Friday, December 31, 2010





30.12.2010 09:56

Local authorities in the southern Silesian city of Bytom have held a meeting with local Roma gypsy residents after a spate of incidents forced them to leave their homes for fear of physical harm.

“We are a little calmer, but there’s still a long way to go,” members of the Roma society told the local edition of Gazeta Wyborcza after meeting with local authorities, including the police.

The meeting comes after local gangs tried to extort ‘protection’ money from a resident Roma family, with the stipulation that if an installment was late, then the son would have his legs broken.

As a result, the mother stopped sending her son to school, but he was beaten up in a shopping mall. After calling the police, the family continued to be hassled by the gang, and in the end was forced to move to a nearby hotel. Soon after, other Roma families started receiving similar treatment.

An anonymous Roma ‘judge’ told the Katowice edition of Gazeta Wyborcza that “it is good that the meeting took place, but no message were voiced that would ensure the protection of those people that need it most.” Police in Bytom are looking into the matter. (jb)

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Happy Birthday to Patti Smith, now the Grandmother of Punk Music.  In her career she has been called the Princess of Punk, the Mother of Punk, the Godmother of Punk, and now, at 64, the pundits and critics are calling her the Grandmother of Punk. 

Patti accepts every title graciously, but none so much as the recently received award for her book, Just Kids, about her relationship with Robert Maplethorpe.  Patti is, and always has been,  before all else, a poet.

Patti continues to be an outspoken political ally to progressive people and their struggles..

Listen carefully to her songs.  People have the Power is a perfect example of her political prospective.

Happy Birthday Patti.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The Massacre at Wounded Knee took place on December 29, 1890 in South Dakota.
At least 300 Sioux Indians were killed by United States troops,  many women and children.  Some were chased for over two miles, before being massacred by the troops.
In 1973, the "Siege of Wounded Knee" was perpetrated against Native Americans who, led by AIM and traditional tribal members, dared to express the sovereignity of THEIR land.
Please check out these stories. 
We're all illegals, eh?




By Jon Austin (ECHO)

14/12/2010 - LABOUR PARTY councillors likened the mass evictions of Travellers to “ethnic cleansing” and branded the development of Dale Farm – Europe’s biggest illegal camp – a “misdemeanour” when the issue came up at this month’s Basildon council meeting.

Phil Rackley refused to retract his comparison between the eviction and ethnic cleansing of minority groups during wars, despite a barrage of criticism from Tories who want the Crays Hill site cleared.

His description “this kind of ethnic cleansing” came after Basildon Labour group leader Lynda Gordon said the ten-year breach of planning laws and High Court orders by 96 families at Dale Farm was a misdemeanour, not warranting the hard line stance.

Another Labour member, Swatantra Nandanwar, said the eviction should not go ahead until alternative sites were found.

Tories warned Labour rivals they would be held responsible for violence at the eviction if they did not encourage families to leave peacefully.

Tory council leader Tony Ball said: “Will councillor Nandan-war go on the site and encourage people to leave? Will he?

“Silence. If there is violence there will be blood on your hands.”

The verbal clashes came during a heated debate updating members of the plans to clear the site by the spring.

It is estimated the eviction could cost £13million in a worst case scenario if anarchist groups such as the Wombles take part.

During the meeting there was heckling from the public gallery, local residents and traveller supporters.

Mr Rackley’s comments on ethnic cleansing led to Conservative mayor Mo Larkin demanding an immediate retraction, while Tory Phil Turner called for his removal.

Tories argued the comparison was an insult to the millions murdered during the Holocaust and other genocides, and said they were simply trying to uphold planning legislation backed by the court and former Labour government.

Mr Rackley said he apologised if he caused offence, but made no retraction, adding: “The whole point is this is about removing people from their homes.”

Lynda Gordon, who was accused of subscribing to anarchy, stood by her comments, arguing the £13million potential cost could not be justified against what was simply a planning breach. Both accepted their views could cost Labour votes at the next local elections, but said their principles were more important.

Geoff Williams, Lib Dem group leader, said his party believed the illegal camp should be tolerated until alternative sites could be found.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010






21/12/2010 - More than a year ago a wall separating the Romani settlement from the non-Roma part of the village was built in Ostrovany, eastern Slovakia. The wall made Ostrovany famous almost all around the world. It became the symbol of segregation of Roma, allegory of frustration of municipalities and a sad inspiration for other villages and towns in Slovakia. Only few days before Christmas a simple inscription appeared on the “Berlin” wall in Ostrovany saying: “Prepacte”. It means “sorry” in Slovak.

The builders of the anti-Roma wall reportedly did not act against the law and are proud about their creation. The authors of the apologizing graffiti likely committed a crime and stay anonymous. Milan Šimečka Foundation would like to express gratitude to these unknown “perpetrators” for their brave deed. Programmes Director of the Foundation, Laco Oravec, commented: “Neither politicians nor general public in Slovakia tend to condemn acts of racism and defend the Roma. We honour that there is someone who feels the need to apologize to the Ostrovany Roma.”

Monday, December 27, 2010


The History Lesson Europe Needs Right Now


December 22, 2010


As the controversy raged over the ethnic targeting and mass expulsions of Roma from France, it was European Commissioner Viviane Reding’s allusion to World War II in an acrimonious exchanges with French president Nicolas Sarkozy that drew the most fire. There followed much mock outrage and a torrent of denunciations from Paris, but there was scarcely a mention of Roma as victims of the Holocaust.

As the memory of the spat between Reding and Sarkozy recedes, and media attention moves away from the Roma, the European Parliament must intervene to ensure that Europeans never forget, and pass a resolution to inaugurate an official day of solemn remembrance for the estimated half million Roma who perished in the Nazi-orchestrated Holocaust.

The ignorance and indifference of the majority concerning this dark chapter of Europe’s past reinforces ambivalence and prejudice against Roma in the present. As activist Romani Rose put it, there is a need to embed this crime of genocide in the collective memory of our nations and "to raise awareness among political decision-makers of the particular historical responsibility they bear towards the Roma and Sinti minority."

The fate of the Roma at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators in the Baro Porrajmos ("Great Devouring") has been neglected for too long. Elie Wiesel never forgot:

I remember what happened in the "night of the gypsies"... That night will remain with me as long as I live. Throughout the kingdom of the night a whisper of fire ran through from man to man, from child to child. We heard just one word—they are burning the Gypsies.

