection, and public reporting in order to ensure the accountability of law enforcement and sound public policy.
BELGRADE, Serbia, April 7 (UPI) -- The eviction of a small Romany community from their shanties Tuesday triggered outcries against Gypsy discrimination by Serbian officials, observers said.
About 40 Romanies have been sleeping in the open for four nights between Belgrade's high-rise apartment blocs after officials pulled down their sheds, the Serbian news agency Beta said Tuesday.
Belgrade officials evicted the Romany families from 28 tin-and-cardboard shanties erected on state land close to a newly built housing blocks in the New Belgrade district.
The authorities tried to move the Romany families to prefabricated apartments on the outskirts of Belgrade but local residents blocked the area, keeping the Romanies from settling in. Many of the Romanies returned to the New Belgrade district.
More than 43 non-governmental organizations asked the Serbian and Belgrade officials to provide proper housing for the Gypsy families that were forced out from their shanties.
On the eve of April 8, the International Day of the Romany, a number of European organizations warned that strong opposition to foreigners is on the rise amid the current economic crisis in some countries. These organizations said they are concerned over discriminatory attitudes towards the Romanies, particularly over recent escalation of incidents motivated by hatred and racial rhetoric.
International Roma Day is an opportunity to call attention to the history, experience, and human rights of Europe's largest ethnic minority.
Promoting and protecting the rights of Roma has long been of personal interest to me. I saw firsthand the plight of the Roma – particularly Romani women and children – when I visited Roma communities in Central and Eastern Europe as First Lady. As a member of the Helsinki Commission, I urged governments to do more to protect and promote the 10 million Roma who live in Europe.
Despite important progress that has been made in the past decade, many Roma still live on the margins of society. They continue to experience racial profiling, violence, discrimination and other human rights abuses. Too often they lack identity documents or citizenship papers, which excludes them from voting, social services, education, and employment opportunities that would enable them to participate more fully in the countries in which they live.
The United States is committed to protecting and promoting the human rights of Roma through our bilateral relations and through our involvement in organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Governments have a special responsibility to ensure that minority communities have the tools of opportunity they need to succeed as productive and responsible members of society. I urge governments throughout Europe to continue their efforts to address the plight of Roma, end discrimination and ensure equality of opportunity in education and employment so that Roma can fulfill their greater promise of success and achievement.
Roma have a rich artistic and cultural heritage, which has left an indelible mark across Europe and the world. It is in the interests of the larger European and global community to create conditions that maximize success for all people within our borders and beyond. I hope that events taking place at our embassies and missions around the world on International Roma Day will be one more step on the path to helping Roma reach a better, brighter future.
Hillary Clinton 8 April 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Gypsy families hit by the earthquake are being denied aid and shelter.
Posted: 07 Apr 2009 11:55 AM PDT
Pescara, April 7th, 2009. The citizens of Aquila and nearby municipalities hit by the earthquake are mourning their dead. Those left homeless are being offered shelter and aid in hotels and hostels. Many Roma families living in makeshift accommodation were also hit by the earthquake, with the same impartial cruelty, but no shelter is being offered to them and they are being turned away when they approach the civil protection units or the hotels for help.
The authorities have defined the Roma families “vultures” and the Carabinieri of the Provincial Commando of Pescara have set up ”checkpoints” near the assistance structures in order to prevent Roma families seeking shelter.
According to them, the Roma families “are trying to take advantage of the tragedy in order to sleep in hotels free of charge”.
Roberto Malini, EveryOne Group
U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Cardin and Co-Chairman Hastings Release Statement on Plight of Roma
Commemorate International Roma Day by Calling for Greater Justice, More Opportunities for Roma
(Washington, D.C.) Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), today released the following statement in advance of International Roma Day on April 8, 2009:
“Twenty years ago, the fall of communism brought historic change. But for Roma, Europe’s largest ethnic minority (estimated at 12 to 15 million), the political transformations that began in 1989 unshackled long-standing prejudices against them, and the nascent rule of law in the region proved weak and ineffective at protecting Roma for most of the 1990s. In various countries, Roma were drowned, burned and beaten to death. Police were as likely to be perpetrators as protectors. Discrimination in all walks of life was rampant.
Roma were also among the greatest losers in the transformation from command to market economies. It is a cliché that Roma benefited from access to education and full employment under communism. But communism’s dirty little secret was that Roma were often given just enough education for the unskilled or semiskilled jobs to which they were assigned. When the time came for the transformation to a market economy, Roma were especially vulnerable.
More to the point, no post-communist country had effective mechanisms to protect Roma from even the most blatant workplace discrimination. Even 20 years after the Velvet Revolution, the Czech Republic – now holding the EU presidency – has failed to adopt the comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that is required by the European Union itself. As one team of sociologists described it, Roma are not at the bottom of the economic system; they have been altogether left outside of it.
