Tuesday, August 31, 2010



Czech Foreign Minister Opposes France’s Roma Deportation

Bulgaria in EU
August 28, 2010, Saturday

The Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has opposed the repatriation of Roma from France and voiced his concerns that the policy of the French President was made on racial grounds.

“The way in which France’s President Nicolas Sarcozy is chasing Roma citizens away is in contrary to the spirit and rules of the European Union. How could one not suspect the involvement of racist views,” Schwarzenberg said, as cited by the Czech daily “Lidove noviny”.

He has also expressed regret that the European debates on the Roma question are kept without the participation of the new EU member states, one of which is the Czech Republic.

“To lead these discussions without the countries where the problem roots is strange and wrong,” he said.

The deportation of Roma citizens was decided by Sarcozy in the end of July. Almost 8,300 Romanian and Bulgarian nationals have been expelled from France since the beginning of the year. Close to 10,000 were expelled in 2009.

French officials have said the deportations are part of a broader crackdown on illegal immigration.

The deportation has sparkled major criticism at home and abroad. Former French Prime Minister Dominique
de Villepin said Sarcozy’s policies had left a “stain of shame” on the French flag and were a “national indignity”.


30th August, 2010

Bratislava gunman kills gypsy family members before committing suicide

A heavily armed gunman has killed seven people, including six members of one Roma gypsy family, before shooting himself dead.

His first victims were four women and two men inside one apartment.

Another woman was killed on her balcony as the unidentified man – who was armed with a sub-machine gun with eight magazines and two pistols – tried to escape.

In a subsequent shootout with police, 15 people were wounded, including a policeman shot in the head.

‘He was alone. He fired at everything that moved during his escape bid. The policemen surrounded him... they made it impossible for him to escape,’ said Jaroslav Spisiak, a police commander in the Slovak capital Bratislava. ‘He had no choice but to kill himself.’

.Nine people, including a boy aged three who was shot in the ear, are being treated in hospital.

The motive of the gunman, thought to be in his 50s, was unclear, although racism has not been ruled out.

The incident happened in the capital’s run-down Devinska Nova Ves district.


Monday, August 30, 2010



Sarkozy’s security crackdown roils France, but Jews more circumspect

By Devorah Lauter

Paris, 29/08/2010 - With a preponderance of voices from the international media, human rights groups, the French clergy and some politicians denouncing French President Nicolas Sarkozy for fueling negative ethnic stereotypes with his new immigrant-focused security crackdown, many Jewish community representatives in France are taking a more measured stance.

In July, Sarkozy launched some security-related initiatives that included a proposal stripping French nationality from foreign-born individuals who attack police officers and starting a program to rapidly deport Roma -- or Gypsy -- migrants to Romania and Bulgaria. The French leader also is dismantling hundreds of illegal Roma homes in shantytowns in France.

Sarkozy says the government is merely upholding French and European law, not “stigmatizing.” But critics say Sarkozy is pitting communities against one another and violating the French constitution. Some have gone so far as to compare Sarkozy’s policies with the Nazis' treatment of the Jews, calling it a tactic for gaining support from the far-right National Front Party.

Jewish community organizational leaders have tried to take a more diplomatic course regarding the controversial policies of a president who, as interior minister during a wave of anti-Semitism in France in 2002-04, took a hard line against those who posed a security risk to French Jews.

At first the community leaders sat out what has evolved into a major political storm for the government. Now some are responding, but their divergent responses reflect the divisions among French Jews about the efficacy of Sarkozy’s proposals.

France’s main Jewish umbrella group, the CRIF, has not put out any statement on Sarkozy’s new policies. But in an interview with JTA, CRIF President Richard Prasquier said he supports the idea of expelling illegal Roma from the country and that the idea of denaturalizing certain foreign-born criminals is “understandable” if they are guilty of attacking officers.

Prasquier warned, however, against allowing prejudice to develop against Roma migrants who are French citizens.

“When we become French citizens, it must be merited,” he said.

In explaining Jewish reticence to weigh in on the matter, Marc Knobel, the editor for CRIF’s newsletter, said that “Jewish institutions are generally more discreet when handling questions that mostly concern the French.”

The tepid reaction from Jewish officialdom has upset some Jews here.

"I think it's the role of the Jewish community to be heard,” said Patrick Klugman, a member of the CRIF director’s committee and co-founder of JCall, a European-wide group that supports pressuring Israel into cutting a two-state deal with the Palestinians.

Jewish leaders traditionally were “reminders of the principles of equality,” Klugman said. Now, "I notice that almost all of French society has criticized Sarkozy, except the Jewish community.”

Catholic leaders have not been silent as Sarkozy has dismantled Roma shantytowns and deported Roma.

With Sarkozy’s security program, “an unhealthy climate has developed in our country,” André Vingt-Trois, the archbishop of Paris, told French radio last week.

One Catholic priest returned his national medal of honor to protest Sarkozy’s policies.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance said it is “deeply concerned” about the treatment of Roma in France and warned that Sarkozy’s “government has taken action stigmatizing Roma migrants” who “are held collectively responsible for criminal offenses.”

“Government policies or legislative proposals that are grounded in discrimination on ethnic grounds are impermissible and run counter to legal obligations binding on all Council of Europe member States,” the commission said in a statement.

France’s chief rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, was more circumspect.

“This affair is not easy,” he said last week. “It requires both moderation and firmness.”

While Bernheim said he hoped decisions on security “are made case by case, and that we never stigmatize a community,” he also voiced support for Sarkozy’s tough-cop proposals.

“I haven’t forgotten that there’s a real war that has been established against the police, against the forces of order, and when I see the violence that is exercised against the representatives of public order, I tell myself that we also need firmness to react to that,” he said.

Like Jewish officials, most official Muslim community representatives, traditionally reluctant to publicly comment on French policy that does not refer directly to their community, also have stayed quiet about Sarkozy’s security plans.

The new security measures were announced following two separate incidents of violent skirmishes between youth, believed to be partly of immigrant origin, and the police, plus a case involving violence by some Roma migrants who appeared to be French citizens.

Sarkozy’s new policy proposals include denaturalizing those who attack public officials if they had become French fewer than 10 years before committing the crime, and denying automatic citizenship to immigrant youth approaching the age of eligibility but who are “anchored” in criminal activity.

He is also dismantling Roma encampments that include people of Roma origin who are French citizens and has proposed legislation that will make it more difficult for deported Roma to return to France.

Roma have been subject to discrimination throughout Europe for decades, and hundreds of thousands were exterminated in Nazi death camps. Roma rights groups say Sarkozy’s new policies paint them as criminals.

Alain Finkielkraut, a leading French Jewish intellectual, said the attacks against Sarkozy’s policies are politically motivated and overreactions.

“I’m happy that for the moment the Jewish community has refused to give in to this critical rush of enthusiasm,” he said, adding that the current media storm had “lost sight” of Sarkozy’s intention: to curb crime.

Depicting France as fascist and comparing Sarkozy’s policies to the Vichy government’s Nazi collaboration is “shameful,” Finkielkraut said, adding that he does not see the security measures as racist in themselves.

“The whole world is revolting against Sarkozy," he said, "but what is really dismal is the continual elevation of violence in France.”



FROM THE EDMONTON JOURNAL                       Man charged with French Gypsy murder Postmedia NewsAugust 30, 2010

French police pressed murder charges Sunday against a man arrested for the stabbing of a 15-year-old Gypsy, an incident that comes amid a government crackdown on travelling minorities.

The 33-year-old Frenchman, who is unemployed and lives with his mother, was arrested on Sunday after the incident in the southern city of Beziers, which took place on Friday evening.

The youth, who is from the French Gypsy community, died of stab wounds in a local hospital.

The local Gypsy community plans to hold a silent march in the city this morning.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has launched a high-profile crackdown on travelling minorities. Several hundred Roma Gypsies living illegally in France have been expelled.

Sunday, August 29, 2010



Friday, August 27, 2010 11:41 PM EDT

 Roma, the 'painted birds' of Europe
By Jijo jacob

Hundreds more of Roma were deported from France on Thursday despite widespread condemnation of President Sarkozy's Roma expulsion drive.