Almost 3,000 men, women, and children perished in the gas chamber during the night of August 2-3, 1944, as the Germans liquidated the so-called Gypsy family camp (Zigeunerfamilienlager) in Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

In an obscene affront to survivors of the genocide, compensation claims were denied in Germany in the 1950s on grounds that "Gypsies were persecuted under the National Socialistic Regime not for any racial reason, but because of an asocial and criminal record." It is chilling to hear similar rhetoric today. Leading politicians from EU member states would have us believe that Roma are not discriminated against because of their ethnicity, but because they pose a threat to "public order"; because they are genetically predisposed to wrongdoing; because Roma communities function as incubators of crime; and because Roma refuse to assimilate and abide by societal norms. Racist anti-Roma rhetoric, previously confined to the neo-Nazis of the far right, is increasingly seeping into mainstream populist agendas. And those who propagate it do so with seeming impunity.

An awareness of the past is essential to combat anti-Roma prejudice in the present. As Yehuda Bauer has written:

In sheer demonic cold-blooded brutality the tragedy of the Romanies is one of the most terrible indictments of the Nazis. The fact that their fate is hardly ever mentioned and that the mutilated Romany nation continues to be vilified and persecuted to this day should put all their host nations to shame.

There seems to be little shame among EU member states when it comes to treatment of their Roma citizens. There is even less awareness of the dark times endured by the Roma in their history. In a climate of rising anti-Gypsyism, ignorance reproduces prejudice. To break this toxic cycle, the European Parliament should, as a first step, inaugurate an official day of solemn remembrance for Roma victims and survivors of the Porrajmos.
I encourage people to go to the original blog entry (address below) to read some of the comments.  They are very interesting.

Sunday, December 26, 2010



Romania urged to provide accommodation for homeless families after eviction

Forced evictions have affected communities in the city of Miercurea Ciuc

22 December 2010

Amnesty International has urged the Romanian authorities to provide urgent housing assistance to several Roma families made homeless by a forced eviction last week.

Authorities in the city of Cluj, in north-western Romania, forcibly evicted a Roma community on 17 December.

Some of the families have been moved to inadequate housing units, while others are homeless. According to local NGOs and testimonies from local Roma, other Roma communities in Cluj are also at risk of being forcibly evicted.

“This pattern of forced evictions, without adequate consultation, adequate notice or adequate alternative housing, perpetuates segregation and violates Romania’s international obligations,” said Andrea Huber, Europe and Central Asia deputy director at Amnesty International.

"When Roma families are being evicted from their homes against their will, they lose their homes, their possessions, their social contacts, their access to work and state services.”

On 15 December, about 56 families were given two days' notice that all improvised barracks and shacks in their community would be demolished. There was no consultation with the affected community and no feasible alternatives to eviction had been explored.

On 17 December, at around 6am, police arrived and told the community to move their belongings by the end of the day. Subsequently, 40 families were re-housed in new housing units in the outskirts of the city, close to a garbage dump.

Several families have been rendered homeless by the eviction, as they did not receive a room in the housing unit nor other alternative housing. Adults and children reportedly sleep outdoors, while the temperature can reach -10 degrees Celcius at night.

One of the Roma evicted from the Coastei Street community told Amnesty International: “There are people sleeping outside, in the cold. They were not given a room and they want to protect their belongings from being stolen. Sometimes they take their children to sleep in their neighbours houses, but otherwise they stay in the cold”.

Meanwhile, access to work opportunities and public services is difficult, as the closest bus stop is approximately 4 km away. This makes it difficult for the children to attend school.

Amnesty International has urged Cluj city authorities to ensure that any evictions are carried out only as a last resort and in full compliance with international human rights standards.

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

Saturday, December 25, 2010



City criticised for treatment of travellersPremium Article !Your account has been frozen. For your available options click the below button.

Date: 22 December 2010

HUMAN rights campaigners have written to council bosses to highlight their treatment of gypsy travellers.

Amnesty International said it was "proving difficult" to tackle "discrimination" of travelling people in Scotland.

Earlier this year, the city council was criticised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland for introducing a series of measures to prevent travellers using the city's park-and-ride sites as a place to stay.

Now Amnesty has written to a number of councils, including Edinburgh, challenging them to do more for travellers.

A spokesman said: "Local authorities play a crucial role in delivering basic services and Amnesty International has researched the performance of Scotland's 32 local authorities.

"We are now writing to these, highlighting areas where we would like to see improvement."

Edinburgh has just one official site for gypsies and travellers, at North Cairntow, Duddingston, with just 20 pitches.

On several occasions over the past year, council bosses have sought court orders to move on travellers who have begun using park-and-ride sites.

Source: Edinburgh Evening News

Thursday, December 23, 2010



Home > Policies > EU governance > Council of MinistersRoma programme is bid to stop a swing to the right

By Thomas Escritt

16.12.2010 / 04:22 CET

Hungary has decided to make Roma integration a centrepiece of its EU presidency programme.

Hungary's decision to make Roma integration a centrepiece of its EU presidency programme is as much a reflection of its government's domestic political needs as it is a response to the urgent problem of Roma exclusion throughout the region.

Fidesz's major rival to the right is Jobbik, a racist party that has notched up major electoral successes with its promise of a firm response to the “gypsy crime problem”.

On gaining office, Viktor Orbán, the prime minister, promised to focus on law and order and chose as his interior minister a former policeman, Sándor Pintér.

Somewhere between 5% and 10% of Hungary's 10 million citizens are ethnic Roma, making the population smaller in absolute and relative terms than in Bulgaria or Romania.

But the issue is no less pressing for that. The country's Roma spent the summer of 2009 living in fear as a gang of killers, allegedly far-right skinheads, roamed the country killing Roma, including children, who were living in isolation at the edge of remote villages.

Equally, with low levels of education and few employment opportunities, Roma undoubtedly play a role in petty and organised crime and are a growing burden on the budget in a country where the ratio of the active to the inactive is already too low.

“Fidesz needs a success on this,” says Virág Kaufer, an opposition member of parliament specialising in Roma affairs. “That's the one area where Jobbik has an advantage over them.”