Unfortunately, there are few positive examples of tolerance and inclusion of Roma in older democracies either. When Roma started to flee violence in Central Europe in the late 1990s, they were met by near hysteria in some quarters of the British press. Belgian officials were so intent on sending Roma back to Slovakia they were willing to violate a European Court order to halt their mass deportation – and even went so far as to ‘identify’ deportees by writing numbers on their forearms, ignoring the chilling images that evoked for a people who lost so many during the Holocaust. Over the past two years, acts of intolerance have been rampant in Italy, including mob attacks on Romani camps, systematic forced evictions, and targeting Roma for fingerprinting.
In fact, an ironic, if unintended, consequence of the European Union accession process has been the elevated attention paid to Romani minorities throughout Europe ‘whole and free,’ and not just in the post-communist world.
Some progress has been made. By the beginning of this decade, the worst violence against Roma was on the wane, many governments had begun to pay at least lip-service to the need to improve the situation of Roma, and international organizations were ramping up engagement. But that progress is fragile, and limited gains are now at risk of reversal. As an economic downturn takes hold, the escalation of anti-Roma manifestations (often also targeting Jews, other minorities, and immigrants) seems even more ominous.
Last November, it took the concerted effort of 1,000 police drawn from all over the country to contain anti-Roma violence in the Czech town of Litvinov. Local officials regularly use the Nazi-era term ‘unadaptable’ to describe Roma, fueling this rabid bigotry.
In Hungary, an ugly caricature of ‘Gypsy crime,’ echoing Nazi rhetoric, seems to have taken public discourse hostage. Almost 60% of the respondents to a recent Hungarian opinion poll said they thought ‘crime was in the blood of’ Roma. Combined with an outbreak of attacks on Roma in Hungary – reportedly more than 50 attacks in the past 1 ½ years, the firebombing of several homes, six fatalities including 5-year-old Robert Csorba and his father – it is not surprising that Romani politician Florian Farkas has warned that Hungary could be headed toward civil war.
While some might reject Farkas’ warning as exaggerated hyperbole, it would be a mistake to dismiss out of hand the prospect of inter-ethnic conflict. In 2004, Slovakia’s economic reforms helped trigger massive rioting and looting by Roma and required the largest mobilization of armed forces since the Velvet Revolution. In 2007, a violent assault on several Roma in Bulgaria, followed by rumors of another imminent attack, prompted some 200 Roma in Sofia to take to the streets with knives and axes.
This year’s International Roma Day, April 8, is a somber rather than a celebratory occasion. Governments should mark this event by ensuring the conviction of those who perpetrate violent crimes against Roma. Twenty years after the fall of communism, more must be done to ensure that the opportunities of freedom are equal opportunities for all.”
Monday, April 6, 2009
Press Release and Invitation to the Media 4th April 2009
RESIDENTS OF OSTERODE AND CESMIN LUG CAMPS IN NORTH MITROVICA KOSOVO, WILL HOLD A CANDLIT VIGIL
PROTESTING AGAINST TEN YEARS OF UNMIK CHILD NEGLIGENCE. IT WILL TAKE PLACE AT 8PM AT OSTERODE CAMP ON INTERNATIONAL ROMA DAY 8 APRIL 2009
More than 200 Kosovo Roma/Ashkali families resettled in September 1999 on highly toxic wasteland by Dr. Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, when he was head of UNMIK, will hold a candlelit vigil at Osterode camp at 8 pm on 8 April 2009, International Roma Day, in memory of the 81 who have already died in these UN camps.
The demonstration/vigil will also be used by the camp Roma/Ashkali to remind the world that Dr. Kouchner promised they would only be housed on these dangerous toxic waste lands for a maximum of 45 days. If they could not be returned in that time to their original homes, they would be resettled abroad.
In November 2000, UN doctors in a report to Dr. Kouchner recommended that the camps be immediately evacuated because of life-threatening lead levels found in the camp children. Dr. Kouchner ignored the written recommendation.
In 2004 and 2008 World Health Organisation also called for the camps to be evacuated.
Today, ten years after post-war looters forced them from their homes while French troops stood by and refused to interfere, and with most of their children showing irreversible organ and brain damage because of some of the highest lead levels in medical history, the Roma/Ashkali want to draw public awareness to their plight.
"We demand to be evacuated and medically treated," declared their overall leader Skender Gushani. "Why has the UN and now the Kosovo government kept us on these killing fields? This is a living hell for us."
For more details about the Vigil and a 69-page dossier on this tragedy – Contact the press office:
Tel: 00381 645 283 278
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Today the United States Supreme Court refused to review the case of Mumia Abu Jamal, a black activiist who was convicted of the murder of a white policeman in 1981.
The case and trial were so full of prejudical treatment, conflicting testimonies and many other problems that international peace and justice groups have consistently supported his appeals.
Today's ruling also upheld his conviction. It did not, as of yet, reinstate his death sentence.
*****Yesterday I mistakenly wrote Pennsylvania Supreme Court. I apologize to those who read it. Morgan
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Romas seek temporary accommodation
4 April 2009 | 10:57 | Source: B92, Beta
BELGRADE -- Residents of a Roma shanty town in New Belgrade, whose ramshackle homes were razed yesterday, persist with their demands.
The Roma were evicted from the illegal settlement on Friday in order to build an access road to a Student Games 2009 venue.
Some of them spent the night at the shacks owned by their neighbors, which have not been removed yet, while others protested in front of the Belgrade Assembly, asking to be compensated and provided with temporary accommodation.
Mayor Dragan Đilas says he will try to provide the Roma with accommodation but that he will "not succumb to blackmail".
Yesterday, the settlement's residents blocked a major road in New Belgrade before crossing the river to protest in front of the Belgrade Assembly building.
"Several dozen citizens of Belgrade cannot hold hostage the rest of the city. They were settled there illegally, and it is necessary that they move from there in order for a new boulevard to be built that is needed for the development of that part of the city, and for the events will be held there," said Đilas.
"As for their rights, I said they could realize their rights if they really are citizens of Belgrade and have no other housing options, in line with policy that applies to all our citizens."
On the other hand, Citizens' Ombudsman Saša Janković voiced severe criticism of the demolition of the shanty town houses, saying that bulldozers and police cannot solve the problem of Roma settlements, "nor do they implement the Roma decade in Serbia".
"It is quite clear that it was necessary to in advance prepare such measures, identify those who have a right to adequate emergency accommodation, prepare that accommodation, avoid the use of force and a situation where citizens and children of Roma ethnicity find themselves on the street," said Janković.
Some 47 families lived in the settlement before yesterday.
Meanwhile, Roma organizations say they are dismayed at the demolitions, and the mayor's statements.
"This is not at all in line with the goals of the Roma Decade that Serbia is this year presiding over," the Roma Center for Democracy, the Youth Forum for Roma Education and the Forum for Internally Displaced Roma said in a statement.
"By destroying their houses, destroying their property, their basic human rights are being violated and it demonstrates that authorities in Serbia do not have a systemic solution for the problems that have accumulated with decades of discrimination based on ethnicity," the statement said.
The Roma organizations also stated that "most of the citizens whose houses were demolished do not have personal documents", and therefore cannot seek help from Social Welfare Centers.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Last news from Belarus:
Police use violence during anti-Gypsy raid
On 5 January officers of Partyzanski district police department of Minsk detained more than 80 representatives of Gypsy minority in the Suburb of Stsiapianka and took fingerprints from them.
All of the detainees were videoed for the police archive. The detainees accuse the police of self-will and lawlessness. One of them said that at 8.30 a.m. the police burst at the house where his family lived. ‘They did not knock on the door. They ran, knocked everybody down and shouted: ‘Lie down, bitches!’ We had to lie on the floor for almost 40 minutes almost nude, as most of us were sleeping when it all started.
Then they started a search without showing any warrant. They did not even tell they were from the police. They asked an elderly woman where she kept her gold. Then they lined us up and led to their bus…’ told one of the victims.
‘All our neighbors watched it… They took us to the police where there were about 70-80 Gypsies already. They told they would take our fingerprints and then would let us go. We returned home only at 4 p.m. They told us: ‘Have you heard about the terroristic action?’ Now they are making terrorists out of us,’ he added.
Some other people were detained outdoors. ‘While I was driving my car out of the yard, three people in masks overlapped the way. They pulled me out, threw me into the snow and started beating. I have a black eye, and they fractured my leg,’ said another detainee.
‘We told the police we would complain against them. They answered that then they would find some drugs at our place next time and would hold such raids every month,’ he said
Delegate in European Roma Travelers Forum
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Freedom Socialist • Vol. 30, No. 2 • April-May 2009
Assaults on Romani escalate in Italy
Government uses racist propaganda, fascist laws, and vigilante violence
by Monica Hill
Italian police patrol a Romani camp in June 2008 before driving residents from their homes.
Italian police, soldiers, and organized goons have torched and destroyed three-fourths of the country's Romani ("Gypsy") camps in just six months. Many of the Romani have died, and thousands have been forcibly deported or have fled the country. Those remaining are homeless and are tormented by state terror measures and ultra-right vigilantes.
Appalling assaults on Romani and other immigrants are sweeping Europe. The attacks are heightened by recession. The economic meltdown is worse in Italy, the poorest West European country, and has dealt its harshest blows on the Romani, Italy's poorest people. Their plight is an urgent alert to all of Europe and working people worldwide to educate and organize against a chilling revival of fascism in the 21st century.
A history of persecution. Thought to have originally migrated from Northern India, the Romani people, Europe's largest national minority, have been reviled and rejected for centuries. Perhaps because of their strong sense of national identity, darker skin, independent customs, unique language, and nomadic way of life, they have been considered "asocial, criminal and culturally inferior."
European states did everything they could to get rid of the Romani, from vicious repression, serfdom, slavery, and forced assimilation to deportation and extermination. Many were sent to the various empires' colonies for cheap labor: England transported Romani to Barbados, Australia and North America, France to Louisiana, Portugal to Brazil, and Spain to South America.
In the mid-20th century, the Nazis deemed Romani, like Jews, "subhuman." By the end of World War II, roughly 1.5 million Romani had been murdered in concentration camps alongside Jews, gays, and other victims of fascism.
With the breakup of workers states and the reconstruction of capitalism in Eastern Europe during the late 1980s and early '90s, the Romani came once again to be seen as "outsiders" who threaten scarce jobs and social services. Frightened Eastern and Central European workers whose own economic security was disappearing helped make life miserable for the Romani. And once again, they were driven out or fled — this time to Western Europe.
Under siege in Italy. With the global economy now in crisis, capitalist governments are predictably raining blame and abuse on the most vulnerable and guiltless in society. Immigrant workers are the favored scapegoats in most places. In Italy, most immigrants are impoverished refugees fleeing civil and ethnic warfare, largely from Africa and Eastern Europe, especially Romania. Many of the refugees from Eastern Europe are of Romani ancestry.
Silvio Berlusconi's rightwing government has passed repressive laws and spread lies blaming immigrants (particularly Romani) for Italy's woes. Every murder, rape, kidnapping, or theft, the xenophobic media has screeched, was the work of "Gypsies" or "Romanians." The level of anti-Romani sentiment has risen sharply because of the survival fears of many workers and jobless people and the government's blatant nationalist, anti-foreigner campaign.
Thugs, often organized by local mafia organizations, firebomb Romani caravans and drive families from their squatter camps and police-patrolled ghettoes. Cops whip Romani men off to jail, leaving women and children to be raped and brutalized by vigilantes who then raze their camps.
For "census purposes," the state, shamefully aided by the Red Cross, began in July 2008 to fingerprint the entire Romani population, adults and children. This greatly facilitated abrupt deportation, imprisonment, police abuse, and discrimination. Half of the Romani have lived in Italy for generations and are citizens! Now, many are simply gone.
Thousands of soldiers have been unleashed in cities to combat the "evil army," as Rome's mayor calls them, of "Gypsies," immigrants, and homeless. Lawmakers have passed laws that exempt the four highest political offices in the country from prosecution of any kind, past, present, or future. And the fascist movement is recruiting in the meetings of poverty-ridden neighborhoods and on Internet sites like Facebook.
The Berlusconi government's genuinely fascist character is no secret. When Gianni Alemanno, former youth leader of the Italian fascist movement, was elected mayor of Rome, his supporters gave the fascist salute and chanted "Duce," Mussolini's title. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Berlusconi enthused, "We are the new Falange" (the fascist party of General Franco).
Needed: left leadership. Italy once had the largest and longest-lived left movement since World War II. But it was severely repressed during the late 1970s and has remained fragmented since then. Many leftists also became disillusioned by Euro-communist alliances with capitalist parties, such as the disgraced and ousted government of Prime Minister Prodi. Berlusconi and other rightwingers now fill a vacuum of leadership on the Left.
Romani have been bravely defending themselves by demonstrating in the streets and mounting defense guards in their camps and ghettoes to drive back the attackers. But they need help. The European Union and United Nations have offered little but useless resolutions and expressions of concern.
What the Romani need right now are united anti-fascists — workers, leftists, feminists, immigrants, queers, students, community activists, Christians, Muslims, and atheists — at their side, physically defending them from armed goons, cops, and soldiers. And what Italy needs is left parties who will work together and are not afraid to protect their class.
It's urgent that these parties defend the Romani, all immigrants, and homeless people — and form a united front with angry workers and youth to confront the common source of misery, capitalism.
By combining with others who are also vulnerable, workers whose economic security is threatened can offer an organized resistance that will stop fascist bullies in their tracks and make revolution possible.
For more information, Google "Roma Virtual Network" and visit www.everyonegroup.com.