Wednesday, March 31, 2010

JOBBIK. SHARED OPPRESSION: JEWS AND GYPSIES


FROM : Infoshop News
Wednesday, March 31 2010 @ 10:29 PM UTC

Racist, Nationalist Party on the Rise in Hungary

Contributed by: Oread Daily

The far right and racist nationalist Jobbik seems poised to become a major power broker in the Hungarian government soon. The party has a chance of becoming the second biggest party in parliament after an election on April 11 and 25, denying the center-right favorites Fidesz a possible two-thirds majority. Jobbik has... campaigned on a platform which blames Hungary's economic problems on the Roma and on Jews/Israel.

RACIST, NATIONALIST PARTY ON THE RISE IN HUNGARY
The far right and racist nationalist Jobbik seems poised to become a major power broker in the Hungarian government soon. The party has a chance of becoming the second biggest party in parliament after an election on April 11 and 25, denying the center-right favorites Fidesz a possible two-thirds majority. Jobbik has... campaigned on a platform which blames Hungary's economic problems on the Roma and on Jews/Israel.

While blaming Roma and Jews for the country's problems is nothing new for the Hungarian right, Jobbik, which has ties to some of the countries most dangerous fascist elements, is much more direct in its racial attacks.

Ozd’s Jobbik candidate, Andras Kisgergely, had no problem filling the region’s largest theater to capacity with a rally.“For 500 years, Gypsies have not been able to adopt the cultural norms to live in peace with the majority,” he told his audience.“Nine out of 10 criminals are Gypsies … We need to end that. We need to improve public safety, and create jobs. Make them work. We need to tie welfare to community work.”The 800 supporters in the room cheered each point wildly.Peter Borbas, a 40 year-old office clerk, was one of them.“We need to talk about Gypsy crime at long last,” he said. “People have had enough. No method is too radical to end Gypsy crime.”

The following is from JTA. The second article below is from Monsters and Critics.

Rise of Conservative right alarming Hungary’s Jews
By Ruth Ellen Gruber

PRAGUE (JTA) -- The radical far-right Jobbik party is poised to emerge in next month's elections in Hungary as a potent force in Parliament, and the prospect is ringing alarm bells in Central Europe's largest Jewish community.

"It's scary," said Vera Szekeres-Varsa, a Holocaust survivor and former chair of the Hungarian branch of Amnesty International. "It's not like 60 or 70 years ago, but it's still scary."

Jobbik, whose formal name is the Movement for a Better Hungary, campaigns with fiercely populist rhetoric that capitalizes on seething voter resentment and foments fear and hatred of the mainly impoverished population of Roma, or Gypsies. Targeting what it calls "Gypsy criminality," Jobbik also warns against "foreign speculators," including Israel, it says want to control the country.

"Hungary belongs to the Hungarians" is a party slogan.

"Jobbik frequently uses anti-Semitic rhetoric, not directly but through code words and references, as well as symbols and appearances," said Andras Kovacs, a sociologist at the Central European University who long has tracked nationalist and anti-Semitic trends. "This is frightening for the Jewish population."

While the conservative Fidesz party is expected to score an overwhelming victory in the April 11 first-round Parliamentary vote -- ousting the widely unpopular Socialists, who have been in power since 2002 -- Jobbik is expected to make a strong showing and enter the Hungarian Parliament for the first time. Jobbik surged out of the far-right fringe to grab 15 percent of the vote in European Parliament elections last June.

Aside from Jobbik’s growing strength, Hungarian Jews are concerned that Fidesz may compete with Jobbik for votes by shifting some of its own positions more to the right.

For Hungary’s Jews, who overwhelmingly vote for the center-left parties, including the Socialists, the rise of the conservative right is concerning.

"I think they will have to make gestures to the far right," Adam Schonberger, 30, an activist with the Conservative Jewish youth organization Marom, said of Fidesz. "What really worries me is that in the upcoming parliament there could be no real representative of liberal or minority values.”

A poll of decided voters published March 18 in the HVG weekly showed Fidesz with 57 percent support, the Socialists with 21 percent and 18 percent for Jobbik.

"It is possible that Jobbik will get close to or even more votes than the Socialists," Kovacs said. "Fidesz for sure will have a majority, and may get a two-thirds majority. This will represent a substantial change in the electoral landscape."

A two-thirds majority would enable Fidesz, led by the charismatic Viktor Orban, to amend the constitution and push through changes affecting the electoral law, the size of parliament, presidential powers, local governments, and other issues.

No single party has held that concentration of power since the fall of communism -- or before that, since the Nazi-allied regime of Miklos Horthy.

Fidesz enjoys some Jewish support and is not considered to be anti-Semitic. It was a Fidesz-led government that instituted Hungary's Holocaust Memorial Day in 2001. Yet some Jobbik officials and Fidesz have collaborated on the local level.

While Fidesz has ruled out a coalition with Jobbik if Fidesz does not achieve a two-thirds majority on its own, a poll last December indicated that some 300,000 right-wing Fidesz supporters might be ready to shift their backing to Jobbik. Fidesz may attempt to forestall such defections by hardening some of its own positions.

Support for Hungary’s center-left parties has plummeted due to the economic downturn and a recent spate of high-profile corruption scandals. In one case, several Socialist politicians were implicated in a racketeering scandal involving the Budapest public transport agency. In another, the Socialist mayor of Budapest's old Jewish quarter, the Seventh District, was arrested on bribery and other charges relating to real estate deals.

"The collapse of the liberal and center-left parties is of particular concern to Hungary's Roma and Jews, who are targeted verbally -- and in the case of the Roma, also sometimes physically -- by right-wing sympathizers," said historian Michael Miller, who teaches in the Jewish Studies department at the Central European University.

Last year a landmark court ruling banned the Hungarian Guard, Jobbik's uniformed paramilitary wing, whose black-clad members marched through Roma villages bearing red-and-white striped flags and other symbols reminiscent of the World War II Arrow Cross, Hungary's homegrown Nazi-allied fascists.

A little more than a year ago Krisztina Morvai, who later was elected one of Jobbik's three European Parliament members, lashed out at Israel for its offensive in Gaza.

"The only way to talk to people like you is by assuming the style of Hamas," she wrote in an open letter to the Israeli ambassador to Hungary. "I wish all of you lice-infested, dirty murderers will receive Hamas' 'kisses.' "

At a party rally March 15, Jobbik's 31-year-old leader, Gabor Vona, told thousands of followers that Hungary must seek independence from "Washington, Brussels," -- that is, the European Union -- "Tel Aviv" and other powers.

Web sites and publications linked to Jobbik are much more explicit, bashing Israel and employing vicious anti-Semitic invective that evokes Nazi-era propaganda.

"Hungary is a Jewish colony" was the headline of an interview on one such Web site with the brother of one of Jobbik's vice presidents.

Kovacs says he believes Jews are fearful of Jobbik’s gains but are less worried that they will translate into anti-Jewish policies. About 100,000 Jews live in Hungary, most of them in Budapest.

"With Jews, there is no practical social tension," Kovacs said. "The anti-Jewish discourse is rhetorical -- but there are no anti-Jewish political demands. There are, however, radical anti-Roma demands, like cutting social benefits or segregation in school."

Still, he said, "Loud verbal anti-Semitism can lead to a very polarized and intense atmosphere, which in turn could facilitate, for example, anti-Jewish street violence."

Szekeres-Varsa said the cumulative impact was very unsettling.

"I don't see a direct threat, but there is an appalling atmosphere," she said. "The air is stinking, and there is great uncertainty."

Schonberger called Jobbik "a very aggressive, radical, arrogant party."

"If they are able to make other people stupid and soulless, that is the worst," he said. "We have to maintain our consciousness and keep our two feet on the ground.”

Schonberger, who organizes a youth-oriented Jewish music festival each summer, said he already was looking ahead at ways to promote civic activism to bolster liberal values. This year's festival, he said, will include programs aimed at encouraging dialogue and cooperation with Roma and other minorities.

"We have to start something, we have to help each other," he said. "We need to help make a better Hungary." The following is from Monsters and Critics. Political rallies in Hungarian capital reflect swing to the right
Budapest - With just four weeks to go before Hungarians vote in general elections, two large pre-election rallies in the capital on Monday reflected a marked shift to the right after eight years of socialist government.
March 15 is the day Hungarians remember their country's doomed 1848 revolution against rule by the Habsburg Empire.
However, with even US President Barack Obama issuing a statement to mark the 162nd anniversary, the public holiday in Hungary was overshadowed by present day politics.
A crowd of tens of thousands - fewer than the 100,000 claimed by organisers - greeted the leader of the centre-right opposition party Fidesz with cries of 'Viktor, Viktor!'
Former prime minister Viktor Orban has been waiting eight years for the victory that, with elections due on April 11, polls suggest is now within his party's grasp.
'The opportunity is here, we 21st century Hungarians can bring about our own revolution on April 11,' Orban told this audience.

