Saturday, January 30, 2010


I just had to reprint this article. Did any of you know that "Gypsy" Crime Squads still function in many cities in the United States?
I found two things particularly interesting in this article
**that it was deemed necessary for Florida, law inforcement and media, to label these crimes "Gypsy". Didn't "traveling" suffice?
**I just find it ludicrous to picture a group of "Gypsies" ripping off a bunch of bikers. It boggles the mind.
And the beat goes on..........


January 29, 2010

Police: Scammers target NASCAR, Bike Week fans


OCALA -- A task force has been assembled in Central Florida to take down a traveling Gypsy scam ring that targets NASCAR fans and motorcycle enthusiasts, according to authorities in a report from FLORIDA TODAY news partner WKMG Local 6.

The ring, known as the 3 Card Monte Group, has arrived in Central Florida in advance of the Daytona 500 and Bike Week, prompting the Marion County Sheriff's Office to issue a warning to residents in the area.

The group, which contains more than 15 scam artists, travels in a pack and most of them are related to each other, deputies said.

According to deputies, the group scams people by using three-card monte, a game in which the dealer shows the audience a card and then does a quick exchange between three cards to allow someone in the audience to guess which card was shown for a monetary prize. The person who chooses the card is in on the scam, making the game appear easy, deputies said.

Others are then lured into the game, where they bet money and lose, deputies said.

Members of the 3 Card Monte Group, which travel in minivans registered in Ohio and Kentucky, have also robbed participants while they play, deputies said.

Volusia and Flagler counties have assembled a task force in an effort to bring the scam artist ring down.

Marion County deputies said a man was recently robbed of $2,600 and a valuable ring at a Pilot gas station while playing three-card monte.

Friday, January 29, 2010


By Sabina Castelfranco

Italian authorities have begun to clean out one of Europe's largest camps of Roma. The Roma are commonly known as Gypsies but they trace their origins to South Asia. Officials say living conditions in the Casilino 900 camp in Rome are disgraceful and inhuman and residents must be moved to areas that are better equipped. But questions remain as to why the transfer is being carried out.

Cranes and bulldozers are in action at the Casilino 900 camp in Rome. They have begun to demolish the caravans and makeshift homes of the Roma who are being pressured to leave.

Italian authorities say the more than 600 Roma living here can not stay and must be evacuated by February. Officials say the living conditions are no longer tolerable.

"The camp must close because it is on an illegal area," Gianni Alemanno said. Alemanno is the mayor of Rome. "These camps must be in authorized areas where it is easier to guarantee better life and health conditions and ensure that people can live properly."

The Casilino 900 camp is one of the largest in Europe for Roma. It has existed for 40years.
Human rights organizations fear the real reason behind the transfer is to identify and expel them.

An estimated seven to nine million Roma live in Europe.

"This is a minority that has changed significantly over the years. In the past it was a nomadic population that moved frequently. But in time it has stopped traveling," Paolo Ciani said. In Eastern countries it has become part of the population and urbanized the cities."

In Europe, only Hungary and Spain recognize Roma as a national minority.

But in Romania and Slovakia, where they represent 10 percent of the population, they are not recognized and have no rights, human rights activists say. They say Roma must be fully recognized as European citizens.
I suggest the movie SUSPINO A Cry for Roma which was made around 2003 or 2004 and tells the story of a young Romani family living in the camps in Rome. The same film could be made today.


Augusta Savage, a sculptor, teacher and leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, was born in Florida on 29 February 1892.

In 1932, she established the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in New York City, and in 1937 she was named the first director of the Harlem Arts Center.

I just realized that today is only January 29, and I'm ahead of myself again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

[Romano Liloro] Full "Life on the Edge" Documentaries Now on the Decade Website

The following two documentaries are excellent.

27/01/2010 - Full versions of two films in tve's "Life on the Edge" series, both directed by Antonia Meszaros and produced with support from the OSI Roma Decade Matching Fund, are now available in the Video section of the Decade of Roma Inclusion website at> Looking for My Gypsy Roots (English; 27:12)

In "Looking for My Gypsy Roots," award-winning filmmaker Arpad Bogdan set out on a personal odyssey to find some answers to the Roma dilemma. Brought up in an orphanage, he had no knowledge of the Roma culture. "When you get out from an orphanage you might know you are a gypsy, but you can't really relate to that in a cultural sense, because you don't speak the language, you didn't grow up in the community and you don't share any of its values," he said. "Other gypsies accept that, but you'll never really belong with them… or the whites… you just get caught somewhere in between."

Darkness on the Edge of Town (English; 25:45)

Twelve months after the filming of "Looking for My Gypsy Roots," Arpad Bogdan returned to Hungary from Bulgaria, where he'd been studying English. Faced with the recent spate of attacks on Roma, he set off on a new journey, meeting with a cross-section of Roma and other Hungarians to try and find answers for the seemingly random killings of Roma in a number of small villages.



Act of Compassion

Not all legislation has been designed to wipe out Gypsies and Travellers. Forty years ago, the Caravan Sites Act made sites for Gypsies a legal duty. Damian Le Bas meets the man behind it, the campaigning Lord Avebury.

In Britain, like the rest of Europe, laws affecting Travellers have almost always been designed to destroy their way of life.

In the 20th Century it can sometimes look like not much has changed. But we should also remember the people who have fought for Gypsies and Travellers. Eric Lubbock was MP for Orpington in Kent in the 1960s. Life was hard for Travellers then, but Eric Lubbock worked tirelessly to help Travellers help themselves.

In the mid-1960s there were only ten council sites in the whole country. You could only live in a caravan, even on private land, if you held a site license. This meant that only 4% of Gypsies and Travellers had somewhere legal to stop. Violent evictions, which even led to the death of Gypsy and Traveller children, were resisted by Gypsy and Traveller families. It led to the formation of Gypsy and Traveller civil rights groups like the Gypsy Council, but it was Eric Lubbock who fought to change the law.

His work paid off in 1968, when the Caravan Sites Act came into force. For the first time in British history, local councils had to provide sites for Gypsies and Travellers.

“In 1968, I introduced a law to prevent Gypsies and Travellers from being evicted from their sites and to compel authorities to build sites for Gypsies and Travellers,” says Eric.

But two years later he lost his seat in parliament.

“In 1962 the wise, far-seeing people of Orpington elected me as their Member; in 1970 the fools threw me out”. Says Eric.

This story originally appeared in the first Gypsy Roma Traveller History events Magazine of last year. Demand far exceeded supply of this publication, so we've reproduced some of the stories from that issue on this website.


The situation of the Romani/Travelers in England is pretty bad. While districts are now required to provide sites for caravans, the local settled gaje populations protest and tensions escalate. More on that in a future entry. Morgan


Howard Zinn, author, teacher and life long political activist, died Wed. at the age of 87.

He is best known for A People's History of the United States, a brilliant alternative to mainstream history texts.


Wed 27 January 2010 marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz where over a million people, including Romani, Jews, political prisoners, homosexuals and many others were murdered by the nazi government.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


January 18, 2010

Although there's been a recent victory against the reopening of the Black Mesa Complex, the Kayenta mine is still operating and elders on the front lines fighting the continued impacts of coal mining and forced relocation efforts are still requesting support.
We are writing with a request for direct on-land support on behalf of families of traditional resistance communities of Black Mesa, AZ..
One of the Big Mountain elder matriarchs, Blanche Wilson, the mother of Mae Tso, who hosted the 2008 caravan, passed away yesterday. Please hold her and her family in your thoughts and prayers. Mae and Samuel, two of Blanche's children, and elders themselves, are living alone at their homesite. They are in much need of support-they will need to take four days away from basic necessities and work for the traditional funeral. Additionally Mae injured her back on Christmas day and has been in pain for the last three weeks and at a limited work capacity; Samuel has been working double what he normally does. There are supporters there now until Wednesday the 20th. The funeral will be after that so, as mentioned, they really need the help at this time.
If you are available for any days from this Wednesday on, please let us know ASAP, so we can tell the family that the homesite and sheep will be covered. Please forward this to anyone you know who could possibly be available to support.
Furthermore, after this year's Caravan/Fall Wood Run to Black Mesa, BMIS is receiving an unprecedented amount of direct requests for on-land support from elders-we usually have about 2-3 per month and this month we have NINE requests, besides Mae and Samuel Tso. There are several sheepherders on-land right now, but nearly all of them are leaving by the end of the month.
February is a difficult month for the elders to live out in the vast canyonlands of Black Mesa in such high altitude in the cold and snow without paved roads and supporters are much appreciated. One of the elders is undergoing knee surgery at the end of January and will be out of commission for several weeks. If you contact us we will give you details.
It is extremely important that we try as hard as we can to have supporters up there to honor these requests and make sure that we continue our support beyond the caravan. If you have come on a caravan or spent time on the land before please consider reconnecting with the struggle and staying with a family requesting support. If you can't come out put the call out to your community and offer to talk to interested sheep herders about your experience before getting them in touch with us. This is vital to remain connected to the struggle and to show our solidarity. Please consider coming out if at all possible. Let us know, and let anyone else who could possibly come out know.
Forward this widely.
Many Thanks,
Black Mesa Indigenous Support Collective
On the Web: http://blackmesais. org/
Email: blackmesais@

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Angela Davis is 66 years old today. She remains a dynamic force in the struggles against inequality and oppression in any form. She's one of my personal heroes.