Zoltán Balogh, the Calvinist minister who is responsible for Hungary's Roma programme, says: “Emigration is not the solution: we need to integrate Roma into society where they are.”

In fact, Hungary's Roma have been relatively sedentary. It is the Roma of Bulgaria and Romania who have received such frosty responses in France and Italy.

But Orbán thinks this could change. “If Europe doesn't make an effort to ensure Roma living in one place get adequate education, work and standards of living, then they will migrate, and...nothing can stop them going to countries with better standards of welfare provision.”


TRANSCRIPT FROM Mosaic News - 12/21/10: World News From The Middle East

Education brings hope to Kurdistan's Romani children

Sumaria TV, Iraq

Presenter, Female # 1

All across Iraq, the Romani people endure what can be described, at the very least, as bad conditions, lacking even the most basic humanitarian needs. For this reason, an individual initiative emerged in the city of Sulaymaniyah, with the support of the Ministry of Education in Kurdistan, to open a school that focuses on the reintegration of this segment of the population into society through education.

Reporter, Female # 2

According to officials in Iraq's central and southern provinces, local authorities expelled the Romani people because they considered the community to be negatively affecting the morals and customs of the society. However, it seems the reality of the Romanis' life in Kurdistan focuses on their reintegration into society through education. A retired educator was able to convert a modest tent into a school to teach Romani children in Sulaymaniyah after the Ministry of Education approved the plan with the goal of reeducating this segment of the population, numbered at over 300,000 people.

Guest, Female # 3 (Hana Fadel, The school's founder)

I got the idea when I saw the panhandling that takes place on the streets and when I saw acts carried out by the Romanis that are deemed unacceptable to society. So I got the idea to ask the Ministry of Education to open a school to teach them and also offer vocational courses, and they approved.

Guest, Female # 4 (Bahia Raheem Kareem, Teacher)

We offer the same classes as any elementary school: math, Kurdish, English, sports and Islamic education.

Reporter, Female # 2

Romani students expressed hope that this school will lead to a change in their daily lives and the lives of Romani people by expanding their work and educational opportunities in the future.

Guest, Female # 6

I used to sell chewing gum on the street but today I am student. I don't know what the future holds for me but I know that I don't want to sell gum.

Guest, Male # 1

I used to dye shoes in the market and would work long hours but today I study and learn. I feel like other kids, the ones I used to see on my way to work.

Reporter, Female # 2

The Sulaymaniyah Ministry of Education confirmed that it seeks to provide Romanis with an education through this school. The state they're in is similar to that of other segments of the city's population and the ministry attributes its failure to approve the Romanis' request to attend public schools to their families' frequent moves from one region to another.

Guest, Male # 2 (Kamal Nouri, Sulaymaniyah director of education)

Not having permanent housing in Sulaymaniyah and other regions leads to a lack of commitment to our normal schools.

Reporter, Female # 2

It seems that the opening of a school specifically to teach the Romani children for the first time in cities across Kurdistan, and Iraq in general, indicates that there is at least partial recognition of their rights. It coincides with local authorities in south and central Iraq expelling them from cities, such as from the city of Karbala, and preventing them from entering and exiting some regions, such as the Iraqi province of Diwaniya. Rana Ahmad, al-Sumariya.

** Contact Mosaic News: mosaicnews{at}linktv{dot}org

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I received this message from a friend of mine.  These videos were filmed this week at a Seattle Walmart.
Both videos are great.

"Here's a little action that yours truly participated in. There are two parts. When they didn't stop us we decided to keep the action going all the way through the store. We got a great response from folks shopping in the store and also from the employees themselves. Hope you enjoy; we had a blast doing it! Please share with others!"

Hark! Walmart Flash Mob is here:

Hark! Walmart Flash Mob (Part 2) is here:




The Roma of Rome: Heirs to the Ghetto System

In Italy today, politicians have become the lead architects of a low-cost human-warehousing system designed to contain the minority Roma, or Gypsy, community. Visitors to the city remark that the visibility of the Roma — especially around train stations, restaurants and tourist sites — is lower than in past decades. What they do not realize is that this superficial change reflects a series of political actions which have profoundly reshaped the Roma’s status within the Italian state.

For years, and most notably with the closure in February of the Casilino 900 enclave, Italian authorities have pushed the Roma out of squatter settlements that were unofficially tolerated and into sanctioned housing developments, where fences, gates, guards, flood lights and surveillance cameras box in and monitor the residents. Legislation passed in 1985 enabled the provincial government to build special camps in undesirable areas on the periphery of the capital. This ordinance, together with special police powers granted in 2007, and the subsequent declaration of a regional state of emergency, allowed municipal authorities in Rome to create and subsidize a separate zone — a separate reality — for the Roma. Operating through this loophole, politicians delivered on their increasingly xenophobic campaign platforms and at the same time evaded the constraints of human rights covenants established by the European Union. Other EU nations followed suit. This summer’s Roma eviction campaign in France prompted Italian Foreign Minister Roberto Maroni to complain that the French were "doing nothing more than copying Italy."

Today Italian provincial governments — particularly in Rome, Milan and Naples — are busily creating and expanding camps for the nation’s most reviled and historically mistreated minority. The result is deepening hardship; of the approximately 140,000 Roma in Italy, including 7,400 in Rome, 35 percent are settled in enclaves built or tolerated by the government, 15 percent are itinerant, 75 percent are illiterate, and fewer than 3 percent will live beyond 60 years — fully twenty years behind Italy’s national average. [1]

The nine authorized Roma enclaves of Rome are bleak places. Water and sewage are inadequate, housing is crowded and uncomfortable, proximity to neighbors is tight and inflexible (and does not take into account the affinities and antipathies among Roma groups of different national origins). The only places for children to play are the concrete slabs between the boxy housing containers. Inoffensive when new, the containers are quickly degraded by high occupancy and insufficient maintenance. Manufactured and marketed as temporary housing for disaster relief and humanitarian emergencies, the units have thin walls with little insulation, and in Rome they have been adopted as a permanent response to the "Emergenza Nomadi." This is in part because some Italians believe the Roma prefer lightweight dwellings, a notion woven into the nomadic mythology that surrounds them, and in part because the Roma are deemed unworthy of the housing options available to others.

The deplorable outcome is that Italy now has a publicly subsidized network in which vastly inferior living standards are systematically maintained. Medical studies have tracked the disproportionate incidence of respiratory disease and diarrhea among Roma children. Criminological studies have shown Roma incarceration rates in Italian prisons far out of alignment with the demographic profile. Simple spatial analyses of living conditions within the authorized enclaves, which I carried out with others in 2009 and 2010, have assessed the average living space per resident at a mere 41 percent of the minimum allocation specified by the Roman building code, with interior ceilings 14 percent lower than allowable minimums. Discrepancies with housing criteria in the EU’s International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (to which Italy is a signatory) are even wider.

It is revealing to consider these enclaves alongside historic ethnic ghettos, penal colonies and internment camps. Not surprisingly, municipal authorities in Rome would reject these comparisons. From their viewpoint, the authorized enclaves are generous and progressive, a humanitarian gesture supporting a mode of living superior to the squalor of the unauthorized camps and preferable to no housing at all, which is what some Romans believe the Roma deserve. But photos of the material living conditions tell a different story. Five hundred years after the Jewish ghetto of Venice, the ethnic enclave system in Europe has a new heir. By institutionalizing within their democratic social framework a permanent double standard, Italian authorities have thrown down a gauntlet to be taken up by the European Union in defense of adequate housing for all.


1. These and other statistics regarding the Roma community in Italy can be found in Samuel Loewenberg, "Plight of Roma worsens in Italy," The Lancet, January 2, 2010, 17-18; Elisabetta Povoledo, "Italy assailed over plan to fingerprint Gypsies," New York Times, July 3, 2008; Encyclopedia of Minorities,; Nando Sigona and Lorenzo Monasta, "Imperfect Citizenship: Research into patterns of racial discrimination against Roma and Sinti in Italy" (pdf), osservAzione: Centre for Action Research Against Roma and Sinti, June 2006. These estimates are rough because reliable official data on life expectancy, infant mortality, employment and literacy rates for the Roma are difficult to find, yet "all are deplorably lower than those of mainstream society" ("Bottom of the Heap," The Economist, June 19, 2008).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010



Tuesday, December 21, 2010,

Protest group pledges to fight scheme to build travellers' site

MORE than 30 people have objected to plans to create a caravan site for four gypsy families in Church Broughton.

Villagers were left frustrated in November after travellers moved on to the Sutton Road site and started building work without planning permission.

South Derbyshire District Council issued a temporary stop notice, which prevented more work being carried out.

The authority also threatened to fine them up to £20,000 if they continued work before obtaining planning permission.

A retrospective application has now been submitted to the council.

It proposes to change the use of the land to a residential site for four gypsy families, with each one having two caravans.

A spokesman for the council confirmed there had been 32 letters of objection towards the plans and no letters of support.

Councillor Michael Bale, who represents the North West ward, said he would not be surprised if more letters against the proposal were sent to the authority.

He said: We've never had an application before where there is so much feeling against it.

“People are very cross about it and the protest group which has been set up against it has said it will fight all the way.

“The site itself is terrible because it is suitable for development. I’m very confident it will be refused.”

In a statement to South Derbyshire District Council, agent Philip Brown Associates said the four families were in need of a lawful site.

It said: “In the meantime they have been living on derelict land at Glossop Street, Derby.

“The city council originally attempted to get the 16 or so related families removed but were prevented from doing so by a judge who ordered they should not be removed until an alternative site has been provided.

“The site residents have been waiting for more than six years for an alternative site to be provided.”

The statement also said there were eight children living on the site who were of school age and their parents were trying to get them into primary school at Church Broughton.

The proposals will appear before the council’s planning committee on Tuesday, January 18.

Does anyone see a pattern here as far as sites for Gypsies/Travelers ?
This situation goes back to the 1960's Caravan Sites Act.  It made it illegal for Travelers to stop anywhere BUT on caravan sites.  Truth be told, few sites were ever established.

Monday, December 20, 2010



The 'devastating' stigmatisation of the Roma in France

Louise Fessard

19/12/2010 -

In the summer of 2010, the French government launched a crackdown on Gypsy immigrants in France, causing outrage at home and abroad. The demolition of hundreds of Roma camps and mass expulsions, mainly to Romania, of their inhabitants met with sharp condemnation from the European Union Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Viviane Redding. She compared the programme akin to the deportation of Gypsies during the World War II collaborationist Vichy government of German-occupied France. More than 8,000 Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants found to be living in illegal conditions have been expelled since January 1st, according to official figures.

This is the final report in our five-part series which has focussed on projects by some local councils in the Greater Paris region which, in stark contrast to the government's expulsion policies, have tried to re-integrate Roma into stable living conditions.

For a conclusion, we turned to French sociologist Jean-Pierre Liégeois, one of Europe's leading experts on Gypsy history, culture and the conditions and trends of modern Gypsy communities. He has contributed to studies on Gypsy affairs for the European Commission and the Council of Europe and is the author of several books, including the European Council's 2007 publication 'Roma in Europe'. He was also the founder in 1979 of the Centre for Gypsy Research at the Paris René Descartes University (Paris 5), and was its director until 2003.

In this exchange with Mediapart's Louise Fessard, he brushes a portrait of the Roma community in France and slams the campaign of stigmatisation launched against them by President Nicolas Sarkozy in July. "It's not by offering a handful of euros that you can change migratory dynamics that are a synonym for survival," he says.

Mediapart: After first treating the Roma and Travellers* as a single entity, the government chose to target the Roma from Romania and Bulgaria. Who are these Roma immigrants deported to Romania and Bulgaria? How long have they been in France?

Jean-Pierre Liégeois: "First let's go back to the fact that the government implies that all Roma are foreigners. This is false, but it undoubtedly facilitates a move to deport them, and to do so en masse. It creates an all-embracing entity that can easily be explained and manipulated, just like the expression 'travelling people', which is an arbitrary administrative classification. Focusing the position on Romania and Bulgaria is also a politically expedient short cut, but based on falsehood. .

In reality, many Roma have had French nationality for generations: when Roma were freed from slavery in Moldavia and Wallachia in the 19th century many families took to the road, and some of them settled in France. Bilateral agreements between France and the former Yugoslavia in the 1970s brought a new wave of Roma families to France, where they have since settled, in large numbers but invisible, living in apartments, getting qualified work, particularly in the building trade. Conflicts where Roma were caught in the crossfire also brought forced migrations: for example, before the Russian Revolution of 1917 large numbers of families came to France and settled here. Then there was the war in Kosovo. Less than 10% of the original 120,000 Roma who lived there stayed; the others left to seek refuge in various countries, but rarely France, or stayed in refugee camps. Add the fact that the first Gypsy families arrived in France in the 15th century, and you can see that their migrations form part of several centuries of history, and that many Roma are citizens of countries where they have lived for longer than a large number of other citizens.

This should therefore be seen in the context of several centuries of a history of negation, going from rejection to assimilation via the use of their workforce, as galley slaves to populate the colonies, from England to Australia, from Portugal to Brazil or Angola, etc., or in other forms of forced labour. And since Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union there has not been an invasion at all. There are 12 to 15,000 foreign-born Roma in France, which is a very small percentage of the total number of foreigners in France and has hardly any impact on the migration figures. [Interior minister] Brice Hortefeux himself indicated the number of Roma was 'around 8,500 on our territory' when he appeared on the national evening newson July 27th. The Roma targeted by Brice Hortefeux are among those most recently arrived, because they are the more visible

Mediapart: How many are there in France and in Europe? Are we talking about immigrants who settle or people who come and go?

J-P.L.: The Roma and the Travellers represent ten to twelve million people in Europe and around 400,000 in France. Their existence and their linguistic and cultural originality, after a thousand years of difficult history, negation and dispersion, are the proof of the strength of their culture, which is composed of far more than what is generally said. They are ready, if you give them the opportunity, to contribute to the economic, political and cultural dynamism of a Europe that is today distinguished by the diversity of its populations.

The majority of families have tended to settle in one place. We have to distance ourselves from the nomad image that has attached itself to them, and, when it is appropriate, speak of mobility rather than nomadism, because often this mobility is only adapting to the living conditions that they have been given. These families didn't ask to be evicted several times a month, but they have to adapt. They didn't ask to be sent back to the border for centuries, but the wish to settle in better living conditions, or simply to survive, has led them to return to the place from which they were deported.

That said, history has dispersed families over several states, and their wish to travel comes from a desire to stay in contact through visits. This illustrates the situation that is developing today in Europe, which is marked both by an increase in mobility for various reasons - economic, family, retirement to a warmer climate - and by the emergence of minorities. These two facts are united in the Roma, who perfectly embody today's European ideal and who lived it before the European Union was even formed. Despite this, they find themselves in a paradoxical situation, as the most frequently rejected of all European populations.

Mediapart: What awaits them when they return to Romania and Bulgaria?

J-P.L.: A difficult economic situation, which only exacerbates a latent rejection that is quick to manifest itself. This makes it difficult to find work because discrimination is very active there. In these states and elsewhere, the Roma easily become scapegoats in every domain because they are in a weak position. All the more so since the families that have come to France, in the difficult conditions we know of, were in their country of origin among the poorest, the worst housed and the worst employed when there was any employment [...] What's more, in November 2008 the Senate Finance Commission was already worried about the cost of sending them back across the border. Sending them back works out at 20,970 euros per person. The cost of sending back 100 people, which works out at two million euros, could therefore have been used to start a positive policy of sustainable integration in France.

Mediapart: And in France, what discrimination are they subject to?

J-P.L.: It is important to highlight that the authorities that have sanctioned France for its violation of international conventions are neither motivated by a partisan political view, nor a charity standpoint. Take the Council of Europe's European Committee of Social Rights, take the reports by the European Commissioner for Human Rights or the Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance.

The European Committee of Social Rights, which monitors compliance with the European Social Charter, mentions in its decision, for example, failure to comply with the right to housing which leads to social exclusion as well as 'a racial discrimination', living conditions that don't comply with minimal standards, the absence of measures to relieve the 'deplorable living conditions of Roma migrants'.

The decision concludes that seven points on the charter have been violated. Even in France, the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights has called the government into question on this discriminatory treatment, and the HALDE1 has asked the government to modify discriminatory texts, such as the 1969 law that governs the status of 'travelling people' and makes them carry circulation documents and records. Up till now, these questions have not been followed up. The access to social rights remains complex and compromised in most domains: education, health, employment, training, the exercise of civil rights.

Mediapart: Has France put policies in place to assimilate these Roma migrants?

J-P.L.: In terms of policies the answer is no. A few isolated initiatives have been put in place, mainly led by
local authorities who have had the courage to be more welcoming. But despite the value of such initiatives we're still talking about the isolated and the short term. It would be useful therefore to evaluate them and to let people know about them so that, if they bring together different partners, they can inspire more structured and organised long-term initiatives. It would also be useful if the government's attitude moved in this direction to make such initiatives possible.

Mediapart: What has been the result of the provision of repatriation aid? The government has announced the introduction of the Oscar biometric file, supposed to stop foreigners sent back to their country from claiming several times over the repatriation aid granted by the French State. Will this change anything?

J-P.L.: As far as I know, no assessment of the result has been made. The public powers should calculate this, in consultation with the Roma organisations in France and in other states, and that all of the things it can teach us are learnt. The Oscar file introduces yet another means of control and documentation, which won't reassure either the Roma or citizens as a whole. The Roma have lived through centuries of this, when they were branded on the shoulder during deportations, so any that returned could be recognised. They were also tattooed with of Z for 'Ziguener' under the Nazi regime, and intensively documented.

Thirty years ago, I published an article entitled 'The speech on law and order'2 and taking the Roma as an example. I pointed out that the digital records, which were beginning then, wouldn't change anything about the way they were treated and since then it's transparency that has caused imprisonment, through the traceability made possible by the digital handling of files. In addition, the repatriation aid, which in reality is an aid for leaving, makes me think of French practices in previous centuries, of the droit de passade , a right by which local authorities offered a handful of coins to encourage the predecessors of these Roma to go away and try their luck with neighbouring districts. It's not by offering a handful of euros, or by forcing it on people to buy yourself a good conscience, that you can change migratory dynamics that are a synonym for survival.