Although the official launch of its official election campaign, this was not an occasion for setting out a detailed election platform - Fidesz remained reticent on precise details of policy.
A major thrust of the party's campaigning has been to paint the governing Socialist Party as a hive of corruption and lying about the nation's economy.
Only when Fidesz takes office will it have the opportunity to establish the 'true' state of Hungary's finances
and reveal its own economic policy, the party says.
On the other side of the capital, meanwhile, the extreme right party Jobbik held its own pre-election rally.
Party leader Gabor Vona greeted the crowd of thousands - many in combat trousers and boots - that filled some 200 metres of a broad avenue in the centre of the capital.
He opened with Jobbik's rallying cry 'God grant!' to which the crowd roared: 'A brighter future!'
Vona then won enthusiastic applause by deriding the leader of a Hungarian Roma council, who is currently under investigation for corruption.
A campaign against what Jobbik calls 'Gypsy crime' has been a key factor in the party's increasing support over recent years.
Hungary's Roma minority is thought to make up as much as 7 per cent of the population of 10 million.
The party's paramilitary Hungarian Guard, outlawed last summer by the courts, is believed to have played a key part of this campaign and the rise in profile of the Jobbik as a whole.
Jobbik polled almost 15 per cent nationwide in last year's European parliament elections, with support particularly strong in deprived rural areas of the country.
Corruption will be stamped out and politicians of all stripes will be held to account after the general election, Vona told the crowd.
The Jobbik leader, flanked by two militaristic guards, also called for independence from 'Washington, Brussels, Tel Aviv' and other powers that would seek to control Hungary.
In a survey earlier this month by the pollster Szonda-Ipsos, 17 per cent of 'decided voters' said they intended to vote for the far- right party. The governing Socialists polled only slightly better, with 20 per cent support.
However Fidesz, despite a slight drop since February, polled 57 per cent, suggesting that, barring a major upset, the centre-right party is still on track to form Hungary's next government.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

JOBBIK


FROM REUTERS:

Far-right gains could put Hungary reforms at risk
Mon, Mar 29 2010
By Marton Dunai

OZD, Hungary (Reuters) - The scenario is classic. Hungary's economy is in crisis, its large Roma minority is an easy scapegoat, and a far-right party blaming "Gypsy crooks" and "welfare spongers" is set to be the big winner.

If opinion polls are right, the nationalist Jobbik party has a chance of becoming the second biggest party in parliament after an election on April 11 and 25, denying the center-right favorites Fidesz a possible two-thirds majority.

"With its extreme populist rhetoric, Jobbik could put the next government's policy moves under pressure," said political analyst Andras Giro-Szasz. "Jobbik can limit the popular mandate of the next government."

The Roma make up between 5 and 7 percent of Hungary's population and vilifying them has proved Jobbik's most successful tactic as an economic slump of more than 6 percent last year has left more than one in 10 Hungarians unemployed.

Its biggest gains will be in places such as Ozd in Hungary's poor northeast, a steel town fallen on hard times, where it looks set to defeat the Socialists who have held the seat for 16 years.

UNEMPLOYMENT HAS GROWN

Unemployment has been above 20 percent in Ozd for years, and one-third of the population is Roma. Jobbik (Movement For a Better Hungary) nearly beat Fidesz there in the 2009 European Parliament election, and its popularity has only grown since.

"Many of us are sick of the way Gypsies think of welfare as a way of life," said Andras Kemacs, a 27-year-old mechanic in Ozd. "Jobbik impresses me with its openness about that."

Jobbik has also capitalized on popular resentment toward the political elite, including Fidesz, which it calls corrupt.

It has demonized the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, which insisted on painful spending cuts as a condition of bailing out Hungary's public finances.

And it is media savvy, using the Internet so effectively that its appeal among young people, including college students, surpasses that of any other party except Fidesz.

Polls show national support for Jobbik nearing 20 percent among all decided voters. That puts it neck-and-neck with the ruling Socialists, while Fidesz has about 60 percent of the projected vote.

Those gains, splitting the right-wing vote as well as stealing votes from the left, have eroded Fidesz's chances of winning the two-thirds majority that would be a platform for the broad reforms that economists say Hungary needs.

Hungary has struggled for years to streamline its bloated government sector and trim public expenditure. The spending cuts have brought the budget deficit under control, but most public sector structural reform has lagged behind.

The key reform requiring a two-thirds majority is a rationalization of Hungary's 3,200 local governments, which run hospitals and schools and are major drag on the state budget.

Fidesz could also attempt a reform of notoriously corrupt party financing.

DECAY AND DESPAIR

In Ozd, the problems besetting Hungary, and especially its Roma, are painfully evident.

The collapse of communism after 1989 led to the closure of Ozd's steel plant, the town's number one employer, throwing 14,000 people out of work. Unskilled Roma were laid off first; most have not worked in the 20 years since.

Decay and despair in nearby villages drove thousands more to Ozd. Today, one-third of the 39,000 residents are Roma, says Lajos Berki, leader of the Gypsy Community Council.

"About 1,000 of us have more or less regular work," Berki said. "The rest live on welfare. There are problems, there is no denying that. A few thousand Gypsies have caused real problems."

The Roma shantytown on the outskirts of Ozd, known as Hetes, bustles with activity, but not paid work. Boys play soccer in the dirt outside the dilapidated homes, while adults chop illegally collected firewood or mill about idly.

"I'm not fixated on welfare," said Gyula Budai, standing near the only working tap that 500 Roma share.

"Take it away, give us work, then you'll see who wants to work and who doesn't."

PROLONGED TENSION

Ozd's Fidesz candidate, Gabor Riz, acknowledged problems in an interview, but refrained from calling them Roma issues.

"There are no grounds to fear a Roma-Hungarian ethnic conflict," he said. "But there could be prolonged tension between wage earners and welfare beneficiaries."

However, Ozd's Socialist member of parliament, Istvan Toth, says the politicians have been avoiding the issues.

"We have sensed the problems, but pretended that they might go away if we don't talk about them," he told Reuters. "We just tried to divide (Roma) along party lines, and now we suddenly realize that ... Jobbik played the Gypsy card."

Ozd's Jobbik candidate, Andras Kisgergely, had no problem filling the region's largest theater to capacity with a rally.

"For 500 years, Gypsies have not been able to adopt the cultural norms to live in peace with the majority," he told his audience.

"Nine out of 10 criminals are Gypsies ... We need to end that. We need to improve public safety, and create jobs. Make them work. We need to tie welfare to community work."

The 800 supporters in the room cheered each point wildly.

Peter Borbas, a 40 year-old office clerk, was one of them.

"We need to talk about Gypsy crime at long last," he said. "People have had enough. No method is too radical to end Gypsy crime."

(Editing by Krisztina Than and Kevin Liffey)

Monday, March 29, 2010

PRISONERS


On 29 March 1951 Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage. They were executed in June 1953
Anyone not familiar with the case will be amazed at the contortions of the U.S. "legal system" in its determination to use these working class, Jewish political activists as examples of the retribution for challanging the status quo.
In the 1950's to be called Communist could mean death.

Meanwhile, today Mumia Abu-Jamal continues to sit on Pennsylvania's death row. He's been there for 28 years convicted of killing a cop, on the basis of fabricated evidence, racism and violations of his constitutional rights.
Let's spread the word about Mumia Abu-Jamal and the other political prisoners in the United States, including attorney Lynne Stewart who is facing 30 years.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

MOLOTOV COCKTAIL ATTACK ON ROMANI FAMILY


FROM ROMEA.CZ
(Photo is of a previous Molotov cocktail attack on Romani)

Attack in Bedřiška was even more malicious than Vítkov, the bottle held ether

Ostrava, 27.3.2010, 10:10, (ROMEA)

The results of a police investigation have confirmed that the Molotov cocktail used during the attack on a Romani family’s home in the Bedřiška settlement of Ostrava contained diethylether, a highly flammable solvent used in laboratories. Soňa Štětínská, spokesperson for the Moravian-Silesian Police, informed the Czech Press Agency of the findings today.

A still-unidentified assailant threw the Molotov cocktail into the Romani family’s home on 14 March. The bottle did not break and its contents did not catch fire. Police say the burning wick was put out by the girl who was sleeping in the room where the bottle landed. "We had already ruled out gasoline or a gasoline mixture in the bottle. Specialists who analyzed the contents of the bottle have confirmed it contained diethylether," Štětínská said.

Diethylether (as well as ether or ethoxyethan) is a common laboratory solvent. Under normal conditions it is a clear, colorless, extremely flammable fluid with a low boiling point and a characteristically sweet odor. Diethyleter is not commonly available and cannot be purchased in ordinary stores.

The investigation shows that the attack in Bedřiška was even more malicious than the Vítkov arson. Had the arsonist succeeded in getting the bottle to break after it landed on the floor, experts say there would have been no chance of survival for the Romani occupants. “Even if it did not immediately burst into flame, the people in the room would have been immediately rendered unconscious,” news server Novinky.cz quoted expert witness Kateřina Orlíková as saying. Orlíková went on to say that ether is one of the most dangerous combustibles and the fire would have resulted in total destruction.

“Ether is used, for example, in laboratories and in the pharmaceutical industry. It must be stored according to strict safety regulations,” Orlíková said, adding that whoever wanted to acquire the material must have had access to a laboratory where it would be stored. “They would have had to have known someone who could get them this material,” she said.

The arsonist or arsonists attacked the single-family home in the settlement during the early morning hours of Sunday 14 March. The Molotov cocktail containing a highly flammable liquid broke through the window of a room in which a teenage girl was sleeping. The bottle did not break and the chemicals inside it did not catch fire. Part of the rug caught fire from the wick. The girl, who was awoken by the broken glass, managed to put out the fire.

Police officers are investigating the attack as attempted murder. The attack was originally investigated as reckless endangerment. While general reckless endangerment carries a sentence of from three to eight years, attempted murder carries a sentence from between 15 to 20 years or even an extraordinary sentence.

Police are continuing to investigate several possible motives for the attack, which could have been related to the victims’ business dealings or interpersonal relationships. Racial motivation is still under consideration, as is the possibility the attack was random.

Last April arsonists attacked the home of a Romani family in Vítkov, injuring three people. The most seriously injured was little Natálka, who was not quite two years old at the time she suffered extensive second and third-degree burns over 80 % of her body.

The trial of the four right-wing extremists from the Bruntál and Opava districts charged with the Vítkov arson will begin at the Regional Court in Ostrava on 11 May. The men have been charged with committing racially motivated attempted murder against multiple victims, one of whom was a child. They face up to 15 years in prison but could also receive extraordinary sentencing, including life in prison.

ryz, ČTK, Novinky.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
ROMEA

Saturday, March 27, 2010

ROMANI IN EUROPE


Anti-Roma prejudice not demolished in a dayThe paradox of a Roma victory in the European court of human rights is that many Roma people fear a backlash all the more

By Slavenka Drakulić
From: Guardian.co.uk,
Sunday 21 March 2010 16.00 GMT larger |

The last time you heard about Roma people was, in all probability, when one of them was stabbed, burned or shot at in Hungary, Slovakia or Romania. The largest ethnic minority in Europe, numbering an estimated 7-9 million people, Roma are also the poorest and most discriminated against. They are "others" and, as such, often object to state policies of segregation and the racism of groups and individuals.

The fact they have lived in Europe for no less than 500 years doesn't apparently make much difference. What matters is they are of a different colour and culture, easily distinguished and, generally speaking, not integrated. Yet, as citizens of European states, they should be equal under the law. But as we all know from George Orwell's Animal Farm, all are equal but some are more equal than others. Never was this more so than in the case of Roma citizens.

Consequently, it is not news that they are again being victimised. But it is news that they have won a significant court judgment, because this happens so rarely. This week, the European court of human rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg upheld the claim of 15 Roma pupils in Croatia, where Roma are about 1% of the population, that they had been discriminated against. In 2002, Roma from the region of Medjimurje sued elementary schools because 15 pupils were segregated in a class and taught 30% less than the obligatory curriculum. Such a decision was justified by their lack of knowledge of the Croatian language. Roma live in ghettos and adults barely speak the Croatian language.

First a local, then a regional, court turned the Roma case down. Finally, the constitutional court did the same – after dragging its feet for six years (which the ECHR judged to be an unreasonably long time). However, the Roma took their case to the ECHR, which has now ruled in their favour. It is not the children's fault they don't speak Croatian very well, and this – or anything else, for that matter – should not be a reason to discriminate against them, the ECHR determined. Besides sending out such important messages of equality under the law, Roma pupils were also awarded €4,500 each in compensation, as well as €10,000 in total for expenses and legal costs.

This looks like a clear-cut case and a remarkable victory for Roma, something they should be proud of. After ruling that it is illegal to put Roma children in schools for children with special needs – as has been done in the Czech republic – it is now illegal to put them in separate classes, too.

Yet this victory divided the Roma community in Medjimurje itself. Apparently, many of them even signed a petition against taking this case to a court. Why? The answer is simple: fear. Roma are afraid that, after this ruling, they could be discriminated against even more by their non-Roma neighbours. "The state feeds us; it gives us roads, electricity and water. What if we wouldn't get social benefits and there are no jobs? I am not playing games with the Croatian state," said one in a television news interview, surrounded by a group of angry and frustrated Roma men.

It is a paradox that the court ruling in favour of greater tolerance and integration of Roma has provoked their frustration. It only underlines how very insecure they feel. It will take a larger social change in Europe, and not just a judicial decision, to erase that anxiety.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

TURKEY


FROM HURRIYET DAILY NEWS AND ECONOMIC REVIEW

Roma people live nomadic lives after demolitions in Sulukule
SEVİM SONGÜN

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Many Roma people who moved to apartments in the Taşoluk neighborhood provided by the Mass Housing Administration, or TOKİ, have returned to their original neighborhoods in and near Sulukule for socio-economic and cultural reasons. Most say the apartment expenses were beyond their incomes and also the life there was not suitable for them because they prefer houses with gardens near relatives and neighbors

Members of Istanbul’s Roma community continue to live like nomads since the demolition of their houses, despite new apartments offered by the government, according to observers and NGOs.

After the houses of the Roma people living in the Sulukule neighborhood of Istanbul’s Fatih district were destroyed during an urban transformation project carried out by the Fatih Municipality over the last three years, renters were allowed to move into apartments built by the Mass Housing Administration, or TOKİ, in the Taşoluk neighborhood of Istanbul’s Gaziosmanpaşa district.

The initiative is part of government efforts to improve living standards of Roma people in Turkey, but members of the Roma community in Sulukule say they are still suffering from the results of demolitions.

Moving did not solve problems

Moving some Roma people to Taşoluk turned out not to provide a solution since many of them returned to Sulukule only months later after selling their apartments.

“We could only stay four months there [in Taşoluk]. It was not suitable for us,” said Faruk Say, a Roma who returned to Sulukule. After the house he rented with his wife and two children in Sulukule was demolished, Say chose to move to the TOKİ apartments in Taşoluk. He said living in Taşoluk was socio-economically difficult for them.

“There was no life for us there. The streets were dark after nine. It was a lonely neighborhood,” said Say. “The monthly expenses of our apartments were more than we could afford.”

“We should be earning 1,000 Turkish liras a month in order to live in the apartments in Taşoluk. There are many expenses other than rent, for example the natural gas, electricity and apartment expenses,” Say said.

Almost half returned

Roma people live and work in Sulukule as either musicians or vendors, making a living with low incomes, and their rents are also low. However, the municipality claimed that the Roma people were given good opportunities in Taşoluk. “They were all renters, but they still had the chance to own an apartment in Taşoluk by paying 250 liras each month,” said Mustafa Çiftçi, the project coordinator from Fatih Municipality.

After 15 years of monthly payments, those renters would be the owners of the apartment, said Çiftçi, adding that they all received 100 liras in rent support from the municipality. However, Çiftçi agreed that almost half of the 127 Roma people who moved to Taşoluk either sold or rented their apartments and returned to Sulukule or nearby neighborhoods.

According to Hacer Foggo, however, the numbers were less. She said only six or seven families remained in Taşoluk, according to Hacer Foggo, a member of the Sulukule Platform. “Most sold their houses starting from 5,000 liras and then returned to their old neighborhood. But now they are moving like nomads from one house to another since they cannot pay the rent,” she said.

Foggo, who works at the Zero Discrimination Association, told the Daily News there should be research done in Sulukule to study the needs of locals before the start of the urban transformation project. “The reasons why some children did not attend school or disabled people were not leaving home should be examined, and social projects to improve their lives should be produced,” she said

Sevcan Küçükatasayar, 20, a former renter in Taşoluk who returned to Sulukule, said they could not live in an apartment building. “We used to live in a big house with a garden. All our relatives were in the same neighborhood. But in Taşoluk, my father opened a tea house and it went bankrupt because nobody went there,” said Küçükatasayar.

Meanwhile, some Roma people said they were happy in Taşoluk. “Those who have a stable job can live there,” said Şahin Kumralgil, who lives in Taşoluk but spends his time in Sulukule.

Many of the Roma who returned to Sulukule are also tired of talking to press and have lost hope for a better future, according to Şükrü Pündük, head of the Roma Association in Sulukule.

Removal of Discriminatory sentence

The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Bursa Deputy Ali Koyuncu also prepared a proposal asking for the removal of a sentence with discriminative connotations from the law, Anatolia news agency reported. The sentence reads: “The Interior Ministry is responsible for the deportation of gypsies and foreign nomads.”

URL: www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=roma-people-lives-nomadic-life-after-demolitions-in-sulukule-2010-03-23

TURKEY


I get tired with research and studies.
The good news will be the annullment of the draconian laws against Romani and "foreigners".
Remember the demolition of Sulukule, the centuries old Romani quarter in Istanbul, Turkey.
_________________________________________________________________
FROM WORLD BULLETIN

Turkish university to establish first Gypsy research center

This will be the first time a center will be established in Turkey to search the cultural features and social lives of Romani citizens.
A Turkish university will establish a Romani (Gypsy) Research Center within the framework of initiatives to solve problems of Romani citizens.

The Adnan Menderes University (ADU) in the Aegean province of Aydin will set up a Romani Research and Practice Center.

This will be the first time a center will be established in Turkey to search the cultural features and social lives of Romani citizens.

The university has set up a committee to make necessary preparation for the center. The committee will write a regulation, and send it to the Higher Board of Education (YOK) after it is ratified by the university senate.

The regulation will take effect after YOK approves it and it is published in the Official Gazette.

A workshop on Romani citizens took place in Turkey on December 10, 2009 within the scope of initiatives pioneered by State Minister Faruk Celik. Participants learned the problems and expectations of Romani citizens during the workshop, prepared a report and submitted it to the Council of Ministers.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Romani citizens on March 14, 2010.

Also, the Interior Affairs Committee of the Turkish Parliament will begin on Thursday to debate a bill amending a law on residence and travel rights of foreigners in Turkey.

An article of the mentioned law says, "the Interior Ministry is authorized with deportation of gypsies with no nationality or with a foreign nationality, and foreign nomads who are not bound to Turkish culture."

The bill demands annulment of this article.

The government plans to bring the bill to the Parliament General Assembly as soon as possible.

After this article of the mentioned law is annulled, Turkey will get rid of discriminative implementations against the Romani citizens.


AA

http://www.worldbulletin.net/ , printed on 25.03.2010.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

IMMIGRATION


FROM COURT HOUSE NEWS.
Monday, March 22, 2010 Racial Preconceptions, Profiling Higher in EU
By NICK WILSON
ShareThis

WASHINGTON (CN) - As illegal immigration has increased in Europe, so have the "ineffective and counterproductive" racial profiling practices of European police, said experts at a Monday meeting of the Helsinki Commission. "Ethnic profiling is targeting people because of who they are instead of what they have done," Rachel Neild said.

Neild from the Open Society Institute, which is funded by George Soros, called profiling humiliating, hurtful and ineffective, saying at a Helsinki Commission briefing on Capitol Hill that the practice is accusatory in nature and erodes trust in police.

Muslims, blacks and gypsies are three to 14 times more likely to be stopped by police than a white person, depending on the region, Neild said. And in Moscow, the chances go up to 21 times as likely.

These ratios are higher than in the United States or United Kingdom, where there are strong traditions of immigration. In the U.S. and UK, even the worst areas for racial profiling are substantially lower the European numbers, the witnesses said. In areas where racial profiling is most prevalent in the U.S. and UK, police stop minorities eight times more than whites.

The increases come amid bursts in illegal immigration, which have ignited more serious tensions in countries like Spain and Italy that have historically been sources of emigration. These once homogenous societies are just feeling the effects of attracting immigrants.

In just the last decade, roughly five million people have immigrated into Spain, which now holds 46 million.

No one on the three-person panel promoted racial profiling, but proponents say the practice simply acknowledges the visible trends among certain groups of people.

France, which drew global attention during racial riots in 2005, has set numeric targets for capturing illegal immigrants. Neil said the quotas encourage racial profiling.

And Israel has promoted behavior profiling instead of racial or religious profiling -- like whether someone is wearing a heavy jacket on a hot day. But Neild and Jamil Dakwar from the American Civil Liberties Union said that certain practices are tied to religions or ethnic groups and that such profiling could easily become religious or ethnic profiling depending on how it is applied.

Some European social services promote reporting of people who grow beards or stop shaking hands with women. "They haven't caught anyone doing any of these things," Dakwar said.

The United States, under the Obama administration, gives higher scrutiny to visiting citizens from 14 countries, most of which have a Muslim majority.

Neild described one European study where police cracked down on Gypsy women who would steal from shops during the afternoon, lining the inside of their bags with aluminum foil to fool the detectors.

She said that while the pattern that it was Gypsy women who were stealing was unfortunate, police searches on them were sound because the searches were based on the pattern of theft, the time and the place instead of on ethnicity.

She said police would be more effective by focusing on criminal activities, or on suspicious queues apart from race.

Monday, March 22, 2010

GYPSIES AND COMPUTER GAMES


My friend and Romani activist has recently been approached by a "game" maker who is making yet another game with "Gypsy" characters. He wants some inside information about Romanipe (Romani culture) so he can "understand" us. He's not trying to understand us (ha), he wants to make money by exploiting us.
The following is Casimire's response. It says it all.

WE ROMANI PEOPLE ARE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF A VERY BRUTAL GENOCIDE ALL OVER THE WORLD!
Yes, I know there is good and bad in every culture. But you gotta understand. We have been maligned, put into slavery, discriminated against and stereotyped for so long. Do you know that many people still think we are son's of Cain from the Bible story Cain & Able? Condemned by god to roam as fugitives and vagabonds? Do you know that we are blamed for forging the nails that crucified Christ? That is what Hitler used as an excuse to murder millions of us in the Devouring. Here in the United States there were ordinances on the books until quite recently (1960's) that Gypsies were not allowed on the streets after dark. That in some states we had to register as Gypsies? That we were kicked out of Portland Oregon, when we were seeking shipyard jobs in WWII? My friend Morgan Ahern of Romani against Racism was taken from her home at 7 years old and put into a Boarding School in a Government forced assimilation program. She did not see her parents till she was 40. As I might have mentioned to you. I spoke Romanichal dialect in my home. Teachers thought I was retarded and put me in special school. Then when they figured out what was going on they beat me and brushed my teeth with phisiotex hospital soap for speaking my dialect!. That is how I learned about the Cain and Able thing. I was a little kid and this bitch is blaming me for one of the original sins. So Dave how about making the Gypsies the ones with virtue for one God dammed time? Like I told you we are always in league with Satan, like in the Dracula movies! Now you have us drinking blood which is a real slap in the face.
Check out Morgan's Blog, we are still in the middle of a very brutal world wide Genocide.
I don't want to sound superstitious but you do not know what you are playing with in regards to Marheim.
SO saying I am asking you kindly and in a good way to please put Romani people in a good light for a change. We have been associated with vampires and negative stereotyping for centuries. Blamed for baby stealing and prostitution and thievery! We have had enough, you asked my opinion and that is how I feel and make no apologies. We have been beat down enough times, we are not vocal people, that is why it's still acceptable for people to hate us. But I am standing up, your game needs a rewrite and I will judge again fairly @ that time. Make the Gaje Vampires and let us have some virtue!
Casimire

Sunday, March 21, 2010

DO TRAVELERS VISIT QUEEN CLEO'S GRAVE


FROM MARIONSTAR.COM
Radio host to stake out cemetery to prove
myth

By JESSICA CUFFMAN • The Marion Star • March
20, 2010

MARION, OHIO - A local radio host will stake out a local
cemetery to determine whether legends surrounding
a part of Marion history are true.

Scott Spears, WMRN 1490 personality, has been
interested in the story of the "Gypsy Queen" since
hearing former WMRN host Madge Guthery talk
about it at a Capture the Moment dinner a few years
ago.

Now, on the 105th anniversary of the death of the
queen, he plans to stake out St. Mary's Cemetery to
see if the legends that gypsies still visit her grave
are true.

The Gypsy Queen was a woman named Ann Judge,
called Queen Cleo by her people, who she was
traveling with through Marion in 1905 when she
died in childbirth, Spears said.

The child also died on March 20, 1905.

The queen was embalmed and placed in a store
front on North Main Street, and gypsies from as far
away as Europe would come to pay their respects to
her, Spears said.

She was buried at St. Mary's Cemetery, and her grave
was marked with a wooden cross. Years later, a
marker was placed there, and someone places
pennies on the grave.

"Superstitions go along with that," Spears said.
"Such as if you take a penny, that means bad luck."

While her death and burial are documented history,
there is a legend that her restless soul roams a
round the cemetery on the anniversary of her
death, and groups of gypsies used to come to
Marion that day to visit her grave.

"In Marion history, it's probably the bit of Marion
history that I find the most interesting, even though
we're a presidential town," Spears said. "It's a
mystery as to who puts the pennies on the grave.
They're there summer, spring and fall."

He has gotten permission to visit the cemetery at
about dusk to see if gypsy travelers still show up.

"No one has been able to confirm or deny that," he
said. He has spoken to the cemetery's caretaker, the
historical society and Trella Romine, and no one
knows if they still come.

"If they do, it's unannounced. Hopefully we'll be able
to prove or disprove that, 105 years later," he said.

Monday morning Spears will come back with the
story and confirm or deny the myths during his
show, which starts a 6 a.m. He'll probably talk about
his experience during the newscast, on WMRN
1490.

Other legends about the Gypsy Queen won't be able
to be confirmed, such as that she is buried standing
up, or that she is covered with concrete because
jewels were placed on top of her.

Spears says he plans to stay at the cemetery until 1 or 2.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

ROMA IN TURKEY


FROM HURRIYET DAILY NEWS AND ECONOMIC REVIEW.

Roma and undocumented Armenian immigrants

By GİLA BENMAYOR

Friday, March 19, 2010

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has embraced the Roma people but threatened illegal Armenian immigrants deportation.

This has left its mark on last week’s agenda.

I think embracing Roma was extremely artificial and threatening Armenians is extremely dangerous.

If we begin with Roma, Erdoğan by meeting with thousands of Roma last week at the Abdi İpekçi Sports Complex in Istanbul promised that the Roma identity will not be belittled and the Roma are entitled to have the right to live. But we see no concrete evidence of his promise.

Is there any project not to force Roma out of their neighborhoods as was the case in the Sulukule incident?