"Radical simply means grasping things at the root". Angela Davis



New Amnesty Report Reveals Roma family in Romania forced to live in metal cabins behind sewage worksPosted: 26 January 2010

“We are gypsies and that is why they don’t listen to us” - Monika, May 2009

More than 100 Roma people – including families with children – are living in metal cabins next to a sewage works in Romania after they were forcibly evicted from their homes, according to a new Amnesty report launching today.

The report, Treated like waste: Roma homes destroyed and health at risk in Romania, tells how the Roma people were forcibly evicted by municipal authorities from a building in the centre of Miercurea Ciuc – the capital city of Harghita County in central Romania. Most were resettled by the authorities in metal cabins on the outskirts of the town, behind a sewage treatment plant. Some decided to move to a nearby waste dump, rather than live next to the sewage plant.

Erszebet, who lives next to the sewage treatment plant with her husband and nine children, told Amnesty International what life is like in a metal cabin: “It is tight, when the whole family goes to sleep we don’t fit in. We cannot take a bath; we cannot clean ourselves. It is too small. We don’t want the older girls to take a bath in front of their father.”

The temporary metal cabins and shacks are close to the sewage treatment plant, falling within the 300-metre protection zone established by Romanian law to separate homes from potential toxic hazards. The failure to protect the right to health is another violation of Romania’s national and international obligations.

Ilana told Amnesty International: “The houses fill up with that smell. At night… the children cover their faces with the pillows. We don’t want to eat when we feel the smell… I used to have another child who died when he was four months old… I don’t want to lose the rest of my children.”

The Romanian authorities must stop the forced eviction of Roma families and immediately relocate those living for years in hazardous conditions next to waste dumps, sewage treatment plants or industrial areas on the outskirts of cities, said Amnesty International. The organisation is calling on the government of Romania to reform its housing legislation to incorporate international human rights standards with particular attention to housing.

Halya Gowan, Amnesty International’s Europe Programme Director, said:
“Across the country Roma families are being evicted from their homes against their will. When this happens, they don’t just lose their homes. They lose their possessions, their social contacts, their access to work and state services.“This pattern of forced evictions, without adequate consultation, adequate notice or adequate alternative housing, perpetuates racial segregation and violates Romania’s international obligations.

“The ordeal of the Roma families has continued for six years. Now is the time for the local authorities to provide them with adequate housing close to services and facilities in a safe and healthy location.

“Something needs to happen now. An example must be set – forced evictions must be stopped and the right to housing must be guaranteed. And this can and should be done by the authorities of Miercurea Ciuc.”


There are almost 2.2 million Roma in Romania – making up about 10 per cent of the total population. As a result of widespread discrimination, both by public officials and society at large, as 75 per cent of Roma live in poverty, as opposed to 24 per cent of Romanians and 20 per cent of ethnic Hungarians, the largest minority in Romania. The levels of physical health and living conditions of the Roma are among the worst in the country.

Although some Roma people live in permanent structures with legal tenancy, many other long-standing Romani dwellings are considered by the government as "temporary" and unofficial, and their inhabitants do not have any proof of tenancy, which increases their vulnerability to eviction.

Forced evictions violate Romania’s international and regional legal standards such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights that require all people to have a minimum degree of security of tenure, guaranteeing them legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats.

Monday, January 25, 2010



Work for International Women's Solidarity
Next meeting Nov 15, Sunday 3:30 at POCAAN
1509 9th Ave, Seattle

Iinter.womensday2010@gmail.comNTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY SEATTLE

For the year 2010 the World March of Women (WMW) has issued a call to women of all nations to raise our voices together to demand an end to militarization, discrimination, and poverty in a year-long series of events around the world. WMW is an international feminist action movement connecting grass-roots organizations and individuals working to eliminate the causes of poverty and violenece against women.

Help make our diverse Seattle women's community a part of this struggle for international soidarity. Please come to a meeting to begin planning our event for the World March of Women 2010.

Contact us for more info.

Check out World March of Women Webiste for more information about global participation



5 January 2010

News release

Experts: Roma are victims of Europe’s ‘undeclared Apartheid’

Violence, poverty and widespread discrimination have made Roma communities the “punchbags” of Europe and victims of an “undeclared Apartheid” system.

These were among the conclusions reached by an expert panel which took part in the Council of Europe’s ‘Viewpoint’ human rights talk show.

Gwendolyn Albert, a political analyst based in the Czech Republic, claimed on the television programme that the current plight of Roma confirmed the “undeclared Apartheid” which marginalises Roma communities throughout Europe.

“This is probably Europe’s biggest untold story and most unrecognised social situation,” she said. “The levels of violence that Roma face across Europe at the hands of their fellow citizens are medieval in nature. Their human rights are being violated every single day all across Europe.”

Sociologist Donatella De Vito, Roma projects manager for the Milan-based Casa della Carità, endorsed this view. She said Roma people came to Italy thinking that it would be their “America,” only to find “poverty and exclusion.”

The programme, recorded last December, also discussed the revival of ‘Roma-phobia’ since the fall of Communism, the targeting of Roma women for sterilisation and the worsening campaigns of intimidation and violence towards Roma communities.

Isabela Mihalache, deputy director of the European Roma Rights Centre, criticised governments for their failures to respect court judgements resulting from complaints by Roma rights advocates. Ms Mihalche, a Roma, also demanded greater protection for members of her community.

“Roma people really wish to have equal human rights protection and human security because Roma rights are human rights and Roma rights do matter,” she added.

‘Viewpoint’ will be broadcast in early January

Useful Links

1) Dosta campaign :

2) Council of Europe (Roma file) :

3) European Roma Rights Centre :

4) Casa della Carità :

Sunday, January 24, 2010


A Romani friend of mine who lives in Portland Oregon has contacted the Mayor of Portland, Mr. Sam Adams, requesting that he declare August 2nd Romani Day in Portland.

This got me thinking. Maybe we should contact our respective mayors and at least call for a proclamation in recognition of the Romani and a call for the end of the pograms throughout Europe.

I think that we would aim for April 8th which would coincide with World Romani Day.

How Portland deported its Gypsies during World War II
By Michael Munk
The Portland Alliance
July 2001

The deportation of Portland’s Japanese-Americans to concentration camps in 1942 was a decision of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, but ridding Portland of most of its Romany-American families two years later was a decision of Mayor Earl Riley and the ruling elite of the city.

A few Gypsies had lived in Portland since the turn of the century, but not until World War II’s Kaiser shipyards imported ten of thousands of new workers did the city’s political leaders decide that this growing community-- numbering about a dozen families or 60 men, women and children-- weren’t welcome. Because housing restrictions had been relaxed during the war, the racist city council passed Ordinance 22-412 making storefront residences illegal and declared any indication of fortune telling a crime. The Police Red squad and the wartime Federal Security Agency placed the families under surveillance, but their undercover spies disagreed over whether they had witnessed any evidence of prostitution in the gypsy community.

By late 1944, Mayor Riley, whom the leading Portland historian E. Kimbark MacColl reports built a secret vault in his City Hall office to keep his “percentage of vice protection payments,” decided the gypsies had to go right during the Christmas season. Claiming that they “had flocked here under the pretext of becoming war workers” and were “a blemish on the fair name of the city,” he persuaded the Roosevelt administration to provide them with enough scarce gasoline to drive four crammed “jallopies” to Texas. When a deportee requested more time to pack and protested some “kids were sick..and we gotta have money to eat on,” a police officer responded, “You better get going and quick.”

The city also warned the gypsies they would be prosecuted if they didn’t use their gas rations except for driving to Texas. The Oregon Journal, perhaps referring to the Riley’s paymasters in the Portland underworld, suggested that “others who deal in vice and chance cause more corruption and commit more crime. But the subject is the gypsy menace. They just don’t belong. They’ve got to go.” Portland business leaders continued to support the corrupt Riley even when he was successfully challenged by reformer Dorothy McCullough Lee in 1949.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Google in France used this icon to commemorate the 100th birthday of Django Reinhardt. I wish Google everywhere had done the same.