Mediapart: The French government rejects any responsibility for Romania and its lack of a policy of integration for the Roma, while the Romanian authorities argue that 'the Roma problem' is now a European issue. How can we resolve this debate?

J-P.L.: It's true that there are more than two million Roma in Romania, which shows that it's a question of scale. Ten percent of the Romanian population is Roma. It's as if there were more than six million Roma in France and the government said it didn't want 10,000 of them. It's true that they have encountered difficulties in Romania, for economic reasons as well as discrimination. But it's a mistake to raise a hue and cry against Romania, to blame it for all ills. It has its share of responsibility but not all the responsibility. It is developing several initiatives in favour of the Roma, and it's the first state in Europe to have innovated in several domains, such as instigating a network of education inspectors, Roma health and education mediators, distance learning for Roma teachers, development of specific teaching materials, and so on.

It recognizes the Romani as a minority, unlike France. It has signed and ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, both fundamental texts in this field, unlike France. The debate is thus skewed: how can a state that doesn't recognise the Roma or any other minority begin to reproach another state that has put in place several initiatives for minorities? It's true that funds are limited, that the political and administrative management leaves a lot to be desired, that the level of discrimination is very high, that the extreme right nationalist political parties are growing stronger, which is also the case in Bulgaria, Hungary and elsewhere, that the police and judicial authorities are not very active in pursuing sometimes violent acts committed against the Roma. All this is a major impediment to putting reforms in place to improve the situation.

Mediapart: Is it then the European Union's job to resolve this question?

J-P.L.: The Romanian authorities' stance of sending back the 'Roma problem' to Europe, shared by France and other countries, is a mistake. The Roma population, which is larger than the population of half of the states in Europe, amounts to less than 10 to 12 million people. It does not have the support of a state behind it in terms of, for example, providing educational material in its language, while other minorities can simply borrow from another state. For example, the German minority in Slovakia can borrow from Germany, the Romanian minority in Hungary from Romania, and so on. The European institutions therefore have a role and a responsibility to support the Roma, and work has been underway in this field for 40 years.

But above all it's about respecting the international conventions adopted by the member states, respecting the rights that go with them, launching pilot projects that could inspire national initiatives, making connections work so as to pass good practice from one state to another, to stimulate thought and exchange between national players and across frontiers, without appropriating the role of states. Citizenship is a legal bond that links an individual and the state of which he is a citizen, and it is thus a mutual responsibility.

In addition, this sudden wish to transfer expertise and responsibility from a state to a European organisation goes against the states' wish to protect their prerogatives, and it's hard to see how this can be suddenly and uniquely abandoned for their Roma citizens. These are states that have always insisted on the principle known as subsidiarity, and they have often defended it. This principle stipulates that decisions and actions must remain as local as possible.

The Roma concern all the European states. They are present across Europe, and embodied Europe before it was even politically formed. I've highlighted that Europe is today distinguished by an increased mobility of populations, for several reasons, and by the emergence of minorities.

All states must learn to operate in the intercultural and multicultural approach that is developing. In this perspective, the Roma take on the character of a paradigm. The initiatives that concern them open up pathways of thought and action that have consequences for all the other minorities and for all populations. In the context of the free movement that they desire, all states must together consider how to set cooperative and lasting projects in motion, must take action to put structured measures in place, rather than reacting once again with short-term propositions that are ill-adapted and have no future, as well as being economically costly and humanly devastating, responding to immediate facts manipulated for political ends.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Friday, December 17, 2010,

'You've nothing to fear,' gypsies tell protesters



THE gypsy community has broken its silence on the controversy surrounding new sites in Exeter – and told protesters they have nothing to fear.

Public opposition to the proposal by Exeter City Council to include a gypsy and traveller site within the Newcourt development is continuing to mount and hundreds of protesters are expected to turn out to a public meeting at Sandy Park on Sunday.

But members of the Romany gypsy community who live in the area said the feeling of hostility and opposition has had a "heartbreaking" impact on them and their families.

Sally Woodbury, who used to live in Exeter but is now in Somerset, told the Echo: "We are no different to anyone else who wants somewhere to call home.

"It is total NIMBYism and whether they like it or not it is racism. But for some reason it is deemed socially acceptable.

"The majority of the people that will go to the meeting on Sunday will never have met a gypsy but the only answer to fight the stereotypes is to try to educate people.

"You can not kick a community of people around the country and push them to the outskirts of humanity, bullied and rejected their whole lives, and then want them to mix with the mainstream.

"But members of our community do contribute to society and we have more to fear from the settled community than they do from us. It is so distressing what is happening in Exeter at the moment, but it is something that goes on throughout the country.

"My message to them would be we are human beings and have feelings too and I just ask everyone to remember that.

"It has been really scary. The most upsetting thing is the comments the young children get when they go to school. "

Elizabeth Isaacs, also a Romany gypsy, who lives in a village near Exeter, said: "I watch the comments posted under the stories and every night I am reporting abuse.

"Some of the stuff they write is outrageous. One calling themselves Adolf Hitler posted: 'you did not like my idea'. How can that be acceptable? You are not allowed to say things like that about blacks or Asians or any other group of people in society.

"There are no statistics to say there is more crime in the gypsy community than any other community but it is a historical stereotype developed over hundreds of years.

"Other groups of people have come and been accepted but the Romany gypsies have not. The fear is so inbred and we always have to prove we are not thieves and dirty criminals. No other community is tarred with the same brush like we are. I am not saying all travellers are angels, but like everyone else there is good and bad in all groups of people and that includes the settled community."


ROMEA wins Czech Gypsy Spirit 2010 award

Prague, 11.12.2010 10:05, (ROMEA)

The Gypsy Spirit 2010 awards in the Czech Republic were announced on the occasion of International Human Rights Day at the Prague Crossroads cultural center. The ROMEA civic association won the award in the NGO category.

ROMEA is a non-governmental, non-profit, voluntary association of organizations and individuals who have come together to support the fight against racism, to develop human rights protections, and to assist the development of democracy and tolerance in society. ROMEA has been disseminating information about the Roma world to Roma and others for several years.

The Human Rights Section of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic announced the awards as part of the government's 2010 Campaign against Racism. Auspices for this second year of the award were provided by Czech PM Petr Nečas, the chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights at the European Parliament Heidi Hautala, former Czech President Václav Havel, and former Czech Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb.

