Monday, November 30, 2009



Bernard Rorke, Director of OSI Roma Initiatives, reflects upon a month of anniversaries and Europe's failure to ensure the well-being of Roma children.

"The commemorations, reflections, and ruminations around the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet revolutions overshadowed another November 20th anniversary of profound historical significance: the United Nations' adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We would do well to pause and remember the fates of three Roma children this year.

In February five-year-old Robika Csorba and his father were shot dead as they fled their firebombed house in Tatarszentgyorgy in Hungary. In April, in the Czech town of Vitkov, two-year-old Natalka Sivkov sustained 80% burns when her home was attacked with Molotov cocktails. In the Hungarian town of Kisleta in August, 13-year-old Ketrin Balogh suffered multiple gunshot wounds in an attack on her home that killed her mother Maria.

The Convention which proclaims that 'the child shall enjoy special protection… to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity' rings tragically hollow for these three victims of racially motivated violence."

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The Obama Administration announced that they would not sign an international convention banning land mines. More than 150 cuntries have agreed to the treaty's provisions to end the production, stockpiling and trade in mines. Beside the U.S. other countries refusing to sign include Myammar, China, Russia, Pakistan and India.

Stephen Goose, director of Human Rights Watch's arm division said he was surprised by and disappointed in the decision.
A report this month by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines said that mines remain planted in more that 70 countries and killed at least 1,266 people and wounded another 3,891 last year.
An administration spokesman, Ian Kelly, said that the administration conducted a review and decided not change the Bush era policy.

That's starting to sound like the Obama policy----not changing the Bush policy.

Obama is expected to announce the deployment of 30,000 additional troops in Afganistan.

And on the domestic front, the health care industry report continued high profits.
It seems that proposed "health care reform legislation" will do nothing to effect rising profits to the health care/pharmecutical/insurance industry, but will make it illegal for any of us NOT to buy health insurance.

Punish the poor. Now that's a new idea.
And the beat goes on......

Monday, November 23, 2009



Prague - Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer "expressed regret" over the forced sterilization of Roma women but failed to apologize to the victims or offer them financial compensation, officials said Monday. During the Communist era, authorities in the former Czechoslovakia had been actively pushing sterilization of Roma women as part of the country's population policy, human rights activists said.

Some Czech doctors continued the practice after the Communist regime fell in 1989. Most claimed they acted out of health reasons, but failed to properly explain the consequences of the surgical procedure to their patients.

"The government expresses regret for known individual misconduct while carrying out sterilization," Human Rights Minister Michael Kocab said after the Monday's cabinet session.

It is not known how many Roma women were sterilized during and after the Communist era.

The office of the country's ombudsman reviewed some 80 cases in recent years. Several affected Roma women sued Czech hospitals in courts with varying degrees of success.

Infertility is painful for the Roma, also known as gypsies, as they prefer to have large families.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE || November 23, 2009
Contact: Neil Simon
(202) 225-1901

WASHINGTON--U.S. 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 welcomed the statement by Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer in which the Czech government acknowledged and expressed regret that some Romani women had been sterilized without informed consent.

“I commend Czech officials for the leadership they have shown today in confirming past practices of involuntary sterilization of Romani women,” Chairman Cardin said. “Work remains in the Czech Republic and certainly in neighboring Slovakia to have justice upheld for women who were forever deprived of the chance to have children.”

“The Czech government’s expression of regret for the irreversible crimes committed against these women is an important step,” Co-Chairman Hastings said. “Now, Slovakia must address the issue as the Helsinki Commission urged for the better part of this decade. I regret that after all this time Slovakia has not clearly and unequivocally acknowledged that some Romani women there were sterilized without their informed consent.”

On Nov. 19, 2009, the U.N. Committee Against Torture recommended that Slovakia should "take urgent measures to investigate promptly, impartially, thoroughly and effectively all allegations of involuntary sterilizations of Roma women, prosecute and punish the perpetrators and provide victims with fair and adequate compensation."

The Czechoslovak communist state targeted Romani women for sterilization based on now discredited theories of eugenics and was first reported in the 1970s. Although the sterilization policy ended with the fall of communism in 1990, the practice continued sporadically in both the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Last year, Sen. Cardin and Rep. Hastings led a Helsinki Commission delegation to Prague and met with former Minister of Justice and civil rights Ombudsman Otakar Motejl. In 2006, the Ombudsman issued a breakthrough report confirming that some Romani women had been sterilized without informed consent. To date victims of those past practices have been unable to get redress before the courts even in cases where courts confirmed the allegations.

In April 2009, eight Slovak Romani women, who were denied access to their own medical records for more than a decade, won a case against Slovakia before the European Court on Human Rights. Nevertheless, the Slovak Government has not taken steps to re-open its investigation into the sterilization of Romani women. Slovakia’s highest court ruled in December 2006 that the investigation into allegations of three Romani women had been so faulty that it violated the Slovak Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.


The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.

Friday, November 20, 2009



November 21, 2009

Roma families experience the dark side of the Velvet Revolution

Adam LeBor in Pardubice, Czech Republic
In the grimy corridors and cramped rooms of the municipal hostel on Ceskova Street, communist-era methods of social control are thriving. There has been no revolution here, velvet or otherwise, in the 20 years since the Czech Republic gained its freedom.

Uniformed security guards control the entrance and the building is continually monitored by CCTV. All visitors must present identification and may only visit a specified family. The families here pay 6,000 crowns (£200) a month for a cramped single room for five or six people without a bath, shower or kitchen. They must ask permission for the key to use washing facilities, which costs an extra 15 crowns (50p). Children may not play in the corridor. After three warnings, the family may be evicted.

This is life for the Roma in the Czech Republic and places such as this are the country’s secret shame. The story in Pardubice, a picturesque city on the Elbe, 65 miles east of Prague, is not an isolated one. Some tenants have been evicted for unpaid rent; others, say activists, have got in the way of property developers or vindictive municipal bureaucrats. Nobody at the Pardubice municipality would comment on conditions in the hostel.

This week the Czech Republic celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, although the situation of the country’s Roma belies its carefully nurtured image as a beacon of human rights. After the break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993, one of the first acts of the new Czech Government was to pass a law depriving most Roma of their citizenship since they came from Slovakia.

The legal wrangles still continue. The Czech Republic was the last EU member state to adopt anti-discrimination legislation; it did so in June, narrowly escaping legal proceedings from the European Commission. President Klaus had vetoed the Bill, arguing that existing legislation should be improved rather than a new framework introduced.

The squalid hostels embody the institutionalised racism against the Roma and their powerlessness. The 200,000 to 300,000 Roma in the Czech Republic have a higher infant mortality rate, are more likely to be unemployed, live in extreme poverty and have a shorter life expectancy. Racist violence is on the increase. Last November hundreds of activists from the extreme-right Workers Party attacked Romas in Litvínov with stones and petrol bombs.

Racism is openly expressed, even among the educated. In May, the Czech National Party called for a “final solution” to the Gypsy issue in a television campaign for the European Union elections. The previous month a two-year-old, Natalka Sivakova, suffered 80 per cent burns after an arson attack on the family home in Vitkov, near the Polish border.

About 30 per cent of Roma children are segregated and placed into special schools for the mentally handicapped, compared with 2 per cent of non- Roma children, even after a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights declared the practice illegal.

A psychologist recommended that Edita Stejskalova should be sent to a special school at the age of 7. Her mother resisted, and now Ms Stejskalova is a university graduate aged 29 who runs a non-governmental organisation campaigning for equal legal rights for Roma.

“Czech society is very racist,” she says. “If a Roma family lives in a block of flats the other families will often organise a petition to remove them. Non-Roma parents demand that Roma children at school are segregated, in different classes, even in different buildings. The school agrees because it wants the parents to enrol their children there.”

Czech officials say that the political will exists to tackle Roma issues and that the Government is committed to equal rights. A new Agency for Social Inclusion aims to co-ordinate national policy across different ministries. However, decisions taken in Prague and Brussels often have little impact. “The Government passes good legislation but it is not implemented,” says Michael Kocáb, the Human Rights Minister.

For Josef Lakatos and his family, the Velvet Revolution ushered in a new era of poverty and racism. Although under communism the Roma were subjected to forced assimilation and resettlement and women were frequently sterilised, they were part of wider society and, like all citizens, guaranteed work, housing and income.

Mr Lakatos, 48, lives with his wife, seven children, mother and another relative in a one-room flat of 33sq m (355sq ft) in a tenement on the edge of Pardubice. “It was better under communism because we had work, there was much less racism and there were no skinheads,” Mr Lakatos said. “I want to work, but when they see a Roma they say there is nothing.”

Arguably, Roma traditions have magnified the difficulties of the transition to capitalism. Roma society is deeply traditional, conservative and patriarchal. Many Roma women are still pressured to marry young, have numerous children and stay at home, while some are forced into arranged marriages.

In Ostravany, in neighbouring Slovakia, locals have built a wall, 150m long, to keep out their Roma neighbours after residents complained that Roma children were raiding their gardens and stealing fruit. “These new walls against Roma will be harder to tear down than the Berlin Wall,” warns Rob Kushen, the director of the European Roma Rights Centre.

History of persecution

The Roma appeared in Europe between the 13th and 15th centuries and were commonly referred to as Egyptians or Gypsies. In the 18th century scholars discovered that the Romany language was a Sanskrit dialect that originated in the Indus Valley in northern India in the 9th century

Europe’s Romany population is an estimated 4-14 million, but its members frequently remain unregistered

The Roma have frequently been persecuted in Europe; during the Holocaust, about 500,000 were killed. In recent years, the International Organisation for Migration has won compensation for survivors of about €7,000 (£6,300) each

In Britain, Roma people have a life expectancy about ten years lower than the rest of the population

Source: European Roma Rights Centre, Institute for Public Policy Research, Times database

Wednesday, November 18, 2009



Čeněk Růžička: Czech schools must teach more about the harm of Nazi ideology
Prague, 17.11.2009, 13:01, (ROMEA)

Last week a public hearing was held in the upper chamber of the Czech Parliament on the topic “Protecting Society from Neo-Nazism”. One of those who participated in the discussion was the chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust, Čeněk Růžička, one of the country’s leading Roma personalities. We spoke with him about neo-Nazism and racism, the position of Roma in society, the approach of the majority society toward the Roma, and what the Roma themselves need to improve. Růžička is most bothered by two things: The large number of Romani children in “special” education and the lack of instruction at elementary schools about the harmfulness of Nazi ideology and the methods used by the Nazis to put that ideology into practice. He is also bothered by the continually deteriorating social situation of the Roma.

What should society as a whole be doing against neo-Nazism and racism? What can be done better, what is missing?

I spoke about this during the Senate hearing. I am an indigenous Czech Rom, I have my roots here, my ancestors lived here for centuries before me, so I am mainly bothered by the shortcomings of Czech education and the poor awareness of history in this country. Nothing is taught at schools about the harmfulness of the Nazi ideology and the ways the Nazis put it into practice. Children, including Romani children, and youth know almost nothing about the Roma victims of the Holocaust, because they are not taught about them in school. What is missing here is at least some sort of learning from one’s own history, primarily from what happened on Czech territory.

The campaigns against racism need to be better done. Very recently, comparatively more effort and resources have been put into the fight against neo-Nazism and racism, but the question is whether these resources are sufficient given the rising number of those sympathizing with the neo-Nazi scene, and whether the instruments selected are always effective. In my view, the way to fight the neo-Nazis that might bring about immediate results in the short term, the way that would be simplest and most effective, is to ridicule them, mock them, caricature them. This whole time there has only been one such campaign, and it did not last long – even though such campaigns are not expensive and PR agencies are good at creating them. There should be television ads, print ads, spots on the radio. The result would be that the neo-Nazis would be scorned for their efforts. Of course, I’m not talking about a brief campaign. It should last much longer than the previous ones, so that it becomes “in” not to sympathize with racists and neo-Nazis. Today, unfortunately, the opposite is very much the case.

Or take the so-called “specialized schools” (“specialní školy”) – these used to be called “special schools” (“zvláštní školy”) and before that they were called “remedial” (“pomocné školy”). This spring research was published saying that 72 % of Romani children study at regular schools and 28 % in special education. I hope whoever did the research did not reverse those numbers without realizing it. In my opinion, the number of Romani children in compulsory education being taught in “special” education is a higher percentage than that research presents. It would be good to know how the research was performed, how many Romani pupils there are as a whole, who determined, and how, that this or that pupil has Romani parents. It is also a shame that the research did not involve a serious investigation of how many Romani pupils in “special education” have been transferred back into normal elementary school and in which years. Healthy children do not belong in special education, even if they are Roma. If they are being given such education, the state should correct that – even if it goes against the parents’ wishes. Moving a child from special education back to mainstream education should just be a technical matter. Before Romani children can get to the same starting point as the others, teachers must do more work with them, and sometimes with their parents too. Even though that costs money, the state should know it will pay off in the end.

Should statistics be gathered that include data on ethnicity?

Yes, with a certain measure of caution. The creation and use of statistics must take place under strict supervision. The state needs to know how many Roma there are in the regions, in terms of numbers and in terms of social status. However, I would hope the results of such statistics would not just lead to an increase in the number of police stations inside Roma ghettos.

In the eyes of at least some of the public, the neo-Nazis have succeeded in drawing a link between the Roma and their extremism. The fact that the Roma are socially excluded is spoken of by only a few people from NGOs. Shouldn’t we try to change the majority perception?

The social exclusion of the Roma is first and foremost the result of centuries of feeding the phenomenon called prejudice. We would like to get rid of this once and for all, but the society in which we live must give us a chance to get rid of it. Our organization is succeeding in wrestling with this prejudice through our traveling exhibition, entitled “A Vanished World” (“Zaniklý svět”), and we are noticing an unexpectedly friendly reaction from those who visit it - all you have to do is look at what people write in the visitors’ book. Unless these neo-Nazi groups, these individuals, these politicians are held responsible for their hateful, public, racist statements about the Roma, the perception of the Roma will deteriorate even further and the hatred felt by some in the majority society will increase. The traditional Czech Roma and Sinti know very well how such a scenario might develop. Recently I have also been disturbed by the activities of President Klaus, who negotiated an exception at EU level for our country with respect to its obligation to follow the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is part of the Lisbon Treaty. That charter is mainly intended to guarantee the poor a decent life. The life now being lived by retirees and families forced to live on welfare is not decent at all.

The Senate hearing was on the topic of protecting society from neo-Nazism, but the moderator prevented discussion of the victims of neo-Nazism. One person touched on the fact that discussion of the results of neo-Nazism was being avoided and suggested that a hearing needs to be held on protecting minorities from the rest of society. Do you share that view?

Here is my considered response: The essential blame for the fact that the Roma are where they are lies with society per se, with the majority – we are only partially responsible for these problems. These anti-Roma marches have their roots in Czech history. The Roma have been living in Europe for 600 years and their life has not been a walk through a rose garden in any of them. The worst was what the Nazis and their minions did to my people during the Second World War, for example, in the Protectorate. The police of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia organized an unimaginable round-up of the Roma and Sinti and imprisoned them in concentration camps in Hodonín and Lety, where they died in the hundreds under the supervision of Czech guards. Go take a look at those sites today. These places, which should commemorate the monstrosity of racial hatred, are desecrated by a pig farm and a recreation center. What does that tell you?

It is true that from time to time something comes to light to confirm that part of this society still takes this approach. Most recently we learned that two Czech military commanders serving in Logar, Afghanistan have been wearing SS symbols on their helmets. Of course, the Defense Minister immediately discharged them from the Army and has suspended their superiors from service.

I am surprised that this society is surprised by such events. Quite a few people join the military who think they are “Rambo”, who have the need to be in command. It could be expected that the minister would handle it this way. It will be much more serious should it be eventually proven that the superior officers of those commanders knew about this phenomenon in the Army and covered it up. I am partially reassured by the fact that ordinary soldiers serving under those commanders brought this case to light. That is definitely positive. I think experts should develop better psychological tests and the Army should make more thorough use of them when enlisting new recruits, but they should also follow the maturity and psychological resilience of the soldiers and their commanders over time. I have also encountered people who worship this cult of power who work for the police – and I am not the only one. The same applies to them.

Are the Roma themselves doing something wrong? What should they do to improve co-existence with the majority society?

The Roma would like to have a more dignified position in the eyes of the Czech public. We should just be ourselves, defend our pride, we should not be ashamed of the fact that we are Roma. That is the basis for progress. I’m not going to say how we should behave, what we should do. We must establish order ourselves within our own community.

The author Janko Horváth has a similar opinion and says there should be joint, united action.

Exactly - until the 1989 revolution the Roma had a kind of reputation in Czechoslovakia, we created things of value, we worked. Today the situation is that the vast majority of Roma, through no fault of their own, often contribute nothing to society. Estimates are that 80 – 90 % of the Roma live on welfare, which irritates Czech society greatly. They are mostly irritated because these people are Roma, and they are also irritated because it’s expensive. The majority is not bothered by the fact that Czechs also live on welfare. Here I must repeat a generally known fact, which is that it is comparatively much more difficult for the Roma to find work.

There is a lot of discussion about how the Roma themselves can improve their position in society, but we don’t hear this discussed in detail. Do you have some ideas about this?

Raising the Roma community up to an acceptable level can only be done through natural approaches that respect the Roma mindset and their cultural values. Here is one option: Every larger community in the Roma ghettos includes a certain number of men who enjoy a sort of natural authority among the Roma. Usually these are older Roma – they are less educated from the point of view of the majority society, but they are rich in life experience. Almost every day we see television reports about the disorder around Roma residences, and this significantly damages our reputation. I am certain we can get rid of such disruption with the help of such natural authorities. They could keep an eye on people who make noise at night, on school attendance, on the exploitation of poor Roma by loan sharks, etc. Municipalities or local Roma organizations – ideally working together – could provide these natural authorities with the backup they need and remunerate them financially.

The Senate hearing was attended by a wide variety of people: Politicians, police officers, state attorneys, bureaucrats, people from civic associations, Roma, Jewish people. Do such meetings make you hopeful?

Every such meeting has its purpose - I just ask how much it really means. Imagine if everyone at the hearing had gone into the streets to protest the neo-Nazis and their sympathizers. A joint, well-prepared, public demonstration against extremist groups, making fun of them – and then, naturally, proper instruction at schools – all of this together, I believe, could help.

Of course, the politicians would first have to want to support the Roma. For the time being they are more likely to be a vehicle for anti-Roma, populist slogans.

Such slogans have been repeated in the past, are being repeated now, and will be repeated in the future because in the first place they are political gold, and in the second place we allow them to be repeated. We must pay careful attention to the political party affiliation of these “stars” and remember who is who when it’s time to vote. Only a few people in this country – and our numbers are not growing – are taking action against this discord in society. Among most Roma I observe apathy, and it does not surprise me. The Roma have been pushed into the very worst poverty that they have ever experienced during the postwar period. We can achieve some partial successes on our own, but not fundamental ones. We need the support of everyone to implement essential change, and for that we still have a long way to go here.

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Berlin Wall: 223 dead. Wall that separates the USA from Mexico: 5.6 thousand dead

16.11.2009 Source:


On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world lives with a number of barriers that serve to restrain the free movement of people. The wall that divides the West Bank from Israel and preventing the passage of Mexican immigrants to the United States are the best known, but there are others.

The latest example comes from Slovakia. In October, a wall 150 meters long and two meters high was erected in the city of Ostrovany, a rural community in the northeast of the country, in order to isolate a gypsy camp.

The action, approved in 2008 by local authorities and put into practice last week, is the last chapter of the growing tension between the inhabitants of the community and the Gypsies. The inhabitants of Ostrovany accuse them of stealing fruit from private gardens. Violent episodes were recorded, such as the death of a farmer by members of the gypsy community and far-right groups and events that qualify for what they call "terror gypsy".

The Mayor of Ostrovany, Cyril Revákl, told the Slovak daily SME that the measure is not racist. "I know there are many decent living among the Gypsies, but no one should go through the hell of daily clashes." The agency that represents the Roma announced that it will investigate the construction of the wall. The official, Ludovit Galbavý, described the construction as "discriminatory."

Israel and Palestine
One of the most current and controversial walls is that which separates Israel from Palestinian territory in the West Bank. A small portion (about 20%) coincides with the old Green Line border set in 1948, the remaining 80% are located on Palestinian land.
The wall began to be built in 2002, during the administration of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, with the justification to prevent the entry of terrorists into Israel. The International Criminal Court declared it illegal in 2004, because it cuts off Palestinian land and isolates about 450 thousand people. According to data from April 2006 supplied by Israel, the total length of the barrier is 721 km, of which 58.04 % is built, 8.96% under construction and 33% to be built. See the current map.

On Friday, on the eve of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, young Palestinians knocked down (6) part of the construction in the Arab city of Naalin and were reprimanded by Israeli soldiers with tear gas. "No matter how high they are, all the walls will fall," proclaimed a banner on the structure placed by the young people.

For Israeli analyst, Michael Warschawski, director of the Center for Alternative Information, the wall has a double impact: "First, it condemns the Palestinians to live in a forced ghetto. Second, it reflects the distorted politics of the isolation of Israel, which prefers to solve their problems by separation."

According Warschawski, the ineffectiveness of the construction, which comes to divide entire cities, is proven. "The wall does not completely stop the movement of people. To cross the territories, there are alternatives."

USA and Mexico
In order to prevent the entry of illegal Mexican immigrants, the United States built a wall on the border 3,141 kilometers, which covers the states of Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona.

Since 1994, when the wall was first built in the administration of former President Bill Clinton, more than 5.6 thousand people died trying to cross to the U.S. side, according to a report by the accounting office of the White House (GAO, is the acronym in English). Moreover, the causes of death have changed. Before they were mainly caused by traffic accidents, since the immigrants were running on highways in border areas. Now they happen from hypothermia in the desert or drowning in the Rio Grande.

The document also noted that costs are also high. Each time there is a hole, $1,300 are spent on repairs. The maintenance of the 1,058 km stretch with approximately two layers in the US-Mexico border is expected to cost 6.5 billion dollars over the next 20 years

"It's a waste of resources and creativity", said Jorge Mario Cabrera Valladares, of the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants of Los Angeles (CHIRLA is the acronym in English), to the EFE news agency. "Our money paid in taxes is being wasted on an old and inefficient strategy instead of working on serious reform, long-term and applicable to immigration."

On this site, you can track the small histories of immigration along the border. In this movie, the directors show the work of the Beta group in the city of Nogales (pictured below), which seeks to convince the Mexicans not to cross over to the U.S. side.

Rio de Janeiro also has its wall built with the argument to avoid poorly constructed homes in slums that destroy passages of the vegetation of the Atlantic forest. However, NGOs and social movements claim that it is actually a way to separate the richer parts of society from the most humble.
"There is no discrimination. On the contrary, we are building houses for them in all places and improving their lives," said Tania Lazzoli, spokesman for the Department of Public Works of the government.

In March, the Portuguese writer, Jose Saramago, criticized the action on his blog: "Here down in the Marvelous City, that of the samba and the carnival, the situation is not better. The idea now is to surround the slums with a wall of reinforced concrete three meters high. We had the Berlin Wall, we have the walls of Palestine, now the one of Rio. However, organized crime is rife everywhere, complicity vertical and horizontal, penetrate the state apparatus and society in general. "

In Santa Marta, already more than 600 meters of wall have been built, while in Rocinha the government agreed to limit it to areas with sliding risk. The remainder will be turned into ecological sites and nature reserves.

Source: Opera Mundi.
Translated from Portuguese by

Monday, November 16, 2009


EU Highlights Joint Conference On Roma Migration And Freedom Of Movement

Posted By admin On November 15, 2009 @ 5:24 pm In Europe, Governance, Health Care, Society & Democratic Renewal | No Comments

The serious human rights challenges faced by Roma when migrating or exercising their right to freedom of movement, as well as the security implications, will be the focus of a joint international conference in Vienna on 9-10 November 2009.

The Conference will be organised by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights (CommHR), the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM).

Morten Kjaerum, Director, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights: “In the European Union, many Roma EU citizens settling in another Member State in search of better conditions continue to experience racism, discrimination and exclusion. Of particular concern are reports of hate-motivated incidents against Roma, and racist rhetoric reported in a number of States. The EU and its Member States need to adopt targeted policies on integrated rights- and equality-based standards promoting social cohesion.”

Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe: “Roma migrants are faced with a double jeopardy – migration makes life even harder for those who face a plethora of serious, discrimination-related problems. The protection of human rights of Roma on the move in Europe should be placed high on the agenda. I believe that the joint conference in Vienna is an excellent contribution to these efforts.”

Janez Lenarčič, Director, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights: “The cross-border migration of Roma in Europe is a reality, and the challenges related to such movements must be handled by all authorities involved in full compliance with international human rights standards. At the same time, governments must do more to eradicate pervasive discrimination and other factors driving Roma away from their homes in the first place.”

Knut Vollebaek, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities: “The recent migration of Roma entails a wide range of challenges, including considerable security implications for both the Roma and the receiving communities. Only by addressing the underlying reasons for migration and creating the appropriate conditions for cohesive societies, will we be able to tackle this security and human rights issue. This is the challenge for this conference.”

The international conference is devoted to discussing and identifying courses of action in order to address the situation of Roma, in the context of migration or exercise of the right to freedom of movement. The conference follows up on findings of the FRA Study on Roma and freedom of movement and the HCNM and CommHR’s Study on Recent Migration of Roma in Europe.


Article printed from Gov Monitor:

Sunday, November 15, 2009



by Caroline Prosser (staff)

Gypsies at Rome's Casilino 900 camp. (Mihai Romanciuc/Flickr, CC Lic.)

Amnesty International has condemned the forced eviction of a community of some 400 Roma people from a former factory in Rome’s Tiburtina district.

The former Heineken factory on Via Gordiani was home to the community, which included 80 children who frequented local schools. According to media and local NGOs, around 150 police officers evicted the families from the Via Centocelle camp, in the east of the city, on Wednesday morning.

All the community’s shelters were destroyed and around 20 Roma men were arrested. It is not known what charges they face.

The municipality offered short-term shelter to some of the Roma women and small children, in the city’s dormitories for homeless people.

The majority of those made homeless, numbering some 100 families, have occupied an abandoned, privately owned factory nearby. According to the latest media reports, these families are face another forced eviction.

If evicted, they look forward to harsh conditions at another makeshift camp.

The community includes around 140 children, 40 of whom attend schools nearby. The eviction threatens to interrupt their schooling and seriously disrupt their education.

Local NGOs say that the community was not notified or consulted about the eviction. Under domestic law, the authorities should notify each individual, or publish an order or notice. As the order was not formalized in this way, the community could not challenge it through the courts, and stop or postpone the eviction.

Most people living in the Via Centocelle camp have previously experienced at least one forced eviction. These involved the destruction of shelters, clothes, mattresses, medicines and documents.

All these evictions are believed to have been carried out without the procedural safeguards required under regional and international human rights standards.

Amnesty International has urged the Rome authorities to ensure that all the families who were forcibly evicted are provided with adequate alternative accommodation as a matter of urgency, and compensation for all possessions they lost when they were forcibly evicted.

The organization also reminded the authorities that forced evictions, carried out without legal and other protections, are prohibited under international law as a gross violation of a range of human rights; in particular, the right to adequate housing.

For at least the last 10 years, numerous forced evictions of Roma communities have been carried out in Italy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Roma 'scapegoats of European society'

Human rights experts have warned that Europe's Roma community faces widespread discrimination and governments are failing to address the problem.

Often referred to as Gypsies, Roma lack access to housing, social services and education, often do not have the identity papers required to get decent jobs and are widely perceived as criminals.

Council of Europe commissioner for human rights Thomas Hammarberg said on Monday: "We have allowed the Roma population to be scapegoats in our own societies - an underclass.

"The leaders of governments must begin to take this problem seriously because this is hypocrisy when it comes to human rights."

Mr Hammarberg and other experts spoke out on the sidelines of a conference in Vienna about Roma migration and freedom of movement.

According to a report by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency which served as a basis for the discussions the arrival of Roma is often seen as something negative by EU member states.

Among other things, local authorities throughout Europe make little effort to support their integration into the labour market, it said.

Morten Kjaerum, who is director of the Vienna-based agency, said that many EU states were "very actively" applying bureaucratic barriers for Roma - although they are often EU citizens.

"There are also the traditional stereotypes, the prejudice and racism facing Roma, which may actually be the underlying reasons for creating these more administrative barriers," Mr Kjaerum observed.

Roma, who are often the victims of hate crimes, recently attracted the attention of celebrities.

In August, Madonna drew international attention by saying during a concert in Bucharest that widespread discrimination against Roma should end.

Thousands of fans responded by booing her.


Press Release in English

Geneva, 3rd of November 2009

Tuesday, the 3rd of November 2009 police officers, along with refuse dump, criss-crossed the city of Geneva in a real hunt, looking for all campments from the Roma comunity. They destroyed mattresses, tents, blankets and personal effects belonging to the Roma comunity. Men, women and children are tonight, destitute, homeless, without protection against the cold.

Mesemrom stresses that the social shelters are closed and open only on the 16th of November.

Mesemrom strongly condemns this police operation discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional, which puts in danger life of human persons, including children.

Mesemrom recalls that the city of Geneva is committed, particularly in the European Charter of Human Rights in the City, to provide assistance and protection for the vulnerable and needy people.

The Geneva authorities will be held liable for damage to health who may be caused by this deplorable operation.


Dina Bazarbachi

Monday, November 9, 2009


On November 9, 1938 nazis looted and burned synagogues and Jewish owned stores and homes in Germany and Austria. This pogram became known as Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass.

Saturday, November 7, 2009



Gypsy liaison officers 'in all schools'
All secondary schools should have a teacher trained to support pupils from Gypsy families, according to a Government-backed report.

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor
Published: 6:10PM GMT 06 Nov 2009

They should be more lenient towards pupils’ homework and behaviour to increase their confidence and boost standards, it was recommended.

The study, published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, also called for staff to attend traveller events, celebrate key events in their history and show sensitivity towards potentially contentious issues such as sex education.

Researchers said the measures were needed to boost standards among the 9,000 pupils from Gypsy, Roma and traveller families.

Children are significantly more likely to be expelled from school and are officially the worst-performing group in public examinations, it was disclosed.

The study said that schools that “developed a reputation for being caring and understanding of traveller culture” were more likely to get children interested in education.

But the suggestions were criticised by the TaxPayers’ Alliance which said resources would be better spent.

It comes after it was disclosed that police had produced a DVD to tell officers gipsies were not “tax-dodging thieves”. The £15,000 training film, funded by Surrey Police, and distributed to other forces, was intended to dispel myths surrounding travellers.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families insisted they had a duty to boost standards among minority groups.

“'For Roma pupils, having a member of staff who could speak their language and demonstrate good insight into their cultural experiences was comforting for pupils and their parents,” the study said.

The report, from the National Foundation for Educational Research and the Inner London Traveller Education Consortium, recommended allocating a member of staff as a Gypsy liaison officer in all 3,200 secondary schools in England.

It said just 290 pupils were classified as “gifted” by teachers and they were four times more likely to be expelled from school. Only seven per cent of Gypsy, Roma and traveller pupils gained five good GCSEs, including English and maths, last year compared with almost half of teenagers nationally.

The latest study suggested teachers should consider giving their mobile phone numbers to families and make home visits. It also said staff should be more “flexible” with homework.

“Particularly valued by parents were secondary schools that offer a flexible, work-related curriculum which was seen as more relevant to traveller lifestyles and cultural expectations,” the study said. “A more flexible approach to homework was appreciated by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils and their families.”

But a DCSF spokesman said: “We’re crystal clear that teachers must take a tough line on bad behaviour and doing homework, regardless of pupils’ background – no ifs or buts.

“This report doesn’t actually say that schools should go soft on traveller families – it highlights some schools which agreed specific behaviour rules direct with traveller families or offered additional homework club facilities on site.”

Matthew Elliott, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the Government had “more important things to invest taxpayers’ money in than gypsy liaison officers”.

“This will amount to a lot of money spent on a very fringe group, it would be far better spent on teachers and text books that would benefit all pupils, regardless of their social background,” he said.

Monday, November 2, 2009


From Swaneagle

Frontline Friends

My friend, Rick Fellows, is driving a bus to Big Mountain with volunteers willing to work for a week for traditional Dine (Navajo) people resisting Peabody Coal Mine expansion and forced relocation. This is a "come self sufficient" camping operation that will be a true adventure participating in the struggle of people defending their ancient lands.

Rick has driven his bus to Chiapas, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba with Pastors For Peace, Friendshipment Campaign and was a mechanic on our first caravan to Big Mountain with AIM back in 1985.

I am hoping we can recruit some Vashonites for this venture. Longtime activists from along the coast and some youngsters have already expressed commitment.

Please let me know if anyone wants to join us. We will depart from Olympia getting to the land by November 21st til the 28th so can get some projects finished with plenty of help.

The more people come, the less it will cost for gas, which is already going down with the growing interest.

Piece i wrote follows.....

Peace, love and justice,
The Grannies Aren't Useless Brigade

For more important background and required cultural sensitivity info:

Coal: Atrocities From Appalachia To Black Mesa

Thankfully the struggle of Mountain Top Removal has entered the radar screen of activists concerned with climate change. The residents impacted by this very destructive form of coal extraction suffer the loss of over 3 millions acres of their Appalacian Mountain community.

Last December, over 500 million gallons of toxic coal sludge erupted over 400 acres destroying homes and spreading pollution larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

"Tennessee coal sludge disaster ‘shows that the term clean coal is an oxymoron.’

Monday, more than 500 million gallons of toxic coal sludge burst through a retention wall in eastern Tennessee, causing massive property and environmental damage and leaving residents holding their breath over possible long-term consequences. Environmentalists said the spill was more than 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The incident underscored the false nature of the “clean coal” propaganda. In an interview with NBC Nightly News, Elliott Negin of the Union of Concerned Scientists explained:

This disaster shows that the term ‘clean coal’ is an oxymoron. It’s akin to saying ‘safe cigarette.’ Clean coal doesn’t exist."

Within this context, i once again, implore all those outraged by this atrocity to please integrate the ongoing struggle of traditional Dine and Hopi peoples to bring similar attention to the destruction of sacred lands that has continued since resources were discovered on reservations in the 1920's leading directly to the Indian Reorganzation Act and the formation of malleable tribal councils.

Peabody Coal has raped the land of Black Mesa for over 40 years as well as draining an aquifer drying up ancient Hopi and Dine springs and wells. The 273 mile long slurry line used over a billion gallons of pristine water yearly to transport coal to the Mohave Generating Station, once the largest coal fired power plant on earth til it was shut down December 2005. Tho the shutdown was attributed to Mohave's lack of stack scrubbers, lack of water for the slurry is a under addressed major reality. Mohave may do whatever it can to continue with plant operations as it searches for another aquifer to exploit. Reconfiguring the slurry line towards Page, Arizona is being considered which would include the draining of another aquifer.

http://www.shundaha round.html

http://www.goldenst ateimages. com/GSI_search. php?srch= page%20arizona% 20coal%20fired% 20power%20plant& op=ex

What is most striking about this whole catastrophe is the genocidal impact the forced relocation of over 14,000 traditional Dine people and 100 plus Hopi has had in this remote lovely region. Over half of those relocated have died, many prematurely from stress induced illnesses, others from suicide or murder in racist border towns. People have become refugees in a country steeped in denial of human tragedy that illustrates the complicity of privileged racism. The genocide of Indigenous Americans lives on...

In my many years of researching, writing and witnessing the human rights violations suffered by Dine, Hopi, Mayan Indian people, homeless, migrants and the growing horror of femicide, i see that many advantaged people cannot face the scope of atrocity such marginalized people endure. Given the ongoing genocides in Iraq and Afghanistan spreading to Pakistan that are NOT bringing millions onto US streets in opposition, it is no wonder that the elimination of traditional first peoples remains unabated.

All these issues are inter related. The drive for profit allows and thrives on the destruction of the human beings living where resource extraction is highly coveted. Never have white Americans taken a profoundly massive stance against the genocide enacted over 500 years ago in all of the Americas. This fascistic, greedy colonialism threatens all of life on all 5 continents. No children have a chance in this current atmosphere of crippling apathy.

We must stand because it is the right thing to do, not because we finally have the funding to act with conscience. We must stand as if all life depended upon our choice to loudly, clearly and strongly say "NO!" to the course of greed propelled genocide all of us will contend with sooner or later as this nightmare spreads.

May we hear our hearts and enact our sacred duty.

Please consider joining our efforts to fill Rick Fellows frontline schoolbus with volunteers willing to give several days of labor to resisting Black Mesa/Big Mountain families during the week November 21 - 28 leaving from Olympia.

For more info:

www.blackmesais. org


Rick Fellows