For the attention of: the European Commission, the European Council, the European Court of Human Rights, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the International Criminal Court of the Hague

Copy to: the Roma rights organizations and human rights associations

We are launching a desperate SOS: an appeal to the European Union and the United Nations to intervene and save the Roma people in Italy from ethnic persecution.
Milan, January 22st, 2010. The Milanese authorities have bulldozed 80 makeshift shelters, home to a community of Roma families, and totally destroyed their blankets, warm winter clothes, stoves for heating and essential medicines. The forced eviction took place in Via Sant'Arialdo - near the Chiaravalle Abbey - in a racist and cruel Milan that the author of this report, (who was born in Milan) fails to recognise as the chief town he has admired for decades for its spirit of solidarity and open-mindedness. About 150 Roma citizens, including children, pregnant women and sick people (many of them with cancer, heart problems, and handicaps) were thrown out onto the street and forced to set off on a tragic march to nowhere. “It felt as though we had returned to the Hitler years,” commented a woman who lives in the area and who has often helped these families in difficulty. “Fortunately - after noticing the municipal police patrols driving up and down - many of the families left the settlement before the clearance began in order to avoid being charged for squatting and suffering the humiliation of the ethnic profiling that other families have been subjected to. However, their homes, makeshift shelters made from wood, plastic and cardboard, no longer exist”. Ninety-five Romanian Roma were charged with illegally occupying a plot of land and are undergoing mass expulsion as the authorities have ordered them to leave the city: a reminder of the way the Roma were forced to leave centuries ago and during the pre-Holocaust years. The January 21st pogrom (what else do we call the destruction in mid-winter of 80 makeshift homes, shelter to hundreds of human beings living in extreme poverty and bad health?) and mass expulsion (what else do we call the unlawful forced eviction of innocent families from the city they have lived in for years without the offer of any social aid or alternative lodgings?) is the umpteenth violation of human rights that has taken place in Italy. 150 vulnerable people in poor health are now wandering around in search of a new shelter in an attempt to prevent themselves dying of hunger, cold, infections and racial violence. The police operation was carried out on the order of the local authorities, and was initiated by the deputy mayor, Riccardo De Corato, a politician who is responsible for numerous other persecutory measures against the Roma people and unfortunate immigrants. The operation called for the deployment of 102 police officers from the local police force. De Corato has expressed his satisfaction at this deliberately- induced humanitarian crisis, and has announced yet another camp clearance in Milan, in Via Vaiano Valle - the site of more makeshift huts where other marginalized, discriminated against and desperate families live. But the list is long: over the last two years more than 7,000 people from the Roma ethnic group have been forcibly evicted from their settlements in Milan without the offer of alternative housing. Unfortunately, both the administration of the Mayor, Letizia Moratti, and the centre-left opposition are driven by intolerant and anti-Roma sentiments. As a result the tragic police operations are taking place with the blessing of all the political parties, government associations and local authority consultants. At the same time, the activists who are attempting with non-violent means to stop the brutal evictions are being intimated and threatened by the same institutions. After learning of the terrible sanitary and social consequences of the police operation, EveryOne Group (which has lost all contact with the Roma left homeless during the Sant'Arialdo eviction) is today presenting a complete report on this tragic episode to the European Commission, the European Council, the European Court of Human Rights, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the International Criminal Court of the Hague. These operations are pushing Europe back to the days of the racial laws and ethnic persecution. EveryOne Group is appealing for urgent intervention, something more effective than a resolution or a letter of warning which have no legal bearing, and which the Italian institutions in the past have already shown to ignore and even mock. EveryOne Group, together with the committee against intolerance, “Sa Phrala”; the association for human culture, “Watching the Sky”; and the 586 anti-racist organizations that make up the “United” network are sending out a dramatic and desperate SOS to the international authorities, asking them to help the persecuted Roma people, who are being wiped out and expelled in mass from Milan and Italy.

We have to act immediately, because over the last two years the Roma community has fallen from 180,000 units to only 40,000 human beings. This number includes the Italian Roma and those who fled from the former Yugoslavia, who are being profiled, rounded up into authentic ghettoes with round-the-clock surveillance and specially-created ethnic laws. We are talking about human beings who are being hunted out; subjected to brutality and racial violence; excluded from employment and integration programmes and left in appalling sanitary and social conditions.


Doug Saunders

Tatarszentgyorgy, Hungary — From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published on Friday, Jan. 22, 2010 7:27PM EST

Last updated on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010 3:15AM EST

.Once or twice a month, three-year-old Mate Csorba disappears from his family house on the edge of a Hungarian village. When his worried relatives find him wandering in the forest, he tells them he is searching for his father and his older brother, who are out hunting.

That is, after all, what his grandmother told him one morning a year ago, after a midnight blaze of firebombs and gunshots destroyed their house on the edge of a rural village, and black-clad gunmen chased the boy's family through the woods and killed Mate's father and five-year-old brother, both named Robert.

“Little Mate had been sleeping in my house when I heard three shots and a window smashing in their house next door,” his grandmother, Erzsebet, said as she surveyed the burned-out ruins. “I heard a car driving away fast, and then saw my daughter-in-law standing and screaming outside, with burns all over her, beside the body of little Robert. I couldn't tell Mate the truth.”

The drive-by murders were strikingly similar to dozens of other crimes across Hungary last year. The largest group of victims lived in houses at the edge of a village, bordering on the woods. Some had burning crosses or swastikas planted outside their homes. And all the victims, like the Csorbas, were members of Hungary's large Roma minority, sometimes known as Gypsies.

The attacks, which tapered off in the autumn but many fear will return after Hungary's April elections, have made members of this highly segregated, formerly nomadic minority terrified for their lives.

“You can't imagine what it's like when it gets dark here,” Erzsebet Csorba says. “My 14-year-old son sleeps in my bed, he's so afraid of ending up like his brother.” She plans to stay put in Hungary, in defiance of the right-wing militia known as the Hungarian Guard that likely carried out the killings. But many of her neighbours are considering another, increasingly popular tack: Fleeing Hungary, very often to the safety of Canada.

That is why this Hungarian murder spree, and its aftereffects, have become a matter of deep concern in Ottawa, where officials say they are likely to impose visa restrictions this year on Hungarian visitors.

After the killings gained attention last year, Canada began seeing a sharp spike in applications for refugee status from Hungarian Roma families visiting Canada. Hungary is now Canada's third-largest source of refugee claimants, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The Harper government is likely to require Hungarians to make applications for visas at Canada's consulates in Hungary, an expensive process that could draw waves of protest from the sizable Hungarian-Canadian community, many of whom arrived as refugees after the 1956 Soviet invasion.

Officially, the government has no visa plans, but aides said restrictions are likely to be imposed after Hungary's April election, in order to avoid providing ammunition to extremist anti-Roma parties. The move would follow similar visa restrictions placed on the Czech Republic and Mexico last summer (the Czech case was also designed to stop Roma refugees) which provoked diplomatic reprisals from both countries and threatened to damage trade relations.

According to figures provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, there were 285 Hungarian applications for asylum in 2008, the first year Hungarians were allowed to enter Canada without visas.

In the first nine months of 2009 alone, after the murders in Hungary began, that number increased almost fivefold, to 1,353 applications – and the numbers for the past four months are believed to be even higher. All of the 2009 asylum applications have been rejected. Canadian officials argue that Hungarian citizens are free to live in any of the other 26 EU countries, so are not considered legitimate asylum claimants.

This influx is so alarming to the Harper government that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney visited Budapest last summer to lobby the Hungarian government to get tougher on the anti-Roma crimes.

Shortly after that visit, Hungary announced a string of arrests, including the two men held responsible for the Csorba murders. Things have become quiet in recent months, but there are fears that another wave of killings will begin when warm weather returns and Hungary's upcoming elections are over.

Those elections are expected to produce gains for the ultra-right-wing Jobbik Party, whose members have made explicit statements against Roma, Jews and other minorities. The party won 15 per cent of the Hungarian vote in last year's European Parliament elections. It has close ties to the outlawed Hungarian Guard, an armed neo-Nazi militia whose members wear fascist-style uniforms and have been convicted in many of the killings.

The winner of the elections is expected to be the centre-right Fidesz Party, whose leaders have been slow to censure members who have ties to the extreme right or make anti-Semitic and anti-Roma statements.

Roma politicians here say that Hungary's governments have repeatedly failed to make life safe for this long-established people.