Or how about measures taken to provide for the education of Roma children?

I was drawn to the remarks of Elmas Arus on this meeting covered in newspapers.

“Roma children are not asked what they want to be when they grow up because it is known beforehand that they will be nothing,” said Arus.

It is not a secret that 80 percent of Roma are illiterate.

Everyone in Turkey knows that Roma are either street musicians, musicians, flower or basket sellers or street vendors fixing utensils.

We are not used to thinking that they could have some other profession as though they should always remain poor and uneducated. This is a shame for all of us.

The Roma woman Zeynep with four children and an unemployed husband is situated at the corner of our street, selling flowers. I know very well how hard she tries to survive, sell her flowers and carry flower pots early in the morning, yet she never forgets to smile.

Zeynep has no plans for her or her children’s future. She lives day by day.
If she earns money, she goes to the market at the other side of the street and shops for her daily meal.

Besides, Zeynep at times faces the risk of being caught by the community police.
No official treats Zeynep with a loving-care. She has to work with her baby on her lap sometimes. When she was insulted, Zeynep cries inside.

I also saw undelivered promises before Erdoğan’s Roma Initiative.

As the current Istanbul Mayor, Kadir Topbaş, was preparing for the political race while he was Beyoğlu County Mayor years ago he had talked about a terrific project for the integration of Roma living in the Hacıhüsrev neighborhood.

Since I wrote an article on it, I remember clearly. Topbaş said that ateliers and a conservatory will be set-up for Roma with the European Union’s support.

Topbaş didn’t keep his promise.

There is no conservatory for Roma living in Hacıhüsrev.

I also don’t know if they benefit from some part of the EU fund.

Therefore, as long as there is nothing concrete on the table, poor, unemployed and uneducated Roma will always be discriminated against. And I have no hope that they will reach prosperity and have a better life after their meeting with Erdoğan.

The second incident of the week was Erdoğan saying to BBC that he could deport Armenians living illegally in Turkey if necessary.

How will the governing party save its face after this unfortunate statement?

How about Mr. Prime Minister? How will he remove the shame of this different kind of a threat made against people who defend the 1915 genocide issue?

What is the catch for a political blackmail against these poor, mostly-women Armenians who moved to Turkey to earn a living after the 1988 earthquake in Armenia?

Besides, the number of these illegal immigrants is around 10,000 or 12,000 not 100,000 as Erdoğan insists.

In February, I attended a presentation of research on the “Armenian Immigrants in Turkey” sponsored by the Norwegian government and the Eurasia Cooperation Foundation in Yerevan.
Why is the figure being exaggerated?
Researcher Alin Ozinyan put the figure, based on official exits and entries to and from Turkey, at 5,800 Armenian illegal immigrants.

Our politicians began to utter the figure 50,000 at the beginning. Then it became 70,000 and now is 100,000.And the reason behind this was also discussed on the same day.
According to experts, the reason is obvious: Exploiting the figure is a political gimmick. In fact, the unfortunate remarks of Erdoğan are proof.

And I think seeing a person who embraces Roma yet threatens Armenians with deportation in the same week requires a “character analysis”.

Friday, March 19, 2010

ROMA IN HUNGARY


Molotov cocktail attack on Roma in Hungary
Budapest, 18.3.2010, 20:08, (ROMEA)

From ROMEA.CZ

Four homes occupied by Roma in the town of Siófok near Lake Balaton in Hungary became the target of a coordinated Molotov cocktail attack in the early morning hours of Thursday 18 March. News server Novinky.cz cited reports from Hungarian news server sonline.hu. There were no injuries.

The houses are occupied by families with small children. Fortunately, only one bottle exploded and did not cause any great damage. “We have moved out of the house since the attack. We are afraid,” one of the Romani residents said.

Romani activist Zsolt Németh said the attacks were racially motivated. No serious conflicts between the Roma and the majority population have been noted in the area to date.
The attempted arson follows a nearly identical attack on a Roma family four days earlier in the Czech Republic.

Translated by Gwendolyn Albert
ROMEA

Thursday, March 18, 2010

ITALY


FROM THE STAR ONLINE

Friday March 12, 2010
Roma camps in Italy like poorest countries - U.N.
ROME (Reuters) - Living conditions in Italy's camps for Roma are typical of a poor developing country, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday, criticising Italy's treatment of migrants.

At the end of a two-day visit to Italy, Navi Pillay said Italian politicians and media should stop treating immigration largely as a question of public order and focus instead on fostering social integration.

Pillay told reporters she was "profoundly shocked" by her visits to two Roma camps in the capital; one illegal, unauthorised settlement and a legal camp set up by city authorities.

"For a moment I thought I was in one of the poorest developing countries and not in one of the richest nations in the world," said Pillay, who is South African.

"Transferring Roma people from illegal camps to official ones is not an adequate solution because they remain isolated from the rest of the population and have very little opportunity to find work and improve their situation," she said.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who accuses the left of wanting an "invasion of foreigners", has said he rejects the vision of a multi-cultural Italy. He made a tough line on immigration a key policy pledge ahead of the 2008 election.

Since coming to power the government has been criticised by rights groups for policies such as making illegal entry and stay a criminal offence and repelling vessels carrying migrants heading towards Italy.

This month thousands of foreign workers marched and released yellow balloons into the sky in Italy's first "immigrant strike", aimed at underscoring their importance in the economy and protesting against government policies.

Many Italians associate Roma, in particular, with crime and begging. Last year the European Council's high commissioner for human rights said Roma and Sinti people in Italy were subject to "a persistent climate of intolerance".

Pillay criticised the authorities for the excessive use of repressive measures against Roma, such as police surveillance and forced evictions and said she was "alarmed" at the negative portrayal of migrants and Roma in the media.

She highlighted a "quite stunning statistic" that in a survey of 5,684 TV news stories that dealt with immigration only 26 did not link it with a specific criminal event or security issues.

(Reporting by Roberto Landucci; Writing by Gavin Jones; Editing by Jon Hemming)

Copyright © 2010 Reuters

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PORRIAMOS


The forgotten victims
Leyna Krow • Assistant Editor, JTNews
Posted: March 11, 2010 font:

Ilana Kennedy/WSHERC

It’s easy to forget that Jews were not the only victims of the Holocaust. As the single largest group targeted by the Nazis, the Jewish story is the most frequently told, and the best documented. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only story worth telling.
On Feb. 24, educators from a variety of Western Washington schools as well as a half-dozen students from a class on social justice at South Seattle Community College got a chance to learn about the fate of a far less studied ethnic group.
At an event hosted by the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center, Morgan Ahern, founder of Lolo Diklo/Red Bandanna: Roma Against Racism, gave a talk called “Roma/Sinti During the Holocaust and in Today’s World.” Ahern’s lecture focused on the wartime experiences the Roma and Sinti, who are more commonly known as Gypsies.
“‘Gypsy’ is a term that’s loaded with stereotypes,” Ahern said.
The names Sinti and Roma refer to the largest tribes found in Europe, and are less racially charged words. However, they refer to specific groups, so Ahern continues to use the word “Gypsy” for general reference.
Ahern began with a brief characterization and history of the Gypsies.
“I always have to assume people don’t know who we really are,” she said.
The Gypsies originated from the Punjab region of India and are thought to have left India to escape the Indo-Persian wars, ending up in Europe by the beginning of the 12th century. Since then, they lived a predominantly nomadic lifestyle and can be found in almost every country in Europe, as well as other places around the world.
Gypsy life has not changed much over the centuries. They had no written language and, therefore, no self-recorded history.
“We are one of the only people to say we’ve never waged a war,” Ahern said. “I think that’s because we’ve never had a homeland and we’ve never wanted a homeland.”
That’s not to say that violence hasn’t been inflicted upon the Gypsies, however.
Alongside Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, communists, homosexuals, the disabled, and others, upwards of 500,000 Gypsies were killed during the Holocaust, 65-70 percent of the entire European Gypsy population.
Like the Jews, the trouble for the Gypsies in Germany actually began long before the rise of the Third Reich. The first anti-Gypsy laws in Germany were written in the early 1400s.
By the mid-1930s, as the Nazis were making life difficult for Jews, so too were Gypsies picked out for scrutiny and harassment. German anthologist Eva Justin and psychiatrist Robert Ritter took special interest in the Gypsies and spent the years leading up to the Holocaust studying Gypsy genealogy, hoping to prove that they are inherently asocial criminals. Ahern blames Justin and Ritter for much of the attention paid to the Gypsies by the Nazis.
Germany began its deportation of Gypsies to concentration camps in 1940.
The final blow came in 1942, when Heinrich Himmler signed a decree condemning all Gypsies to death.
“Himmler had reservations about this,” Ahern said. “Not because he felt remorse, but because he wanted to keep a few ‘purebreds’ and open up a zoo for the education and entertainment of the German people. But he was told this was impractical.”
Ahern’s grandparents were living in Germany when Hitler came to power. In 1932, sensing that things would not end well for the Gypsies, they decided to gather up the family and leave the country. At the time, however, no other nations were accepting Gypsy refugees. Ahern’s grandmother scraped together all the money she had and bought Italian passports for as many family members as possible.
Even those who survived the Holocaust were far from being able to return to a normal life.
“Many Gypsies remained in camps until 1948 because they were considered stateless,” Ahern said. No country would take the refugees.
Today, Gypsies continue to face persecution in almost every part of the world.
(Kosovo, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy..........)
Even in the U.S., there were laws preventing Gypsies from entering the states of New Jersey and Mississippi until the late 1970s. Although these laws are no longer on the books, Gypsies remain second-class citizen in many areas of the United States because their style of life often appears in conflict with American norms.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

KOSOVO


FROM ROMA VIRTUAL NETWORK
UNITED KINGDOM ASSOCIATION OF GYPSY WOMEN

KOSOVO'S TOXIC CAMPS - NEWS UPDATE - 11th March 2010 UK

Scientists announce results of latest lead testing at toxic camps and Roma mahalla in Mitrovica, Kosovo. New film "Lead Mountain Refugees" points finger at French minister, Bernard Kouchner. Another camp death brings the total to 86, since UNHCR set up camps for Roma families on deadly toxic waste.

Thursday 11th March:

A British team of scientists from Aberystwyth University has just published their findings after completing a series of tests in the lead contaminated camps and their vicinity. They reveal high levels of toxicity in both Osterode and Cesmin Lug. Among their recomendations is a call for urgent closure. Other tests showed that the destroyed Roma Mahalla, once home to over 8000, had one of the lowest levels of pollution in the area.

Wed 11th March: A new film, "Lead Mountain Refugees" heavily criticises the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner for his role in setting up camps for displaced Roma families.

Tuesday 9th March: At the lead contaminated camps of Osterode and Cesmin Lug set up for displced Roma families by UNHCR, camp representatives announced that yet another death had occurred, that of a one year old baby. This brings the total number of deaths to 86.

Meanwhile, in spite of numerous calls from the World Health Organisation, Human Rights Watch, and activists' groups for immediate evacuation and proper medical treatment, only long term resettlement plans with no evidence of medical treatment are being considered for the victims suffering from the world's highest levels of lead and other heavy metal poisoning.

The report, latest film and full details can be found via www.toxicwastekills.com


History of Kouchner's Camps: Witness Paul Polansky Historian, Author and Poet

Although the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and ethnic Albanian extremists started this senseless tragedy during the summer of 1999, they only succeeded because French NATO troops allowed the ethnic cleansing to take place. It did not happen overnight. It took three months for all the Roma and Ashkali families (about 8,000 people; the largest Gypsy community in Kosovo) to flee their homes.

A month after it started, I heard about the diaspora from Mitrovica Roma seeking refuge in the UNHCR camp by Obilich where I worked as an advisor to the UN on their “Gypsy” problems. I borrowed a car and drove to the scene. It was heart wrenching to see terrified parents carrying crying children, dragging suitcases and whatever else they could carry: a cooking pot, a mattress, a radio. When I arrived, many Gypsies were pleading with the heavily armed French soldiers to save them. I joined in, demanding that the French soldiers intervene. One French officer harshly explained that NATO troops were not a police force. Then I was detained and taken to french army headquarters in a downtown hotel. French Intel took my photo and then told me I did not have permission to return to the French sector of Kosovo.

A week later I did return, using a press pass in a different name. I found about 800 Mitrovica Gypsy refugees in a Serbian school house the other side of the Ibar River . They had no food, no soap. The toilets were overflowing. No aid agency had discovered them yet; or, according to some accounts, was ignoring them. I got Oxfam in Pristina to bring them drinking water and hygiene products, and then reported their plight to un mISSION IN kOSOVO (UNMIK). A few days later UNHCR brought the Gypsies food parcels.

By the middle of September the Serbs wanted their educational facility back for the school year. So French troops and UN police moved the Gypsies to tents on toxic wasteland near the village of Zitkovac .

This time I protested directly to Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), Dr. Bernard Kouchner. David Reilly, the head of UNHCR, came with me. Toxic slag heaps surrounded the Gypsy camp. You could smell the toxic elements. When the wind blew, lead dust covered everything and made breathing difficult. Dr. Kouchner, a famous French humanitarian activist, assured me the Gypsies would only be on this site for 45 days. By then they would either have been taken back to their homes and protected by French troops or taken to another country as refugees. He said he was a doctor. He understood the life-threatening dangers of living on or near toxic slag heaps. He said, “As a doctor, as well as the chief administrator of Kosovo, I would be derelict if I let this threat to the health of children and pregnant women continue for one more day.” He also stated the situation was a crime.

In November I returned to the United States to write about my experiences in Kosovo. When I came back the next spring to visit the minority settlements in Kosovo and report on their conditions for Society for Threatened Peoples (GFBV), I visited these Mitrovica Gypsies. They had not been taken back to their homes or to a third country. They were now being housed in temporary barracks in three camps, all on toxic wasteland.

I was also shocked to find out that my friend David Reily, 50, had died in his Pristina apartment in January from a heart attack. His replacement, a New Zealander by the name of MacNamara refused to receive me to discuss the plight of these 800 Roma/Ashkali in the UNHCR lead polluted camps. However, I was encouraged that Dr. Kouchner had ordered his UN medical team to take blood samples of the Gypsy children living on the toxic dumps to see if there was any danger to their lives.

I returned to the States before the results were known. But when I returned to Kosovo the next spring (2001) and found the Gypsies still living in these three camps, administered by the Swiss aid agency ACT and their implementing partner, Norwegian Church Aid, I presumed Kouchner’s medical team had found the sites safe.

Although Kouchner and I had exchanged letters in 2000 over the plight of other Roma and Ashkali suffering freedom of movement in other parts of Kosovo and a lack of humanitarian aid, I never saw Kouchner again.

Now living fulltime in Kosovo, I kept in regular contact with the Gypsies in the toxic wasteland camps. When ACT and NCA stopped delivering food and hygiene products in 2002, I started taking the Gypsies what little aid I could find. I also hired two Romani sisters (Tina and Dija) to teach the camp women and children better hygiene although it was difficult to keep the children clean from the dust that blew in off the slag heaps since they spent most of the day outside.

I did not realize that something was terribly wrong in the camps until my two Romani sisters told me that the camp women were complaining about a high number of miscarriages and that many of the children were always sick (vomiting and falling in and out of coma). Then some of the children died.

The death that focused my mind on what was happening in the camps was that of four-year old Jenita Mehmeti. She was attending her camp kindergarten when her teacher noticed Jenita was losing her memory and finding it hard to walk. She was taken to the local hospital in Mitrovica, and then urgently transferred by ambulance to a better equipped hospital in Kraguevac ( Serbia ). Jenita was there for three months before she died. The cause of death was listed as “herpes,” a non-fatal infection unless you had no immune system. Like Aids, lead poisoning destroys the immune system especially in children under the age of six years.

Shortly after Jenita’s death in July 2004, a UN medical team led by the World Health organization (WHO) took blood tests of many children in all three camps to see if they had lead poisoning since their symptoms pointed in that direction. The results shocked everyone. The lead levels in many of the children were higher than the analyser machine could measure. By November it was reported by WHO that some of the lead levels among the camp children were the highest ever reported in medical literature.

Within days of the blood tests being released, WHO called for the immediate evacuation of the three camps. A few weeks later International Comm Red Cross (ICRC) joined many other NGOs in calling for an urgent medical evacuation.

On November 25, at an NGO meeting in UNMIK headquarters in south Mitrovica, it was revealed by the Norwegian Church Aid representative that Dr. Kouchner’s medical team had also found high lead levels in the children’s blood in the summer of 2000. A report prepared by the UN medical team at that time recommended the three camps be evacuated. I immediately asked UNMIK for a copy of that 2000 report. I was told it was not available to the public.

Knowing several Albanians working at UNMIK, I tried to bribe one of them to get a copy of the report for me. I was told it was under lock and key and considered “top secret.”

A year later I found the UN medical team report dated November 2000 on the web (not listed as a UNMIK document, but under the doctor’s name that had co-authored the report). I tracked down the doctor, Andrej Andrejew. He was now working for a pharmaceutical firm in Berlin . Over lunch, he confirmed that the lead levels in 2000 had been so high among the Gypsy camp children that the lab in Belgium that analysed their blood samples thought a mistaken had been made because the lab had never seen such high lead levels. Kouchner’s former UN doctor was shocked to hear the camps had not been evacuated and the land fenced off so the public could not accidently wander in, as he had recommended in his report. Shortly after finishing his report, Andrej had left Kosovo and just presumed Kouchner had followed the recommendations of his UN medical team.

Although Kouchner and I had exchanged letters in 2000 over the plight of other Roma and Ashkali suffering freedom of movement in other parts of Kosovo and a lack of humanitarian aid, I never saw Kouchner again.

I was the first journalist to go public with the story about the camps. In an Op Ed piece in the International Herald Tribune dated April 25, 2005, I described the horror and wrote that 25 Gypsies had died to date in the camps, most from complications due to lead poisoning. Despite this international news story, UNMIK still refused to evacuate the camps.

From then on, my GFBV team and I visited the camps several times a week to monitor the health of the children. One day I was told by Jenita’s mother that her two-year-old daughter Nikolina was now showing the same symptoms that Jenita had demonstrated before she died. The UN medical team for north Mitrovica was notified. They requested from their chief medical officer permission to immediate transportation of Nikolina to Belgrade , to the only hospital in the Balkans that treated lead poisoning. The UN chief medical officer in Mitrovica, Dr. Sergey Shevchenko, refused.

The next day I personally called Dr. Shevchenko and begged him to transport Nikolina to Belgrade . He again refused. Instead of arguing with him (an English-speaking optometrist from Vladivostok , Russia ) my team and I took Nikolina and her mother to Belgrade in my caravan. Since they had no passports, not even any personal documents, I had to smuggle them across the Serbian-Kosovo border hidden in my caravan toilet.

In Belgrade , Nikolina was found to have life-threatening lead levels. After three weeks of treatment her lead levels were reduced but I was warned she probably had irreversible brain damage and that if she were taken back to the source of poisoning she would probably die. With the help of a Dutchman who worked for an international NGO we rented an apartment in the village of Priluzje where Jenita’s family had relatives. Using my caravan, I personally evacuated them and their few meager possessions from their UN barracks. Later I found an American donor who bought them a piece of land. After a year, an international NGO built them a house.

Because I could not get the UN in Kosovo to evacuate the three camps and save these Romani and Ashkali children, I self-published a small book UN-Leaded Blood about their plight and produced a documentary film Gypsy Blood. Although both caused a scandal in Kosovo, the UN still refused to evacuate and medically treat these children.

While making my documentary film, we discovered another family who also had children with the same life-threatening lead levels as Jenita and Nikolina. But before I could do anything, their mother and baby brother died. A doctor I asked to investigate their deaths was convinced they had both died of complications due to lead poisoning. He didn’t think the remaining seven children would survive unless they were removed from the source of poisoning and received urgent medical treatment.

Once again the complacent, callous UNMIK administration refused to do anything. So my German NGO, GFBV, contacted the largest circulation newspaper in Germany and asked them to visit the camp and write a story about this tragedy. Not only did the newspaper, Bild Zeitung, come to Kosovo but they also agreed through their foundation for children (Ein Herz fuer Kinder) to take the entire family to Germany for medical treatment. To help transport this family to Germany and to look after them while they went through their medical examinations, the newspaper asked me and my Romani team to accompany the family.

In Germany it was discovered that not only did the Romani family require medical treatment but also my Romani team and I did. Our lead levels from only periodic visits to the camps were double the level that could cause irreversible brain damage. So along with the seven Romani children and their father, my team and I were also treated for lead poisoning.

Before being treated, all of us had a body scan. When seven-year-old Denis went through the body scan the German doctor in charge pointed out the kid’s liver to me, and said: “That’s the liver of a 60-year-old alcoholic who drinks a bottle of whiskey every day. This kid won’t live to be 20 or 30 years old. That’s what lead poisoning has done to him!”

In 2006, the UN finally decided to do something to quell the outrage my team and the American lawyer Dianne Post, now representing more than 150 of the camp Roma/Ashkali, were continuing to generate about the lead poisoning tragedy. In 2005, the French army had decided to move out of their camp in north Mitrovica. The UN took it over and evacuated two of the three Gypsy camps to the former French camp.

Once again I was shocked by the UN’s callousness attitude to this situation. The French camp, called Osterode, was only 50 meters from two of the lead-infected Gypsy camps. The French camp was also covered from time to time by the toxic dust blowing in off the 100 million ton slag heap hovering over the area. French soldiers, that both I and a New York Times reporter had interviewed on separate occasions, claimed that French military doctors had warned every soldier serving in the camp not to father children for nine months after leaving Kosovo because of the high lead levels in their blood.

However, after spending 500,000 Euros donated by the German government to remodel the Osterode camp, an environmental assessment team from CDC in Atlanta , Georgia , declared Osterode to be “lead safe.” The USA office in Pristina then declared they were prepared to donate $900,000 for lead treatment and a better diet for the children evacuated to Osterode. UNMIK also promised that the Gypsies would only be in Osterode for a maximum of one year. By then they would be moved to new apartments being built for them in their old neighborhood.

Since several NGOs and the camp leaders did not believe that Osterode was “lead safe,” many of the children had their lead levels checked shortly after moving into Osterode. One year later their lead levels were checked again. Not surprising to me and my team, but surprising to UNMIK, many of the lead levels had actually gone up in Osterode despite a better diet and some basic medical treatment for lead poisoning. When those results were released, the local doctors administering the medical treatment stopped, saying they were doing more harm than good. Once again it was stated that people had to be removed from the source of poisoning before they could be treated for lead poisoning.

When I published the first article about the camps in the International Herald Tribune in 2005 I had reported that 27 Gypsies (including many children) had already died in the camps. By the end of 2006 that number had more than doubled, and by the end of 2009 the figure stood at 84. And Gypsies were still living in Osterode and in the next door camp of Cesmin Lug.

UKAGW must question the sanity of the CDC and the US office in Pristina. How could they declare Osterode camp to be 'Lead Safe' when a 200 metre high 100 million tons of Lead Waste was situated within spitting distance?

How do the German and American people feel about their taxes being squandered to aid and support the extinction of a whole generation of Roma people.

Kouchner, his UNHCR cronies and every individual that has taken a hand in decisions that have ensured that the Roma people did not escape the nightmare of living on the toxic waste camps in Kosovo should be tried for the crime of genocide against humanity.

Friday, March 12, 2010

NAVI PILLAY


FROM UN NEWS

UN human rights chief voices concerns over Italy’s treatment of Roma and migrants

11 March 2010 –The United Nations human rights commissioner, in her first official visit to Italy, today raised concerns that the country’s authorities are treating Roma and migrants as security problems rather than looking at ways to include them in society.
“I have raised the issues of fundamental human rights, such as access to health care and education, especially for those Roma living in informal Roma settlements, and the excessive resort to repressive measures such as police surveillance and forced evictions,” said UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay following a visit to two Roma camps on the outskirts of Rome, and a nearby Identification and Expulsion Centre.
The High Commissioner also criticized what she called the “often extraordinarily negative portrayal of both migrants and Roma in some parts of the media.”
She noted that a survey of 5,684 television news stories linked immigration with a specific criminal activity or security issue nearly every time.
“I am a firm believer in freedom of speech – but vilification and deliberate negative stereotyping of any group of people is unacceptable and dangerous,” Ms. Pillay said.
She urged Italy’s politicians, media and public officials not only to avoid this type of rhetoric themselves, but also to publicly campaign against such behaviour by others.
“Turning a blind eye is not a solution – it simply compounds the problem,” she said.
The treatment of Roma was on Ms. Pillay’s agenda as she visited Italy on a two-day trip to see first-hand the situation of minorities, and of migrants and asylum-seekers.
She noted the policy of push-backs at sea, saying that while have not been recent examples of this practice, Italy has not officially revoked this policy.
The High Commissioner also spoke against provisions in Italy’s domestic policy which criminalize migration by making illegal entry and stay a criminal offence.
As a result of abuse of this policy, innocent women, children and men “are sometimes spending more time in detention that genuine convicted criminals.”
Ms. Pillay also noted that 10 years after discussions started about the establishment of a fully independent National Human Rights Institution in line with the industry standard known as the Paris Principles, one still has not been created.
On a positive note, Ms. Pillay praised Italy’s initiatives to abolish the death penalty and improve the situations of women and children.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SWEDEN



Roma duped into seeking Swedish asylum
Published: 5 Mar 10 17:37 CET
FROM THE LOCAL
http://www.thelocal.se/25374/20100305/

An estimated 1,000 Roma people, primarily from Serbia, have been lured this year alone into travelling to Sweden in the vain hope of securing residence permits, the Swedish Migration Board has said.

Buses filled with Roma people have been pulling into Gothenburg and Malmö on an almost daily basis.

"Travel agencies run by unscrupulous businessmen are tricking already vulnerable people into coming to Sweden," said board director-general Dan Eliasson.

The migration board chief is advising Roma people not to make the long trip to Scandinavia as their chances of being granted residency are "extraordinarily small".

"They probably feel that they are living in difficult social conditions and maybe even that they are discriminated against, but this is not something that gives them the right to protection in Sweden.

"Generally they'll quickly be informed that they can't get a residence permit and they'll have to go home," said Eliasson, who added that the vast majority came to Sweden from Serbia, though some have also made their way north from Montenegro and Macedonia.

The Roma population in Serbia is considerably poorer than the wider population, and sporadic reports have emerged of violations perpetrated against Roma in Serbia, Kosovo and, recently, in Italy.

"But in order to gain asylum you need to be able to show that you are persecuted and risk violent treatment. It is very difficult to receive asylum from Europe," said Eliasson.


TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se/08 656 6518)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

SLOVAKIA


Everyday, more insults to Roma/Sinti.
Perhaps they try to distract us with so many battles at the same time.

The following article is from ROMEA.CZ

Slovakia plans to remove Romani children from their families
London, 8.3.2010, 21:09, (ROMEA)

Amnesty International has warned that establishing boarding schools for Romani children “and gradually detach[ing] them from the way of living they currently experience in the settlements“ is discriminatory and a blatant attack on the Roma way of living.

The Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said today that the government proposes a system, in which Romani children will be taken from settlements and be placed in boarding schools.

“The idea that Romani children have to be removed from their families and put into boarding schools, when they could be educated in normal schools near their homes, is clearly against the best interests of the child. Uprooting from their surroundings and removing them from their families, is an attack on their identity,” said Halya Gowan, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

The fact that some Romani families living in settlements – as other families in Slovakia – experience challenges to supporting the education of children because of poverty, language barriers and other factors, highlights the need for government to provide support and assistance to all to overcome such barriers.

“Isolated from the outside world, Romani children will find it more difficult to fully participate in Slovak society. The government’s proposal will perpetuate the segregation they experience now. In fact it will make it official,” Halya Gowan said.

“The government's proposal is completely out of tune with developments in the European Union. If adopted, it will be in absolute contravention of both Slovak law and international human rights standards on non-discrimination by which Slovakia is bound.”

Amnesty International has previously voiced serious concerns about the discrimination and segregation Romani children experience in Slovak schools, including through their placement in special schools and classes for pupils with mental disabilities.

“Rather than establishing another parallel system of separate education for children based on their ethnicity, it is necessary that the Slovak government focus its efforts towards ensuring that mainstream schools include all children regardless of the social background, language or other abilities,” Halya Gowan said.

Amnesty International calls on the Slovak government to address the core of the problem – persisting segregation of Romani children in education which should be overcome by reforms to the education system to ensure truly inclusive education for all children. The government must provide appropriate support to families and pupils who need it, so that they can effectively participate and develop to their fullest potential within mainstream elementary schools.

Amnesty International
ROMEA

Monday, March 8, 2010

ROMA CAMPS IN KOSOVO


This is an excellent, heartbreaking video on the Roma camps on lead mines in Kosovo.

You may have to cut and paste, but the inconvenience is worth it.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzRYEDJZs0Q

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY



We wish you all a happy International Women's Day.

We celebrate the historic contributions of women throughout the world and the work they continue to do against violence and oppression and for justice and equality.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

ANGELO BALDUCCI


Interestingly enough, Angelo Balducci has not only taken a public stand against homosexuality, but he has also been very vocal about the "Gypsy problem" in Rome.

Ah, what goes round eh.

REPRINTED FROM CNN ONLINE

Rome, Italy (CNN) -- Reports that an Italian government official accused of financial corruption allegedly used a Vatican choir singer to arrange gay liaisons for him are "shameful," the official's lawyer told CNN Saturday.

Angelo Balducci is appealing a judge's decision to keep him in prison over allegations of financial corruption, said his lawyer, Franco Coppi.

Police say they learned of the alleged gay liaisons while wiretapping Balducci as part of an investigation into how public-works contracts were awarded.

His lawyer says he is innocent of the corruption charges, and declined to comment on the sex scandal.

"We are talking about things that are personal and private. I can not make any comment and I don't want to make any comment," Coppi said. "It is shameful that private matters are published, matters that have nothing to do with the charges. It is curious to find out how these private matters end up in the press."

Balducci oversaw the Italian government's awarding of construction contracts, including work on the airport at Perugia. He also served in the unpaid role of papal usher.

Italian authorities say they recorded conversations between Balducci and Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 39-year-old Nigerian singer. They were recorded between April 14, 2008, and January 20, 2010.

In addition to working for the government, Balducci served as a "gentleman of His Holiness," also known as a papal usher or "Vatican gentleman." The main responsibility of the ceremonial position is to welcome heads of state to the Vatican and escort them to see the pope.

Balducci is one of three public officials who, along with a businessman, have been jailed on charges related to corruption in the public works department. The public officials are alleged to have awarded contracts to businessmen who offered them favors, money, sex, and/or house remodeling in exchange. The suspects, who deny the charges, are in "cautionary custody" though they have not been charged or indicted.

The Italian news media have nicknamed the scandal "grande opere," which translates as "big works." The transcripts of the wiretaps were made public on Wednesday and widely disseminated in the media.

Ehiem told the Italian weekly magazine Panorama in an interview published Friday that he provided Balducci with men from Italy and abroad, including rugby players, actors, models and seminarians.

Ehiem also told Panorama that he arranged for Balducci to meet escorts at Ehiem's house when the government official was in Rome and in Paris, France; Naples, Italy; and other cities when he was traveling.

"For Balducci, a 26- or 27-year-old man was too young," Ehiem told the magazine. "He preferred older men, above 40 years old."

According to the wiretap transcripts, in a conversation dated April 22, 2008, Ehiem says, "I called you ... because there are ... if you are free ... three or four situations that can be good ... very, very good ..."

Balducci: "...Hmmm!"

Ehiem: "Two black, Cuban men ... really tall, tall, tall ... so ... if you are free ... we can try to organize right away ... that is, I saw both of them, Angelo ... believe me that ... they could be two excellent options."

In another conversation, dated August 21, 2008, Ehiem says: "Look, if you want I can have them come one after the other ... it is possible ... if you have some free time ... I can arrange for the two of them."

Balducci: "Which are the better ones?"

Ehiem: "The better ones are the ones I just told you about ... one from Bologna and the other one from Rome."

Balducci: "All right, then let's do it for 3:30."

Ehiem: "OK."

Ehiem said an escort friend introduced him to the Italian businessman more than a decade ago. "He asked me to do it with him, but I like women and just the thought grossed me out," Ehiem said.

"He asked me if I could procure him other men. He told me that he was married and that it had to be done in great secrecy. I told him that there was the Internet. But he asked me to take care of it because he couldn't do it from his home."

He added, "Sometimes he would ask for two meetings a day."

Ehiem told Panorama he was trying to support his family in Nigeria, and that Balducci sometimes paid him 50 or 100 euros, but "never more than 1,000 to 1,500 per year."

Neither Balducci nor his attorney has commented on Ehiem's interview with Panorama.

A Vatican source who asked not to be identified said Ehiem had been dismissed from his choir duties. Asked about Balducci, the source said, "It is obvious that, while in prison, he cannot exercise his duties as a papal gentleman." But, the source noted, Balducci has not been convicted of any charge.

"If he is convicted, then we will look into it," the source said.

CNN's Hada Messia contributed to this story from Rome.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

STATEMENT BY NAVI PILLAY


UN says Roma in the Czech Republic and Slovakia suffer discrimination
Geneva, 5.3.2010, 12:12, (ROMEA)

FROM ROMEA.CZ

Today UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Roma in the Czech Republic, Italy and Slovakia suffer from discrimination and the situation seems to be deteriorating. Her remarks were reported by AFP. Czech Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb told the Czech Press Agency that in his view the claim that the situation is worsening for the Roma in the Czech Republic does not correspond to reality.

Pillay presented her annual human rights report to the UN Human Rights Council today in Geneva. “While the EU and several European governments have done their best to improve the situation of the Roma, in many other countries, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia, their position is noticeably deteriorating,” she said.

Pillay also said the Roma continue to face unconcealed racism and racist attacks in many European countries. “I will be discussing the issue of discrimination against the Roma and attacks on them as well as attacks on immigrants with the authorities in Italy next week, and I will continue these discussions wherever advisable,” Pillay said. She did not mention the Czech Republic, Slovakia, or any other country in this context.

Kocáb says there is no proof of the alleged deterioration of the position of the Roma in the Czech Republic. “I do not understand how the situation can be considered worse when we have not had reports of any serious racially motivated attacks since the one in Vítkov,” he said.

Last April three Roma were injured during an arson attack in Vítkov; one, a little girl named Natálka who was not yet two years old, suffered burns over 80 % of her body. Police have charged four members of the extreme right with committing the attack.

A representative of the Office of the Government of Slovakia said the government is endeavoring to eliminate racial discrimination. “Slovakia proceeds in accordance with international agreements and international law, and through the use of our own national policies we are intensively involved in resolving the problems of our inhabitants in all areas, including eliminating all forms of racial discrimination,” said Kristina Lempochnerová of the press department of the Government Rapporteur for the Roma Community.

The text of the UN report, which is dated at the end of January and has been published on the web pages of the UN in Geneva on the occasion of today’s UN Human Rights Council meeting does not mention the Czech Republic or Slovakia specifically. In the report, the Commissioner generally criticizes discrimination against the Roma in Europe. However, she believes human rights are mainly being violated outside of Europe and that women are the most discriminated people in the world.

Pillay included passages on the Czech Republic and Slovakia in a cursory overview of the situation in several parts of the world. In addition, she expressed “deep uneasiness” over the deterioration of the human rights situation in Iran and over death penalty verdicts in Sudan, as well as “uneasiness” over attacks on human rights defenders, a context in which she mentioned Russia.

Pillay said “a certain amount of progress” had been made toward closing the controversial prison at the US military base on Guantanamo in Cuba, as well as in banning some interrogation methods there. In her view, the USA should now thoroughly investigate the alleged torture at its bases in Bagram, Afghanistan and Guantánamo and bring those responsible to justice.

Pillay also referred to ongoing serious violations of freedom of assembly and speech in some Central Asian countries. She called on Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to increase their cooperation with the UN Human Rights Council.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert