Saturday, July 31, 2010

DAY OF REMEMBRANCE

The escalating situation in France is intolerable.  The treatment of the Romani people throughout Europe is genocidal. 
For some reason, Sarkozy's blatant racist attacks on the Romani people is getting media attention.  I am glad for that.  At the same time, it is interesting that the expulsions from Italy, Germany, Sweden, Ireland....... have hardly been commented on.  For ten years, Gypsies have been living on abandoned lead mines in Kosovo.  They have been murdered fleeing their burning homes.
Gypsy kids are being taken from their families in Eastern Europe, women sterilized in the Czech Republic.  This is nothing new, but it is current events.
How long are a people expected to beg for help.  At least, for attention.

The history of the Roma/Sinti in Europe has been a viscious cycle----
Discrimination----Pograms in the East
Containment, deportation in the West
Back to the East.
And the beat goes on.......................

So, I ask that when you light a candle on Monday, in memory of the victims of the Porraimos, you also think of the Romani People who are suffering throughout Europe today.   And think about what you can do.

EUROPEAN UNION

FROM THE GUARDIAN
guardian.co.uk World news
 EU turning blind eye to discrimination against Roma, say human rights groups
Criticism comes in wake of France's decision to expel illegal Roma immigrants and destroy hundreds of their encampments

 Leigh Phillips in Brussels, Kate Connolly in Berlin and Lizzy Davies in Paris guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 July 2010
Photograph: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images

Amnesty International says the EU has committed a 'serious breach of human rights' towards the Roma. The European Union was today accused of "turning a blind eye" as countries across Europe carried out a wave of expulsions and introduced new legislation targeting the Roma.

Human rights groups criticised the EU for failing to address the real issues driving Europe's largest ethnic minority to migrate in the first place and for choosing not to upbraid countries for breaking both domestic and EU laws in their treatment of them.

The criticism came after France announced it would round up and expel illegal Roma immigrants and destroy hundreds of their encampments.

Elsewhere, it emerged that the city of Copenhagen had requested Danish government assistance to deport up to 400 Roma, and that Swedish police had expelled Roma in breach of its own and EU laws.

In Belgium a caravan of 700 Roma has been chased out of Flanders and forced to set up camp in French-speaking Wallonia in the south.

Italy, which in 2008 declared a state of emergency due to the presence of Roma, and evicted thousands of them, mainly to Romania and Bulgaria, is continuing to implement the policy to this day.

Germany is in the process of repatriating thousands of Roma children and adolescents to Kosovo, despite warnings they will face discrimination, appalling living conditions, lack of access to education as well as language problems, because many of them were born in Germany and do not speak Serbian or Albanian.

In eastern European countries that are EU members, such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, accounts are rife of widespread discrimination against Roma, including physical attacks.

Amnesty International said the EU had "turned a blind eye" to what it called a "serious breach of human rights" towards Europe's Roma, who are roughly estimated to number about 16 million.

"There is a clear and systemic programme of EU governments targeting Roma," said Anneliese Baldaccini, a lawyer at Amnesty's EU office.

The Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), which monitors the situation of Roma in Europe, called on the EU to be "much more forthright" in pointing out to member states "the clear requirements of the free movement law".

"Poverty, discrimination and a whole host of things make life unbearable for Roma in their countries of origin," said the ERRC's executive director, Robert Kushen. "We would welcome strong EU involvement to address some of these issues," he said.

The campaign groups were responding to the European Commission's insistence this week that the issue was one for individual states to handle.

"When it comes to Roma and the possibility of expelling them, this is up to the member states to deal with – in this case France – and for them to decide how they are going to implement the law," said Matthew Newman, spokesman for the European justice commissioner, Viviane Reding.

French president Nicholas Sarkozy was this week accused of pursuing a "xenophobic" and "discriminatory" crackdown on the country's 400,000 Travellers, Gypsies and Roma – most of whom have French citizenship.

Interior minister Brice Hortefeux announced new measures including the dismantling of about 300 encampments and the "quasi-immediate" expulsion to Romania or Bulgaria of Roma with a criminal record.

Amnesty said the EU should penalise countries that have persistently failed to uphold the human rights of Roma. Among the harshest measures applicable under the charter of fundamental rights that came into force with the Lisbon treaty last year is the withdrawal of voting rights, or even expulsion from the union.

"The EU under the Lisbon Treaty...has the responsibility to address human rights within the 27 member states," said Amnesty's executive officer for legal affairs in the European Union, Susanna Mehtonen.

Campaign groups say the EU's failure to intervene calls into question its commitment to the Charter of Fundamental Rights that came into force with the passage of the Lisbon Treaty last year, and was heralded as a "new dawn" for human rights in Europe.

They have accused Brussels of cowardice when it comes to the Roma. While the commission has no competence to defend gay rights, either, it has frequently been ready to criticise homophobic legislation in eastern Europe – largely, it is believed, because gay rights are well established in western European countries, unlike the rights of Roma.

Guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

CZECH REPUBLIC

FROM THE PRAGUE DAILY MONITOR

EduMin promises money for Romani Holocaust info centre


ČTK
30 July 2010

Hodonin u Kunstatu, South Moravia, July 29 (CTK) - The Czech state should find money for the construction of a Romany Holocaust Information and Education Centre on the spot of a former internment camp for Romanies in Hodonin u Kunstatu, Education Minister Josef Dobes told journalists yesterday.

"It may be good to send a moral signal during a crisis," Dobes said.

He admitted that he temporarily stopped all investment and is seeking how to save money. But the Romany Holocaust Centre may be an exception.

The previous Czech government earmarked 90 million crowns for the centre. The Education Ministry bought the area of the former camp, now used as a recreation facility, for 20 million crowns last year.

Dobes plans to present the budget for the centre's construction to the government in October.

Michal Kocab, government human rights commissioner, said this would be the first centre focusing on Romany Holocaust in the world.

Some 1300 Romanies went through the Hodonin internment camp operating from August 1942 to December 1943. Over 200 died there and the rest of the inmates were moved to the Oswiecim (Auschwitz) extermination camp where most of them perished. In total, about 580 of 6000 Czech Romanies returned from Nazi camps after World War Two.

Lucie Matejkova, from Brno-based Roma Culture Museum, said the centre should be open both to the general public and researchers.

CATHOLIC BISHOPS IN FRANCE

FROM THE INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC NEWS.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
We always appreciate support.  I have to hope that these bishops don't end up being investigated for "social activism" like the nuns in Seattle WA who have been accused of "establishing homes for women and children victims of domestic violence".
------------------------------------------------------------------------
France: Church defends Roma, Gitanes from repressive new laws


Posted: Thursday, July 29, 2010 6:56 pm

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s new laws toward the Gitanes and Roma (French Gypsy and Traveller) peoples have been criticized by the French Catholic Church.

In the document the Bishops say they deplore the way the Roma and Gitane people are being scapegoated by society. New legislation being introduced by Sarkozy is stirring up prejudice, they said.

Some French bishops have now lent their support to an appeal from the “Association Nationale des Gens du Voyage Catholiques' which asks Sarkozy to “renounce making flamboyant announcements and to find instead concerted political and determined political responses” to the plight of the Travelling communities.

After a number of violent community clashes in France, especially in the village of Saint-Aignan, the minister of the interior Brice Hortefeux announced yesterday that half of the 300 nomadic camps would be evacuated within three months.

Sarkozy has been criticised for not distinguishing between the different itinerant communities, or understanding their different problems. The Romanian and Bulgarian Roma people are a more recent minority in France. There are 400,000 Gitanes, who are almost all French. Only a third of these are nomads.

Source: MISNA

Thursday, July 29, 2010

PORRIAMOS REMEMBRANCE

This coming Monday, 2 Aug. is the Remembrance Day for the Roma/Sinti victims of the Holocaust/Porraimos. On the night of 1 Aug. 1944 almost 4000 Roma/Sinti were murdered in auschwitz.


To commemorate the event, we are asking people, wherever they are, whatever they're doing, to light a candle and have a moment of silence for the Gypsy victims of the Holocaust at NOON on MONDAY 2 Aug.

FRANCE

FROM EUROPEAN ROMA RIGHTS CENTER

ERRC URGES FRENCH PRESIDENT TO HALT MASS EVICTION AND EXPULSION PLANS FOR ROMA AND TRAVELLERS


BUDAPEST, PARIS, 29 JULY 2010: In reaction to French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to systematically evict French Travellers and migrant Roma from their homes and collectively expel Roma EU citizens from France, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) today called for an end to plans which would lead to gross human rights violations of these marginalised groups.

In a letter to the President, the ERRC stated that the French Government’s plan would worsen the housing conditions of Travellers and Roma and may breach legal protections on freedom of movement and against collective expulsion. The ERRC also noted that the President’s plan reinforces discriminatory perceptions about Roma and Travellers and inflames public opinion against them.

In reaction to the President’s plan, ERRC Executive Director Robert Kushen stated, “Last year the European Committee of Social Rights found that France violated the European Social Charter by failing to provide adequate accommodations to Travellers and migrant Roma. If the Government wants to address the problem of illegal settlements, it should start by fully implementing French law that requires the creation of an adequate number of halting sites for Travellers with appropriate services. The scapegoating of Travellers and Roma is not going to solve the problem.”

The ERRC also called on the President to respect and protect the right of free movement for all EU citizens, including those of Roma origin, and to avoid the collective expulsion of Roma from French territory.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

DALE FARM ENGLAND

guardian.co.uk

 Dale Farm Travellers: 'We won't just get up and leave' At Dale Farm in Essex, the UK's largest Gypsy and Traveller site, families are braced for one of the biggest evictions in British history

 Rachel Stevenson The Guardian, Tuesday 27 July 2010
For the moment, peace reigns in the afternoons at Dale Farm, home to around 1,000 people on the outskirts of Basildon in Essex. Dogs lie sleeping in the lanes, women move to and fro, hanging out washing, tending their homes. When school finishes, the hum of traffic on the nearby A127 is drowned out by the sound of children playing, tearing around on bikes. On hot summer days, there are the squeals and delights of water fights. It could be any other housing estate in Britain.

But this is far from a suburban idyll. Battle lines are being drawn here for one of the biggest evictions in British history. Dale Farm is the largest Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller site in the UK, and part of it is due for demolition.

A number of Gypsies and Travellers have lived at Dale Farm entirely legally since the 1960s. Over the years, more families came to join them after councils began shutting down public sites and Travellers were forced to look for permanent places to settle. But the land the newcomers bought at Dale Farm is protected greenbelt, making development on it illegal. After a five-year court battle with the council, bailiffs have been appointed to evict nearly 90 families from the unauthorised plots.

"We won't go," proclaims a sign hanging across the entrance lane. Beyond the barbed wire wrapped around the scaffolding, preparations are being made to resist the bailiffs. Recently, the council demolished plots on a smaller unauthorised site nearby, which has put everyone on high alert. An ugly confrontation looms.

"Our boys are ready for them whenever the bailiffs do come. We're not just going to get up and leave – there will be an awful fight and we do not want that to happen," says Mary Ann McCarthy, a 69-year-old grandmother who has lived at Dale Farm with her family for eight years. "I've been through evictions before and I've seen rough ones – people screaming and women tearing their hair out. That should never be."

Some residents in the neighbouring villages, however, will be cheering on the bulldozers. There are complaints of crime and antisocial, intimidating behaviour by the Travellers. One local man, who did not want to be named, said: "We have to abide by planning laws – we can't just build where we like, so why should they get away with it?"

he Travellers say planning laws are biased against them, and that they have nowhere else to go. "There are some really sick people here who can't go back on the road," McCarthy says. "Without an address you can't get doctors, our kids can't go to school. The camps we used to pull in to have been closed and barricaded up. Travelling life is finished for Travellers."

Although they remain as a defined ethnic group, with their own cultural practices and languages, around two-thirds of Britain's Gypsy and Traveller population now lives in housing. The problem of unauthorised sites is also small, with the vast majority of those who live in caravans doing so on legal developments owned by Gypsies themselves, or privately rented.

Just one square mile of land would be enough to provide all Gypsy and Traveller families in the UK with a place to stay, according to a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, but there is a shortage of authorised pitches. The government, however, has just cut £30m of funding for new sites.

Basildon council says it is doing all it can to avoid an eviction at Dale Farm. It has offered some residents alternative housing and is encouraging people to leave voluntarily. But the Travellers say this is not a realistic solution.

"They'll just keep moving us on from other places, so what good will they have done anyone by putting us out of here?" McCarthy asks. "Everybody has to have somewhere to live, somewhere to go. Why can't we be left to stay in peace and quiet on land we bought and paid for?"

FORGOTTEN VOICES OF THE HOLOCAUST

FORGOTTEN VOICES OF THE HOLOCAUST

“May their memory serve as a blessing and a warning”

As part of Roma Holocaust/Pharraimos Remembrance Day, one minute of silence will be observed on August 2, 2010 at 12 noon at the Holocaust memorial stone in front of the Palais de l’Europe, Council of Europe, in Strasbourg in memory of over 3,000 Roma exterminated during the night of 2-3 Aug 1944 in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the German Nazis.

Mr. Kawczynski, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF), will address the gathering. Participants are kindly asked to light a candle at the Holocaust memorial stone after the speech.

With the adoption of the Charter on the Rights of the Roma by the Plenary Assembly held on February 24 2010, ERTF has reinforced its commitments to raise awareness of Pharrajimos, which is less well recognised, and frequently separated from that of the Jewish experience, especially in the teaching of the history of this period. The Holocaust commemoration also has a role in combating anti-Tziganism and other forms of intolerance.

The European Roma and Travellers Forum therefore calls on all Roma around the world as well as the entire international community, to show their solidarity on this day by observing one minute of silence and to organise commemorations in their cities, countries, mahalas, ghettos each year on August 2, at noon, in order to remember those Roma who suffered during the Nazi era, and whose voices has been made silent by the killing gas.

Throughout German-occupied Europe, Roma were interned, and then deported to slave-labour and death camps. They were despised because of their social status. The existence of the Roma was also seen as a threat to "Aryan" blood purity. Hundreds of thousands of Roma were killed by SS and police units in the East; more were deported and killed in camps. At Birkenau, a special camp was built to house Roma inmates, where they continued to live in Family units. Roma children were subjected to brutal and inhumane "medical experiments" by Dr. Mengele and his staff. On August 2, 1944, the Gypsy camp at Auschwitz was "liquidated". All its men, women, and children were sent to the gas chambers.

SARKOZY

FROM ROMA_FRANCAIS

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 10:03 AM

From: "ERIO News" news@erionet.org

Nicolas Sarkozy gets tough on France's itinerant groups

Lizzy Davies in Paris

Nicolas Sarkozy has been criticised over plans to clamp down on Traveller, Gypsy and Roma populations. Photograph: Eric Feferberg/AFP/ Getty Images

27/07/2010 - Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of stigmatising one of France's most marginalised communities as he prepares to hold a meeting at the Elysee Palace tomorrow to discuss tough new strategies for dealing with the Traveller, Gypsy and Roma populations.

n a sign that the right-wing president is looking for fresh ways to boost his law and order credentials, Sarkozy announced the meeting last week in a bid to evaluate the situation nationwide and to order "the expulsion of all illegal encampments" .

After a group of Travellers went on the rampage in the quiet village of Saint Aignan on 18 July – burning cars, attacking the police station and hacking at trees – the president said events had underlined "the problems caused by the behaviour of some Travellers and Roma".

The youths rioted hours after a friend, Luigi Duquenet, a 22-year-old robbery suspect, had been shot dead by a policeman. The exact circumstances of Duquenet's death remain unclear.

Sarkozy's decision to use the incident as the basis for a generalised crackdown on itinerant people's encampments has provoked anger in opposition and human rights circles, where the president is seen as preying on fear and social divides to reinforce his own hardline image.

France's estimated 400,000 Travellers already have to undergo regular police checks and critics fear they are at risk of becoming the scapegoats of a government in need of a populist boost.

Sarkozy's approval ratings are at an all-time low and his government has been battered by the so-called Bettencourt affair.

"We are concerned by the fact that the reaction of the French president to a series of specific events appears to target the Roma and Travellers in general and to perpetuate the negative stereotypes of which they are victim," said David Diaz-Joeix, deputy head of Amnesty International' s Europe and central Asia programme.

"The French authorities should instead be trying to combat the legal and social discrimination from which these people have long suffered," he added.

Today Europe minister Pierre Lellouche defended the meeting due to be held tomorrow afternoon, insisting that an influx of Roma from Romania and Bulgaria since those countries' EU accession in 2007 had caused crime to rocket in France.

"Very few of the people coming here try to integrate, to fit in, and huge numbers of minors are involved in drug trafficking networks," he told French radio.

"There is no question of stigmatising a community … but we are faced with a real problem and the time has come to deal with it," he said in a separate interview.

Malik Salemkour of the French human rights league said the meeting "gives the impression that all Travellers and all Roma are criminals and delinquents" .

Benoit Hamon, spokesman for the Socialist party, added: "The stigmatisation of a population in and of itself is scandalous.

"If you replace the Roma and Travellers with something else, like the Bretons or people from the Auvergne region … you will see that, quite naturally, it is shocking."

Others point out that the government is lumping together long-standing and almost entirely French populations with new arrivals from eastern Europe, when the different groups have little in common apart from their itinerant lifestyle.

This is not the first time Sarkozy, who before his election in 2007 was the country's tough-on-crime interior minister, has been accused of exacerbating social tensions for his own political gain. Last year he embarked on a much-derided quest for "national identity", an exercise which critics said had more to do with deciding who and what was not French rather than who or what was. Before that, he imposed a harsh new quota-driven expulsion policy for illegal immigrants, and, while still interior minister, caused outrage by referring to youths in city suburbs as "scum".

Link: http://www.guardian .co.uk/world/ 2010/jul/ 27/france- nicolas-sarkozy- roma-gypsy

Monday, July 26, 2010

ROMANIA

FROM ROMA BUZZ AGGREGATOR

Hindus critical of Romanian President’s remarks about Roma

25/07/2010 - Although social inclusion of Roma was urgently needed all over Europe, but Romania just should not bail herself out of responsibility of Roma integration at home, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed stated in Nevada (USA) today.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, was reacting to Romanian President Traian Basescu’s comments at Baile Tusnad (Romania) on July 24, who reportedly said that social inclusion of Roma people was no longer a national issue of Romania.

Rajan Zed further said that condition of Roma in Romania had most of the signs of an “apartheid” and Romania should urgently do something solid to stop their maltreatment. According to reports, between 1.8 and 2.5 million Roma live in Romania and about 75 per cent live in poverty.

In its annual “Human Rights Report” about Romania issued in the recent past, US Department of State said: “Roma faced persistent poverty and had poor access to government services, few employment opportunities, high rates of school attrition, inadequate health care, and pervasive discrimination.”

Meanwhile, Rajan Zed; and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada and California in USA; in a recent statement had said: It was now time for European Union to urgently intervene in Romania and do something “concrete and real” for Roma upliftment.

Europe’s most persecuted and discriminated community, Roma reportedly regularly encountered social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, etc., Zed pointed out.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

EUROPEAN UNION


Romanian President calls for EU program for Roma inclusion


24 July 2010
19:56
PHOTO AND STORY FROM FOCUS News Agency

Bucharest. Romanian President Traian Basescu said Saturday at a seminar in Baile Tusnad, central Romania, that the social inclusion of Roma people is not only a Romanian or Hungarian issue and called for a European project towards this end, Romanian Mediafax news agency reports.

"A project of interest to Romania and Hungary is Roma integration. I know we don't like to talk openly on this subject, but it is no longer a national issue of Romania or Hungary, or of any other country hosting this minority on its territory," said Basescu.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

ROMANI RIGHTS

To see some photos of the painting of the museum please visit the
romani rights    facebook page.
Soon there will be photos of the festival as well.

Friday, July 23, 2010

SARKOZY TARGETS ROMANI

FROM TIME/CNN

Friday, Jul. 23, 2010


Anger as Sarkozy Targets Roma in Crime Crackdown

By Bruce Crumley / Paris

During his rise to and occupancy of the French presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy has regularly announced new law-and-order offensives in the hopes of stoking support among the majority of French voters who say they're scared of crime. Typically, those policies have taken aim at Sarkozy's preferred target: the banlieues, the troubled suburban housing projects that ring most French cities and are populated by a disproportionately high number of minorities.

Though divisive, the policies have usually worked — first fueling Sarkozy's rise from crusading Interior Minister to master of the Elysée, then serving as his trump card whenever his support slumped. But this week, Sarkozy turned on a community that has long been the default object of suspicion and disdain throughout Europe: itinerant people including gypsies, travelers and Roma. And by using that small, ostracized group as easy prey in a new anticrime push, Sarkozy has critics charging him with manipulating public concerns of security and immigration for cynical political gain.
On Wednesday, Sarkozy told members of his conservative government that he intends to look into "the problems created by the behavior of certain travelers and Roma," whose nomadic lifestyle leaves them with "no assimilation into [the] communities" they live near. He also said he'd gather with advisers on July 28 for a special Elysée meeting on the issue, which he said falls under the "implacable struggle the government is leading against crime, [and the] veritable war we're going to wage against traffickers and delinquents."

Though the vast majority of the (very roughly) estimated 400,000 travelers in France are either French citizens or residents of E.U. countries, critics accuse government officials who have made statements linking the issue to immigration of trying to drum up nationalist support by playing the antiforeigner card. "You can very well be Roma, a traveler, even, at times, French within these communities," government spokesman Luc Chatel said to the press on Wednesday as he explained Sarkozy's motives. "But you'll have to respect the law of the republic." 

Those comments came after a weekend of violence in central France, when young men from a community of travelers, enraged at the July 16 shooting of one of their peers by a policeman, rioted through the sleepy village of Saint-Aignan, south of Blois. For two days after 22-year-old Luigi Duquenet was fatally shot while a car he was in charged a police roadblock and allegedly hit an officer, around 50 youths from Duquenet's encampment attacked the Saint-Aignan gendarme station with metal bars and axes and also destroyed small local businesses, burned cars and damaged public property. The situation had calmed by July 18, but many people in France interpreted the violence as evidence that the widely held stereotypes of gypsies as criminals, troublemakers and outcasts are true.

That such prejudice endures is partly the fault of France's authorities. Despite laws requiring that towns whose populations exceed 5,000 provide suitable camping grounds for traveler communities, France was recently chided by the Council of Europe for largely ignoring that obligation. Nomadic communities are often relegated to staying outside town walls, usually either in makeshift camps with few facilities supplied to them, or — for the poorest — in shantytowns and squats. That segregation means few urban French know much about travelers or the diversity of the traveling community. The generic label gens du voyage (travelers) covers not only tsigane (roughly "gypsies"), who went to France over the centuries, but also manouches who arrived from Germany in the 19th century, Spanish-origin gitanes and the more recent Roma.
Critics claim that Sarkozy's new hard-line focus seeks to play last week's unrest at Saint-Aignan for political gain. With his approval rating at a personal all-time low of 25%, his government dogged by spending scandals and his Labor Minister, Eric Woerth, ensnared in the intrigue surrounding the inheritance battle between L'Oréal heiresses Liliane and Françoise Bettencourt, detractors say Sarkozy's latest law-and-order charge is simply an attempt to change the topic and score points at the expense of a population that few people are eager to defend.

"To better make people forget the scandal he's marred in himself, [Sarkozy] has invented a new diversion with a new category of scapegoat," Green Party legislator Noël Mamère declared on Wednesday night. "He serves up to the good folk of France people who've always been rejected to the margins of society, [and he] plays on confusion by suggesting that all Roma, all travelers, are all foreigners."

Opposition pols aren't the only ones crying foul. France's League of Human Rights has decried Sarkozy's "racist stigmatization of Roma and traveler populations through unacceptable amalgams." Samir Mile, spokesman of Voice of Roma, an association defending the rights of France's nomadic communities, told France Info radio on Thursday, "We're preparing to take it right in the face as we always do during political crises," adding that when "France is going poorly, [and] the President is doing badly, he seeks to divert public opinion toward easy targets." (Read "Why France's National Identity Debate Backfired.")

This time, the controversy that Sarkozy's new law-and-order pledge has created seems to have replaced the applause that his previous anticrime crusades have provoked. It could be that by targeting travelers — the eternal scapegoat — Sarkozy may find that his unbeatable trump card has finally lost its magic.

PETITION TO SAVE THE CHILDREN IN THE TOXIC CAMPS IN KOSOVO

Friday, July 23, 2010 4:51 AM

FROM UNITED KINGDOM ASSOCIATION OF GYPSY WOMEN

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

For eleven years Paul Polansky, and in latter years myself and others have been trying to get the UN to evacuate the Roma camps in Kosovo where the children have the highest lead levels in medical literature. More than 89 Roma/Ashkali have died in the camps. Every child born there has irreversible brain damage, if they survive.

Since the UN doesnt want to listen to our pleas on behalf of these children, we are starting a world-wide petition to President Obama asking him to evacuate the camps (less than 600 men, women and children) and medically treat them at the American military base in Kosovo. This is the web site link to join us in signing the petition


It would be a huge help if you could also pass this on to others in the hope that they will also sign.

Thanks

Thursday, July 22, 2010

UN CALLS FOR HALT TO UK GYPSY EVICTIONS


FROM ROMA BUZZ AGGREGATOR

Open Letter to Rt.Hon Mr Eric Pickles
UK Minister of State for Communities & Local Government

Forced eviction is always an ugly action but when it’s being taken against ninety families of one community and those families belong to a ethnic minority, then there must be cause for concern, alarm and shame.

You will be aware of the letter from Mr Anwar Kemal, chair of the Commission on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (dated 12 March 2010), a source that immediately emphasises the racial prejudices underlying this matter. As former co-chairman of the Joint Committee Against Racism you may have s special interest in Britain’s reputation in that respect.

Mr Kemal has asked the UK authorities to suspend a direct action eviction being undertaken by Basildon District Council against the Gypsy and Traveller community at Dale Farm, Crays Hill, Essex. He suggests that a suitable alternate location ought be provided. In addition, he has drawn attention to Constant & Co bailiff company, agents of the local council, and reports of notoriously rough evictions which have drawn criticism from the High Court due to racist conduct and needless destruction of private property.

Should the eviction nevertheless go ahead, the UK has been recommended to see that it is carried out in a humane manner and in accordance with international human rights law; and to ensure that a designated alternate site is allocated to those whose homes are bulldozed. A response is requested by the end of July.

Although you are fully informed through your Party colleague Cllr Mr Tony Ball, I am writing to emphasise to you that far from suspending the evictions of Gypsies and Travellers, Basildon is persisting with a long-term plan to drive all so-called illegal Gypsies from the district.

The BDC has already spent £1m on this policy, condemned by many as ethnic-cleansing, and is poised to pay out another £3m. The cost in human misery, disruption in communities and termination of adequate education and health care, is incalculable. The destruction of Dale Farm will lead to the immediate closure of the local Crays Hill Primary School and will be a severe blow to the Catholic parish of Wickford. To be turned out on the road with nowhere to go must come as a death-sentence for several of our most elderly and sick.

In an attempt to prevent the worst excesses of this policy, the DFHA held a meeting with Assistant Chief Constable Derek Benson on 25 June. Dale Farm mothers expressed their fear that children could be hurt, even killed. This concern echoes a warning by Wickford Primary Care Trust that trauma and physical injury will almost inevitable follow should the massive week-long eviction at Dale Farm go ahead. The recent evictions at Hovefields Drive and the method of carrying them out only serve to underline these concerns, which I trust you share as Minister for Communities.

We asked simply that police officers attending future operations make sure bailiffs keep within the law, especially as regards safety law. Mr Benson assured us his officers would be fair and impartial in their law enforcement role. Force solicitor Mr Adam Hunt and Mr Bob Watt, of Essex University Human Rights Law Clinic were present.

However, on the morning of 29 June, Constant bailiffs accompanied by Essex police officers, arrived at Hovefields Drive, Wickford, to repeat the same careless brutalities It was about 7.30 am. Bailiffs began knocking on caravans and mobile-homes giving occupants one hour to pack up and leave. I was alerted to the situation around 8 am and spoke on the phone with bailiff Roger Nash who claimed the company was only clearing six unoccupied plots. Residents Mrs Sylvia Taylor and Mrs Kathleen Rooney had different information.

As in previous operations against Gypsies, the company ignored safety law by failing to erect perimeter fencing around the demolition site, allowing children and adults to approach close to heavy diggers and even mount a contractor’s lorry. Photographs were taken of children near the diggers and in one instance inside a building shortly before it was demolished. An extensive complaint has been lodged with the Health & Safety Executive, listing these and other breaches of safety law. Only through the intervention of a solicitor, the Basildon council agreed to back away from destroying two occupied properties, Merryfields and Five Acre Farm. Other plots, along with moveable buildings, were broken up by diggers, the justification being that they had been developed in the greenbelt without planning consent.

On 7 July the BDC obtained an injunction in the High Court ordering named and unnamed person to leave their homes or face possible imprisonment for contempt of court. Among those so threatened is mother of five Mrs Mary Theresa McCarthy, together with members of her extended Romany-Irish Traveller family.

We do not dispute the breaches of planning law highlighted by BDC but like Mr Kemal and the UN Committee seek fulfilment of the right of people so removed to be adequately re-accommodated. What we do dispute however is the method of that removal, involving as it has disregard of international law and conventions, and serious breaches of domestic and EU safety law.

No safety fencing nor warning notices were erected on the demolition sites before commencement of work by the three diggers employed by Constant. Photographs show children in close proximity to moving machines.

No attempt, despite requests, was made either by Constant bailiffs nor police officers to keep people, including youngsters, away from the clear danger of the working diggers.

A health hazard was created through the breaking up of cess-tanks on the properties but again children were not fenced off from this danger, nor kept away by bailiffs and policemen.

High earth banks have been bulldozed into place around the plots preventing rightful access by the owners to their land.

In short, matters of safety law, as well as human rights, raised on 29 June appear to have been totally ignored, despite the assurances given and appeals made to bailiffs and officers on the spot. Our concern now is that the disregard for human rights and safety law will be repeated, but on a far greater scale, should Basildon District Council proceed as it has stated it will with the clearance of families and their properties at Dale Farm, the largest Travellers’ community in Britain. The bulldozing of Dale Farm, a village in all but name, can only be compared with the similar and widely condemned clearances of Romani settlements in Italy, France, Romania and elsewhere in Europe.

Here the land is entirely owned by Travellers who, on the advice of the UK Government, have invested their savings to settle themselves and send their children to school. This destruction, as Mr Kemal points out, would be a violation of their rights under article 5 (e) (iii) of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The pending action is the more to be regretted as it follows upon the swift cancellation with your agreement as Minister of State for Communities of the requirement placed on local authorities to designate land for caravan sites, in accordance with a careful needs assessment; together with the withdrawal of £30m in funding made available for such sites. In the case of Basildon, following a number of annual counts, there was until very recently an obligation to oversee the creation of 64 pitches by 2011 and a further 52 by 2011.

Far from a fair policy towards the less well-off, your new Coalition Government is in this instance pursuing the destruction of a community already the most marginalizedin the UK.

Withdrawal of a long considered and carefully formulated duty has left Gypsy and Traveller families in Basildon, as elsewhere, exposed to a pitiless uprooting motivated we suspect more by racial bias than for conservation of a few acres of greenbelt, previously occupied by a licensed scrap-yard.

In this situation, we are appealing to you to urge your colleagues in Government to heed the appeal of Mr Kemal. His wish, strongly reiterated by the Assistant Chief Constable of Essex, is that meaningful talks be resumed between Dale Farm representatives and Basildon with a view to finding a way forward which will avoid leaving more families homeless and at the mercy of vigilantes, as has happened in other parts of the country.

Sincerely,
Grattan Puxon
Secretary DFHA

Mr. Valery Novoselsky, Editor, Roma Virtual Network.

http://www.valery-novoselsky.org/romavirtualnetwork.html
Consultant, European Roma Information Office
http://www.erionet.org/staff.html

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SVITAVY, CZECH REPUBLIC

FROM ROMEA.CZ

Racist murder of Romani man from Svitavy continues to arouse great emotion


Prague/Svitavy, 16.7.2010 14:01, (ROMEA)

Nine years ago, a 30-year-old father of two, Otto Absolon, died at the hands of a young neo-Nazi murderer, Vlastimil Pechanec, now serving 17 years behind bars. He was sentenced by the High Court in Prague at the start of March 2003. It is as hard to imagine what it must be like to live in prison for so long as it is to imagine what Pechanec will do as a 40-year-old when he is released. It is also difficult to imagine the lives of the two children who were orphaned by one youth’s struggle for a “white Bohemia”.

How did this all start? Pechanec, a troubled pupil at the special school in Svitavy, began committing crimes non-stop at the age of 16 (although not during two years in prison), but he never considered his actions criminal. He had committed them as part of what he considers legitimate combat on behalf of the “white race”. He has never expressed the slightest regret for his actions. He is a true believer.

During his 2002 trial, Pechanec claimed to have left the skinhead movement in 1996. In April of that year, he had organized and attended a march by the neo-Nazi organization Bohemia Hammer Skins in Svitavy. The young “patriots” had ended their march by attacking the home of a Romani family. Pechanec was subsequently given a suspended sentence for rioting.

Again in Svitavy in 1997, Pechanec stabbed 32-year-old L. P., a member of the famous Roma band Točkolotoč, in cold blood, confirming his desire to exterminate the Roma nation. The musician only survived thanks to invaluably rapid medical aid. The court sentenced the teenaged Pechanec to two years in prison for racially motivated grievous bodily harm. However, another incident of grievous bodily harm committed by Pechanec in Blansko in September 1996 was rewarded by the Brno Regional Court in 1999 with a suspended sentence. Pechanec had allegedly acquitted himself well in prison in the interim.

Pechanec returned from prison in 2000 none the wiser. He and others attacked a customs officer on Svitavy’s main square due to his allegedly Jewish origin. Since the victim was afraid to testify against Pechanec, the case was handled as a misdemeanor. This fanatical racist then attended a demonstration organized by the hard core of the Czech neo-Nazi scene on 1 May 2001 in Prague. Police diligently filmed the entirety of this action “for the homeland”; while they did eventually press charges against Pechanec, they never found it necessary to take him into custody.

On the evening of 20 July 2001, a police patrol called to the scene found Otto Absolon had been stabbed in front of the Kongo discotheque in Svitavy. Eyewitnesses told them he had been attacked by a certain Pechanec who frequented the disco. The police asked him to identify himself. He showed them he had a knife on him, claimed it was his, showed them it was clean, and promised to be available at his residence in the morning. Police were satisfied and left the scene of the crime. When Otto Absolon died in hospital the next day, police then asked that Pechanec, who had arrived for interrogation, be taken into custody, and a judge issued the warrant.

Regional-level detectives took up the case and learned to their surprise that police had failed to compile a list of the witnesses present. The patrol had not even completed a protocol on their search of the premises immediately following the crime. Detectives were not able to subject the clothing worn by the suspect at the time of the crime to expert analysis because he had already laundered it. No house search was ever conducted, although one might have produced evidence of racial motivation. The investigator and the court had to rely on eyewitness testimony and the courage of those witnesses to testify against such a person. They were in luck. The eyewitness testimony was convincing.

Pechanec was no sleeping terrorist – on the contrary, for years police had noted he was very active. He had now committed not just racially motivated murder, but what some viewed as a “heroic Nazi action.”

The daily MF Dnes reported on the criminal proceedings as follows: “The argumentation throughout the case has been complicated from the start by the fact that there is no direct evidence against Pechanec. The prosecution is based solely on witness testimony. Regional State Prosecutor Renata Vesecká (...) drew attention to the lack of professionalism of the Svitavy police at the scene of the crime and admitted there could have been more evidence had police done a better job. In her view, the patrol that was first on the scene after the incident did not ascertain the necessary information. ‘Their approach complicated the subsequent investigation,’ Vesecká said. A review conducted by the police presidium confirmed that local police made mistakes in the days following the crime: ‘The review came to the conclusion that the operations center of the district directorate in Svitavy did not proceed completely in accordance with regulations. It did not send a sufficient number of police officers to the scene of the crime as the situation required and did not inform the relevant superior officers.’ ”

The trial began on 3 February 2002. Over the next few months it was attended by observers from human rights organizations, the relatives of the murdered man, friends of the defendant, and the media, which reported regularly on the course of the trial. From the start the defendant denied his guilt and said he was the victim of a plot by the Roma in Svitavy, who allegedly did not like him. Otto Absolon’s common-law wife also testified, even though she was in the advanced stages of a serious illness. Her relatives tried in vain to persuade her not to come face to face with the man suspected of the murder of her partner. She testified as to what she had seen with her own eyes at the time of the crime and what she had heard her dying partner say.

When the judge was through questioning Absolon’s wife, it was the defendant’s turn. He attempted to provoke an emotional outburst from the witness in order to cast doubt on her testimony, asking her whether she had been aware of a love affair between Absolon and another woman who had also been involved with another man who had been present at the time the crime was committed. The defendant claimed that jealousy had been the motive of the person he alleged was the real murderer. He also claimed to have had no reason to murder Absolon. The judge allowed the question and asked the witness to respond. While she was aghast at these claims, she did not break down. She looked the defendant in the eye and told him she knew for certain that he had murdered the father of her children.

Before the end of this first-instance trial at the Regional Court in Hradec Králové, Jakub Polák, attorney-in-fact for the victim’s family, came to the conclusion that Pechanec was not necessarily Absolon’s murderer. He determined that there was a great deal of circumstantial evidence pointing to the fact that another man had been standing in proximity to Absolon at the time of the crime, and that it could have been this person who delivered the fatal stab wounds or at the very least assisted the murderer as an accomplice. He therefore proposed the court return the case to investigators in order to complete the collection of evidence; should it turn out to be warranted, he proposed the state prosecutor also charge the accomplices. R.Ž., the mother of Absolon’s children, fundamentally disagreed with this proposal and cancelled Polák’s power of attorney.

Absolon’s sister then turned to the author of this article with the request that he quickly find another legal representative who would insist on Pechanec’s guilt. The Prague lawyer David Strupek took up this role. However, Polák did not give up his efforts and reported his own conclusions to the press on the day the verdict was handed down.

On 29 March 2002 the Regional Court in Hradec Králové decided Pechanec was guilty and sentenced him to 13 years in prison for racially motivated murder. In the verdict, the judge writes that Pechanec “on 29 July 2001 at approximately 23:30 was in a state of drunkenness, and after yelling ‘What do you want here, you black swine? at a group of Roma from a discotheque ongoing at the bar in the Národní dům Hotel in Svitavy, he subsequently physically attacked one of the group, Absolon, for reasons of racial intolerance (…) first by pushing him in the shoulder, and then by stabbing him twice in the area of the abdomen and once in the right forearm when the victim tried to protect himself, perforating his large intestine and wounding his lower veins and abdominal aorta with the blade, injuries so serious given their general nature and number that the death of the victim was not reversible despite the provision of immediate professional medical attention.”

On the kind of punishment and its duration, the judge added: “The degree of danger of the crime committed by the defendant against society is determined primarily by its irredeemable result, the death of another, for which the motivation was the defendant’s racial intolerance, behavior which the victim did not provoke. (…) The possibility of his re-socialization was evaluated as ambiguous and doubtful given the abundance of negative factors in the defendant’s prognosis.”

On the day of the verdict, the news server iDNES.cz wrote this: “The trial was followed by roughly 20 skinheads and more than 10 Roma. Nine police officers were there to maintain order in the courtroom but did not succeed. ‘In front of the courthouse, Pechanec’s promoters attacked representatives of the Roma and civic activists who had followed the trial,’ the MF Dnes correspondent reports. For almost an hour, the situation in the center of Hradec Králové was tense. The skinheads first began cursing the Roma and shouting that Pechanec was innocent. Then they even chased the attorney for the Roma around town. Only the presence of police reinforcements at the courthouse calmed the situation. ‘No one was arrested, but four or five people are suspected of the misdemeanor of disturbing the peace. For the time being we have not managed to determine whether anyone has been beaten up. Verbal attacks predominated during the incident,’ the head of the Hradec Králové district police said. A consultant for the European Roma Rights Centre claimed the murder of Otto Absolon should never have occurred. In his view, the authorities had completely failed by not taking the defendant into custody long before then. While on probation for a different violent crime, Pechanec was sentenced for yet another racially motivated offense: ‘If they had taken him back into custody, he would never have killed anyone. The prosecution says this was a racially motivated murder, and even though the state organs and the government have been promising for some time to crack down on the prosecution of neo-Nazis and racists, Pechanec’s past record shows they have seriously neglected their obligations.’”

The verdict was appealed by the defendant, who demanded an acquittal by reason of his alleged innocence, and by Regional State Prosecutor Renata Vesecká, who believed the punishment was too mild, as the case met the conditions for extraordinary sentencing. In her view the defendant had given the victim no chance to defend himself and his previous punishments had evidently not led to his correction. The case was thus heard by the High Court in Prague.

One year after Absolon’s death, a commemoration ceremony was held at his grave, attended by his seriously ill common-law wife. The Roma newspaper Romano hangos reported on the event as follows: “Relatives, acquaintances and total strangers came to the Svitavy cemetery on Saturday, 20 July to pay their respects to the memory of Otto Absolon, murdered one year ago. All day long, citizens brought dozens of bouquets, which completely covered the murdered man’s grave. Representatives of the European Roma Rights Centre and the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění obětí romského holocaust – VPORH) also brought wreaths. ‘I felt the need to honor the memory of this person who died so unnecessarily,’ said VPORH chair Čeněk Růžička.’ ”

In his ruling to overturn the Hradec Králové Regional Court’s verdict, the judge of the High Court in Prague wrote: “The Regional Court should have given more details as to why it did not choose the option of extraordinary sentencing for defendant Pechanec (…). It is primarily necessary to stress the essential fact that with the exception of his most recent conviction, the defendant has made smooth going of all of his previous convictions and that the racist motivation of his behavior is the legal marker of a felony.”

Just before the appeal trial began, Absolon’s common-law wife and the mother of their children, R.Ž., passed away. She did not live to see the final conviction of her partner’s murderer. Her suffering was compounded by the lengthy criminal proceedings in the case, which were far from complete when she died. The Regional Court judge handling the case said on 17 October 2002 that the testimonies requested by the High Court had not produced any new evidence and once again sentenced the defendant to 13 years in prison.

That verdict states: “In its previous verdict, damages were awarded to the aggrieved R.Ž. in the amount of CZK 18 215, costs related to the burial and establishment of a memorial to the deceased. However, she has passed away. There were no inheritance proceedings. Her children currently do not have a legal representative according to the Svitavy court’s report. Given these circumstances, R.Ž.’s right to compensation for these damages has been added to the above-mentioned original award to the aggrieved I.V., represented by Mr. David Strupek, who contributed toward paying those costs according to the original statements and in whose name all of the above-mentioned documents are listed.”

After this verdict, both the defendant and the regional state prosecutor appealed once more. The High Court in Prague eventually decided on 4 March 2003 that Pechanec deserved extraordinary sentencing. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison. The daily Právo wrote of the verdict: “The judges (…) emphasized the abject nature of the motive for the murder and the fact that the skinhead, according to experts, cannot easily be re-educated, as he is a recidivist who has been repeatedly previously convicted of violent crimes. (…) According to experts, his assaults frequently had a racist subtext which was difficult to prove, so the perpetrator was usually ‘only’ convicted of the crime at issue.”

To this day Pechanec continues to insist he is the victim of judicial error and that the real murderer is running free. Since 2006, demonstrations in support of him have been held in Svitavy in which promoters of neo-Nazism call for the trial to be re-opened and Pechanec to be acquitted. These demonstrations were repeatedly attended by the youths who are on trial today in Ostrava for the attempted murder against multiple victims which they allegedly committed in the course of an arson attack on a Romani family in Vítkov.

Every year the Svitavy town hall reiterates the reasons it cannot legally prevent these demonstrations from taking place. Otto Absolon’s sister, who has custody of the children orphaned by his murder and their mother’s death, leaves town with them whenever the march takes place. In her view, the children should not have to witness the fact that neo-Nazis are able to move freely about the town expressing their support for the murderer of their father.

This scenario will evidently play out again on 24 July 2010, when the Workers’ Social Justice Party will hold a protest in Svitavy. One hour prior to the march by Pechanec’s promoters there will be a march against racism, organized by opponents of the neo-Nazis for the second year in a row. They hope more local citizens will attend this year so that future neo-Nazi actions will not be realized in the town where Otto Absolon’s children live.

Translated by Gwendolyn Alber

Monday, July 19, 2010

STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL

THE STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL WAS A GREAT SUCCESS.

This weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, the traveling museum made its official debut and it was a great success.  We raised a couple of hundred dollars, but more importantly, we made some wonderful contacts and had FANTASTIC conversations.  Many people said they really wanted to come back and mellowly explore the museum.  We were even interviewed by the local radio station, Voice of Vashon.

The entire two days we only encountered one episode of racism and believe me, it was dealt with, and we received wonderful encouragement for the confrontation.

Tomorrow I will resume work.  Today I have no voice (literally---I talked nonstop for two full days).
Thank you all for your support. 
The museum project of Lolo Diklo is a reality.

Friday, July 16, 2010

TRAVELING MUSEUM

Tomorrow is the official debut of the Traveling Museum and Education Center.  We've got a great spot at the Vashon (WA) Strawberry Festival.  We'll be there both Saturday and Sunday so if you're in the area come and visit us. You can't miss us.

 We may even put you to work.

Thanks for all the support Lolo Diklo and the Museum Project has been receiving.
Nais tukai

VATICAN'S NEW "NORMS"

The Vatican issued a new set of 'norms' to respond to the worldwide clerical sexual abuse scandals. 

In the document, the attempted ordination of women as priests is rated as a "most grave crime" right alongside the rape of children.  Both "crimes" are handled by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, previously known as the INQUISITION.

And the beat goes on.........

KOSOVO

This article is from Romea.cz
http://www.romea.cz/

Dreaming of a better and safer future


Kosovo, 15.7.2010, 23:11, (UNICEF)

Roma children in Osterode camp enjoy improved education and nutrition conditions

Cerkin and Aferdita are two of the 100 children engaged in the extra-curricular activities provided by the Roma Educational and Cultural Centre in Roma Camp Osterode in the Municipality of Mitrovica. It is summer break and the schools are closed, but in Osterode the programme does not stop: children continue coming to the centre on a daily basis and being actively and enthusiastically engaged in a variety of out of school activities such as singing, sports, folklore dancing, games, arts, preschool activities and homework support. As we arrive in the Centre we are immediately welcomed by the sound of children’s singing joyfully echoing around the camp. The older kids, those who are in school age, are dancing in a circle and singing about love, tolerance and respect; Aferdita and Cerkin are in the middle and full of joy they sing in unison with their fellow classmates.

Aferdita is ten years old and loves going to school. She says, “I enjoy going to school. Studying is not boring at all and I learn lots of things that will be useful for me when I’ll be an adult. In particular I enjoy the civic education class as it helps me to learn what my rights are and how to behave properly with the people around me. I also like coming to the Centre here in the camp; the teacher helps me with the homework when I have some difficulties and this year I got very good grades!” “I enjoy going to school and studying, I learn lots of things that will be useful for me when I’ll be an adult. I also like coming to the Educational and Cultural Centre here in the camp; the teacher helps me with the homework when I have some difficulties and this year I got very good grades!”

Belonging to one of the most vulnerable and stigmatised communities of Kosovo, the needs of Roma and those of their children are generally neglected on a systematic basis. In 1999, following the Kosovo conflict, the families of Cerkin and Aferdita, as many other Roma families, were forced from their homes located in the South-Mitrovica neighbourhood known as the Roma Mahala. As an emergency response they were initially sheltered in makeshift camps in the Northern part of Mitrovica and, in 2006, moved to the former French army camp of Osterode, as a temporary solution whilst attending to return to their place of origin, Roma Mahala. Located in the surrounding area of the Trepca smelter, Osterode is a highly lead-contaminated area and its inhabitants, and children in particular, face on a daily basis serious health hazards caused by simple virtue of where they live.

Through its implementing partner Association for Peace Kosovo, UNICEF works to ensure children from Osterode camp access to better education and to adequate nutrition. Mr. Sokol Kursumlija, Manager of the Centre, explains “The project is implemented in close collaboration with the Roma community and the local Educational Institutions and activities are designed for promoting and enhance better children integration in the primary school system. The activities are based on support that can improve the level of skills, tools and knowledge that children need for their equal and sustainable future integration into the social structures. The project is also succeeding in raising the awareness of children and parents, on the importance of education”. “The activities of the Roma Educational and Cultural Centre are designed for promoting better children integration in the primary school system. The project is also succeeding in raising the awareness of children and parents, on the importance of education” Implemented activities include: preschool activities; preparatory and homework activities; Serbian language classes; promotion of educative movies; creative workshops; parents-teachers meetings; professional visits aiming at introducing the children with the wide scope of professions they can choose as their future job; special events; and improving children nutrition and health status. Following UNICEF and WHO’s guidance and recommendations, the children nutrition component has been introduced in early 2010 with the aim to additionally motivate children to attend the activities of the Centre, as well as to provide food especially designed with the purpose of strengthening the immune system of the children in their fight against lead pollution.

“When I grow up I would like to be a football player. I enjoy physical exercise; it will help me to be a good football player one day. I love to watch football matches and one day I would like to play as well as the guys that I see on TV playing in the World Cup” says Cerkin, a nine years old child who, as many other boys of his age, dreams of being healthy and becoming a footballer.

Obviously these are only temporary measures aiming at alleviating the difficult living conditions of the camp and at addressing the immediate health and learning needs of Osterode’s children. However UNICEF remains strongly committed to support the relocation of the Roma community to a safer and healthier living environment and, at the same time, to continue helping children such as Cerkin and Aferdita to gain those skills that will help them to break the cycle of poverty and to build a better future for themselves, their families and their community at large.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

THIS AND THAT

On 14 July, 1921, Italian born anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were convicted in Dedham, Mass. of murdering a shoe-company paymaster and his guard.  This was another example of people being convicted on their politics, not on evidence of their guilt.  Sacco and Vanzetti were executed 6 years later in 1927.

In the current days news,  (from the Seattle Times),   "A list containing the names and personal information of 1,300 people an anonymous group contends are illegal immigrants has been mailed around Utah, terrifying the state's Hispanic community.  Governor Herbert is investigating the list, which includes informantion such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, work places, addresses and phone numbers."

And the beat goes on..............

FROM O NEVO DROM

This article is written by my friend Michael.  Please visit his blog O NEVO DROM by following the direct link in the Internet Connections in the sidebar.
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Denmark following Italy in Anti-Gypsy measures?


Posted: 13 Jul 2010 10:33 AM PDT

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Is Denmark, a country once thought of, alongside of the Netherlands, as a bastion of liberty and liberalism in Europe, following Italy now in anti-Gypsy measures? It would appear so if recent reports are anything to go by.

Danish media reported on July 6, 2010 that 23 ethnic Roma who are citizens of other EU member states were arrested following anti-Roma statements by Mayor Jensen, who called on the Danish government to adopt measures to rid Copenhagen of criminal Roma, blaming them for thefts and asking the police to expel them.

The Mayor’s statements caused Minister of Justice Barfoed to react, condemning the Roma in question to be illegal residents and pledging strong police action against them. Despite the apparent absence of an investigation or conviction for the alleged thefts, Danish authorities are reported to have expelled the detained EU Roma.

It would appear that all over Europe members of the Romani People, aka Gypsies, are, once again, being used as scapegoats for all manner of things.

While I will be the first to admit that there are bad apples in the Gypsy basket there are criminal elements also other, non-Gypsy groups, and none of their ethnicity is being broadcast when some engage in criminal activities.

When a couple of Turks or Albanians commit crimes somewhere does a country round up all of those of that community with view of expelling them? No, they do not. Why then when it comes to members of the Romani People?

Once again the Gypsy People are the scapegoats for all things evil in Europe and Europe is turning into an Anti-Gypsy society as it was in the 19th century and the Nazi era.

Not that I had ever expected anything else from the European Union, at least as far as the treatment of the Romani People is concerned, and have stated so more than once. The worst Anti-Gypsy countries are in charge; Germany, Italy, France and Denmark for starters, and the “new” countries in the East are even worse in their anti-Gypsyism.

Monday, July 12, 2010

REALITY CHECK

Ah the support for the Museum Project over here on Vashon Island is so great that one can forget momentarily about life's realities.

Today Kate and I worked on displays for the festival.  The displays cover History, the Porraijmos, and the Present Day Situation of the Romani people, not as much fun as the games for children.  When I returned home, I visited the shop owner next door.  She told me that she had a customer today who said she was Romanian by heritage.  My friend eagerly (and naively) told her about the museum.  (The first thing Bonnie said to me was that she had a lot to learn--ha).  The customer responded with a deluge of racist epitaths against Romani.  Her first words were "They are the scum of the earth.  They murder their mothers.  They are not human...."

This proves the necessity of the museum and education center.  Racism is alive and thriving.  And the beat goes on......

COPENHAGEN


STATEMENT FROM EUROPEAN ROMA RIGHTS CENTER
http://www.errc.org/

MASS ARREST AND DEPORTATION OF ROMANI EU CITIZENS IN COPENHAGEN CONDEMNED

BUDAPEST, COPENHAGEN, 12 JULY 2010: Today the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and Romano sent a letter to Danish authorities expressing concern regarding the recent mass arrest and deportation of 23 EU citizens of Romani origin in Copenhagen. The groups also condemned anti-Roma speech by Danish officials, including the Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen and the Minister of Justice Lars Barfoed.

Danish media reported on 6 July 2010 that 23 EU Roma were arrested following anti-Roma statements by Mayor Jensen, who called on the Danish government to adopt measures to rid Copenhagen of criminal Roma, blaming them for thefts and asking the police to expel them. The Mayor’s statements caused Minister of Justice Barfoed to react, condemning the Roma in question to be illegal residents and pledging strong police action against them. Despite the apparent absence of an investigation or conviction for the alleged thefts, Danish authorities are reported to have expelled the detained EU Roma.

The ERRC and Romano called on the Danish Government to ensure there are no further arrests of Roma without individualised suspicion of involvement in a crime, to stop collective expulsions of Roma from Copenhagen, to treat all EU migrants in accordance with the rights contained in the EU Freedom of Movement Directive and to ensure that high ranking government officials refrain from making racist or inflammatory statements against Roma in Denmark.

For further information, please contact:
Sinan Gokçen, ERRC Media and Communications Officer, sinan.gokcen@errc.org, +36.30.500.1324
Eric Støttrup Thomsen, Romano Director, p1041160@romano.dk, +45.49.22.2811
Picture from The Huffington Post

Saturday, July 10, 2010

ROMANI IN EUROPE



FROM SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER

Anti-Roma Violence in Europe: A Q&A With Gwendolyn Albert

 By Alexander Zaitchik On July 6, 2010 @ 8:34 am 

On Friday, 26 June, CNN International broadcast a documentary called “Scars of Racism” . It told the story of a young Czech Roma (commonly known in the U.S. as a “gypsy”) named Natálka Kudriková and the neo-Nazis who almost burned her to death in an arson attack committed last year in the Czech town of Vitkov. It was a rare look by the international media into the anti-Roma violence that has plagued Central and Eastern Europe since the fall of communism two decades ago.

Violence against Roma has emerged as a leading human rights issue not just in the former Soviet bloc, but also across Europe. The perpetrators are often ideologically driven neo-Nazis, sometimes with ties to established political parties. Other times, they are local vigilantes taking the law into their own hands. In the past five years fatal attacks have been reported from Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Russia, Slovakia and Turkey. In Italy, six arsons over the last three years have resulted in multiple fatalities, including children.

Gwendolyn Albert is an American living in Prague who consulted with CNN on “Scars of Racism.” A resident of the Czech Republic since 1990, Albert has been reporting on the human rights situation of the Roma minority in Central and Eastern Europe for the past 15 years. She is currently consulting on research in this area for the Council of Europe’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner and the European Roma Rights Centre. Hatewatch recently spoke with Albert about the rise in far-right violence against Roma, and whether international media attention like CNN’s recent documentary is making a difference.

Anti-Roma violence and racism has been a defining feature of post-communist societies since the early 1990s. Are governments finally getting more serious about tackling it?

No government is doing enough, not in Central and Eastern Europe, and certainly not in Western Europe. This violence is not limited to the former communist bloc. France and Italy are probably the worst places in Western Europe to be Roma right now. Italy has been the most publicized and most discussed case, but France has a number of discriminatory institutions in place that disproportionately impact Roma.

What are the most obnoxious elements of Italian policy?

Starting in 2006, cities across Italy have been adopting “Security Pacts” which give local officials the legal powers to target Roma for removal. These forced evictions of Roma have increased during 2010. The Italian police have been using disproportionate force during their evictions of Roma camps for at least five years. This has all been in response to Bulgaria and Romania acceding to the EU [European Union] in 2007 and the large outflow of Roma from both those countries to the West [migration within the EU is unrestricted].

In 2008, the Italian government declared a “state of emergency with regard to nomad community settlements”—this was a legal action unprecedented in post-WWII Europe, the declaration of a state of emergency with respect to a particular ethnic group. Their presence alone is defined as constituting the emergency and local authorities are empowered to fingerprint and photograph all residents of any “nomad community settlement,” including minors, to expel whom they choose, and to open up new camps and order people to live in them. Freedom of movement — of citizens, human beings, not just money and goods — between EU member states is one of the founding principles of the EU, but not where the Roma are concerned, at least not in Italy or France.

Are there societal shifts occurring with regards to anti-Roma sentiment?

It depends. Here in the Czech Republic, for example, there has been a shift in society recently. The fact that an infant almost died a horrible death in the Vitkov attack generated unprecedented empathy for her and her family. This doesn’t mean the Molotov cocktails have stopped flying, quite the contrary. In one of those attacks, a full-scale criminal investigation apprehended several suspects relatively quickly and there will be a trial. Again, this is an advance; usually law enforcement takes a “no harm, no foul” approach when these attempts are unsuccessful (no larger fire, no injuries) and classifies them as misdemeanors, which means homicide investigators never get involved — and they are the ones with the resources to really track perpetrators down.

Historically, how ingrained is the tolerance for anti-Roma violence?

Anti-Gypsyism is a deeply engrained European cultural touchstone, from Ireland to Russia, from Greece to Norway. It has persisted for centuries. It comes from the same place all prejudice comes from, and that is fear. For those who understand how to perpetuate and exploit fear, the Roma have always been the scapegoats par excellence in Europe.

Tolerance of violence per se in Europe is quite high — you have only to look at domestic violence statistics for any country there to see the degree to which violence remains culturally sanctioned in Europe (irrespective of strict handgun laws). As for racist skinheads and neo-Nazis, some people consider them super-patriots and openly cheer them on, but most people probably consider them a pathetic, irrelevant counter-culture group. Much of Europe has pretty strict laws (which are under-enforced) regarding defamation and racism. Because of these laws, many European neo-Nazis actually house their organizations’ websites on U.S.-based servers. That’s something I wish would change.

How does anti-Roma violence track with the rise in anti-Semitic violence?

Anti-Semitic violence has been on the rise all across Europe as well, specifically violence against Holocaust sites and memorials and against synagogues and [Jewish] cemeteries. Holocaust denial websites have mushroomed on the Web — Facebook had to deal with it last year. This violence has nothing to do with the size of the Jewish population in any country. It’s part of the ideology of Holocaust denial, which becomes more and more open and prevalent the further east you go. You would be surprised how little is actually taught about the Holocaust in most of the former Soviet satellites.

What needs to be done?

Generally speaking, Europe first needs to take all forms of violence very seriously and devote resources to reducing its incidence. As for the perpetrators of neo-Nazi violence, the media have a huge role to play. They should investigate and report on who these people are and why they make the choices they do. They should investigate the ties between the various groups and who funds them, and they should investigate whether they are linked to established political parties.

Article printed from Hatewatch

Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/blog
URL to article: http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2010/07/06/anti-roma-violence-in-europe-a-qa-with-gwendolyn-albert/

Friday, July 9, 2010

GERMANY TO KOSOVO

New UNICEF report condemns German policy of deporting Roma children


FROM DW-WORLDWIDE
DEUTSCHE WELLE
UNICEF presented a shocking new report on Thursday, detailing the situation of some 12,000 Romany people, including many children, living in Germany under threat of deportation to Kosovo.

The police often come unannounced at 4 a.m., to reduce the chance that their targets will find a place to hide.

After being rushed into a van, the terrified Romany families are taken to the airport - often with a detour to the local police station, where they are asked to sign a statement saying that their deportation is voluntary. In exchange, they are often promised better housing when they arrive in Kosovo. These promises are rarely held.

Because of this harried departure, vital documents like birth certificates are often left behind. Families living in Germany since the early 1990s suddenly find themselves back in Kosovo - virtually destitute in the poorest country in Europe.

The children, arriving in a country where they have never been, and whose languages - Serbian and Albanian - they do not speak, suffer particularly.

"Of the 66 children that we personally interviewed that were of school age, only 17 still attended school once they were back in Kosovo," said Verena Knaus, who co-authored a new report by UNICEF, the United Nations children's organization, on the situation.

"This means that three out of four drop out of school. The main reason for that is the poverty of the family - that they just simply cannot afford the materials, the clothes, the transport costs," she told Deutsche Welle.

The Germanos Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Roma children become socially dislocated in Kosovo

Alberto, one of the boys interviewed in the short film that UNICEF produced to go with the report, talks about how the other children at his new school call him the Germano - a pejorative reference to the country of his birth.

But lacking birth certificates, it is difficult to prove what country the children belong to. The children then often become stateless, and families cannot claim social welfare for them. The result is that those deported from Germany are often significantly poorer than average Kosovars. The average income for Romany families in Kosovo is 120 euros ($152) a month, but for families arriving from Germany it's just 88 euros a month.

"Two out of three children live below the poverty level. One out of three children lives in extreme poverty. That is, below the hunger line - not enough money to even buy food for your basic calorie intake," said Johannes Wedenig, director of UNICEF in Kosovo.

The Kosovar government, he said, is simply not equipped to deal with these people. "The capacities are simply not there," he said. "All the studies are clear on that. We see also a study from the Ministry of Interior in Kosovo that policies are not being implemented, funding is not allocated, so what exists on paper doesn't exist in reality."

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The UNICEF report condemns Germany's policy of deportationStrangers at home, strangers abroad

But the root of the problem is back in Germany. Romany families were given asylum in Germany in the aftermath of the war in Kosovo in the late 1990s, but only with so-called "toleration" status. This means that once the German authorities decide that Kosovo is safe - that Romany people are not in danger of persecution and torture - they must return.

This leads to a state of immigrant limbo, where families are only guaranteed three-month stays at a time. According to the UNICEF report, this constant threat of deportation was a major reason for the social exclusion that those people felt in Germany.

"You have to value what Germany and German society has done; they have accepted very significant numbers," Wedenig said. "The downside is obviously now that the German government has decided that it's possible to return the Roma. That's the reason why we focus on Germany. It's not a problem only for Germany, but there are some particularities that make it especially difficult."

Another problem is the rules governing nationality in Germany. While anyone born in Great Britain and the US, for instance, is automatically granted citizenship, in Germany the nationality of the parents has a major influence - clearly a root cause of Germany's troubled immigration policy.

Author: Ben Knight

Editor: Martin Kuebler