What comes to mind is the vivid image of the young, hunted and haunted, protagonist in Jerzy Kosinski's 1965 novel 'The Painted Bird' moving through Slavic villages in Eastern Europe fearing for his life all the time.

The novel is the deeply distressing tale of a young boy who is abandoned by his parents during the World War II and left to roam the war-afflicted region where his presence raises fear and reprisal among local communities.

The boy, thought to be Jewish or gypsy, suffers atrocious attacks and savage treatment from the people who fear his presence in their villages will attract the wrath of the German army.

The present-day visuals of the Roma deportation going on in France do not resemble the images of the young pariah in the Kosinski novel.

But indeed the boy is still a striking metaphor for the homeless, classless, and apparently stateless, Roma people who attract scorn, denial and blame in places where they live.

Of course the hunted down Roma in France are getting support from human rights groups and humanitarian individuals from around the world.

However, that hasn't stopped French President Nicolas Sarkozy from meticulously implementing his plan to deport hundreds of Roma from the country.

Pressure, though, is mounting both domestically and internationally to halt the government's move.

Around 300 Roma people have been expelled from France since the government commenced its latest Roma deportation effort last week.

President Sarkozy had ordered the expulsion of illegal Roma people staying in France in July. He had said he was ordering the expulsion of Roma people who had committed offenses. He said their illegal camps and settlements would be dismantled.

Over the last week, France's Interior Ministry has been razing to the ground around 300 illegal settlements in the county, out of which 200 belong to the Roma.

The Interior minister has said these camps "are the source of "illicit trafficking, children exploited for begging, prostitution or delinquency."

According to Radio Free Europe, as many as 8,300 Romanian and Bulgarian Roma have been deported from France so far this year. A total of 7,875 had been expelled in 2009.

The French government says it's acting in compliance with the EU statute which authorizes the repatriation of those who have been illegally staying in the country, without work, for more than three months.

An Amnesty International report has put the number of "itinerants or travelers with French nationality at around 400,000, among whom around 20,000 are Roma.

The government claims the repatriation is voluntary and that it pays around $400 to each Roma individual being expelled. Those who do not leave voluntarily will be sent out after 30 days, and without the relocation assistance, the government has said.

Critics have said the massive expulsion violates European Union laws. EU Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding said on Thursday she will investigate whether the deportation policy violates EU's basic values.

France is home to between 15,000 and 20,000 Roma people. Years of discrimination, segregation and maltreatment have broken them down mentally, physically and sociologically.

The Roma facing the specter of expulsion are visibly angry and upset. The complain of unfair treatment, say they don't have the resource to return home to Romani and some even suggest that they might come back after a few months looking for jobs.

Roma are nomadic peopele scattered all over the world, principally in Europe, and they trace their origins to northern India.

According to Encycolpedia Britannica, Roma groups left India in repeated migrations hundreds of years ago. They were in Persia by the 11th century, and beleived to have reached southeastern Europe by the beginning of the 14th century.

Most Roma speak some form of Romany, a language closely related to the modern Indo-European languages of northern India, besides the language of the country in whcih they live.

Roma people living around Europe usually face discrimination, and sometimes even persecution, and they live constantly under the shadow of suspicion.

They face many discriminatory policies, the most potent one being housing segregation. The EU has termed Hungary, which is home to as many as 600,000 Roma people, as one of the worst offenders of housing segregation.

According to Médecins du Monde, Romas' living conditions are unhealthy and their life expectancy is considerably lower than those in mainstream communities.

Roma people have pointed out that their efforts towards integration into the societies they live are often set back by the inability to find work, sometimes denial of job opportunities.

France is not the only country that has attempted to purge itself of the Roma.

Italy, where close to 150,000 Roma people live, had earlier planned the shutting down of unauthorized camps and deportation of illegal residents. Italy's plan to fingerprint Roma living in camps had invited strong condemnation by the European Parliament.

Europe's Roman people are concentrated in countries like Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Slovakia and Turkey.

According to a 2005 UNICEF report, about 3.7 million Roma people were living in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia.

Roma people were persecuted by Nazis during World War II throughout Europe. According to records at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, almost 200,000 Roma were killed in Nazi concentration camps.


By Claire Suddath

Time Magazine

It’s like something out of a bad Cher song. French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative government continued its planned deportation of 700 Roma — otherwise known as Gypsies — on Aug. 26 by sending two additional airplanes full of them back to Romania. Police have been dismantling Roma camps and offering 300 euros ($382) to anyone willing to leave voluntarily. French polls show that the nation is divided by the expulsion tactics, while both human rights groups and religious leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, have spoken out against the move. But who are these Gypsies? And why does everyone seem to hate them?

The term Gypsy is short for Egyptian, although ethnically, Gypsies actually originally came from India. They left their homeland sometime during the 11th century, probably as a result of Muslim invasions, and have never returned. By the 14th century, they’d entered Eastern Europe, whose residents somehow got the impression that they came from Egypt (hence the nickname). Although they rarely show up on official censuses, today’s Gypsy population is estimated to be between 2 million and 5 million. Most of them live in Slavic-speaking countries such as the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania. Yet despite centuries of Gypsy presence, Europe has never accepted this oft nomadic ethnic group and has enacted systematic purges of varying severity since they first arrived on the continent. Evidence of discrimination can be found just by looking at our language: when we cheat someone out of money, we “gyp” them. Gypsy moths are parasitic, and gypsy cabs operate illegally. And though many Roma still use the slang term — Britain’s Gypsy Council is a self-organized association of so-called travelers — others regard gypsy as an insult despite its wide use and prefer Roma, or sometimes Romani.

Because Gypsies bounced around from country to country, they found it difficult to build permanent settlements or find jobs. So they traveled in caravans and made livings as entertainers and seasonal workers and by selling merchandise from faraway lands. Some of them told fortunes. Gypsies are also very good dancers; they developed the flamenco. Over the years, the itinerant lifestyle came to be part of the Gypsy culture, and though it is easy to romanticize (camaraderie! freedom! hoop earrings!), the true Gypsy experience is one of poverty, distrust and the ever nagging feeling of not belonging. Their continued persecution fostered a strong us.-vs.-them mentality, and they have strict laws against marrying “gadje” (nongypsies).

European laws against Gypsies can be traced back to the early 1400s, when cities such as Lucerne in Switzerland and Freiburg in Germany began systematically removing them. Gypsies have endured almost every form of discrimination. During World War II, Nazis murdered roughly 400,000 Gypsies alongside Jews, homosexuals and other minorities. Some were rounded up and shot in their own villages, while others were shipped off to concentration camps.

While relations between France and its Roma population have always been tense — last year, 10,000 Roma were shipped “home” to Romania and Bulgaria, according to the French government — this recent crackdown comes on the heels of a July 16 scuffle in which 22-year-old Luigi Duquenet, a Gypsy, was shot by police after he drove through a roadblock and allegedly hit an officer. Duquenet’s death sparked a small riot in the town of Saint-Aignan, which in turn prompted a government spokesman to call Gypsies “sources of illegal trafficking, of profoundly shocking living standards, of exploitation of children for begging, of prostitution and crime.” On July 28, Sarkozy announced that Roma encampments would be dismantled and their inhabitants “systematically evacuated.”

Aside from drawing allegations of racism and bigotry, Sarkozy’s actions border on the illegal: most of France’s Gypsies arrived by way of Romania or Bulgaria, both of which are now members of the European Union. E.U. citizens are allowed to move freely through other E.U. countries, although French law limits their stay to three months unless they find employment. And while it’s true that most Gypsies are in the country unlawfully, France can’t prove that it’s expelling the right people unless it checks the paperwork of every single person it deports. The Aug. 26 exodus brings the number of Roma kicked out of France this year to 8,300 (80% of whom took the 300 euros and left voluntarily). Of course, many of them will probably come right back.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Reding criticises France, Italy over Roma treatment

26/08/2010 - EU Commissioner Viviane Reding, responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, yesterday (25 August) criticised the French authorities for seeking solutions to immigration problems and tackling the Roma issue outside of an EU context. She also indirectly condemned Italy for its "discriminatory" and "inflammatory" rhetoric.


According to the European Commission, the Roma are the EU's largest ethnic minority, and trace their origins to medieval India. There are many Roma subgroups living in Europe.

Current census statistics state that 535,000 Roma live in Romania, 370,000 in Bulgaria, 205,000 in Hungary, 89,000 in Slovakia and 108,000 in Serbia. Some 200,000 Roma are estimated to live in the Czech Republic, while the same number are estimated to reside in Greece and an estimated 500,000 are in Turkey.

Many Roma from Eastern Europe moved to the West following the EU's enlargement, creating tensions, particularly in Italy (EurActiv 30/06/09).

An estimated 15,000 Roma from Romania and Bulgaria live in France. The French government is presently expelling large numbers of them in groups (EurActiv 19/08/10).

Reding, who is also a vice-president of the European Commission, broke the silence of the summer recess by publishing a statement recognising that following the expulsions of Roma by France and similar intentions voiced by Italy, the issue had attracted the attention of policymakers at both national and EU levels.

"It is clear that those who break the law need to face the consequences. It is equally clear that nobody should face expulsion just for being Roma," Reding wrote, referring to the fact that Roma are reportedly being expelled en masse, although the French authorities insisted that they were dealing with the Roma on a case-by-case basis, as EU legislation requires.

Responding to an announcement that France will host on 6 September a meeting of immigration ministers from Italy, Germany, the UK, Spain, Greece and Canada to focus on asylum issues and irregular migration, Reding made clear that the Commission disapproved of such initiatives outside of the EU framework. The Commission has not been invited to the Paris meeting.

"I call notably on the French authorities to engage in such a dialogue with all EU member states. If needed, the European Commission stands ready to act as a broker between member states and to monitor and assess progress being made," Reding stated.

Just before the statement was issued, a Commission spokesperson played down the importance of the Paris meeting, saying no decisions were expected to be taken there. However, Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said he would call in Paris for changes to EU immigration law, making expulsions easier.

"I regret that some of the rhetoric that has been used in some Member States in the past weeks has been openly discriminatory and partly inflammatory," Reding further stated.

Applauding France for expelling dozens of Roma, Italy recently said it wanted to expel citizens of other EU states who live solely off state benefits (EurActiv 23/08/10).

Justice and home affairs are no longer an intergovernmental issue since the Amsterdam Treaty, which entered into force in 1999. Moves by Paris and Italy can hardly be overlooked by the Commission, which is the guardian of the EU Treaties.

"Europe is not just a common market – it is at the same time a community of values and fundamental rights. The European Commission will watch over this," Reding concluded.


Reacting to the expulsions, the leader of the Socialists & Democrats group in the European Parliament, German MEP Martin Schulz, condemned the European Commission's failure to act on detailed proposals for action on the Roma issue, approved by the full European Parliament in March.

"The recent treatment of Roma people in France was appalling and cannot go unchallenged. Their rights have been abused for populist, electoral reasons by a government that is fast losing support," he said.

"As a founding principle, the EU bans discrimination based on ethnic origin or nationality […] scenes like those we have recently witnessed in France must never be repeated," he added, before pledging to keep defending the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights.



Scandal Breaks upon Deported Roma Arrival in Bulgaria's Varna


August 26, 2010, Thursday

13 Roma deported from France landed in Sofia Wednesday and were transported to the Varna airport Thursday. Photo by BGNES A taxi cab driver stirred a huge scandal Thursday at the airport in Bulgaria’s Black Sea capital Varna by accusing a Roma family of stealing his wallet.

The driver, identified as Donkov, insisted a woman and her three children took from him EUR 300 and asked for the border police to frisk the four, who had just been deported from France back to Bulgaria.

The incident occurred after another cab driver told the family to get off his car because they had too much luggage. The Roma woman then proceeded to the next cab, but Donkov appeared right in the middle with threats and screams. He was removed from the scene by colleagues, and later came back and apologized to the family. He told the TV reporters, gathered for the landing of the deported Roma, he had realized he left his wallet at a gas station.

The Roma woman, on her part, complained that because of people like the driver, Roma in Bulgaria have no rights, adding she did not come back from France to steal and Bulgarians have no money to be stolen anyway.

The mother said she returned from France on her own will, because someone in the family has gotten sick and she needed to take care of them. She lived in France for 3 years and worked at a food stand while two of her children attended French school with the help of the local church. The woman stated the French were very nice to them and no one had forced them to come back to Bulgaria, adding she would try to go back abroad, but not as an illegal emigrant.

At the end of July, during an emergency meeting of the cabinet, France decided to deport Roma, following clashes between the latter and the police in central France.

Most of the Roma in France came from Bulgaria and Romania after the two countries joined the EU in 2007 and are seen by the majority of the French as a threat to security, according to France Press.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Italy to raise EU citizen expulsion policy at September meeting



23/08/2010 - Italy has said it intends to expel citizens from other EU states if they are not able to support themselves, in a move apparently inspired by France's current crackdown on Roma.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told daily newspaper Corriere della Sera on Saturday (21 August) that French president Nicolas Sarkozy - whose recent actions include closing down Roma camps and deporting around 200 Roma to date - is "right."
The minister, from the anti-immigrant Northern League Party, said that "if anything, it's time to go a step further" and referred to the mandatory expulsion of EU citizens who do not meet certain criteria.

"Yes, expulsions just like those for illegal immigrants, not assisted or voluntary repatriations. Of course only for those who violate rules on requirements for living in another member state: a minimum level of income, adequate housing and not being a burden on the social welfare system of the country hosting them."

"Many Roma are EU citizens but do not respect any of these requirements," he said. But added, when asked if this would be discriminatory, that the policy should apply to all EU citizens and not just Roma.

"If anything, the problem is something else: unlike in France, many Roma and Sinti here have Italian citizenship. They have the right to remain here. Nothing can be done."

Mr Maroni admitted that previous attempt by Rome to go in this direction were shot down by the European Commission but said he intends to re-raise the issue of automatic expulsions at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Paris on 6 September.

In 2008, the commission threatened Italy with legal action if it went ahead with a decree allowing the expulsion of other EU citizens facing two years of jail. It gave its blessing to a controversial proposal by Italy to fingerprint Roma, however.

Some in Italy have suggested there is a discrepancy between the relatively strong reaction by Brussels to Italy two years ago compared with its muted response to Mr Sarkozy's policy towards the Roma community.

According to Mr Maroni this is due to an old "prejudice" whereby a policy carried out by a minister from the Northern League, a junior coalition partner in Rome's right-wing government, is assumed to "violate human rights."


Mr Sarkozy's government deported around 10,000 Roma to Romania and Bulgaria last year but the current raids against against a planned total of 300 Roma camps come after the French president for the first time expressly linked immigration and crime.

The European Commission, for its part, has said it is monitoring the situation in France noting that any deportation decisions must be proportionate and carried out on a case-by-case basis, with human rights watchdogs already questioning whether these criteria are being fulfilled.

Meanwhile, critics of Mr Sarkozy's policy have suggested that the Roma will simply return as soon as they are able.

They also suggest that Paris is contributing to a vicious circle due to its decision to maintain until 2014 rules restricting access to the labour market to nationals from Bulgaria and Romania - where the majority of Roma come from - and with it a means of supporting themselves.

Link: http://www.euobserver.com/9/30657/



The deportation of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma from France is an act of political cynicism, is the overall opinion expressed by the commentaries in leading US media

Forced deportation, en mass banishment, expulsion are the terms used to describe the eviction started last week. "The Roma in Europe: Persecuted and misunderstood" was the title CNN chose to summarize the attitude of the most of the US analysts towards the issue. Although all of the media also inform about the official French version, according to which the Romani leave France on their own free accord, none obviously believes in the "deliberateness" traded against a couple of hundred of euro.

The reasons aired by Nicolas Sarkozy's government for the large-scale deportation are commented with skepticism. The most of the US analysts do not see the violations committed by the Romani as enough ground for such radical measures on France's behalf. According to the US media's comments, this act contradicts EU rules and creates a precedent endangering the rights of all of the Union's citizens.

According to the New York Times and CNN, the en masse deportation questions France's allegations that only certain persons of Roma origin with criminal past are being deported. The comments in the CNN run along the tune that France actually expulses a whole minority. Wall Street Journal and a number of other media express the opinion that the problem is not so much with the Romani naughty behaviour but rather with Sarkozy's need for a scapegoat to distract the voters' attention from the political scandals in the government.

The en masse and forced expulsion of Roma from France stirs unpleasant associations with the Americans - and namely the Night of the Broken Glass , the Nazi anti-Jewish pogrom in Germany short before the start of WWII. The Voice of America quotes experts' opinion stating that the French Government could trigger a new wave of racism and xenophobia in Europe.

According to information from the World Bank, the isolation of the Romani in only four European countries with large Romani population generates losses amounting to 5.7 billion euro a year and the fiscal expenses - at 2 billion euro a year, the media reports.

Bulgaria loses 526 million euro a year and the fiscal losses are estimated to 370 million euro. In Romania the economic losses amount to 887 million euro.
It's good to see a response in the US media about the treatment of Romani in Europe.  It is interesting how long these types of deportations have been going on with little notice.  Italy, France, Ireland, Germany........

Sunday, August 22, 2010


16/08/2010 - Cingeneyiz TV dedicates this video to the memory of the Gypsy victims who have been killed by racist terrorists in different parts of the Europe.

Video can be watched in Romani, Turkish and English..

In Romani :

In English:




Italian interior minister in favor of expelling "illegal" EU citizens

English.news. 2010-08-22

ROME, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said on Saturday that he was in favor of expelling from the country "all European Union (EU) citizens" that had violated basic requirements for living in Italy.

In an interview with daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, Maroni stressed he strongly supported "the possibility of extending the push-back policy of illegal immigrants to all European citizens who breach the EU directive on the minimum conditions for living in another member state, including a minimum wage, a decent lodging and not weighing on the state's welfare system."

"For example, many gypsies are EU citizens but do not respect any of these requirements," he noted, adding that "expulsions should be allowed for all EU nationals, not only gypsies."

In brief, the minister aims to treat as illegal refugees all Europeans who are not working and contributing to the economic well-being and growth of Italy, but merely a burden on taxpayers' money.

Citing French President Nicholas Sarkozy's hard stance with regard to the expulsion of all gypsies "copying Italy's model," Maroni announced that he was "ready to do more" in the fight against illegal immigration by the introduction of "tougher measures."

Italy had recently sponsored a similar procedure of expulsion for illegal EU immigrants, but the European Commission blocked it, said the minister.

"Now we will return on the issue, which will be at the center of the next EU interior ministers' meeting scheduled for Sept. 6," he said.

The center-right government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has put the fight against illegal immigration at the top of its political agenda, implementing a controversial policy whereby sea refugees intercepted in territorial waters are pushed back.

In two years, sea landings have dropped by 88 percent. But gypsy immigration remains a critical issue after a woman was raped and killed in Rome. Several illegal camps have been dismantled by the authorities and the inhabitants moved elsewhere.

Italy's problem, however, is that many gypsies possess Italian citizenship, Maroni pointed out.

Editor: Tang Danlu

Saturday, August 21, 2010




The Roma and Europe

It was something like a year ago. I was walking in Spain with colleagues when a very old woman asked in Turkish for the bottle of water I was holding.

When I asked her where she was from, she told me that she was a Roma from Bulgaria and that she was able to speak Turkish because Turks and Roma were equally oppressed there once and that’s why these two groups feel close to each other. I don’t know what she was doing there, but she told me that her life in Spain was as bad as it was in Bulgaria and that the fate of the Roma never changes.

A Spanish colleague who was with us was saddened by this conversation. She reaffirmed that the Roma are Europe’s new “Jews” and they are one of the main targets of the rising nationalism in Western Europe. I sincerely thought that my colleague was exaggerating when she said she was afraid that Roma could even be subjected to mass killings. She insisted that Europeans cannot live without the feeling of threatening “others” amongst them, giving many examples from Roma history.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent decisions on Roma have reminded me of my colleague’s warnings. Following President Sarkozy’s orders, local authorities around France have started to dismantle a total of 300 Roma settlements throughout the country. It seems that every time his popularity declines President Sarkozy feels the need to use a nationalistic rhetoric to regain support. The Roma have become the latest victims of this attitude, following the “Muslims are not Europeans,” “Turkey is not European” and “Women wearing burqas must stay at home” policies.

Even in the oldest of times Roma travelled across the continent, and despite their nomadic way of life, were not considered foreigners in the countries where they spent their lives. With their ancestral traditions and beliefs, Roma are indeed quite different from most of the Europeans living in the cities or villages. The majority of the European Roma lived in Eastern Europe during the Cold War era but when the Eastern bloc countries joined the EU, they acquired European citizenship and thus the right to travel freely across Europe, just like the other ethnic and social groups living in those countries.

In addition, in the case of Hungary and Romania, the minority rights of the Roma populations were one of the major topics of the EU negotiation process. The EU was quite explicit in asking these countries to implement positive discriminatory measures towards these people. Some candidate Eastern European countries listened to the EU’s recommendations on how to treat their Roma populations, and they even forced them to live in big apartment buildings in the name of better living conditions. However, this policy was rejected by the Roma, who maintained that it was disrespectful towards their traditional way of life. In some cases, they reacted by putting their animals in these houses while they preferred to live in tents outside.

The usual nation-state concept envisages projects of “nation creation” through assimilation or integration policies, by force if necessary. Those who resist these policies are often excluded from society. Besides, their resistance often provides an excuse for those who label them as “bad people.” Some Europeans want the Roma to become invisible, and countries like France prefer to “resolve” the Roma problem by sending them by force to their countries of origin like Hungary and Romania. If this is what they call “unity in diversity,” it is then impossible to claim that the EU sets a good example for countries like Turkey.


Friday, August 20, 2010


Dale Farm's gypsies

Travellers' travails
Conflicts are growing between gypsies and residents

Aug 12th 2010

.“WE WON’T GO”, proclaims a banner at Dale Farm, one of the largest encampments of gypsies and travellers in England. Half of those living on the Essex site—around 50 families—face eviction by the local council, Basildon. Its leader, Tony Ball, has staked his reputation on removing them. Travellers at nearby Hovefields could also be evicted within weeks.

Dale Farm has become an iconic battle in a long and bitter conflict. Gypsies (of Roma descent) and travellers (often of Irish extraction) arrived at the former scrapyard over 40 years ago. More flocked in a decade ago, buying protected greenbelt land and applying for retrospective permission to live there. Around 40 families are legal; the rest are not. Violence is expected during the eviction, and the local Catholic church has offered to shelter the vulnerable.

The site looks scruffier than it did four years ago, when this correspondent last visited it. Litter drifts around empty pitches, wasps hover near overflowing bins and dogs bark outside each embattled caravan. But indoors the homes are spotless. Mary- Ann McCarthy, who keeps one of them, is depressed. Glancing at a statue of the Virgin Mary, she says, “They call us nasty thieving gypsies but we are Christian folk. They want to destroy our way of life. Everyone has rights, except for us.” She has been offered a small bedsit, but wants to be near her five daughters and 21 grandchildren, who visit her every day.

The issue of how and where travellers are to live has come to a crisis point, and not only at Dale Farm. The previous, Labour government required local authorities to find land for them and offered £150m ($235m) over five years to pay for it. But progress was slow, not least because many residents objected to new sites. The Equality and Human Rights Commission reported last year that councils would need to double their speed to meet the target of 5,733 extra pitches in England by 2011.

This sluggishness has left about a fifth of all gypsies and travellers with nowhere legal to live. Many have taken matters into their own hands, including some in the village of Meriden, in Warwickshire.

As at Dale Farm, a group of gypsies bought greenbelt land and moved on to it in May, applying only after that for permission to set up their caravans there. The villagers mounted a 24-hour blockade to prevent the gypsies from bringing building supplies into the field (the courts later forced them to allow sewerage works).

David McGrath, who speaks for the Meriden campaigners, says the gypsies have damaged a “designated wildlife site” in a precious “green lung”. “We are sympathetic,” he says, “but the gypsy and traveller community, fundamentally, are… adopting a cavalier approach to development. What they are doing is unethical and inappropriate.” The gypsies, who have lost the latest legal round in the fight to stay, say they have nowhere else to go.

They also have fewer friends in high places these days. The new government has taken a robust line, withdrawing funding for new sites, scrapping targets and considering limits on retrospective permission. Eric Pickles, the secretary for communities and local government, brands the previous policy a “failure”. He plans to offer local areas financial incentives to create new sites. But new legislation to promote localism is likely to strengthen the hand of residents who resist them.

Grattan Puxon of the Gypsy Council says his members feel “under great pressure now” in Britain and abroad. The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has ordered the expulsion from France of all illegal gypsy immigrants, sparking a big eviction and a riot.

In Basildon Mr Ball says that he sympathises with the gypsies but all avenues except eviction have been exhausted. The council has offered “bricks and mortar” accommodation to all those it is obliged to house, he says. When asked where the gypsies are to go if they turn that down, he remarks that “they came from somewhere. One has to draw the line at some point. All our authorised sites are full up.” After the eviction, he says, the encampment might well become allotments.


Radical Women and Freedom Socialist Party Statement

In commemoration of revolutionary feminist political prisoner

Marilyn Buck (1947-2010)

August 19, 2010

The world has lost another heroic freedom fighter. Marilyn Buck died on August 3, at the age of 62, just two weeks after being paroled from a prison medical center in Texas. Ms. Buck spent the last quarter-century of her life imprisoned because she was dedicated to fighting injustice.

All her life she fought against capitalism and imperialism. She was a staunch advocate of Black, Native American, Puerto Rican and women's liberation, and social and economic justice for all the afflicted.

From a very young age Buck protested against the Vietnam War; she was a member of Students for a Democratic Society, pressing it to take women's freedom seriously. She actively supported the Black Liberation Army, aiding in the escape of Black Panther leader Assata Shakur.

Because of her militant activism, Buck became a target of COINTELPRO, the infamous FBI program that conducted a secret war against domestic political dissent in the 60s and 70s. Prosecutors later charged her and others with involvement in an armored car robbery, and in a series of non-injury bombings at military and political sites, in protest of U.S. foreign policy in the Mid East and Central America. She pleaded guilty only to conspiracy and destruction of government property. Her sentences amounted to 80 years in federal prison.

Buck continued her organizing work and journalism while she was in jail. She denounced any and all crimes of the U.S. government. She helped her comrades in prison, especially Black and Latina inmates, combat the "U.S. prison plantation system," as she accurately dubbed it.

She was also an artist who wrote magnificent and moving poetry. "I was a political prisoner ... a censored person," she wrote. "I turned to poetry, an art of speaking sparely, but flagrantly." Buck won the poetry prize from the PEN Prison Writing program in 2001. She published a collection of poems titled, Rescue the Word, and translated from Spanish the book, State of Exile, by Cristina Peri Rossi.

The U.S. criminal justice system locked up Marilyn Buck because she was an anti-capitalist radical activist. It killed her through grossly inadequate medical care for her uterine cancer. Through it all, she saw her role as an imprisoned leftist clearly and selflessly:

"Being a political prisoner is not my only work. We still have world views based on long years of experience. . . political subjects and comrades in an ongoing political struggle against imperialism, oppression, and exploitation. . . In many struggles many militants have been exiled yet they have still been considered part of their struggles, not merely objects. We here could be considered internally exiled. Don't lock us into roles as objects or symbols."

Today Radical Women, the Freedom Socialist Party and countless other activists can honor Marilyn Buck by continuing our work in the movements to free political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Lynne Stewart, the Cuban Five, Leonard Peltier, and many more. And we can steadfastly organize against racism and sexism, for a society that seeks to fulfill the potential of all freedom-loving people.

Marilyn Buck, we salute you.

Issued by:

Radical Women, U.S.
625 Larkin Street, #202
San Francisco, CA 94109


Freedom Socialist Party, U.S.
4710 University Ave. NE #100
Seattle, WA 98105


I'm pleased to say that the situation of the Romani in France has made the mainstream media in the US.  NPR, TIME, and the Seattle Times are just some of the organizations who have reported on Sarkozy's anti-Gypsy policies.

Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010

France Deports Gypsies: Courting the Xenophobes?

By Bruce Crumley / Paris

France has begun the first deportations of 700 members of the Roma Gypsy minority, to Romania and Bulgaria, as part of its controversial crackdown on communities officials hold responsible for criminal activity. The expulsions are set to be completed by the end of the month. Also affected by the law-and-order push are the nomadic "travelers" group the Roma are a subset of; delinquents and their families in France's troubled suburban housing projects; and human traffickers and the illegal immigrants they smuggle into France. But the highly publicized targeting of Roma in particular has been criticized by opposition politicians as a cynical move by the conservative government of President Nicolas Sarkozy to seduce hard-right voters in the long march toward the President's 2012 re-election bid. It's also raising alarms from Romanian and European Union officials that France's drive may be fanning xenophobia and impinging on the rights of fellow E.U. citizens. Romania has been a member of the E.U. since 2007.

An initial flight took 79 Roma to their Romanian homeland on Thursday, with at least 292 additional deportations scheduled to take place over the next week. Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said 51 illegal camps inhabited by migrant Roma had been raided and broken up by police since late July. Apart from the 700 Roma from those camps to be expelled by the end of August, thousands more will follow as Hortefeux presses ahead with the dismantling of half of the 600 illegal camps in the next three months. Sarkozy embarked on the action on July 21, less than a week after youths from one of the transient communities ran amok in Saint-Aignan, south of Blois, to protest the alleged killing of one of their peers by police. (See pictures of migrants being expelled from France.)

Opposition politicians and human-rights organizations have widely condemned the operation as abusive and racist, saying the Roma have too often been Europe's scapegoats. Other observers pointed out that the itinerant people involved in the Saint-Aignan violence weren't Roma but part of the far larger travelers communities, whose members are virtually all French citizens. Critics have said the more narrow focus on Roma is an effort by Sarkozy's government to divert attention from dismal approval ratings and the scandals that have dogged it for months. Even members of Sarkozy's ruling majority have expressed concerns over the moves. Parliamentarian Jean-Pierre Grand recently lamented what he called the rafles of Roma — a term used to refer to the notorious roundups of Jews during the Nazi occupation of France.

Despite the criticism, government officials moved ahead with the plan, which included not just Thursday's deportations but also a raid on a new Roma camp in southeastern France. Such high-profile strutting is getting a little harder to do, however. On Aug. 18, the E.U. Commission for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship reminded France of the "freedom of movement for E.U. citizens." It also warned that it would be watching France closely to make sure due process and the rights of European Roma were being respected. (See more on E.U. nations stoking fears of an immigrant flood.)

Around the same time, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi stepped into the fray, advising Paris not to use Roma as scapegoats for political advantage. "I am worried about the risks of populism and xenophobic reactions," Baconschi told Radio France International. He isn't the only one. Last week, a U.N. human-rights report decried what it called "a notable resurgence in racism and xenophobia" in France. It cited repeated French government initiatives that stigmatize foreigners and minorities — including a national debate on French identity and the anti-Roma drive — as contributing factors.

But Paris is on firm legal ground: it requires Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to obtain resident permits for stays of more than three months under the seven-year transition conditions set when both nations joined the E.U. in 2007. (Most Roma wouldn't meet the residency requirement of stable employment.) Meanwhile, France also manages to get the Roma to return home "voluntarily": deportees receive a payment of $386 per adult and $129 per child if they leave. Such sums, Paris says, are to allow impoverished Roma to set up a viable life at home — and stay there.(See pictures of Paris expanding.)

How, then, might opponents force Sarkozy to alter his anti-Roma drive? Perhaps by pointing out that despite the attention Sarkozy is drawing to the operation, his latest push is not new — nor does it work. Last year alone, around 10,000 Roma — or two-thirds of their estimated population in France — were deported, most with French taxpayer money in their pockets. Virtually all returned to France weeks later, according to international Roma organizations. Also, prior to Thursday's deportations, 25 similar flights returned Roma to Bulgaria and Romania since January. The total for 2009 was 44 flights. Meaning, there's nothing new to the current French expulsion of Roma except the shouting — and a crass calculation to win votes through xenophobia.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote, was ratified on 18 August 1920.

Tennessee was the state to cast the deciding vote for the passage of the amendment. 
That vote was hanging in the balance, with one twenty four year old man yet to vote.  This young man had previously stated his position against granting the vote, so no one was hopeful.  He surprisingly cast his deciding vote in favor of the amendment.

He later stated that he changed his vote because he found a note from his mother in his pocket.  The note said (paraphrase) do right by the ladies. 

The struggle for women's votes began officially at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.  During this long battle, women were imprisioned, force fed, ridiculed, beaten.............



Choisy-le-Roi, France
Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010 8:13PM EDT
.Life was precarious for Rodika Novacovici when she stayed in a flyblown makeshift camp of tarp huts and rusted caravans on the shoulder of the A86 highway that circles Paris, selling scrounged flowers for a few euros a day.

It is even less certain now that she and 57 other destitute Romas found shelter last week in a sparkling clean grade-school gym in this small suburban town 12 kilometres from the heart of the capital.

“A lot of people in France have good hearts,” said Ms. Novacovici, a 36-year-old widow whose passable language skills have made her the spokeswoman for the little group of homeless migrants. “But so many look down on us and I don’t understand why.”

As part of a new nationwide crackdown on illegal Roma squats and shantytowns, French police last week dismantled her roadside camp at 6 in the morning, impounded the unregistered vehicles and offered the adults a choice: Go back voluntarily to Romania with a farewell gift of €300 and a plane ticket, they said, or face deportation.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said police have uprooted 51 illegal Roma camps in the past two weeks and given 700 people expulsion orders. The government has vowed to clear out another 260 camps by the end of October. President Nicolas Sarkozy, in announcing the policy in July, called them eyesores and hotbeds of prostitution and trafficking.

The crackdown comes at a time of rising anti-immigrant sentiment across Europe, where conservative politicians in Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and other countries are pushing for restrictions on foreign workers and residents. The poverty, homelessness and neglect of the Roma, whose roadside shantytowns and recourse to begging make them especially visible, have made them the targets of periodic bursts of police action across Europe.

They were victims of attacks by vigilantes in Italy in recent years. The mayor of Copenhagen recently called for their mass deportation from Denmark as criminals. Germany, which gave them temporary refuge during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, has been sending hundreds of Roma families back to Kosovo each year.

The Roma migrants in France, estimated at between 6,000 and 10,000 people at any one time, are a case study in how European integration has limited policy options. They are part of a wave of European migrants who have taken advantage of the European Union’s free movement of labour and people to settle in countries where the standard of living, and job opportunities, are better than at home.

Movement between EU countries has now become the single biggest driver of European migration. According to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 44 per cent of the foreign migrants in European countries are workers from elsewhere in the EU.

While many Roma are considered stateless or lack rudimentary identification papers, the majority on the move in Europe come from Romania and Bulgaria. Those countries joined the EU in 2007, giving their citizens the right to move freely within the EU and to stay on for up to three months unless they are deemed a threat to public order or an unreasonable burden on society.

Beyond three months, depending on the rules in the host country, they generally have the right as EU citizens to remain in another European country if they prove they are working legally, studying or have enough money to stay off welfare. All EU countries, apart from Sweden and Finland, have placed temporary restrictions on Romanians’ and Bulgarians’ access to jobs. But under EU rules, those special restrictions must be eliminated by 2014.

So the Roma, formerly known as Gypsies, can be expelled if they are deemed to be a social burden or working informally. But they also can freely come back.

Meanwhile, small towns and cities are providing temporary lodging for Roma families from dismantled camps.

“We are responding to an emergency situation, but there’s no magic solution,” said Micheline Odin, a city councillor in Choisy-le-Roi who brought diapers, donated baby clothes and some basic medicines to the families sprawled on borrowed mattresses under the basketball hoops in the school gym. School starts in two weeks, the gym will have to be vacated and the city already has more than 2,000 people on a waiting list for public housing.

Other local officials expressed the same worries.

“It’s clear that when people who have no right to work, and are chased from squat to squat, have to feed their kids, they are going to live on the margins of legality,” said Dominique Voynet, mayor of Montreuil, where some 60 Roma have been living in an unused sports stadium since being driven from their squatters’ camp last week. “I don’t accept it. But it’s the undeniable reality.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010



For Romani families in poverty, threat of forced removal of children by the state looms large

By Tereza Bottman
August 7th, 2010

Members of nineteen families facing eviction file in to a small conference room. The multigenerational group listens intently as LifeTogether director Sri Kumar Vishwanathan describes the situation: his organization, in partnership with several private firms, was, at the last minute, able to secure eighteen apartments on the outskirts of town for families who have defaulted on rent, and are thus being forced to move out of a building in one of the city’s “socially excluded Romani locations.” The apartments offered to those present contain only bare walls, no appliances and insufficient facilities–a sink, but no shower or tub.

This particular community’s unemployment rate stands at a shocking 100 percent, a phenomenon that is common in many of the poor Czech Romani enclaves. In order to survive, families often rely on money lenders who use unethical practices, charging exorbitant amounts of interest, thus forcing families into vicious cycles of poverty which are difficult to break.

As a result of their dire economic situation and deeply entrenched systemic discrimination, several families at the meeting have already had some of their children taken away by the state and at least four others are in danger of having their children placed into state care.

“The mothers were ashamed to say their children are under the threat of being removed from the family,” Vishwanathan, who founded LifeTogether in the northeastern Czech town of Ostrava thirteen years ago, related to me in private after the meeting. “They feel they have failed. But it’s not their fault.”

“Czech Republic is number one in Europe,” he continues, “in terms of having the highest rate of forced removal of children from Romani families and placed in state-run institutions.”

Indeed, Human Rights Watch has found that the Czech Republic has the highest number of infants under the age of three forced into institutional care of all EU countries.

Vishwanathan’s organization works to help prevent such practices, which have been criticized by the European Roma Rights Center and Amnesty International, among other human rights watchdogs. LifeTogether provides many services for the Romani community, including legal aid, counseling as well as help for children who run away from state foster care institutions.

To truly remediate the situation, however, a systemic overhaul is long overdue. In its Survey on Children in Alternative Care, Eurochild, a network of organizations and individuals working across Europe to improve the quality of life of children, outlines seven steps by which European governments could prevent forced removal of children from families in poverty. Eurochild states:

EU member states should invest more in moving away from a child care system based on large institutions and move towards the provision of a range of integrated, family-based and community-based services.

Another Eurochild recommendation suggests that “the involvement of children, young people and their families is crucial, both in the decision- making processes affecting them directly and in the development of alternative care policies and services. They should therefore be empowered to participate in all stages of the care process and the EU should encourage the development of peer led groups of children, young people and parents with experience of care.”

The European Roma Rights Center identifies the role of the social worker as key in addressing systemic discrimination, as social workers are those who determine whether a family is “definitively incapable of caring for a child.” This decision is often driven by preconceived conceptions and a social worker’s view of the Romani community. The Bratinka Report, a study discussed in the ERRC document, found this to be the case:

This report found that 38% of social workers felt that the main obstacle to better relationships were the “unsavoury characteristics of the Roma”, that the Romani minority should attempt to adapt to the majority, that affirmative action programmes for the Roma were a waste of money and their influence negligible, and that it would be good to strike hard at Romany criminality and disregard for generally accepted norms. Forty-two percent of social workers felt that pro-active programmes for the Roma were an unfair privilege for one group of citizens. The ramifications of these perceptions may indeed correlate with the disproportionate representation of Roma children in institutions and necessarily question whether Romani families are given a just assessment of their rightful capacity to raise their own children.

Because social workers’ prejudices can ultimately lead to the break-up of a family, it is crucial that, as the organization Eurochild asserts, “all professionals working with and for children, including those in the education, health care, child protection and social work sectors, need high quality on-going training and supervision.”

Furthermore, Eurochild advocates that risks of social exclusion associated with poverty must be reduced:

The fight against child poverty must remain a key political priority of the EU. Social inequality denies children equal access to services and perpetuates the cycle of poverty. A strong political framework is required at EU level to ensure all member states put in place the necessary structural reforms to ensure all families have access to a minimum income and adequate services.

This year happens to be the EU Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, and in that regard, the Czech Republic has far to go. Considering the critical situation of the Romani population living in poverty, it is an abomination that the newly elected Czech government plans to cut social spending rather than invest in uplifting marginalized communities so they can live fearless, dignified lives.

“That’s very big of you. You are noble people,” Vishwanathan responds to one mother’s offer to forgo her chance to move into the apartment offered by LifeTogether before the meeting with the families concludes. The mother wants to give a preference to a family in danger of having its children removed by the state. She says, “There are nineteen families and eighteen apartments. Of course I will give a family that needs it more a chance first. We, who have kids, know how it is.”

Fortunately, following the eviction from an already long-neglected building for the poor, she and her children will be able to stay at her aunt’s for now.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


This weekend Kate built bookshelves and we set up a temporary shrine for Sarah le Kali.
The bookshelves are absolutely fantastic and hold lots of books and binders.

Kate is, without doubt, the best groundskeeper one could imagine.

We've got a couple of potential showings over in Seattle WA, one at the celebration of World Women's Day in October.. 

We've also had a steady stream of visitors.  Next week we've got several appointments lined up.

The museum is now open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 AM to Noon, and by appointment.  I'm not yet working full time in the museum because of construction type projects, but hopefully I will be soon and then open hours will expand.

We still have no money but we're still hoping for a grant.


French lawmaker denounces Roma raids as disgraceful

(AFP) – 1 day ago

MONTPELLIER, France — A lawmaker from France's ruling UMP party denounced Saturday the government's raids on camps of illegal Roma immigrants as disgraceful, likening them to WWII roundups.

Following the latest raid on Saturday in an eastern Paris suburb, Jean-Pierre Grand said the government's policy of dismantling illegal Roma camps "is turning disgraceful".

The lawmaker from the southern Herault region said he couldn't help but react after learning "that the authorities, arriving very early in the morning, break up families, sending men to one side and women and children on the other, and threatening to separate mothers and children."

Police removed Saturday 70 Roma, including around 20 children, who had been occupying a building in Montreuil for two days. Sixteen were briefly arrested and then ordered to leave French territory.

Some of the Roma children gathered in the local police station along with their mothers to chant "free our fathers!"

Calling for the resignation of the official responsible for the raid, Grand condemned "... these methods which resemble wartime roundups."

France's interior minister Brice Hortefeux said Thursday more than 40 Roma camps had already been dismantled, a week after the government began its plans to get rid of 300 illegal camps and expel illegal immigrants.

The move is part of a broader "war on crime" announced by President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose opponents have accused him of stirring up racial sensitivities and security fears to bolster his flagging popularity.


French Gypsy protest blocks major highway

(AFP) – 2 hours ago

BORDEAUX, France — Members of France's Roma, Gypsy and traveller minorities blocked a major highway outside Bordeaux on Sunday after hundreds of them were kicked out of an illegal campsite.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's government has in recent weeks launched a major and controversial crackdown on the travelling minorities, closing unauthorised camps and expelling foreign-born Gypsies from the country.

Sunday's blockade was the first major counter-protest by the groups, and more than 250 cars, trucks and caravans blocked the Bordeaux bypass and a bridge over the River Garonne in the southwest of the country.

Police and road safety officials said northbound traffic towards Paris was backed up for five kilometres (three miles) and southbound into Bordeaux for two kilometres, causing major disruption on a summer public holiday weekend.

The protestors blocked traffic on the bridge for about five hours before leaving to try to move their caravans onto a sports ground, but were stopped by riot police and several scuffles broke out.

They then reoccupied the bridge for another hour-and-a-half in the evening before leaving.

"After two warnings from police, who planned to use tear gas, we've decided to leave," said James Dubois, president of an association of travellers.

The Gypsies were kicked out of a campsite in the town of Anglet, further south, earlier Sunday and had been forbidden from moving onto an exhibition ground nearer Bordeaux by municipal officials, police said.

Last month, following a clash between Gypsies and police in another region, Sarkozy announced a raft of new draconian security measures, including plans to dismantle 300 unauthorised campsites within three months.

Critics accused the French leader of stigmatising travelling minorities in a bid to recover votes lost to the anti-immigration far right in time for his re-election battle in 2012.

But opinion polls show most French voters approve of the measures.

There are estimated to be 15,000 Gypsies and Roma of eastern European origin in France. Some live in authorised encampments, and others have moved into squatter camps or abandoned buildings.

Last month, a group of French Gypsies rioted after one of their number was shot dead by police during a car chase in Saint-Aignan, central France.

Struggling in the opinion polls, and with his government and ruling party dogged by financial scandal, Sarkozy took the opportunity to launch a series of new severe security measures.

In addition to expulsions and the destruction of camps, a squad of tax inspectors has been set up to target what Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux called the owners of "caravans pulled by certain powerful cars".

Saturday, August 14, 2010



Sarkozy's crystal ball sees votes in moving on Gypsies August 14, 2010
By Gregory Viscusi

The French President has ordered the expulsion of hundreds of Roma.
GRENOBLE: Marka, who lives in a wooden shack with her husband in a camp holding about 300 Roma built next to a rail yard on the outskirts of Paris, says she feels every day could be their last one there.

The 17-year-old, who earns about €10 ($12.90) a day doing skits for tourists, is among Gypsies targeted by the French government for expulsion. The President, Nicolas Sarkozy, responding to a spate of violent crimes, last month ordered that 300 illegal Roma camps be dismantled and residents expelled.

For Mr Sarkozy, who faces re-election in 2012, the evictions are among a series of steps, including stripping naturalised citizens of their French citizenship if they commit serious crimes and jailing parents of juvenile delinquents - to show he's tough on crime. Politically, the moves are paying off as polls show the French support the measures, giving Mr Sarkozy a bump up from record-low approval ratings.

Sarkozy is surfing a radicalisation of public opinion on the question of security and immigration,'' said Laurent Dubois, a professor at Paris's Institute of Political Studies. ''Sarkozy's declarations are a series of landmines that he's slipped in under the summer sand. It helps remobilise the right, while at the same time creating divisions on the left.''

The President's popularity ratings are rebounding, according to a CSA poll published in Le Parisien on August 7. People who said they have confidence in Mr Sarkozy rose to 34 per cent this month from a record low of 32 per cent last month. The poll questioned 1002 people.

The Socialist Party, the main opposition, is struggling to come up with a response.

''Among voters, security is an issue where there is a lot of common ground across the political spectrum,'' said Jean-Daniel Levy, the head of the political department at CSA. ''Many of the voters on the left don't think the Socialist leadership is adequately tough on questions of security.''

An Ifop poll published August 6 in the pro-government newspaper Le Figaro said 79 per cent were in favour of dismantling Gypsy camps. Between 70 and 80 per cent favour taking citizenship away from foreign-born criminals. In a poll by CSA for the Communist Party newspaper Humanite, 62 per cent said dismantling the camps was ''necessary'' and 57 per cent said the same for taking away citizenship.

Martine Aubry, the head of the Socialist Party, has denounced Mr Sarkozy for ''sliding into anti-republican ideas that hurt France and its values''. She did not directly mention the proposals, and hasn't spoken publicly.

''It's a subject that Socialists are ill at ease about,'' Pierre Moscovici, a former Socialist minister and a member of parliament, said in an interview with RTL radio. ''We have to get back to talking about social issues, about pensions, jobs, taxes, and not fall for this bait.''

The dismantling of Gypsy camps, meanwhile, has begun. One camp in the industrial town of Saint-Etienne was dismantled on August 6 and 135 Roma ordered to leave the country. On Thursday, police evicted 60 Roma who had been living under a highway overpass in Choisy-le-Roi, south of Paris.

In the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, residents of a 10-year-old Gypsy camp were evacuated by the police last month. This week, they were offered four empty lots by the Communist Party mayor.

On a recent day, men were building shacks there, using wood they had found. Most of them speak French and children at the camp go to school, said Miahai Stefan, 30, a scrap-metal collector. ''We want to stay here,'' he said. ''We want a place to live, to work, and to send our kids to school.''

Friday, August 13, 2010


Radical Women and Freedom Socialist Party Statement

In commemoration of Puerto Rican freedom fighter Lolita Lebrón (1919 -2010)
 August 13, 2010

This summer the world lost an incomparable female warrior whose courageous life and sacrifices for her people's freedom will long be remembered and honored. Lolita Lebrón, who spent almost 26 years behind bars in U.S. prisons, died on August 1, 2010 at the age of 90, a hero whose total commitment to Puerto Rican self-determination never wavered.

Ms. Lebrón joined the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (PRNP) in the 1940s. At that time, the group was deeply involved in labor struggles, including organizing a general strike in the sugar industry that paralyzed the island in 1934. The party also spearheaded a campaign to defend small farmers whose land was being seized by U.S. banks, fought English-only laws, participated in anti-imperialist protests, and mobilized a militia of women and men to counter U.S. government repression. Lebrón quickly became recognized as a party leader in the movement for independence of "Borinquen" — the original indigenous name for Puerto Rico.

In 1954, Lebrón organized a daring attack on the U.S. Congress to focus world attention on Puerto Rican demands to end U.S. colonialism on the island. She led three other independistas into the visitors' gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives and unfurled the Puerto Rican flag, shouting "Free Puerto Rico!" and firing pistols. Several legislators were wounded and she and her comrades were sentenced to decades in prison.

Years later, in her testimony at the International Tribunal on Violations of Human Rights in Puerto Rico and Vieques, she said:

"I had the honor of leading the act against the U.S. Congress on March 1, 1954, when we demanded freedom for Puerto Rico and we told the world that we are an invaded nation, occupied and abused by the United States of America. I feel very proud of having performed that day, of having answered the call of the motherland."

Though she later concluded that civil disobedience was more effective than armed struggle, Lebrón never abandoned the battle against U.S. imperialism and colonialism. In 2001, she joined other demonstrators in entering a restricted area of Vieques — a small Puerto Rican island — to protest the U.S. Navy using it as a bombing range. For this, she was sentenced to 60 days in jail. In 2003, the navy finally succumbed to constant protests and abandoned Vieques.

On International Women's Day, March 8, 2008, Lebrón led a group of 100 women to protest at the seat of colonial government in Puerto Rico to demand sovereignty. She said:

"We want everyone to know that in Puerto Rico, we women are fighting for our rights as workers, we are fighting for a healthy environment, for poor and marginalized communities, for the freedom of the political prisoners, the well-being of children, for peace, for the defense of our culture and all the rights they intend to take from us. We want everyone to know that women in Puerto Rico support, demand and are fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico."

Today the island still struggles against a cruel poverty imposed by U.S. imperialism which exploits the island as a source of cheap labor and a dumping ground for U.S. products. Lebrón's fight is unfinished, but she can best be honored by joining the struggle to finally end colonial rule in her beloved homeland. Nowhere is the need for an independence solidarity movement more important than in the United States, the source of so many Puerto Rican problems and dreams deferred.

¡Que viva Lolita Lebrón y Puerto Rico libre y socialista!

Issued by:
Radical Women, U.S.
625 Larkin Street, #202
San Francisco, CA 94109
Email: RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com

Freedom Socialist Party, U.S.
4710 University Ave. NE #100

Seattle, WA 98105
Email: fspnatl@igc.org

Declaración de las Mujeres Radicales y del Partido de Libertad Socialista
En conmemoración de la luchadora por la paz puertorriqueña
Lolita Lebrón (1919-2010)
13 de agosto de 2010

Este verano el mundo perdió a una incomparable guerrera cuya valiente vida y cuyos sacrificios por la libertad de su pueblo serán recordados y honrados por mucho tiempo. Lolita Lebrón, quien pasó casi 26 años tras las rejas en prisiones de EEUU, murió el 1 de agosto de 2010 a la edad de 90 años como una heroína cuyo compromiso total a la autodeterminación puertorriqueña nunca flaqueó.

La Sra. Lebrón se unió al Parido Nacionalista Puertorriqueño (PRNP) en la década de 1940. En esa época, ese organismo estaba profundamente involucrado en luchas laborales, incluyendo la organización de una huelga general en la industria azucarera que paralizó la isla en 1934. El partido también encabezó una campaña para defender a los pequeños agricultores cuya tierra se la estaban arrebatando los bancos de EEUU, peleó contra las leyes de "sólo inglés", participó en protestas antiimperialistas y movilizó a una milicia de mujeres y hombres para oponerse a la represión del gobierno de EEUU. Muy pronto a Lebrón se le reconoció como líder del partido en el movimiento por la independencia de Borinquen - el nombre indígena original de Puerto Rico.

En 1954, Lebrón organizó un atrevido ataque contra el Congreso de EEUU para captar la atención mundial hacia la cuestión de las demandas puertorriqueñas para poner fin al colonialismo de EEUU en la isla. Dirigió a otros tres independentistas en su ingreso a la galería de visitantes de la Cámara de Representantes de EEUU y desplegó la bandera puertorriqueña, gritando ¡"Puerto Rico Libre"! y disparando pistolas. Varios legisladores resultaron heridos y ella y sus camaradas fueron sentenciados a varias décadas de prisión.

Años después, en su testimonio en el Tribunal Internacional de Violaciones a los Derechos Humanos en Puerto Rico y Vieques, declaró:

"Tuve el honor de dirigir el acto de protesta contra el Congreso de EEUU el 1 de marzo de 1954, cuando exigimos la libertad de Puerto Rico y le comunicamos al mundo que somos una nación invadida, ocupada y maltratada por los Estados Unidos de América. Me siento muy orgullosa de haber actuado ese día, de haber respondido al llamado de nuestra patria."

Aunque posteriormente llegó a la conclusión de que la desobediencia civil es más eficaz que la lucha armada, Lebrón nunca abandonó la lucha contra el imperialismo y colonialismo de EEUU. En 2001, se unió a otros manifestantes para ingresar a un área restringida de Vieques - una pequeña isla puertorriqueña - para protestar contra su uso por parte de la Fuerza Naval de EEUU como zona de pruebas para bombas. Por esto, fue sentenciada a 60 días de cárcel. En 2003, la Fuerza Naval por fin sucumbió a las constantes protestas y abandonó Vieques.

El Día Internacional de la Mujer, 8 de marzo de 2008, Lebrón dirigió a un grupo de 100 mujeres para protestar en la sede del gobierno colonial de Puerto Rico para exigir su soberanía. Afirmó que:

"Queremos que todo el mundo sepa que en Puerto Rico las mujeres estamos peleando por nuestros derechos de trabajadoras, estamos peleando por un medio ambiente sano, por las comunidades pobres y marginadas, por la libertad de los prisioneros políticos, por el bienestar de los niños, por la paz, por la defensa de nuestra cultura y de todos los derechos que quieren arrebatarnos. Queremos que todo el mundo sepa que las mujeres de Puerto Rico apoyamos, exigimos y estamos luchando por la independencia de Puerto Rico."

Hoy día la isla aún está luchando contra la cruel pobreza causada por el imperialismo de EEUU, el cual explota la isla como fuente de mano de obra barata y como vertedero para los productos de EEUU. La lucha de Lebrón está inconclusa, pero la mejor manera de honrarla es unirse a la lucha para poner fin, de una vez por todas, al gobierno colonial en su amada patria. En ningún otro lugar es más importante el movimiento de solidaridad independentista que en los Estados Unidos, la fuente de tantos problemas y sueños postergados de los puertorriqueños.

¡Que viva Lolita Lebrón y un Puerto Rico libre y socialista!

Publicado por:
Mujeres Radicales, Estados Unidos
625 Larkin Street, #202
San Francisco, CA 94109
Correo electrónico: RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com
Partido de Libertad Socialista, EEUU
4710 University Ave. NE #100
Seattle, WA 98105
Correo electrónico:  fspnatl@igc.org