“In communist times, they made us live in separate villages and go to separate schools. And in the last 20 years nothing has changed – there has been no serious effort to introduce racial integration, even though it's what we want, or to bring Roma schools and towns up to national standards,” says Viktoria Mohacsi, a Roma who was a Hungarian Member of European Parliament until she was defeated by a Jobbik candidate last year.

In the village of Tatarszentgyorgy, in an isolated area 65 kilometres southeast of Budapest, there is little sense that anything has been done beyond arresting two members of the Hungarian Guard for the Csorba murders. The mayor of this district, who has ties to the Guard, refused to act or to enter the Roma village, its residents say. His police investigation had concluded that the family had died from a fire caused by electrical faults; only months later did Budapest intervene and note the gunshot wounds to father and son.

The ruins of the house still stand and Ms. Csorba still has shocked memories of that night, when it took two hours for an ambulance to arrive as her son lay dying in her arms.

Friday, January 22, 2010



Remembering Django Reinhardt

By Andrew Gilbert

For the Mercury News

Posted: 01/21/2010 12:00:00 AM PST

In the months leading up to his death, Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt lamented that he might be overlooked by history. Indeed, by the time a heart attack took Reinhardt's life at the age of 43 in the spring of 1953, the ebulliently swinging Gypsy jazz sound he created with French violinist Stéphane Grappelli, Europe's first innovative contribution to the American art form, had retreated from the continent's bandstands.

But as the 100th anniversary of Reinhardt's birth approaches on Saturday, he is anything but forgotten. Rather than fading into oblivion, Django's influence is more pervasive than ever.

Among his kinfolk in Central and Western Europe, his photo can often be found in Romany houses, "a cultural hero for a people with few heroes," according to Michael Dregni's authoritative 2004 biography, "Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend."

And in the United States, dozens of Hot Clubs have sprung up in cities across the country just in the past decade, modeled after the Quintette du Hot Club de France that made Reinhardt and Grappelli the toast of Paris in the mid-1930s.


Amnesty calls on the EU to stop Roma exclusion now
Issue: 870 Posted: January, 21 2010


As the opening conference of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion opened today in Madrid, Amnesty International (AI) urged the EU to address what it said were continuous human rights violation suffered by Europe’s Roma population. In a letter to the Spanish EU presidency, Amnesty International called specifically to stop forced evictions of Roma and to end all segregated schooling.

“The Roma is one of the most obvious examples of a minority in the EU that suffers from both poverty and marginalization. It seems that it still is acceptable to treat them differently and this is equally unacceptable,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s EU office. The group said the EU should to build on its political commitment and take action to stop forced evictions of Roma that it says occurs all over the EU and urged member states to adopt and implement policies that encourage integration of Romani children in mainstream education, paying special attention to the multiple discrimination suffered by the Romani girls.

AI said there are indications that forced evictions of Roma communities living in poverty are increasing in the EU lately. In the Bacula community in the north of Milan, 150 Roma people living under an overpass were forcibly removed in March last year. This happened without any warning and 70 of them were dispersed without being given any alternative accommodation, the group said.

Similar actions have also occurred in Slovakia and Greece where AI recorded forced evictions in violation of international law. These includes adequate and reasonable prior notice, an opportunity for genuine consultation, provision of legal remedies including legal aid if needed, adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses. After forced evictions, people may no longer have access to clean water, food, sanitation, work, health or education. Because of their role within the family, women bear the brunt of this deprivation, the human rights group added.

It added that continued segregation of Romani children at school is another area of concern. In a recent AI report (Injustice Renamed Discrimination in Education of Roma Persists in the Czech Republic) the group claimed that many Romani children are sent to schools and classes designed for pupils with “mild mental disabilities” and that others are placed in Roma-only mainstream schools and classes, where they receive a lower quality of education. These forms of human rights violations have taken place regardless of a 2007 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in which the Czech Republic was guilty of discriminating against Romani children by placing them in so-called special schools. “This form of segregation will only increase the likelihood of Roma facing exclusion from public life and it limits the possibilities of young European Romanis,” said Esteban Beltran, the Director of Amnesty International Spain. Beger added that, “If the EU is serious about fighting poverty and social exclusion, they must be prepared to end discrimination against Roma urgently. One concrete action would be to immediately address the situation of Erzsébet Fodor and her family who are living next to a sewage station in Romania, after being forcibly evicted five years ago”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010



Supreme Court Tosses Re-Sentencing for Mumia Abu-Jamal

The Supreme Court has thrown out a lower-court ruling ordering a new sentencing for the journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. The decision orders the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to revisit its ruling that Jamal deserves a new sentencing because of flawed jury instructions. The Supreme Court cited its own recent decision in an Ohio death row case it says raised similar issues. Abu-Jamal was convicted for the 1981 killing of a white police officer following a controversial trial before a predominantly white jury. Abu-Jamal contends the case was marred with racial bias, including the deliberate exclusion of blacks from the jury. If re-sentenced, Abu-Jamal will face either death or life in prison without parole.


Rome clears Europe’s largest gypsy camp
January 20th, 2010 - 2:23 pm ICT by IANS -

Rome, Jan 20 (IANS/AKI)

Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno was accused of discrimination when he began clearing out Europe’s largest gypsy camp in the Italian capital. The move was supervised by the Red Cross which said it would transfer the first 50 gypsies from the 40-year-old camp, Casalino 900, to another location in Rome.
“This is a great challenge, but in the end the law will win,” said Alemanno, who was there to supervise the relocation.

Tuesday’s move was the first stage of a move to relocate the illegal camp’s 600 residents by the end of February.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government has come under fire for its hard-line stance regarding immigrants and gypsies.

Critics of the unauthorised camp said its residents live illegally and in squalor.

But the Communita di Sant’Egidio, a Catholic charity organisation, said the forced evictions will uproot families from a place that is suitable for living.

“There’s no true reason for the transfer. These families could have stayed in the camp,” the Rome-based organisation said in a statement.

The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg, last year expressed “serious concerns” about Italy’s policies towards its gypsy minority, who he said faced “a persistent climate of intolerance”.

Rome has seven authorised gypsy camps.

There are an estimated 160,000 gypsies in Italy, nearly half of whom were born in Italy and have Italian citizenship. Others come from European Union countries such as Romania and the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

The people transferred Tuesday were of Kosovan, Serbian and Macedonian nationalities.


More at : Rome clears Europe’s largest gypsy camp

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Roma ghetto in Bourgas flattened
Thu, Jan 14 2010 17:33
By Nick Iliev
Bourgas Municipality has ordered the Roma ghetto in the city's Slaveikov borough razed, and the Roma dispersed from the site, Dnevnik daily said on January 14 2010.

The Roma site, which currently consists of about 20 shacks and other "shelters", is close to a major railway junction.

On January 14, bulldozers flattened five barracks, and the occupants of the remaining 15 or so shelters were told to collect their belongings and clear out by January 15, when the bulldozers will return.

Most of the Roma in the camp site are from different municipalities in Bulgaria.

Last year, more than 30 sheds were cleared by the municipality, after a Roma camp site suddenly arose in the same area. At the time, a small girl had died after being hit by a passing train. Authorities say that Roma children and their "domestic pets" had been playing and roaming close to the railway lines.

"We are trying to get the message across clearly, that every time illegal construction takes place here, it will be destroyed and cleared. We will not allow roaming Roma here," Bourgas mayor Dimitar Nikolov was quoted as saying by Dnevnik.

Monday, January 18, 2010



London, 18 January 2010

The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) has called on US President Barack Obama to release 103 potentially stateless detainees who have been cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay, but remain in detention solely because it is not possible to resettle them. Research undertaken by the Trust indicates that between them, the 103 detainees may have spent more than 700 years in detention.

In December 2009, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that a total of 116 detainees had been cleared for release from Guantanamo. Only 13 people have been freed since the announcement. Almost all of the remaining 103 – more than half the total Guantanamo population – are stateless, meaning they lack effective nationality either because their country of origin refuses to recognise them or because concerns for their safety or other security considerations make it impossible to repatriate them. Many face potential imprisonment, torture and other abuses if returned to their country of origin as a direct consequence of their association with Guantanamo.

The group includes potentially stateless people from China, Yemen, Tunisia, Algeria, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Egypt, the West Bank, Kuwait, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. The average time per detainee spent in Guantanamo is seven and a half years. Many were cleared for release years ago.

The case against indefinite detention is made in ERT’s report, “From Mariel Cubans to Guantanamo Detainees: Stateless Persons Detained under U.S. Authority”, a comprehensive investigation into the issue of stateless persons in detention in the USA. In the report, ERT calls on President Barack Obama to mark the first anniversary of his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay (22 January) by announcing the immediate release of all detainees cleared for release on US soil. This last recommendation is based on well founded scepticism that resettlement to third countries would be realistically achievable in the near future.

Speaking on the launch of the report, The Equal Rights Trust’s Executive Director, Dimitrina Petrova said:

“As the first anniversary of Obama’s pledge to close Guantanamo passes, the practical and political problems created by the decision loom large. It is all too easy to forget the human cost.

“Of the 116 detainees cleared for release by the US Government, only a handful has been freed.

“Over 100 people remain in detention because the US authorities are unable to return them to their country of origin or habitual residence. Between them, they’ve spent over 700 years at Guantanamo.

“These people deserve to be released immediately. Finding countries willing to resettle them is a slow and painstaking process – as evidenced by the small numbers who have so far been resettled. The only practical and humane solution in our view is to release these men on US soil as quickly as possible.”

Saturday, January 16, 2010



Hungary's far right launches 2010 election campaign

From: Reuters January 17, 2010

HUNGARY'S right-wing party Jobbik launched its general election campaign, promising to promote local businesses over multinationals and tackle crime which it blames on the large Roma minority.
"Now, at last, radical change can come," Gabor Vona, Jobbik's chairman and its candidate for prime minister told about 3000 people at a rally near Budapest.

"With a stroke of the pen, or rather two, we can put an end to the last 20 years."

Members of the Hungarian Guard, a nationalist organisation dissolved by court order last year for fuelling ethnic tensions and disrupting public order were prominently present dressed in uniform at the rally in a sports arena.

Jobbik, capitalising on discontent over the country's economic crisis, has scored consistently around 10 percent among decided voters in recent polls.

In June 2009, the party won 15 percent of the vote in elections to the European Parliament.A similar result in a general election due in April or May could give Jobbik deputies dozens of seats in the 386-seat Hungarian parliament.

The party has promised to protect local land ownership from foreign buyers and to direct business subsidies to local small businesses rather than multinational corporations.

Jobbik also backs autonomy claims of ethnic Hungarians living in neighbouring countries such as Slovakia and Romania.

Jobbik has said it wants to preserve Hungary's national heritage, to tie welfare benefits to work and to create a special police unit to tackle what it calls "Gypsy crime".

Its programme could increase the ethnic tensions that have plagued Hungary in recent years, analysts say.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Remembrance Day

Centro Primo Levi jointly with the Consulate General of Italy, NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò, the John Calandra Italian American Institute (Cuny), the Italian Academy at Columbia University , the Italian Cultural Institute, and i-Italy presents a series of programs dedicated to memory
and the Fascist persecutions in Italy .

Between 1938 and 1945 European Nazi and Fascist regimes, and the people who supported them, annihilated millions of Jews and thousands of homosexuals, handicapped, mentally ill, and gypsies they had labeled as "stranger," "unwanted," and "subhuman". Prejudice and racial hatred put a halt to the lives of millions of individuals and devastated the societies in which this crime was perpetrated. On January 27, 1945 the Soviet Army entered and liberated the extermination camp of Auschwitz ,
starting the beginning of the liberation process.

This date was chosen in the year 2000 to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to promote the fight against racism. Following the efforts of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, Research and the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, Italy, Germany, and France established it as a national observance and they were joined by all of the countries of
the European Union and the United Nations.


Ah, what a time for organized religion.

The present day pope recently fast tracked the beatification and sainthood of Pope Pius XII. Pius XII was pope during the Third Reich, who has been strongly criticized for his lack of any opposition to the Holocaust. Thousands of Jews and Romani in Italy were transported to Auschwitz from a station very near the Vatican.

Last year, Benedict lifted an excommunication from a bishop Holocaust denier.

Interestingly, the institutionalized oppression of Romani in Rome escalates daily.

And then Pat Robertson announces that Haiti has been devastated by the earthquake because of a pact made between Haiti and the devil before the revoluntion from the French.

And the beat goes on.....

Thursday, January 14, 2010



Star readers aid Roma students
January 09, 2010

Louise Brown
Education Reporter

Star readers have surprised the Toronto District School Board with offers of help after a recent story about the struggles posed by the flood of Roma children in city schools.

In response, the board has assigned an official to match the offers to schools in need.

Readers of Czech, Hungarian and Roma background contacted Trustee Irene Atkinson after reading the Nov. 28 story about how schools in her Parkdale ward have been deluged this fall with Roma refugees who speak scant English, have little formal schooling and often are often distrustful of book learning and daily attendance.

Star readers were moved by the plight of these refugees, who say they are fleeing prejudice in Europe, and offered to serve as translators and interpreters at Parkdale Collegiate, Queen Victoria Public School and Parkdale Junior School, where many Roma children have enrolled. Others have offered counselling advice, teaching tools and even a cultural workshop on Roma musician Django Reinhardt, to help boost the students' pride.

"By all accounts the Roma children are attending school but there are gaps in their education and we need to build trust before we can address them," said Jonathan Shoss, the board's point person for Roma issues.

The board has set up catch-up classes for Roma students in the three schools, Shoss said, and has bought Hungarian-English and Czech-English dictionaries.

"But I'm going to assess what else is needed," he said. "The complex needs of the children and their families requires a careful, multi-layered approach in order to lay the groundwork for the students to succeed."



Written by By Abiodun Oluwarotimi, New York
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:35

••As Parliamentary Assembly sets to observe Presidential election in Ukraine || Sexual assault of women is one of the most serious and widespread human rights problems of our time. More needs to be done both to prevent and punish such crimes", said Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in his latest viewpoint made available to LEADERSHIP.

The Commissioner stressed that though the legislation on sexual assault has improved considerably in European countries, the court proceedings are generally not sufficiently adapted to the seriousness of this crime and to its psychological impact upon the victims.

He therefore recommended that protecting women from this threat be a political priority and that a fairer justice be granted to the cases brought to court.

The COE Commissioner also stated that Sexual assault crimes must be taken more seriously by governments and parliaments, adding that the injuries inflicted by rape are deep and long-lasting, in many cases gravely hurting the physical and psychological integrity of the victims.

"Though these crimes are largely hidden and their precise scale is difficult to determine, they are widespread and too many women live in fear of being assaulted." he stated.

Meanwhile, the increased and alarming human rights violations against Romani women and ways of ensuring full enjoyment of their rights topped the agenda of a recently concluded conference of Roma women in Athens.

In a final declaration of the conference, the participants unanimously called on European governments to uphold their obligations and ensure that Romani women enjoy their fundamental rights, to put an end to a climate of impunity around atrocious abuses of their rights, to take unequivocal measures to punish perpetrators and compensate Romani women victims.

The conference's conclusions stressed the need to prevent de facto segregation in housing and education, while promoting the principles of equality and integration.

Participants also encouraged Roma activists and human rights communities to actively engage with Roma communities to raise awareness on their human rights and facilitate access to public services and law enforcement mechanisms.



January 13, 2010
Report: Czechs Still Segregating Gypsy Kids
Filed at 2:02 p.m. ET

PRAGUE (AP) -- The Czech Republic is defying a European court ruling by continuing to place thousands of healthy Gypsy children in schools for the mentally disabled, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

Gypsies, or Roma, make up 80 percent of the students in schools for those with mild mental disabilities, the rights group said in a report Wednesday.

Roma are one of Europe's largest, poorest and fastest-growing minorities. An estimated 7 million to 9 million live in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and other countries.

''Systematic discrimination against Romani children in education continues,'' said Amnesty's director for Europe and Central Asia, Nicola Duckworth. ''The Czech authorities must end the segregation of Roma children in schools and act to tackle the underlying causes of discrimination.''

Ruling on a suit filed by Roma youths, the European Court of Human Rights said in 2007 that the Czech Republic must stop herding Roma children into special schools. Failure to comply with the ruling could lead to a new court case and possible fines or sanctions.

The Czech Education Ministry, which has said it would take years to solve the problem, on Wednesday said studies of the situation had been carried out and some legal changes had been made.

Amnesty said the changes did not go far enough, and called on the government to freeze all placements of Roma children in such schools.

The Budapest-based Roma Rights Center said the Amnesty report was in line with its own findings.



Workers’ Party promoters terrorizing Roma family
Mikulov, 29.12.2009, 12:12, (ROMEA)

The family of Ilona Vajdíková of Mikulov is being constantly terrorized by local promoters of the Workers’ Party. The attacks began this September and have yet to let up. Mayor of Mikulov Rostislav Koštial says Ilona Vajdíková‘s family has caused no problems to anyone.

Ms Vajdíková has the bad luck to live across from the Zanzibar restaurant, where local Workers’ Party promoters hold their regular meetings. On 19 September, they threw a beer glass at her window and broke it while shouting racist insults such as, “You black whore, to the gas with you!” The main assailant was Josef Kordiovský, who yelled, “Look what I’m gonna do to these Gypsies” while throwing the glass. He was later heard bragging at the U Fajka restaurant that he had “broken the Gypsies’ window”. The racists returned to the Zanzibar after the incident.

A neighbor who heard the incident ran out of his home in order to protect Ms Vajdíková. “His testimony is constantly being called into question. He’s not Roma - why would he make such a thing up?” asks Marcela Krištofová, Ilona Vajdíková’s sister. “Ilona ran right into that bar and started yelling ‘Who did it?’ Kordiovský stood up and yelled ‘Black whore’ at her. She left the bar, because there were a lot of those teenagers in there, and she called the town police.” Krištofová says the neighborhood was quiet until about a year ago, when the Zanzibar was purchased by its current owner.

Vajdíková recognized Josef Kordiovský and Petr Peřina among the assailants - Peřina shouted racist slogans and participated in a subsequent incident – as well as Roman Pohludka, Jan Krejčí, and men with the surnames Tužinčin and Dalajka. At the very least, some of these people are either promoters or members of the Workers’ Party. For example, both Petr Peřina and Roman Pohludka are registered on Facebook in the Workers’ Party Mikulov group, and Krištofová says Peřina has confessed to police officers that he is a member of the Workers’ Party in Brno. Josef Kordiovský actively contributes to the Facebook page of the Workers’ Party in Znojmo, including information and photographs from several Workers’ Party events and gatherings, such as the 1 May 2009 demonstration in Brno. Petr Peřina also confirmed his membership in the Workers’ Party directly to Marcela Krištofová. “We ran into each other the next day on the street and he greeted me, saying ‘Hi, Auntie,’ - I have known him since he was a little boy,” she says. “I said to him: ‘Do you think you can get away with this? Yesterday evening you were giving the Nazi salute here and now you are saying ‘Hi, Auntie’ to me?”

Another attack occurred one week later when a group ran out of the restaurant and headed for the small house in which Ms Vajdíková’s family lives, throwing bottles and glasses and repeating racist epithets, such as “Come out of there you black cunt.” The entire event was accompanied by a song on the bar’s jukebox, “Bílá liga, bílá síla” (White League, White Power) by Daniel Landa and the Orlík band. One week after that, Workers’ Party promoters from nearby towns met at the restaurant, giving the Nazi salute, pointing to the Roma family’s flat and yelling “you have to go that way.” “These were not youngsters, they were about 30 – 40 years old,” Krištofová says.

Since then, various provocations have continued in the same spirit in an effort to bully the family as much as possible. “They shout racist swear words, they throw glasses, their cars race around beneath our windows for as much a half an hour at a time. Last week they upset a garbage container and emptied it all over the road,” Marcela Krištofová says.

The police and state prosecutor have been unabashedly accommodating towards the racist assailants in this matter. Police are refusing to release information about the case; for the time being Kordiovský is the only one to have been charged over the constant terrorizing of the Roma family, and that merely for the crime of rioting (for throwing the glass at the window). Persecution motivated by racial hatred, racist epithets and insults, the assailants’ membership in the Workers’ Party and participation in its events – it seems all of this means nothing to the police and state prosecutor. When officials informed Vajdíková that charges were being filed against Kordiovský for the crime of rioting, she was very surprised, as no deposition had ever taken from her, either as a witness or as a victim.

With the assistance of the In Iustitia association, which collaborates with Romea on a project providing legal aid to people who are discriminated against, the victim has filed her own charges. “The verbal speech is clearly captured on the video recording which the plaintiff turned over to the police for the purposes of the criminal proceedings, and shows she had grounds to believe she was in danger, not to mention the psychological harm caused by the ongoing trauma and fear of repeated incidents… Since some of the suspects openly endorse the activities of racist groups operating in the Czech Republic, these…attacks cannot be evaluated apart from that context, as these circumstances…are a testament to the conclusion that this behavior is not just boyishness or general rioting, but concerns an act of intentional intimidation and threats motivated by hatred toward the victim’s membership in the Roma ethnicity,” the criminal charges read. The victims are demanding that the motivation of hatred be investigated for these attacks and that Kordiovský’s behavior be classified as the crime of vandalism.

Josef Kordiovský has since apologized to Ms Vajdíková, but the attacks on her family which he and the other Workers’ Party promoters set off are continuing. In his letter to Ms Vajdíková, Kordiovský writes:

“Ms Vajdiková, I would like to apologize to you for what I have done it was not intentional and not racist at all. I will pay for the damage caused by money order. I am sorry. I hope you will accept my apology for my ill-considered action….”

Ilona Vajdíková and her daughter live in fear and have hit bottom psychologically. Ms Vajdíková is primarily concerned for the health of her daughter Sandra, who has lost 10 kg due to the psychological harm caused by the attacks, as well as for her granddaughter (Sandra’s daughter). “I am never sure when the attacks will be repeated or with what kind of intensity,” Vajdíková says.

Mikulov Mayor Rostislav Koštial, who employs local Roma in his winemaking business, understands her situation. “Ms Vajdíková’s family is like any other in Mikulov, there have never been any problems with them,” he says. He rejects one possible solution – installing a CCTV camera in front of the Zanzibar – as too costly. However, he has promised to award the family a flat in a different part of town. “We will move someone who is not Roma into that little house by the Zanzibar,” Koštial says.

Krištofová has not had a good experience with the media and doubts their objectivity. For example, she says the Nova television station did not want to broadcast a report on the first attack because no one was harmed. “That same day they broadcast a report about a ‘Gypsy’ stealing something somewhere, but no one was harmed during that incident ether,” Marcela Krištofová says, adding, “We are calling for the law to be applied in the same way to everyone. We have not harmed anyone. I have been working since I was 15 years old, my sister works, my niece worked until she went on maternity leave. Our parents worked their whole lives. We are Czechs, and they have no right to view us as foreigners.”

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Europe needs educated Roma

If a vicious cycle of poverty and discrimination continues then the EU's eastern economies will suffer

George Soros

13/01/2010 - Continued discrimination against Roma in Europe not only violates human dignity, but is a major social problem crippling the development of eastern European countries with large Roma populations. Spain, which has been more successful in dealing with its Roma problem than other countries, can take the lead this month as it assumes the European Union presidency.

Up to 12 million Roma live in Europe today, primarily in the east. Despite the region's overall economic growth over the past two decades, life for many Roma is worse now than ever. During the communist era, Roma received jobs and housing. But the heavy industries in which many were employed have now closed, and unemployment is widespread. Many Roma live in deplorable conditions unworthy of modern Europe.

These economic hardships are deepened by social tension. The majority population is very hostile towards Roma, and discrimination against them occurs at every level. For example, Roma children are often automatically put into classes for the mentally disabled, simply because they are Roma. Despite court rulings ordering reform, Roma are regularly denied equal access to housing, education, and healthcare, creating a vicious cycle of poverty and marginalisation. Reality and stereotype reinforce each other in a reflexive fashion.

The EU is slowly realising that it has a major social problem on its hands. Denied opportunities in the east, many Roma have moved to western Europe, fuelling a new wave of hostility. In Italy, the Berlusconi government's treatment of Roma settlements – destroying homes and fingerprinting Roma based solely on their ethnicity – blatantly violated human rights. This prompted the EU to create the new position of fundamental rights commissioner, with confirmation hearings set to begin in January. In the meantime, violations continue.

On a positive note, the "Decade of Roma Inclusion", established in 2005, is receiving strong support from the structural funds administered by the European commission and is making some inroads. Yet this is not enough to reverse a rising tide of violence and discrimination, compounded by the recent economic recession.

What is needed now is a comprehensive European strategy to address Roma issues across borders. This strategy must address both intolerable living conditions for Roma and the hostile stereotypes that prevail within majority populations, because they mutually reinforce each other.

This is not only a human rights issue, but an economic one. Following current demographic trends, by 2040, Roma will comprise roughly 40% of Hungary's working-age population. Statistics are similar for neighbouring countries. Unless the Roma are well-educated and socially integrated – in stark contrast to the reality today – these countries' economic future is bleak.

The key to success is the education of a new generation of Roma who do not seek to assimilate into the general population, but deliberately retain their identity as Roma. Educated, successful Roma will shatter the prevailing negative stereotypes by their very existence.

I speak with some authority on this subject. My foundation network has made the education of Roma a priority since its inception in Hungary in 1984, and across the rest of eastern Europe since 1989. These efforts have produced a small, well-educated Roma elite who are now making an important contribution to the emancipation of Roma. These leaders have blazed a trail for future advocates, but there are far too few of them.

In conjunction with the launch of the Decade of Roma Inclusion in 2005, my foundation network formed an alliance with the World Bank and transferred its Roma educational programmes to a newly established Roma Education Fund. Last year, the fund directly assisted 30,000 Roma children and 800 university students. It also provided invaluable support to member countries' public education systems to strengthen Roma inclusion. The fund plans to double its activities in the next five years, but, again, this is not enough. Given the need, it ought to grow tenfold.

The scale of this challenge demands a comprehensive, institutional response from the EU that goes well beyond the "decade" and the capacity of my foundations. While the European Roma Platform launched last year paid lip service to Roma issues, it did not go far enough. Europe must develop a long-term strategy tied to programmes and monitoring mechanisms that will deliver real change on the ground.

Spain can be justly proud of the way it has dealt with its own Roma minority. I hope that the Spanish EU presidency will build on this experience to champion the launch of a comprehensive European Roma strategy. If Spain leads the way, all of Europe will ultimately reap the benefits.

Link: free/2010/ jan/13/roma- discrimination- eu-economy

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Miep Gies, the office secretary who defied Nazi occupiers to hide Anne Frank and her family for two years in Amsterdam died this week at the age of 100.
She found and saved the now famous DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.

Saturday, January 9, 2010



Turkish Roma forced to leave their hometown after violent clashes

ISTANBUL – Daily News with wires
Friday, January 8, 2010

Local Roma in the Selendi district of the province of Manisa were taken out of the city and will be relocated elsewhere after being subject to violence that the Roma claimed the mayor of the district provoked.

Early media reports from the Aegean province said fighting began after a member of the Roma community, Burhan Uçkun, wanted to smoke in a coffeehouse. But Uçkun told daily Radikal that it was not about smoking; instead, he said, the owner of the coffeehouse refused to serve him tea.

Uçkun’s father died on the same day of the fight from a heart attack. Five days later, a second fight erupted between the same people, but this time, around 1,000 local people attacked Roma houses, tents and other property.

Gendarmerie forces took the Roma people under protection by bringing them to the station. No one has been arrested, but Manisa Gov. Celalettin Güvenç said Friday the judiciary was still looking into the events.

Meanwhile, many in the Roma community said the mayor of the district, Nurullah Savaş, who is a member of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, provoked the events by making announcements in the city and afterwards the locals attacked Roma. Heavy construction equipment belonging to municipality was also used to damage the Roma’s cars.

But Savaş, talking to private news channel CNNTürk, denied the allegations. He said he made announcements to gather the locals at the request of the governor to call for calm and to let the community know that the governor was going to visit the district.

CNNTürk also broadcasted a photograph showing a bulldozer pushing a smashed car. The channel asked the mayor whether dozers were used in the attacks. Savaş said the dozers were used only to move a smashed car that was blocking a road.

The Manisa governor’s decision to move the Roma out of the district was reflected in newspaper headlines on Friday. Daily Hürriyet led with the story with the headline, “Run and survive,” while the daily Taraf wrote, “2010 exile of Roma people.”

The Roma were staying in Gördes, another district of Manisa, near their relatives. They are going to be settled in the district of Salihli, the governor said. Meanwhile human rights organizations and the main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, went to the district to meet the locals and officials. Some human rights activists said relocating Roma people out of Selendi would be a failure in handling the issue. They should be settled back in Selendi.

Güvenç said on CNNTürk that the Roma and the representatives of Roma associations wanted to be settled in another place because of economic reasons. Selendi is a small rural area with no industry, he said, leading the Roma to request living in a place with more employment opportunities.

“We told them to stay where they want,” he said. But the Roma said police forced them to sign blank papers to remove them from the city, reported daily Hürriyet.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary commission on human rights also paid attention to the issue and asked the government to disclose the details of the events. Zafer Üskül, the head of the commission, asked why officials did not see the warning signs before the incident because the attack did not seem spontaneous.

Responses from Turkey’s Roma

On Thursday, an estimated 200 members of the Roma community gathered in İzmir’s Karşıyaka municipality to protest the recent violence in Selendi.

Necati Kaplan and Sinan Pazarlı, vice presidents of the Aegaen Roma Association’s federation, spoke at the rally, where the demonstrators chanted, “PM Tayyip, don’t sleep. Stick up for the Roma.”

“We are upset because of the events that took place in Selendi,” Kaplan said. “As Roma, we have never thrown a stick or a stone at the flag, nation or government. We were born here and we will die here. We’re calling on the prime minister to stick up for the Roma. We are not terrorists.”

© 2009 Hurriyet Daily News

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


FROM EVERYONE Group For International Human Right's Culture

Rome, December 27th, 2009

Surrounded by hatred and prejudice, the Roma people continue to perish in fires. Sometimes it is their poverty that kills them, that forces them to warm themselves in the harsh winter with dangerous means: old heaters, candles, spirit stoves.

Sometimes they meet their deaths at the hands of racists. On December 26th, a young woman from the Roma ethnic group was burnt to death on the Via Ardeatina, where she was living in a makeshift shelter. The area had already been targeted for ethnic cleansing operations by the authorities and intolerant acts from neo-Nazi groups. A group of Roma from a nearby camp alerted the Carabinieri. The planks of the makeshift dwelling caught fire for reasons the authorities later defined “an accident caused by negligence”.

The authorities investigating the violent deaths of the Roma people are the same authorities that use violence against the Roma, intimidating and driving them out of their camps like the sheriffs of the Old West. The Roma die from desperation, indifference, irrational fears, and ignorance which turns to propaganda and cruelty. The fire department arrived on the scene of the fire on the Ardeatina around 10 p.m. They found the charred body of the victim lying on one of the two camp beds in the hut. The fire followed a blaze that broke out in Via Candoni, (again in Rome) on December 11th : this time the flames destroyed forty huts.

Several others fires – which were put out by the Roma themselves - have “broken out” in smaller settlements over the last month, and in the early hours of December 21st 70 huts in the Via della Martora camp were destroyed and many people received burns. It was only the courage of a young Roma man who helped many of his sisters and brothers to escape unharmed from the burning shelters that a disaster was avoided. At the same time, a blaze spread through a Roma settlement in the Montemario area. Eight huts were destroyed along with the Romas’ meagre possessions and means of survival.

“I don’t know whether it was a case of arson or whether it was an accident,” says Albert, a Romanian Roma, “what I do know is the authorities continue to spy on us, even at night, and they are continuing to destroy our poor homes and our heaters. Dumping grounds and tips have received orders not to supply Roma citizens with discarded building materials, which makes it impossible for us to build more resistant shelters with safer means of heating. In spite of the days spent rebuilding our makeshift shelters in more isolated and hidden places, it gets harder and harder to get hold of suitable materials. Living outside in this freezing weather leads to hardship and death, but trying to warm ourselves with spirit stoves and illuminate a hut made from wood and cardboard with a candle also places our lives in danger”.

This is Rome, this is today’s Italy, where it seems a modern Herod has made his appearance, hunting out the Roma families with his willing brutes. When, by a miracle, (considering the antiziganism rife in Italy) Roma citizens do manage to find employment, it then proves hard for them to find a dwelling that possesses the certificate of habitability which will allow them to obtain a residence permit.

In the meantime the Roma are constantly being expelled from Italy, the charges based on crimes such as “bothersome begging”; causing a din; resistance to authority and insulting a public official: the same crimes thought up by the National Socialists to label the Roma and Sinti people as “asocials” and therefore to be persecuted. Other causes of prefectorial expulsion decrees are the conditions of poverty and hardship they live in, and the lack of assistance they receive - a fact considered by the authorities as conclusive evidence that the Roma have to survive by committing criminal activities.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Anti-Roma racism focused on in report


From The Irish Times
Sat, Jan 02, 2010

THE GOVERNMENT needs to review its anti-discrimination laws to better protect the Roma community, which is facing high levels of racism and discrimination.

It should also train all public officials, civil servants and gardaí to refrain from discriminating against this group, according to a new report by the Oireachtas European Affairs Committee.

The report estimates 2,500-3,000 Roma are living in Ireland, and cites EU research which shows they face widespread discrimination. “The results of an EU-wide survey have shown that only 24 per cent of Irish people would be comfortable having a Roma person as their next-door neighbour and that only 6 per cent had Roma friends or acquaintances . . .” said Senator Terry Leyden, who wrote the report for the committee.

The report concludes the Roma face “irrational fear and prejudice” and condemns high-profile attacks on the Roma community in Belfast last June. “The BBC reported that several of the Roma women attacked in Belfast wanted to return to Romania, as they believed they would get better treatment there. The problem is that the attitudes against the Roma have been hardening in eastern Europe as much as in western Europe,” it says.

The report estimates there are eight to 10 million Roma living in Europe. It condemns recent racist attacks against the Roma in Hungary and the Czech Republic.

It says all public and law enforcement officials should be trained to refrain from discriminating against Roma and to apply anti-discrimination measures.

The report criticises comments made by Judge Aingeal Ní Chonduin, who said Roma raised their children to steal and were responsible for our “shops being robbed blind”. “Crime is a universal problem and it’s not only related to migrants,” wrote Mr Leyden.

It concludes there is a lack of adequate statistics on attacks on the Roma, but notes a “moderate to high rise” in hate crimes perpetrated in Ireland in 2006-2007.

It says the Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 must be re-examined to ensure sanctions are used: “There has been no racist offences prosecuted in this State, and therefore racist motivation is not recognised and charged as such.”

The report recommends giving official recognition to “anti-gypsyism” as an independent form of racism, alongside anti-Semitism and xenophobia. “Ireland should undertake focused awareness-raising campaigns to confront anti-Romani racism, without stigmatising Roma.”

The report warns Roma are particularly exposed to high rates of poverty and unemployment, and largely operate in an informal economy. It recommends specifically targeting the Roma in social inclusion programmes to help combat these problems.

Key points

•Roma should be specifically mentioned in social inclusion programmes
•Recognise the existence of anti-Gypsyism as an independent form of racism alongside anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
•Survey the Roma people living in Ireland to see if they have experienced racial attacks.
•Train all categories of public officials, civil servants and law enforcement personnel to refrain from discriminating and apply anti-discrimination measures.
•Review the Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 and ensure legal sanctions are effective.
•Review all existing legislation in the social inclusion area and assess its impact on the Roma.

Friday, January 1, 2010


How Django Reinhardt got the whole world on a string

An injury in a fire could have ended Django Reinhardt's career. Instead, he reinvented the jazz guitar and became a legend.
Garth Cartwright celebrates the Gypsy king's centenary

Garth Cartwright
Friday January 1 2010
The Guardian

A hundred years ago this month, a child was born in a Gypsy caravan at a Belgian crossroads. The baby was christened "Jean", but to his people he was always Django, from a Romany verb meaning: "I awake." Never was a name more aptly given: a century on and Django Reinhardt remains the greatest jazz musician Europe ever produced and the most celebrated icon of the Gypsies. That he was able to revolutionise guitar playing with only two functioning fingers on his left hand ? he lost the others in a fire ? only adds to his legend.

In fact, Reinhardt was the stuff of legend. Jeff Beck, a guitarist with more than a passing acquaintance with dazzling technique, called him "by far the most astonishing guitar player ever ? Django was quite superhuman, there's nothing normal about him as a person or a player."

Pretty much every guitar maestro has paid homage: BB King, Julian Bream, Hank Marvin, Robert Fripp and Carlos Santana are all fans; Jimi Hendrix formed his Band of Gypsies in honour of Reinhardt. As his music continues to inspire, so too does his image: the combination of his pencil moustache, cravat and fine tailoring worn in a raffish manner remains a bohemian favourite.

Michael Dregni, whose 2004 biography Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend was a US bestseller, says interest in the guitarist has risen in recent years. "Perhaps as a response to our troubled times, the joy in Django's jazz resonates," Dregni says. "In his simple swing-guitar playing people hear a sort of musical truth, stripped down to the basics of beautiful melody and dashing playing. His sound remains fresh and new, while conjuring up Jazz Age Paris."

The Reinhardt family were nomadic, travelling as far afield as Algeria. Django's father was a basket weaver, juggler and gifted multi-instrumentalist, his mother a superb dancer. Opening out the back of their caravan (known as a vurdon), the couple would entertain the villages they travelled through, earning money, gifts and goodwill. When his father deserted his young family Django's mother kept the vurdon on the road, using the outskirts of Paris as a base during winter. She wove baskets and fashioned jewellery from bronze shell casings Django and his younger brother Joseph, known as Nin Nin, recovered at the battlefields of the first world war.

Though he was twice enrolled in school, Reinhardt never received a formal education, instead swearing by the Romany proverb "He who travels, learns". His father, his uncle and the rest of the Gypsies he travelled with taught him the violin, the most practical of Gypsy instruments ? portable and adaptable ? and by the age of seven he was sitting in with his father's dance band. At 12 he was given a banjo by a fellow Gypsy musician. Self-taught, he began working Paris's rowdy dancehalls only months later. Here he joined in playing musette, a sound that blended French folk flavours with tango, polka, waltzes and the new American style, jazz. All who heard Django play agreed: the Gypsy kid was a prodigy.

Reinhardt became a word-of-mouth sensation on the Parisian underground, and in October 1928, the English band leader Jack Hylton ? whose light jazz orchestra were Europe's most popular ? came to a rough dancehall in Paris's Belleville quarter to hear the teenager for himself. Hylton offered Reinhardt a job on the spot, but that same night the caravan where he lived with his pregnant wife caught fire, leaving him badly injured and facing the propsect of never playing again. Joseph gave him a guitar to play while he was bedridden, and as he convalesced, Reinhardt invented a technique to suit a left hand with two ruined fingers. Fashioning new chords using a minimum of notes, Reinhardt pushed his paralysed fingers to grip the guitar while he worked out fingerings that could be played vertically as opposed to horizontally ? literally rewriting what could be played on guitar.

Healed, Reinhardt found he had lost his wife, his job, his caravan and Hylton's interest. He returned to busking, and in 1931 on the streets of Toulon, he and Joseph caught the attention of the painter Emile Savitry. Savitry was astounded by their ability and became their patron, helping to establish the men on the Paris scene, where Reinhardt was once again a sensation.

In summer 1934, the defining relationship of Reinhardt's professional life was formed when he met St?phane Grappelli, a French-Italian violinist also enamoured with American jazz. They formed le Quintette du Hot Club de France, and pioneered jazz played on strings (as opposed to the American style, with horns). Their status was recognised by visiting American jazz musicians, who appreciated the Hot Club's talents ? both Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins performed with them.

Before Reinhardt, the guitar was largely a rhythm instrument. He explored all its melodic possibilities, reinventing US jazz tunes, pop songs, classical melodies, Russian waltzes and Romany folk tunes in a frantic, dynamic attack that blended everything into what is now referred to as "Gypsy Swing" ? this was hot music made for dancing.

Reinhardt and Grappelli's partnership was ended by the war. The Hot Club were in London when war broke out: Grappelli chose to stay, Reinhardt returned to Paris, where he survived a colourful six years. Perhaps it was fitting that, after he had survived so much, Reinhardt's own suspicious nature should bring about his untimely death in 1953. Having refused to see a doctor for persistent headaches, he suffered a fatal stroke aged 43.

His legend survives, however, with Django festivals held every May in Belgium, every June in France and annually across four different locations in the US. But the International Gypsy Swing Guitar Festival ? which takes place later this month in London ? is the first serious UK attempt to celebrate his legacy. The nine-day festival promises not just the best of Django, but the best Gypsy guitarists playing today.

"There's a very strong tradition of Gypsy guitarists in France, Belgium and Holland, and what I find interesting is how they tend to approach Django, how they stamp their own personality on this music, how they push the sound forward, keep it a living part of their culture," says Sylvia Rushbrooke of the Quecumbar, which is hosting the festival.

'Music is really the only thing many Gypsy families have left, as other traditional areas of employment ? horse trading, basket making ? have faded," she says. "The little boys start learning to play aged six or seven. They almost never learn to read music, it's all by ear. Few women play simply because they never get the chance to sit around for six or seven hours a day practising. Gypsy culture remains very patriarchal.

"Gypsy swing is a very joyous music. Dynamic and powerful. It uplifts people," she says.

There's no sign of the legend of Django diminishing just yet. Dregni's biography has been optioned by Hollywood, with Johnny Depp lined up to play Reinhardt. What a film it might make: the guitar genius who gambled all he earned, eschewed responsibility, preferred caravans to mansions, lived only for the moment and never stopped innovating. Depp modelled his guitar-playing Gypsy in Chocolat on Django, but it's hard to imagine the American narcissus conveying Reinhardt's unstoppable exuberance. Not that this matters: the music conveys the man's magic. Happy 100th, Django!

The Django Reinhardt festival is at Le QuecumBar, London, 17?25 January. Details: