Saturday, August 29, 2009
Gypsy trio criticizes crowd for booing Madonna
2009-08-29 01:36 Beijing ChinaSource
FROM CHINA DGSHI NEWS
BUCHAREST, Romania – A Russian trio performing Gypsy music with Madonna said Friday they were "pained" to see the pop star booed during her Bucharest concert for criticizing widespread discrimination against Gypsies.
Thousands of people applauded the trio's performance with Madonna in Bucharest on Wednesday night during her worldwide "Sticky and Sweet" tour. But minutes later they booed and jeered the pop star when she said discrimination should end against eastern Europe's Gypsies, also known as Roma.
In a press conference Friday in Bucharest, Vadim Kolpakov, the youngest member of Kolpakov Trio, said the public reaction was unexpected.
"The audience was wonderful when we played," he said. But he called the booing and jeering "the worst" reaction the Roma group had received during the entire tour.
"Madonna was surprised (about the reaction) but I cannot comment for her," Vadim Kolpakov said, declining to say if Madonna had made a similar comment about Gypsies at other concerts in eastern Europe.
"We want ... to be recognized as equals," said trio founder Sasha Kolpakov, a Russian Roma.
"It pains me to see discrimination in the world, it pains me to see discrimination of Roma," Sasha Kolpakov said. "There are good Roma people that we are proud of. There are also Roma who live in poverty and who have nothing to do, who beg or do illegal deeds."
Roma are a nomadic ethnic group believed to have their roots in the Indian subcontinent. They live mostly in southern and eastern Europe, but hundreds of thousands have migrated west over the past few decades in search of jobs and better living conditions.
Romania has the largest number of Roma in the region. Some say the population could be as high as 2 million, although official data put it at 500,000.
The Kolpakovs said discrimination against Roma exists not only in eastern Europe but in the West too.
"We played in Italy and met Roma representatives in Milan. We heard there's a big problem (in Italy)," said Vadim Kolpakov, adding that he thought discrimination against Roma was increasing in Europe.
"I think it is going up," he said, mentioning the killing of six Roma in Hungary and the burning of Roma caravans in Naples, Italy.
Kolpakov Trio will travel with Madonna to Bulgaria and Israel — the last two destinations on her tour. The Kolpakovs are Roma, while the band's third member is a Russian Jew.
Posted by Morgan at 7:53 AM
Friday, August 28, 2009
Joaquin, my friend and comember of Lolo Diklo, commented that it's telling that the Romanian audience booed Madonna for her statements in behalf of the Roma, yet never booed the dancers and musicians who are Roma. Everyone loves our music, but they hate us. Where is the logic in this.
Thanks Madonna, Gogol Bordello and Trio Kolpakov.
Tony Gatlif (Latcho Drom, Gadje Dilo...) has a new film Liberte which means freedom. It tells the destiny of a Gypsy family in German occupied France in 1943.
Ellie Greenwich, who wrote such classic songs as Chapel of Love, River Deep Mountain High, and Be My Baby died Wed. of a heart attack in New York. She was 68 years old.
Posted by Morgan at 3:21 PM
Thursday, August 27, 2009
As Shona pointed out, Madonna's awareness of the situation of the Roma is due in large part to her friendship with Eugene and Gogol Bordello. Eugene is a Romani political activist and it's impossible to hang out with him and not become aware of the realities of Roma life. Thanks Eugene, and Madonna too.
FROM YAHOO NEWS
Madonna booed in Bucharest for defending Gypsies
By ALINA WOLFE MURRAY, Associated Press Writer Alina Wolfe Murray, Associated Press Writer
BUCHAREST, Romania – At first, fans politely applauded the Roma performers sharing a stage with Madonna. Then the pop star condemned widespread discrimination against Roma, or Gypsies — and the cheers gave way to jeers.
The sharp mood change that swept the crowd of 60,000, who had packed a park for Wednesday night's concert, underscores how prejudice against Gypsies remains deeply entrenched across Eastern Europe.
Despite long-standing efforts to stamp out rampant bias, human rights advocates say Roma probably suffer more humiliation and endure more discrimination than any other people group on the continent.
Sometimes, it can be deadly: In neighboring Hungary, six Roma have been killed and several wounded in a recent series of apparently racially motivated attacks targeting small countryside villages predominantly settled by Gypsies.
"There is generally widespread resentment against Gypsies in Eastern Europe. They have historically been the underdog," Radu Motoc, an official with the Soros Foundation Romania, said Thursday.
Roma, or Gypsies, are a nomadic ethnic group believed to have their roots in the Indian subcontinent. They live mostly in southern and eastern Europe, but hundreds of thousands have migrated west over the past few decades in search of jobs and better living conditions.
Romania has the largest number of Roma in the region. Some say the population could be as high as 2 million, although official data put it at 500,000.
Until the 19th century, Romanian Gypsies were slaves, and they've gotten a mixed response ever since: While discrimination is widespread, many East Europeans are enthusiastic about Gypsy music and dance, which they embrace as part of the region's cultural heritage.
That explains why the Roma musicians and a dancer who had briefly joined Madonna onstage got enthusiastic applause. And it also may explain why some in the crowd turned on Madonna when she paused during the two-hour show — a stop on her worldwide "Sticky and Sweet" tour — to touch on their plight.
"It has been brought to my attention ... that there is a lot of discrimination against Romanies and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe," she said. "It made me feel very sad."
Thousands booed and jeered her.
A few cheered when she added: "We don't believe in discrimination ... we believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone." But she got more boos when she mentioned discrimination against homosexuals and others.
"I jeered her because it seemed false what she was telling us. What business does she have telling us these things?" said Ionut Dinu, 23.
Madonna did not react and carried on with her concert, held near the hulking palace of the late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Her publicist, Lizz Rosenberg, said Madonna and other had told her there were cheers as well as jeers.
"Madonna has been touring with a phenomenal troupe of Roma musicians who made her aware of the discrimination toward them in several countries so she felt compelled to make a brief statement," Rosenberg said in an e-mail. "She will not be issuing a further statement."
One Roma musician said the attitude toward Gypsies is contradictory.
"Romanians watch Gypsy soap operas, they like Gypsy music and go to Gypsy concerts," said Damian Draghici, a Grammy Award-winner who has performed with James Brown and Joe Cocker.
"But there has been a wave of aggression against Roma people in Italy, Hungary and Romania, which shows me something is not OK," he told the AP in an interview. "The politicians have to do something about it. People have to be educated not to be prejudiced. All people are equal, and that is the message politicians must give."
Nearly one in two of Europe's estimated 12 million Roma claimed to have suffered an act of discrimination over the past 12 months, according to a recent report by the Vienna-based EU Fundamental Rights Agency. The group says Roma face "overt discrimination" in housing, health care and education.
Many do not have official identification, which means they cannot get social benefits, are undereducated and struggle to find decent jobs.
Roma children are more likely to drop out of school than their peers from other ethnic groups. Many Romanians label Gypsies as thieves, and many are outraged by those who beg or commit petty crimes in Western Europe, believing they spoil Romania's image abroad.
In May 2007, Romanian President Traian Basescu was heard to call a Romanian journalist a "stinky Gypsy" during a conversation with his wife. Romania's anti-discrimination board criticized Basescu, who later apologized.
Human rights activists say the attacks in Hungary, which began in July 2008, may be tied to that country's economic crisis and the rising popularity of far-right vigilantes angered by a rash of petty thefts and other so-called "Gypsy crime." Last week, police arrested four suspects in a nightclub in the eastern city of Debrecen.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia also have been criticized for widespread bias against Roma.
Madonna's outrage touched a nerve in Romania, but it seems doubtful it will change anything, said the Soros Foundation's Motoc.
"Madonna is a pop star. She is not an expert on interethnic relations," he said.
AP Writers Alison Mutler in Bucharest, William J. Kole in Vienna and Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York contributed to this report.
Posted by Morgan at 11:06 AM
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Compiled by EAT THE STATE.
On 25 August 1998 Federal court finds that the rights of political death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal had been violated by prison authorities. Eleven years later he remains on death row. Through radio broadcasts and writings, Abu-Jamal has become a leading voice for prisoners and against the prison system. Angela Davis is another leader in this arena.
On 27 August 1919 Seattle mayor Ole Hanson demands, "hang or incarcerate all anarchists for life".
On 30 August 1968, with the Democratic convention riots in progress, Chicago police invade headquarters of antiwar presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy, dragging staffers from their beds and beating them. CBS anchor Walter Cronkite will tell prime-time television viewers: "I want to pack my bags and get out of this city."
On 31 August 1970 Philadelphia police raid the office of the local Black Panther Party. Among those arrested is a young teen, Wesley Cook, later known as Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jaml would be sentenced to death in a highly questionable trial in 1983, in part because of his teenage association with the Blank Panthers.
Posted by Morgan at 2:11 PM
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Hungarian Police Detain 4 Men in Gypsy Killings
By Stefan Bos
22 August 2009
Hungarian police have detained four men on suspicion of carrying out attacks in which at least six Roma, or Gypsies as they are also called, were killed. The violence has underscored growing ethnic tension in the European Union nation.
Hungarian police say the men, aged 28 to 42, were captured Friday in the eastern city of Debrecen on suspicion of involvement in deadly attacks against Gypsies, who prefer to be known as Roma.
National police chief Jozsef Bencze has told reporters that evidence seized during house searches and at different crime scenes link the suspects to acts of deadly violence within the past year.
He says police have appropriate evidence to link the men to the killings. Bencze adds that racism appears to have been the main motive. He has described the attacks, as the "biggest, most complicated and most serious series of murders in the history of Hungarian criminology."
The killings were carried out mainly in small countryside villages predominantly settled by Roma.
In February, in what was seen as one of the most brutal attacks on Roma, police said Robert Csorba and his five-year-old son were shot dead when they tried to flee their home that was set on fire.
His mother, Erzsebet Csorba, lives next to the destroyed home where she lost her son and grandson, on a muddy road in the Hungarian village of Tatarszentgyorgy, 65 kilometers outside Budapest.
She tells VOA that she will never forget what happened that night.
"I woke up from hearing three shots outside in the garden," said Csorba. "And I woke up my husband also because I wanted to go with him to see what happened. When we came out here outside of the door, we saw immediately the burning house of my son."
"So I ran around the house and here on the side of the house there is a little forest and I found my son. "They shot me down, they shot me down," were the last words that he said. And we also found the little boy. His whole small body was full with holes from the bullets. He was still breathing," she added.
In one of the cases this month, a 45-year-old Roma woman was killed in the eastern village of Kisleta and her 13-year-old daughter was seriously injured when police say gunmen broke into their home at night and shot the victims in their sleep.
The Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center, or ERRC, suggests that the attacks to which detained suspects are linked are no isolated incidents. ERRC Programmes Coordinator Tara Bedard has told VOA News there have been dozens of attacks against the approximately 800,000 Roma living in Hungary.
"There's been 30 attacks in the last two years. And that we know off, I believe that seven people have died," said Bedard. "I think the most frequent type of attack that has been occurring in the past is people showing up with Molotov cocktails and throwing them into or at the homes of Roma in several towns of the country.
Some human rights groups and Roma leaders say the attacks come at a time when right-wing extremists are searching for scapegoats for Hungary's current economic crisis.
Far right groups targeting what they call "Gypsy crime" have become increasingly popular in Hungary, adding to international concerns over ethnic tensions in this European Union nation.
Posted by Morgan at 9:18 AM
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Native American Activist Leonard Peltier was denied parole yesterday. He will not be eligible for parole again until July 2024. He will be 79 years old.
Peltier has been imprisoned since 1979, after being convicted for the deaths of two fbi agents in 1977. The agents had been part of an attack by the federal government on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
There are many who believe that Peltier was convicted because of his politics and not evidence against him. A fair trial seemed ludicrous then, just as a fair parole hearing seems now.
Interestingly William Calley "apologized" for his role in the My Lai massacre in Viet Nam in 1968. Between 350-500 civilians, mostly women, children and old people were slaughtered.
Caley was convicted of murder in 1971 and sentenced to life in prison but ended up serving three years under house arrest after President Nixon reduced his sentence.
And the beat goes on......
Posted by Morgan at 11:07 AM
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
FROM THE WASHINGTON POST
Battle for jobs feeds Northern Ireland xenophobia
By Andras Gergely
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 8:06 PM
BELFAST (Reuters) - "Foreign bodies" coming from eastern Europe to take jobs are a new adversary for Alan Skey, more than a decade after Northern Ireland's peace deal secured the former militant's release from the Maze prison.
Standing next to the mural of a masked gunman that marks the entry to "South Belfast's loyalist heartland," Skey -- who fought to keep the province a part of the United Kingdom -- praised the peace process and revealed a new raw nerve.
"We can't work in our own city. We didn't take up the struggle for that," said Skey, who spent 16 years in jail before being freed under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.
"I took up the struggle to keep that British flag flying. Now loyalists and republicans are oppressed in their own country due to foreign bodies."
Historically, it was economic migrants from the largely Catholic Republic of Ireland who stirred up sectarian trouble in Protestant commmunities. The south, a "Celtic Tiger" until the credit crunch kicked in, is now the euro zone's weakest link.
Nonetheless, the "foreign bodies" Skey refers to are workers mainly from Poland, Lithuania and Romania. His views are more radical than most, but nearly 50 percent of those polled in one survey believed migrant workers take jobs away from people born in Northern Ireland.
Of the 1,215 adults interviewed between October 1, 2008 and February 27, 2009 for the Queen's University Belfast and the University of Ulster, only 38 percent disagreed with that assertion: 46 percent were in favor.
Northern Ireland's racist underbelly has been on show this summer.
Gangs of youths, some giving the Nazi salute, forced around 100 Romanians of Roma ethnicity, including a newborn baby, to flee their Belfast homes in June.
That evoked eastern European scenes of intensifying violence against the Roma, including attacks with petrol bombs, hand grenades and rifles in Hungary that have killed half a dozen people in the last 18 months, with sporadic violence elsewhere.
After rival fans clashed at a soccer match between Poland and Northern Ireland in March, around 40 people were forced to leave a working class Loyalist area of Belfast due to intimidation.
The 1998 peace deal has reduced the sectarian violence that killed 3,600 people from the 1970s, and the biggest paramilitary groups on both the pro-British Protestant and pro-Irish Catholic sides have dumped their arms.
But racist attacks have become, in the words of Belfast city's mayor Naomi Long, the province's "stain of shame."
"Really sectarianism and racism are very similar, twin evils of prejudice and intolerance," said Hong Kong-born Anna Lo, the only member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from an ethnic minority, who represents the Belfast South constituency.
Labor MARKET SHOCK
Unemployment in Northern Ireland at 6.7 percent in April-June, the latest period for which government figures are available, was below levels in the UK and the European Union.
However, at 51,000 the number of those claiming unemployment benefit in July had almost doubled compared with a year ago: the figures mask an artificially inflated state sector. Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of public sector workers in the UK -- 30 percent of all employees in 2005 versus 20 percent or fewer across southern England.
Northern Ireland could be in for an even greater labor market shock as fiscal pressures force London to curtail the subsidies that sustain the province's outsized bureaucracy, Belfast-based economists say.
"The next government will have to implement public expenditure cuts and Northern Ireland has never experienced that before," Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey said.
The universities' survey showed 22 percent of respondents would not have eastern Europeans as a close friend and even fewer welcomed them marrying a close family member.
"Most of my friends are already back in Poland as a result of attacks and the economic downturn," said Robert Kowalski, 26, speaking in a house in North Belfast where he fled after his home was attacked following the soccer match in March.
"KEEP THEIR MOUTHS SHUT"
One in five respondents in a separate survey by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland in 2008 said they felt negatively against eastern European migrants and almost a quarter said racial or ethnic minorities were the most unfairly treated groups in the province.
That compared with 5 percent who said the worst treated were Catholics, the minority whose situation was at the center of the Irish Republican Army's earlier military campaign.
"I myself have been targeted with a telephone call to the police (saying) ... my house would have an arson attack," Lo said.
Many of the attacks against foreigners have been perpetrated in impoverished Protestant neighborhoods such as Skey's South Belfast. Northern Irish Catholics are generally more open to foreigners, according to the universities' survey.
Even among Catholics, however, not much more than half would accept as a close relative a Muslim or an Irish Traveler.
The polls show the Northern Irish to be least hostile to the up to 15,000 Chinese who formed the biggest ethnic minority before EU enlargement allowed more eastern Europeans -- including more than 10,000 Lithuanians -- to move in.
Partick Yu, head of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities, said the Chinese had traditionally focused on their businesses and quietly acquiesced in extortion by paramilitaries at the height of the sectarian conflict.
"They keep their mouths shut, they don't make trouble, that's why they have less problems," said Yu, who moved to Belfast from Hong Kong and campaigned to get anti-discrimination laws applied in Northern Ireland.
These were implemented in 1997, two decades after being enforced in other parts of the UK.
Many eastern Europeans contacted by Reuters through online networks and trade unions said they still had no plans to leave, some citing discrimination and hardship against minorities such as the Roma elsewhere in eastern Europe.
"I tell everyone it's worth coming to Belfast, it's a really liveable place," said Bernadett Haasz, an English language teacher from Budapest who works for a Belfast broadcaster.
"One must know which neighborhoods to move into, but that's the same in every city."
Posted by Morgan at 10:14 PM
Monday, August 17, 2009
Europe’s dirty secret – the continuing rise of anti-Gypsyism
On the night of 2 August, 1944, as Soviet troops closed in, 2898 Romani men, women and children were brutally murdered inside gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camps. Although accurate statistics are not available, in total the Roma victims of the Holocaust likely number in the hundreds of thousands. This figure includes 200 Romani children murdered in Buchenwald, Germany, in 1940 as part of a research experiment on the efficiency of the Crystal B gas later employed in the gas chambers.
On 2 August, 2009 (65 years later – in a day and age when the events of the Holocaust are widely regarded as a dark shadow on the history of humanity), Ms Maria Balog, a Romani woman from the Hungarian town of Kisléta, became the latest victim in a relentless killing spree targeting Roma in Hungary. The killing in Hungary started in 2008 and Ms Balog was the sixth victim.
In Romania, just a day before the killing in Hungary, two Romanians in their early 20s, students of medicine at the University of Timisoara, killed and hacked to pieces a 65-year-old Romani man. They will be duly prosecuted for their crime, but the public has taken little notice. Experts in ethnic relations predict, considering current inter-ethnic tensions, that if a similar crime had been perpetrated by two young Roma against an elderly Romanian man, the result would likely have been an ethnically motivated lynching.
In Sanmartin, Romania, less violent incidents than the above mentioned killing, perpetrated by Roma in May and June 2009, resulted in mob violence which forced Roma to flee their houses and take refuge in the nearby forests. One Roma house was set on fire and other Roma houses and properties were vandalized; several other houses were demolished by the mayor in the following days. On 10 July, in the nearby village of Sancraieni, another Roma house was set on fire. The anti-Roma pogroms of the early 1990s, which saw a number of Roma lynched by angry mobs and hundreds of Roma houses burned or destroyed, seem to be once again looming in Transylvania.
Last year, Italy was the scene of a number of serious incidents targeting Roma. In May 2008, Molotov cocktails were thrown into Romani camps in Milan and Novara, and assailants burned the Ponticelli Romani settlement in Naples to the ground, causing the approximately 800 residents to flee, while Italians stood by and cheered. On the day of the arson attacks on the Ponticelli settlement, RAI television showed Italians in the area screaming, “Roma out!” This was broadcast before the police were alerted to the riot. In June, Italian media reported that a settlement of around 100 Romanian Roma in Catania, Sicily had been attacked and burned to the ground. During the year a number of other violent incidents took place in Italy, including the stabbing of an undercover Italian reporter who passed himself off as Roma.
During spring 2009, an angry mob forced Roma in Ireland to take refugee in a church. Hundreds of Roma returned to Romania fearing for their lives.
On the internet today, tens of thousands of postings call for the death, sterilisation or forced expulsion of Roma, in most, if not all, of the EU languages. Incidents of hate speech targeting Roma involving local, national and EU politicians are often reported but rarely produce any reaction.
What has been the reaction of governments to this clearly grave situation?
Member states, struggling with a significant rise in extremism, avoid serious discussion of anti-Gypsyism or action to improve the social inclusion of Roma. Prioritising such actions would likely amount to political suicide for any party in power. National politicians tend to push ethnic issues towards Brussels, perceiving this as an easy escape. This has been the main strategy of countries confronted with high levels of anti-Gypsyism such as Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
And the response from the European Union?
Despite blaring warning signals, the EU does not seem to grasp the danger and has failed to take efficient measures to prevent a possibly explosive inter-ethnic conflict. It seems stuck in its usual ineffective small-talk and conferencing. Three times in the last two years, the EU Council made some noise suggesting, in a rather ambiguous manner, that something should be done about the Roma. But the European Commission is busy trying to pass the burden of dealing with racism and possible inter-ethnic conflict back to member states. The Commission does not seem ready to take simple but efficient measures such as creating inside structures capable of dealing with the issues. The activities of the Interservice Groups on Racism and on Roma are unknown, and at best limited in concrete results. The blunt condemnation of anti-Gypsyism by Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Vladimir Spidla, although exceptional, had not led to any measures enabling sustainable changes at the EU level.
With a new Commission in place (probably by January 2010) and the departure of some key people within the Commission, the much hailed and highly promising European Roma Platform, announced by EC President Barrosso during the first EU Roma Summit in September 2008, may turn out to be an empty shell. Promising initiatives in the past have often led to little more than window-dressing measures. We must acknowledge remarkable progress in the discourse of the Commission and the dedication and efforts of a handful of bureaucrats within the EC. Together, these put the Commission at the forefront of positive Roma initiatives in Europe. However even within the Commission there does not yet seem to be a clear idea on what the Platform might mean or do. The EU task-force against anti-Gypsyism has remained but a topic of discussion for the last four years. Although Roma are the most hated ethnic group in Europe, according to EU watch-dog the Fundamental Rights Agency, monitoring anti-Gypsyism remains an informal task for the Agency. Roma and Roma experts continue to be all but absent from EC structures. Support for Roma organisations monitoring anti-Gypsyism is also missing. Social inclusion of Roma is still treated superficially and reluctantly by the EU, despite a ground-breaking initiative forced on the EC by the European Parliament, which put five million Euros towards three pilot projects targeting different aspects of social inclusion. These projects are due to be implemented by early 2010. Although Roma are the most hated ethnic group in Europe, according to EU watch-dog the Fundamental Rights Agency, monitoring anti-Gypsyism remains an informal task for the Agency. Roma and Roma experts continue to be all but absent from EC structures. Support for Roma organisations monitoring anti-Gypsyism is also missing. Social inclusion of Roma is still treated superficially and reluctantly by the EU, despite a ground-breaking initiative forced on the EC by the European Parliament, which put five million Euros towards three pilot projects targeting different aspects of social inclusion. These projects are due to be implemented by early 2010.
It is interesting that the only rapid - although still inadequate - EU response to a Roma-related issue in recent years has addressed the migration of Roma within member states. Movement of Roma, although limited, is highly visible on the streets of EU capitals such as Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Geneva and Helsinki, where some hundreds of Roma beg. This visible presence does nothing but increase anti-Gypsyism and the social exclusion of Roma.
Europe has an abysmal record in preventing inter-ethnic conflict. Perhaps it is time to challenge this trend and address the rampant and widespread European anti-Gypsyism. An effective European Task-Force against anti-Gypsyism may be the solution. To avoid the nightmare of yet another inter-ethnic conflict, Europe needs not just to wake up, but to stand up against anything which might lead to a repeat of Kosovo. Otherwise, what is now a “dirty little secret” in an otherwise a quite respectable European record of respect for human rights can become a nightmare.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
FROM THE SOMERVILLE NEWS
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Sonia Meyer: A local writer who throws a light on the secretive Gypsy culture.
By Doug Holder
Off The Shelf
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I admit it. I was among the ilk that bought into the tired stereotype of the Gypsies as jobless vagrants, with a lot of kids, living in a tent camp, with the requisite dancing and fortune teller. I never took the time to think of them as anything more than stick figures. Being a Jew I heard from my relatives about the atrocities my family and the greater Jewish people experienced under the Nazis. But the Gypsies also suffered greatly. Why wasn't this talked about in school and at home? I really needed a serious education. That's when I ran across Sonia Meyer. I interviewed her and she introduced to a world that I was woefully ignorant of. Meyer is a novelist, as well as a scholar of Gypsy culture, who has completed a novel about a Gypsy girl named: "Dosha."
The Gypsies have lived and criss-crossed Europe for 600 years. They were among the first European settlers to enter our own country. Yet most of us, know them only through prejudice.
Sonia Meyer was born in 1938 in Cologne, Germany into a multi-ethnic family, who was very opposed to the Nazi regime. When co-agitators started to be publicly hung on street-corners, Sonia's family left overnight and made for the German hinterlands and later the dense forests in Poland, where they survived in the company of partisans and some Gypsies the Germans had not managed to capture. Flushed out by the victorious Russian army, who often killed those who had escaped the German massacres, they returned across a devastated land and killer fields to a Cologne that was leveled to the ground. Again she came across and befriended a group of Gypsy children.
Like them she would ultimately leave the memories of war and its aftermath behind, by simply walking into the future. Helped by a wealthy aunt, her travels would take her across the world, through a variety of professions to finally settle in the United States, where she had a family and entered the most noble of Gypsy professions of all, the breeding and dealing of horses.
Having found peace and happiness after a tumultuous journey, she started to long for the one part missing in her life, Gypsies. She decided to look into the history of the people she had found comfort with during the tumultuous years of war and its horrible aftermath.
But some twenty plus years ago, there was close to none research material on the Gypsies available. At Harvard's Widener library, she discovered a translation of a novel by a Russian Gypsy, by the name of Matteo Maximoff. She contacted him and they became fast friends. She then immersed herself in the life of Gypsies, traveling to Macedonia, and Kosovo and Hungary pursuing her research. And now Meyer has completed a novel, tentatively titled" "Dosha", that tells the tale of a Gypsy girl Dosha. The novel is bookended by Nikita Khrushchev's state visit to Helsinki in 1957. The story is of, a Gypsy, and her hardscrabble childhood spent with Russian partisans in Polish forests, to her defection during Khrushchev's visit..... .
In her research, her travels, when she lived with them, followed them to some sacred Gypsy sites, Sonia was struck how familiar their way of thinking and living was to her. And thinking back at the nomadic life most of her mother's siblings, she finally asked her mother who was on her death bed, "That grandfather of mine, the dark one, the one who worked in the circus with horses, the one who kept leaving home all the time, was he...a Gypsy? Her mother replied:
"I was not born under a wagon...so I decided long ago to declare myself a Rhinelander...as you by now should know: reality is like a rubber band. You can stretch it anyway you desire." This always stayed with her.
Meyer, a self-taught scholar of Gypsy culture and history is concerned with a possibly precedent setting case in Florida. For the past 5 years Broward County has been trying to seize the property of the Christian Romany Church, whose 300 Roma members are considered ethnic Gypsies. The County feels it has the right of Eminent Domain, overriding the Religious Freedom Law. Has the disregard for the human rights and equality followed them all the way to this country?
There is a last minute twist, in this long-drawn out fight of the Gypsies for what they consider rightfully theirs. The County did win the suit, and settled with the Roma church for a certain amount of money,not enough however to buy a new church. The Gypsies were given six months to vacate the church. Those six month were expiring at the end of August. Suddenly, several county officials are questioning the decision of depriving the Gypsies of their church. "That's just it," Sonia informed me with great excitement. "That's why I chose this country to live in. No matter how tough things get, here there is always hope."
Dosha is a book I'll definitely review if I can track a copy down.
Posted by Morgan at 3:34 PM
FROM THE GAZETTE AND HERALD
Gypsies near Hullavington told to go
11:30am Friday 14th August 2009
By Joe Ware
Gypsy families who have been told they must leave land they own near Hullavington have invited anyone who is worried about their way of life to pop in for a chat.
But unless they can persuade a planning inspector they should stay they will have to go on the road again.
The six families, who own the Rose Field Caravan Site, applied for permission to allow six mobile homes and six touring caravans but Wiltshire Council’s planning committee turned the plan down.
Father of four Johnny McCann, 40, said the situation is keeping him up at night.
“I can’t sleep at the moment, this whole thing is giving me nightmares,” he said.
“We don’t have anywhere else to go, it takes years to get onto a council pitch and our children are all settled in school.
“We really want our children to get a proper education and get proper jobs. I never went to school and I want my kids to be better off than I was. You can do anything with the right education.
“If Barack Obama can become President of America then, with the right education, a traveller could become Prime Minister.”
Mr McCann said their neighbours in the village had been very welcoming.
“The people at the school have been great and the children are all settling down really well,” he said.
“We get on fine with everyone. The farmers come down to have a chat and the people in the garage near Buckley Barracks are great. If anyone else wants to come and see us they would be welcomed.”
The gypsies moved on to the site on April 17.
Planning officers last month refused the application due the unsuitability of the road which links the Rose Field site to the main road.
The report stated that: “The access road by reason of its restricted width, poor alignment and sub-standard junctions with the A429 is considered unsuitable to service as a means of access to the proposed development.”
Wiltshire Council cabinet member for Planning Toby Sturgis added that the site entrance was on a blind bend.
But Mr McCann said they had consulted an independent highways inspector who said there was no problem with the road.
Mr McCann said: “The inspector said the road was fine. There may not be any road markings there but two cars can pass each other at 25 to 30mph.”
He confirmed the families would be appealing the decision.
Coun Howard Greenman who is a member of the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Working Group said the council had to stick to government regulations.
He said: “Although the local authority is required to find suitable sites it has to follow stringent guidelines laid down by central Government.
“The road is why the application was turned down.”
Hullavington Parish Council chairman, William Harmer, said that although the gypsies are not looking for problems and are keen to integrate with the local community the council had reservations about their location.
He said: “The site is in an area which is known to be susceptible to flooding and it’s outside the permitted development area which would create a precedent.”
The situation facing Roma/Travelers in Britain has been bad for centuries.
In the 1990's The Caravan Sites Act was passed which stated that Gypsies could only camp on approved caravan sites, sort of like reservations for Native Americans.
Ironically, they didn't designate any "approved" sites which made it technically illegal for Gypsies to camp anywhere in England.
There now are some government approved sites, but a woefully inadequate number. Gypsies face opposition in every burrough and district where they try to establish a camp, even if they own the land. Hmmmm.
Posted by Morgan at 3:16 PM
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
FACTBOX: Eastern Europe's Roma people
Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:41pm EDT
(Reuters) - Eastern Europe has a significant and growing Roma or Gypsy population. Long-standing tensions between Roma and others have intensified as economic crisis bites.
Many Roma do not show up in censuses as they try to hide their ethnicity, and in some countries it is illegal to identify the Roma in legal documents.
The lack of hard data is a problem, making it difficult to tackle problems from employment to education and social services as well as policing, local experts have said.
* Roma form 4.7 percent of the population, or about 370,000 people, according to the 2001 census.
* The proportion is expected to swell to 6.5-7.0 percent, or 520,000-550,000 people, by 2020, said Alexey Pamporov, a sociologist at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
* 2004 unemployment rate among the Roma was 56.2 percent, dropping to 48.3 percent in 2007 (reflecting those who quit seeking work as well as those who found employment).
* There has been no recent reported violence. The last instance was in 2007, when about 200 Roma smashed a cafe and attacked four people they said looked like skinheads after a Roma was reportedly beaten by skinheads.
* The nationalist party Ataka (Attack) scored a steady 9 percent in the last two elections, in 2005 and in 2009.
* Government estimates Roma population at around 2 percent of the population, or 200,000 people, but some organizations use figures of up to 450,000.
* A government study expects the Roma population to grow by 50 percent, to 300,000, by 2050.
* No official Roma unemployment figure exists (it is illegal to collect such data).
* Government spent 117 million crowns ($21.18 million) in 2008 to create jobs for the Roma.
* Roma population heavy in northern areas of the country, where violent attackers have used petrol bombs at least once.
* The far right Workers' Party has not won representation and polls show it is unlikely to succeed in the upcoming elections in October.
* Roma population is around 660,000, or 6.6 percent of society, research studies show. Official census figures are not available, and many Roma hide their identity.
* The proportion of Roma could reach 8 percent by 2020 and exceed 10 percent by mid-century, according to the Central Statistics Office KSH.
* Roma employment has been below 20 percent consistently since 1993, research studies show. Some areas, especially in the north of the country, have nearly 100 percent Roma populations and virtually total unemployment.
* Violent clashes have been frequent in the last 18 months, including attacks using petrol bombs, hand grenades, and rifles. More than half a dozen people have been killed.
* The far right party Jobbik has made substantial gains using stark anti-Roma rhetoric. It won 15 percent of votes at the June European Parliament elections and could take 50 of 386 Parliament seats next year.
* Roma population at 535,000 according to official government estimates, but rights groups put it as high as 2.5 million, making it the largest Roma community in Europe.
* Romanian Roma have migrated elsewhere in Europe more than other nationalities, seeking opportunities in Ireland and Italy, where there are 500,000 Romanian citizens.
* In a 2005 study by the UNDP, the Roma unemployment rate (defined as those seeking work) was at 24 percent. Self-perceived unemployment (including the chronically jobless) is close to 80 percent, the UNDP said.
* Localized violent clashes have been sporadic. In July, ethnic Hungarians clashed with local Roma in Transylvania, prompting fears that Hungary's troubles might spill over into Romania.
* Roma population at 380,000 people, or about 7 percent of society, according to government estimates.
* Some 44 percent of the Roma are below 14 years of age, signaling an oncoming population boom, the government says. Most Roma families have 10 or more members.
* Less than 10 percent of Roma work regularly, according to the government.
* No violent unrest has happened since Roma revolts in the mid-1990s, and recently political parties have not singled out the Roma issue.
* A few housing projects and labor programs have eased conditions in some parts of the country.
(Reporting by Reuters bureaux, writing by Marton Dunai)
Posted by Morgan at 10:10 PM
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
7 August 2009
Romani woman shot dead in Hungary
Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the killing of a Romani woman in eastern Hungary in the early hours of 3 August. The 45-year-old woman was shot dead in the village of Kisléta and her 13-year-old daughter was seriously injured in the attack, which happened justone day after Hungary marked International Roma Holocaust Memorial Day.
Initial police reports suggest that the attack conforms to a recent pattern of racist attacks targeting Romani communities in Hungary. According to media reports, the house, which was located on the outskirts of the town, was attacked in the middle of the night.
Amnesty International has voiced concern about the growing number of attacks against the Romani community in Hungary over the last year and the failure of the police to investigate such incidents effectively. Between January 2008 and June 2009, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) documented 39 attacks against Roma and their property. Eight people have died in these attacks. The increasing number of attacks against Roma individuals and their homes has created a climate of fear and intimidation in that community.
Róbert Csorba, 27, and his five-year-old son were killed while fleeing their house which was set on fire as a result of a suspected arson attack in Tatárszentgyörgy on 23 February 2009. Jenõ Kóka, a 54-year-old Romani man, was shot dead as he left his home to make his way to the nightshift in the local chemical factory where he worked at Tiszalök on 22 April.
Last November, a man and woman were shot through the window after their house was petrol bombed in Nagycsécs, a village in north eastern Hungary.
Amnesty International has welcomed the Hungarian government's firmly condemnation of the attacks against members of the Romani community. However an effective police investigation is urgently required.
Investigations into a number of recent cases of racist attacks have been reported to be inadequate. In the Tatárszentgyörgy case, for example, the head of the local criminal investigation department violated the rules of on-sight investigation, according to a report issued by the ERRC, the Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ).
Amnesty International welcomes the decision that this most recent killing, in Kisléta, and its apparent racial motive will be investigated by the Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation. The agency was established specifically to investigate serious crimes.
Many Roma in Hungary live in fear. Nobody knows where and against whom the next attack is going to take place. The Hungarian authorities must take positive action to address underlying prejudices against the Roma community. They must also put policies in place to prevent such attacks and prosecute those breaching the law.
Amnesty International is also concerned that there might be more cases of attacks that remain unreported. In its 2009 Report on Hungary, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance noted that the "victims of such acts may often be reluctant to report the racist elements of violent offences against the person, whether owing to a sense of shame, due to fear of retribution, or because they feel it is unlikely that serious follow-up will be given to this aspect of a crime."
Roma face systematic discrimination across Europe, remaining largely excluded from public life and unable to enjoy full access to housing, education, employment and health services. Many live in what amount to segregated ghettos, physically isolated from other parts of the community, and often with limited or no water or electrical supplies, sanitation systems, paved roads or other basic infrastructure. Unlawful forced evictions of Roma in some countries drive them deeper into poverty.
Amnesty International has worked alongside others for a number of years to combat such anti-Roma discrimination, documenting cases of violent attacks against Roma individuals and whole communities, as well as cases of ill-treatment by the police, and campaigning particularly for access to housing and education rights.
Posted by Morgan at 11:43 AM
Monday, August 10, 2009
FROM MTI DAILY BULLETIN
Wiesenthal Centre calls on EP to condemn anti-Roma attacks in Hungary
Budapest, August 10 (MTI) - The Simon Wiesenthal Centre called on the European Parliament on Monday "to launch a firm resolution condemning" recent anti-Roma attacks in Hungary, a statement written by the Centre's director for international relations said.
In a congratulatory letter to newly elected EP President Jerzy Buzek, Shimon Samuels said all MEPs who have been "elected on party platforms of hate must be quarantined politically and socially."
"The virus they carry is still fresh in European memory. (…) Let the European Parliament take the first step to stem the contagion within Europe's own legislative House," concluded Samuels.
Samuels said the situation was "most acute in Slovakia, Hungary and the United Kingdom."
However, "while the Slovak police must be commended for its increased protective measures around Roma villages and the arrest, last week, of Marian Kotleba, one of the leaders of the extreme-right Slovenska Pospolitost party, the Hungarian President and the British authorities, on the other hand, have responded only with lip service," he added.
Posted by Morgan at 10:54 PM
Europe’s Roma suffer as downturn bites
By Jan Cienski in Velka Lomnica, Slovakia, and Thomas Escritt in Budapest
Published: August 9 2009 22:31 | Last updated: August 9 2009 22:31
Dionyz Sahi escaped the worst neighbourhood in Slovakia’s second city of Kosice and a lifetime of unemployment thanks to a programme set up by US Steel to hire members of the Roma minority. But his escape route from poverty is now closed as a result of the global economic crisis.
“We’re not in a hiring mode any more, we’re in a reduction mode,” says George Babcoke, president of US Steel Kosice, a subsidiary of the American company and the largest investor in the eastern part of Slovakia.
The economic slump has hit Europe’s estimated 8m Roma, widely seen as the continent’s most economically vulnerable population, particularly hard. Many gypsies have long had trouble finding work in the formal economy and have been among the first to lose their jobs during the crisis.
“Roma are the last hired and the first fired,” says Rob Kushen, managing director of the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest. “There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that the economic crisis has affected the Roma disproportionately, but employment levels always were low for this group.”
The effect of the crisis can been seen in the village of Velka Lomnica, in northern Slovakia. There, with the vivid green plains butting up against the snow-capped Tatra mountains, about 1,000 Roma live in abject poverty. Women lean out of windowless openings in a crumbling, three-storey block of flats, while most people live in hand-built shanties not designed for harsh Slovak winters.
The nearby Whirlpool plant was forced to sack workers this year as demand for its washing machines dried up and some of those who lost their jobs live in the village. Mirko, a Roma man, says his monthly income has dropped from €650 ($922, £553) to the €130 he gets from government social support. “We eat differently now. Meat and fruit are things of the past,” he says. “People were envious of me when I had a job but now we can’t even afford second-hand clothing.”
Another former Whirlpool employee says he has been calling around the country to look for another job.
“I called for a job in Bratislava but they told me: ‘If you’re a Rom, don’t bother showing up’,” he says.
As the crisis bites, Roma are finding it harder to compete for jobs, with employers being choosier than they were a year or two ago during the height of the boom.
In Hungary, where the economic crisis has exacerbated an existing problem of deindustrialisation in the poor north-eastern part of the country, unemployment has become a particularly acute problem for Roma.
Hit hard by the country's worst recession since the transition from communism, Hungarians are increasingly turning to Jobbik, a far-right party that blames gypsies for rising crime. In recent months, there have been attacks on Roma settlements, including several murders.
Romania, with its much larger and better-integrated gypsy population, has had less of the violent conflict seen in Hungary in the past year, but it may have a full-blown social crisis to contend with if the trickle of Romanians returning home from Italy and Spain becomes a flood as the construction industry in southern Europe goes sour.
In the Czech Republic, the atmosphere for gypsies has become so poisonous that hundreds have applied for refugee status in Canada, prompting Ottawa to reimpose visa requirements on Czech travellers.
As the region struggles to extricate itself from an unexpectedly sharp economic downturn, it will probably be some time before any of his fellow Roma are able to follow Mr Sahi out of poverty. Getting the job in 2003 enabled Mr Sahi to escape Lunik IX, a grim Roma housing estate on Kosice’s outskirts. “I had never had a job before,” he says. “When I got that first cheque and took my kids shopping for toys, then I understood it was happiness to have a job.”
Police break up anti-gypsy march in Slovakia
By Jan Cienski in Warsaw and Tom Nicholson in Bratislava
Published: August 9 2009 22:23 | Last updated: August 9 2009 22:23
Tensions between Slovak nationalists and the country’s large Roma minority escalated over the weekend when riot police had to break up an anti-gypsy march in the country’s east.
About 200 members of the far-right Slovenska Pospolitist (Slovak Brotherhood) pelted police with rocks and bottles on Saturday in the eastern Slovak town of Sarisske Michalany.
The mostly shaven-headed young men were protesting against what they termed “Roma terror” in Slovakia. Five policemen were injured, along with two skinheads, and more than 30 arrests were made.
The march was called after Roma teenagers were accused of beating up an elderly man last week. The victim lost an eye and suffered a fractured skull and broken facial bones. Two boys, aged 15 and 16, are in custody on assault charges.
The unrest in Slovakia is part of a regional increase in attacks on Roma minorities by far-right groups, which began before the economic crisis but seem to have become worse as the region’s economies have plunged into recession.
The Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre says there have been firebombings and shootings against gypsies in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary over the past 18 months, and that eight people have died.
In Hungary, police have set up a task force to catch what they believe is a gang targeting gypsies. Maria Balogh, who is thought to be the sixth victim of the group, was buried on Friday. Her 13-year-old daughter was wounded in the attack in which she died and remains in hospital.
In the Czech Republic, relations have become so poisonous that Canada re-imposed visa requirements for Czech citizens after hundreds of Roma applied for asylum.
Gypsy migrants in Italy, many of them from Romania, have also been the targets of attacks by local mobs.
Slovenska Pospolitost was formed in 1996 and is led by Marian Kotleba, a former secondary school teacher who was among those arrested on Saturday.
Several gypsy organisations sent an open letter to Slovak authorities and to the European Commission, demanding action.
“The fear, which we – the Roma – feel when observing the situation in neighbouring Hungary, Italy and other countries of the European Union make us fear for our lives and the lives of our children, whom we send to schools, shops and streets in fear – only because we are Roma,” reads the letter, according to Tasr, the Slovak news agency
Posted by Morgan at 10:06 AM
Saturday, August 8, 2009
FROM THE WASHINGTON POST
Burial for victim of attacks on Hungary's Gypsies
The Associated Press
Friday, August 7, 2009 1:15 PM
KISLETA, Hungary -- Hundreds of people gathered Friday to pay their respects at the funeral of a 45-year-old woman, the sixth fatal victim in a series of attacks against Gypsies in Hungary.
Police say the attacks are linked, may have been committed by the same small group, and that the weapons used in Monday's shooting of Maria Balogh and her 13-year-old daughter in their home in Kisleta, a small village in eastern Hungary, had been used in at least two of the previous attacks.
Balogh's daughter survived the shooting and is recuperating in a hospital.
Police have 100 officers working on the crimes, the first of which took place in July 2008, and this week doubled the reward for information that could solve all the attacks to 100 million forints (euro370,000, $525,000).
The attacks usually have been carried out at homes at the edge of small villages near highways providing a quick escape route.
Balogh and her daughter were attacked Monday before dawn but were discovered only hours later when Balogh's sister came to pick them up for work at a tobacco farm.
Gypsies, or Roma as they sometimes prefer to be called, are among the poorest and least-educated Hungarians. They make up about 5 percent of Hungary's population of 10 million and many lost their jobs as the communist system crumbled and the large state-run factories which guaranteed employment were closed or privatized.
Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai expressed his condolences to the family and said that the murderers had attacked the whole Hungarian nation.
"To drive back extremism, to hold society together and to improve on the condition of Gypsies is not simply a government task," Bajnai said. "It is also a national responsibility."
© 2009 The Associated Press
Posted by Morgan at 7:46 AM
Friday, August 7, 2009
FROM THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH
Roma families return to Belfast
By Lisa Smyth
Thursday, 6 August 2009
Twelve Roma men who fled Northern Ireland following a series of racist attacks have returned to the province.
Their families are to arrive in time for the children to start the new school term in September.
Derek Hanway from An Munia Tober, an organisation representing the Travelling community in Northern Ireland, said the men have found some work and are hoping to build new lives for themselves and their families in Belfast. The locations of the new homes have not been revealed.
While the airfares of the families returning to Romania after the racist attacks were paid by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Mr Hanway said he was not aware of Government funding to the families returning to Northern Ireland.
A spokesman from the Housing Executive said: “We have had no contact whatsoever with any of these individuals. They are not receiving any assistance.”
All but two of the 114 Romanians who were forced to flee their homes after a spate of racist attacks in June left Northern Ireland.
Over 70 flew out of Dublin Airport after spending more than a week in temporary accommodation.
Posted by Morgan at 3:31 PM
Thursday, August 6, 2009
On 6 August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
This was the first use of a nuclear weapon in warfare
An estimated 140,000 people were killed in the attack.
Days later it would be Nagasaki.
On 4 August 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home. Her death was ruled a probable suicide. Many questions have been raised about the involvement of Robert and Jack Kennedy, Peter Lawford and others.
Ms. Monroe was 36 years old at the time of her death.
Her last movie, The Misfits, seems to perfectly reflect her story.
Today I read a few more reviews on "Gypsy" music. Sometimes the group even includes a Rom/Sinti. But the funny thing is the reviews always talk in terms like crossing borders and sharing cultures, but there is rarely a mention of the reality of the lives of Gypsies. Besides musically, we are harassed if we cross borders, murdered as we flee our burning homes.
Gogol Bordello is a wonderful group. And they righteously gain fans every day. They receive rave reviews. Rarely does a review make any mention of the politics of Eugene and the group. I fear the political content of Gogol Bordello goes largely unheralded. Listen more carefully.
Posted by Morgan at 3:28 PM
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
NO END TO THE Killing of Roma in Hungary
Strasbourg, 5 August: Mr Rudko Kawczynski, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, today in his letter addressed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Human Rights Commissioner, OSCE/ODIHR and the European Parliament calls on to European governments and European institutions to show a clear commitment towards Roma rights and strongly rebukes the mistreatment of the Roma in Europe.
"I hasten to express the shock and deep concern of the European Roma and Travellers Forum over the tragic incident which occurred in Kisleta, Hungary on Monday, resulting in the death of 45-year-old Roma woman who was shot dead and her daughter seriously injured. She was the latest victim in a recent spate of anti-Roma murders across the country".
"Similar activities to this one are not only a threat to the Roma community. These activities remind us of the Nazi and Fascist periods in the early 1930s, when Roma and Jews were singled out for discrimination and persecution leading finally to the genocide of millions of innocent people. Nowadays this is a serious threat to the future of the Europeans, to democracy and the rule of law" Mr. Kawczynski wrote in the letter addressed to the above mentioned Institutions.
The letters, written on behalf of 15 million Roma, urges the Hungarian authorities to take urgent action to stop anti-Roma activities and to undertake all necessary measures to stop the Anti-Roma pogroms and ensure a safe and secure life for all Roma living in Hungary as well as the full implementation of international laws and standards.
‘We believe that also the international institutions, such as the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, OSCE and the United Nations should take a stand and condemn these inhuman and unacceptable actions and to urge the Hungarian authorities to identify and prosecute the perpetrators’ Mr Kawczynski said in a closing remark in his letter.
The European Roma and Travellers Forum has been looking very closely at the incidents of violent attacks in Hungary, police brutality and violations, and hate speech in which hundreds of Roma have been forced to run for fear of their life.
Posted by Morgan at 4:40 PM
Final Boundaries of Racism
It is about time to make efforts for seriously and most responsibly to find answers for the series of murders of Roma in Hungary (the last murder took place on the third of August in the village Kisleta in Eastern Hungary ) because we consider that you have remained silent long enough.
Why are Roma being murdered?
Why the guilty ones have not been brought to justice?
Will you stop with your declarative statements?
When will we see your urgent actions for protection and justice?
According to your positions, the professionalism of your work and financial incomes you have responsibility towards the citizens of Europe and Roma most of all to answer these questions.
Respected citizens of Europe , Roma and non Roma
All of you can help for protection of the Roma population in Hungary and in Europe if in your own way look for answers from the authorities for all murdered Roma. React, write and send letters!!!
Spokesmen of Romna National Congress
Manager National Roma Centrum
Delegate European Roma and Travellers Forum
Tel./fax: +389 314 27 558
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Done Bozinov 11/5. 1300 Kumanovo. Macedonia.
Posted by Morgan at 12:42 PM
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
On 4 August 1944, two days after the annihilation of the Gypsy camp at Auschwitz, Anne Frank, then 15 years old, was arrested along with her sister, parents and four other people by German security after they had spent two years hiding from the nazis in a building in Amsterdam.
On 4 August 1964, the bodies of missing civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were found buried in an earthen dam in Mississippi.
Posted by Morgan at 6:30 PM
This event occured on the International Day of Remembrance for the Roma/Sinti victims of the Devouring.
Romedia Foundation, Budapest , 4 August 2009
Extracts from Index.hu, Hungary, 3 August 2009, 7 a .m.
A middle aged Roma woman was shot several times by unknown attackers and died in Kisléta, county Szabolcs (north east Hungary ). Her daughter was wounded in the attack. János Lázár, president of the Parliament’s National Defense and Law Enforcement Committee called for an extraordinary session of the Committee to take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday, during which the Minister of Justice and Law Enforcement will brief the Committee about the Kisléta murder and the succession of similar crimes.
A 45 year-old Roma woman was shot dead, her 13 year-old daughter severely wounded by unknown attackers in Kisléta during the night of Sunday/Monday. (Kisléta, with its 1 900-strong population, lies 60 km from Tiszalök and 30 km east from Nyíregyháza). Following the murder, Hungarian National Police High Commissioner József Bencze doubled the reward offered for information about the identity of the criminals involved in attacks against Roma, stated the Hungarian National Police. The 100 million Hungarian Forint reward is the highest in the history of Hungarian criminology (the reward was upped for the last time on April 25th by the High Commissioner, to 50 million Hungarian Forint). The National Investigation Office took over the investigation of the crime committed in Kisléta on Monday at dawn.
The woman was shot by pellet gun in one of the last houses of a street lying at the edge of the village. The bullets hit her on her chest, head and arm. Her daughter was wounded on the neck and arm and was transported to András Jósa Hospital in Nyíregyháza.
The 13 year-old girl’s condition has been stabilized and is satisfactory but serious and life-threatening, said Pál Felföldi, lead traumatologist. (…) Since there are no eyewitnesses in the case, police are watching over the girl outside the intensive care unit where she is currently treated, because she might be in possession of important information about the attackers.
There might have been two of them
The crime scene investigation, the gathering of evidence and the search for and questioning of eventual witnesses went on until early afternoon in Bocskai Street , at the edge of the village, behind which lies a corn field. A dirt road nearby leads towards Nyírbogát, which the attackers probably used for their escape.
According to the Hungarian Press Agency (MTI), shots were fired from two hunting guns on the family, meaning that there were at least two attackers. The police found cartridge cases coming from the pellet guns. They were given to the National Investigation Office experts for examination in Budapest .
According to the Hungarian Press Agency (MTI), the examination ascertained that similar firearms had been used in several attacks against Roma. According to the police, several details of the attack fit with the pattern of the successive attacks on Roma. This is why the investigation was taken over by the National Investigation Office, which opened an inquiry for murder attempted against several persons.
Three-four shots were heard
Mayor Sándor Pénzes told Index that the neighbors had heard three of four shots on Sunday between 11.30 p.m. and 12 p.m. The attacker or attackers kicked the entrance door in and started firing at once. The victims were found by family members. The girl has not yet been questioned as she is still in a state of shock. Her wounds are serious, she is currently in the intensive care unit, there is no precise information as to her condition.
According to Sándor Pénzes, relations between Hungarians and Roma in the village are very good. „The victim was a hard-working woman. She was raising her daughter alone, amidst clean and healthy conditions.” – said the mayor. Mária B. was a widow and had two daughters. The family works regularly and gets social welfare as well. „The whole village is astonished about this execution. We don’t know what could have motivated the murderers.” – said the mayor to the Hungarian Press Agency (MTI).
Posted by Morgan at 6:24 PM
Monday, August 3, 2009
Roma woman shot dead in NE Hungary
Budapest, 03/08/2009 -
A Roma woman was shot dead, her 13-year-old daughter was seriously injured in Kisleta (NE Hungary) early on Monday, according to information from the town's local government.
The two women were attacked in a house on the outskirts of the town, said a spokesman from the municipality.
Police are investigating the scene, said local police spokeswoman Rita Fedor.
Posted by Morgan at 10:22 AM
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Candles have been burning around the world today in recognition of
International Day of Remembrance for Roma/Sinti Victims of the Devouring, and for present day victims of discrimination, racism, xenophobia and violence.
On August 2, 1944 all the Roma/Sinti prisoners at Auschwitz were murdered. On Aug 1 there were 3000 Gypsies in the camp; on Aug. 3 there were none. Those murdered that day were mostly the women and children who still survived. The women did not go quietly to their deaths and they fought to the very end for their children's lives and their own. Many nazis were injured in the pogram.
Still to this day, Roma/Sinti are excluded from Holocaust memorials.
The list of present day atrocities against Roma/Sinti and other immigrants in Europe is endless. From Northern Ireland to Ukraine there have been daily instances of oppression and racism.
Thank you all who participated in this year's remembrance.
May next year be more peaceful for the oppressed people of this world.
And I must repeat that we are very sad over the death of a long time ally Dina Babbitt, herself an inmate of Auschwitz. We mourn not only her death, but that the Holocaust Museum at Auschwitz refused to return her water colors to her.
Posted by Morgan at 4:26 PM
Saturday, August 1, 2009
August 2, 2009 has been declared the International Day of Remembrance of the Roma/Sinti victims of Hitler's Great Devouring.
On this day we ask all supporters to light a candle and to go out on the street and talk for 5 minutes about the present day situation of Roma/Sinti in Europe.
On August 2, 1944, 3000 Roma/Sinti were murdered and cremated at Auschwitz. Today, Roma/Sinti throughout Europe are experiencing escalating prejudice, racism and violence.
Here are just some examples:
Italy has implemented a program (with the help of the Red Cross) of fingerprinting all Gypsies in Italy.
Canada has decided to limit the immigration of Roma asylum seekers from the Czech Republic, despite much testimony to the situation of Roma in the Czech Republic.
Roma refugees in Northern Ireland were fire bombed in their camps.
In Hungary there have been more than 73 reported attacks against Roma this year. Robert Czorba and his 4 year old son were shot as they fled their burning home.
There are hundreds of other examples.
Please light a candle for the victims of the Devouring and present day victims of racism and hate.
Ms. Dina Babbitt, a young Jewish woman when she was confined to Auschwitz, died this Wed. July 30. She painted portraits of Roma/Sinti at Auschwitz under the orders of Joseph Mengele. She was a consistent advocate for Roma/Sinti and we are all saddened by her death. Please see earlier blog entries for more information about Ms. Babbitt.
Posted by Morgan at 4:53 PM
Ms Dina Babbitt died on Wed. 7/30/2009 at the age of 86. Her water colors of the Roma/Sinti in Auschwitz were never returned to her though that was her lifelong goal.
There is irony in the fact that Ms. Babbitt died just before the International Day of Remembrance of the Roma/Sinti victims of the Devouring. Ms. Babbitt, as a Jewish inmate at Auschwitz, painted the portraits of Roma/Sinti inmates of the camp. All died at Auschwitz, many on August 2, 1944,
For more information about Ms. Babbitt please check out other entries on this blog.
We Roma/Sinti at Lolo Diklo deeply mourn the loss of Ms. Babbitt and the refusal of the Auschwitz Museum to return her paintings to her. She was a firm and ardent advocate for the Roma/Sinti victims of the Nazis her entire adult life.
The refusal of the Museum to return her watercolors to her has raised many serious issues. Please look into this case. It is troubling.