Monday, September 20, 2010



Discrimination against the Roma is a Europe-wide problem

The Guardian,

Monday 20 September 2010

The opportunity to address Roma human rights issues was squarely within the Copenhagen accession criteria for new EU states, but in most cases the issue was sidelined as it did not fit the enlargement agenda (Special report: Roma deportations, 18 September). The Roma and other Gypsy/Traveller communities remain uniquely marginalised across Europe, notwithstanding the EU's funding of numerous projects and initiatives. Discriminatory attitudes are prevalent towards the Roma throughout Europe in a way which has made it easy for states to adopt discriminatory legislation and to reject calls for greater integration. These attitudes are not simply concerned with Roma poverty or petty crime, as has been suggested in France and Italy. This is about racism and the construction of useful scapegoats in times of economic and social insecurity. The Roma have been presented as a threat to the fabric of society in France and Italy; the solution has been liquidation of encampments and deportations. The same arguments were used against European Roma 70 years ago to even more disastrous effect, when an estimated 600,000 were exterminated. Yet we should not be too quick to condemn. Our own treatment of Gypsies/Travellers has not been positive, and there are current legislative proposals which further criminalise the travelling lifestyle by introducing a criminal offence of intentional trespass. In 2002 we were "informed" that "waves" of Roma migrants were arriving in Dover from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There were many calls for their removal – and not just from the conservative right. A European strategy is urgently needed where the human rights of Roma are seen as a European priority rather than the responsibility of a handful of economically impoverished east European states.

Dr Helen O'Nions

Nottingham Trent University
To this excellent letter, I would only add that everyday Gypsies in England are denied caravan sites.


Tracie said...

So, I keep looking at your pictures thinking that , the people don't really stand out in anyway. They don't look any different than anyone else I see.

How are they singled out in France? From where they live or how they dress? Because quite frankly I don't think that I would be able to pinpoint a Rromani just in passing. Unless I was very focused on finding them. Not that it would matter here in the US to me. Thanks.

Tracie said...

And I just want to make certain that it's understood, I in no way support these efforts. I find it appalling and very much like a modern day witchhunt.

I'm just curiuos how they are gathering their information. How they identify Rromani to deport.

Morgan said...

Oh Tracie, the frustrations of computers. I just composed a long comment and then it totally disappeared. I know it dates me, but I am sometimes suspicious of all this internet stuff. Where did my articulate and thought out comment go?

Here in the US, Romani people try not to stand out too much. Many of us are assimilated to one degree or another. Of course, that has pluses and minuses. Those who live in open communities are often subjected to harassment as obvious in the case of the Marks family in Spokane WA back in the late 80's.

In Europe, the Roma/Sinti do not have the privledge of blending. People know who we are, whether it be by our language, lifestyle or the persistent poverty that plagues us. In western Europe, the Romani immigrants are obvious by their poverty and by the "camps" they create to live in.

I have a young Romani friend who was adopted when she was 4 from an orphanage in Romania. To me she looks like a typical, and beautiful young American woman. She recently returned to Romania and to her shock, she was identified on the street and was spit upon insulted and terrorized.

I wish I had a better answer for you Tracie and I hope that others might add to this discussion.

Casimire said...

Singled out by lifestyle as well. Some Countries passport is stamped Gypsy. My Grandmother's birth certificate listed her race as Gypsy/Bastard, signed by the Master of the Workhouse Liverpool England. That was a long time ago. Tracie Romani People are all over, from North Africa to England to United States. And all other points in between and four directions. Me? I'm so fair you would never know. But sometimes, I can look at someones eyes and just know. I saw a girls eyes on a Subway shop TV commercial and said to myself if she ain't Roma I'll eat my hat. Look at Elvis Presley's eyes sometime.

Tracie said...

Huh, I didn't know Elvis was Rromani.

That's appalling that the Birth Certificate was stamped that. That's so shocking I'm not sure even what to say. It makes me very angry.

Morgan said...

Oh yeah Tracie. Elvis was half Romani, Yul Brunner, Michael Caine, Rita Hayworth, Pablo Picasso, Charlie Chaplin....
It even appears that Bill Clinton has some Melengeon in him.
Oh yeah, and Traci Ulman.