"Gypsy Spirit is an appreciation of the immense efforts of countless groups and individuals seeking to develop an understanding between the majority society and the Roma," said Czeslaw Walek, head of the Human Rights Section. Czech PM Petr Nečas gave the opening remarks at the ceremony. "Every activity that contributes toward integrating the Roma minority and to appreciation of this work contributes to better co-existence in our society," the PM said, adding that the beauty and wealth of any society lies in its diversity.

In a video recording of her greeting, Heidi Hautala emphasized the importance of culture, education, and involvement in the life of the community as key to the overall integration of Roma into society. Former Czech PM Jan Fischer also sent a video greeting in which he said he was glad the first year of the Gypsy Spirit project and its tradition had been implemented by his government.

The Gypsy Spirit 2010 awards were won by:

1. Award for a non-governmental organization – For implementing a specific project aimed at the development and support of the Roma minority and achieving results

ROMEA, o. s.

ROMEA is a non-governmental, non-profit, voluntary association of organizations and individuals who have come together to support the fight against racism, to develop human rights protections, and to assist the development of democracy and tolerance in society. ROMEA has been disseminating information about the Roma world to Roma and others for several years.

2. Award for a company/firm - For supporting projects aimed at social assistance to and support of the Roma community or the creation of a heterogeneous environment

Czech Radio – the Roma broadcast O Roma vakeren and the web pages

Czech Radio has been broadcasting Roma programming since 1992. The program "O Roma vakeren" ("Roma Speak") reports weekly on news from the life of Roma in the Czech Republic and abroad, including segments on Roma culture, history, language, traditions, Roma celebrities and contacts to organizations involved with Roma. In 1997, Czech Radio established the website in four languages, probably the longest continually existing web page about Roma in the Czech Republic. The aim of these various projects is to support the Roma minority, to raise awareness about Roma among the general public, to improve the image of Roma in the media, and to contribute to good mutual co-existence between the Roma and the rest of society.

3. Award for extracurricular educational activities targeting Roma children and youth

Masarykova Elementary School, Valašské Meziříčí

The Masarykova Elementary School is one of six in Valašské Meziříčí. The school is located in Krásna, which means all of the school-aged Roma children from the surrounding housing estates are within its catchment area. For non-Roma parents, the high population of Roma at the school was initially an insurmountable barrier, and non-Roma parents used to transfer their children to other schools in town. The situation (which was reported on by the media) has since calmed down and life at the school has become normal. In terms of results, statewide reviews show the school continues to be successful, and Roma are instructed there together with everyone else thanks to a system developed by educators and management.

4. Individual awards – For long-term work contributing to improving the position of Roma

Karel Holomek

Mr Holomek is the chair of the Roma NGO Society of Roma in Moravia and a founding member of the Museum of Roma Culture. He was a Roma consultant on the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union as part of the "EU Consultative Bodies". He is also a construction contractor who exclusively employs Roma, and Editor-in-Chief of the Roma biweekly newspaper Romano hangos. During the 1990s, Mr Holomek was a member of the Czech Government Human Rights Council, the Czech Government Council on National Minorities, and the Czech Government Council on the Roma Minority.

5. Action of the Year – For a contribution to saving a life or improving the quality of life of an individual

Projekt Ptáčata

This project was designed and directed by Kamila Zlatušková and produced and directed by Ladislav Cmíral. It was inspired by a petition through which the parents of non-Roma children refused to enroll their children into the same class as Roma children. The authors decided to film a 16-part documentary serial about children who have been marginalized by prejudice. The children were equipped with small video cameras and became the co-creators of this reportage about their lives which provides the majority society with the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. The hope does exist that this long-term project might become a much-needed step forward on the road to a better, more colorful and more flexible image of minorities in the Czech Republic. This improved image could help break down the stereotypes (negative and positive) governing all of our perceptions. For more, see

ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert


Czech Roma receive anti-discrimination prize in Berlin

Berlin, 16.12.2010 11:42, (ROMEA)

Today in Berlin, Roma organizations based in Germany gave awards to a group of young Roma from Ostrava, Czech Republic, who succeeded at the European Court for Human Rights in 2007 with a lawsuit against the Czech state over discrimination in education. The award was given for their courage in standing up against human rights violations. According to the German organizations, the Czech Roma created a precedent by bringing the case which will help reduce "the discriminatory practices of the authorities" vis-a-vis the Roma in other European countries.

The special prize of EUR 5 000 was awarded to the Czech Roma during a ceremony at the German Foreign Ministry as part of the European Sinti and Roma Prize for Human Rights. Former EP chair Simone Veil of France was the recipient of the prize. German Roma organizations gave another special award to the Hungarian Roma rights fighter Ágnes Daróczi.

"This means a lot to us. We are glad to receive this award and we are also glad we won the case," Katrin Dzurková, one of the Czech citizens receiving the award, told the Czech Press Agency. The Roma from Ostrava and their families objected to decisions by the Czech authorities to assign them into "special schools" during the second half of the 1990s. After their complaints to Czech courts were unsuccessful, they turned to the European Court for Human Rights. Three years ago, the Grand Senate decided the Czech Republic had violated both their right to education and the ban on discrimination. The verdict required the Czech state to pay them compensation for moral damages of CZK 4 000 in addition to court costs in the amount of EUR 10 000.

Seven of the original 18 Roma plaintiffs from Ostrava came to Berlin today, accompanied by Kumar Vishwanathan of the civic association Vzájemné soužití (Life Together), which helps the Roma minority in North Moravia. Vishwanathan regrets the fact that the Czech state views the verdict as a loss. "It was not a loss. If it is viewed as such, then all of the institutions will resist changing a situation which is illegal," Vishwanathan said. In his view, the educational situation in the Czech Republic has not changed for the better yet. "Unfortunately, we have not yet reached the 'happy ending'," he claims.

The European Sinti and Roma Prize for Human Rights is awarded every two years by the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, its Heidelberg Documentation and Culture Center, and the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation. The prizewinner is awarded EUR 15 000. The prize was first awarded in 2008 to former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski.

This year's prizewinner won the award for her efforts to see the Nazi extermination of the Roma recognized as a racial genocide no different from the Jewish Holocaust. Veil, who is Jewish, is herself a Holocaust survivor. She was imprisoned in concentration camps including the infamous death camp at Auschwitz. During the Second World War, Hitler's regime murdered as many as half a million Roma and Sinti (one of the groups of Roma) on Nazi-occupied territory.

Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert




Urgent action: Forced evictions of Roma in Romania

By Marie-Francoise


The authorities in Cluj, a city in north-western Romania, are preparing to carry out the forced eviction of Roma communities living in Coastei and Cantonului streets by the end of December. Amnesty International is concerned that reportedly houses will be demolished, and some families will be moved to new housing units that do not meet the criteria of adequate housing while others may face homelessness.

On 15 December, families in Coastei street received oral notifications indicating that they have to remove their belongings by 17 December, when the municipality will move them to alternative housing. According to the municipality, there are an estimated 345 people living in Coastei street, including an estimated 140 people who do not have residency in Cluj, and who are at risk of being sent back to their place of residence, raising concerns over their right to freedom of movement.

The authorities have not consulted the affected community on the eviction plans in a full and participatory way. The Mayor announced that 40 families will be housed in new housing units constructed on the outskirt of the city in the Pata Rat area and that those who refuse to be moved will not be provided with alternative housing. This area, according to information received by Amnesty International, is in the proximity of a garbage dump and separated from the rest of the city and the residents will face difficulties in accessing work opportunities and public services, including education and health.

An estimated 429 people (around 100 families) residing in houses, improvised shacks and containers in Cantonului street are also likely to be evicted. The number of alternative housing units which is being proposed by the city authorities is limited and is expected to accommodate only 40 families, which raises serious concerns that a number of people may be made homeless if they are evicted.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English or your own language:

- Urging the city authorities to ensure that any evictions of the communities currently living in Coastei and Cantonului streets are carried out only as a last resort and in full compliance with international human rights standards;

- Urging them to ensure that the eviction is put on hold until genuine consultation with the Roma community of Coastei and Cantonului Streets to identify all feasible alternatives to evictions and on resettlement options has been conducted;

- Urging the city authorities to provide adequate alternative housing, compliant with requirements under human rights law and that people are not forcibly moved to their original places of residence and prevented from returning.


Mayor of Cluj-Napoca
Sorin Apostu
Str. Motilor 5
Cluj-Napoca 400001,
Fax: +40 264 599 329

Copies to:
Prime Minister
Emil Boc
Guvernul Romaniei
Piata Victoriei nr. 1,
Sector 1, Bucuresti
Fax: +40 21 313 98 46

Traian Basescu
Palatul Cotroceni,
Bulevardul Geniului nr. 1-3
Cod postal 060116
Sector 6 - Bucuresti
Fax : +40 21 410 38 58

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Ambassade de Roumanie
Rue Gabrielle 105
1180 Bruxelles
Fax 02.346.23.45

The United States Ambassador to Romania is Mark H. Gitenstein
Here are some addressess:
Write Ambassador Gitenstein through the embassy homepage

The United States Embassy

7-9, Tudor Arghezi Street,
District 2, Bucharest
020942 Romania
Telephone: (+40) 21 200-3300
Fax: (+40) 21 200-3442


Amnesty International visited Cluj and the Roma communities living in Coastei and Cantonului streets in December 2010. The Roma communities were anxious about the threat of possible eviction. They told Amnesty International that – in the past several months - the city authorities had announced that they were to be evicted. The community in Coastei is situated about a five-minute walk from the city centre. The households receive mail to their address and at least some of them are connected to the electricity supply.

The city authorities confirmed - during a meeting with Amnesty International on 8 December 2010 - that they plan to move the families from Coastei Street to new housing units in Pata Rat area. According to the Deputy Mayor, construction of five units accommodating 20 families should be finished by 15 December. He stated that the future tenants would receive short-term rental contracts which may be extended. The municipality quoted multiple complaints from the staff of the nearby public library and an office of a multinational company in the proximity of the Coastei Street as the reasons for the eviction.

Under international law, evictions may be carried out only as a last resort, once all feasible alternatives have been explored in genuine consultation with the affected communities. The authorities then have a duty to provide them with adequate notice; legal remedies, adequate alternative housing and compensation. They must ensure that persons are not rendered homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights as a consequence of eviction. According to international standards, evictions should not be carried out in particularly bad weather or at night and the authorities have a duty to provide those affected with adequate notice.

As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Romania is also under an obligation to ensure to everyone lawfully residing within its territory the right to move freely and to choose his or her place of residence. Amnesty International is therefore concerned at the allegations that persons who are not originally from Cluj will be sent back to the places of their original residence, as this would violate their right to freedom of movement and to choose their place of residence.

Romania is a party to a range of international and regional human rights treaties which strictly require it to prohibit, refrain from and prevent forced evictions. These treaties include the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Revised European Social Charter. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has emphasised in its General Comment 7 that evictions may be carried out only as a last resort, once all other feasible alternatives to eviction have been explored. Even when an eviction is considered to be justified, it can only be carried out when appropriate procedural protections are in place and if compensation for all losses and adequate alternative housing is provided.


Guilty until Proven Innocent

Guilty until Proven Innocent is the 35th part of the award-winning news documentary series "Mundi Romani - the World through Roma Eyes" and was shot in September 2010 in France. Since July 2010, the French government's policies on the expulsion of Eastern European Roma have fed an unprecedented media frenzy in Europe and beyond. Rarely had the world heard so much about the Roma. Rarely had so many prejudices and oversimplifications been mirrored in public speech about the state of affairs. Mundi Romani uncovers the roots of the issues at stake, brings to light damning evidence of institutionalized racism in Europe and presents one of the biggest media stories of 2010 as seen through the eyes of the Roma.

Friday, December 17, 2010



Roma in Balkans live in hazardous areas, according to a new study

2010-12-14 17:10:00

Roma (Gypsy) in Balkans live in overcrowded residences, in hazardous areas without access to infrastructure, further exacerbated by lack of security of tenure and vulnerability to forced evictions, according to research undertaken by European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC).

These findings, released in Belgrade on December 13, reveal that Roma are often unable to escape these environments, as they face racism and discrimination in seeking private accommodation and accessing social housing, as well as restrictive eligibility criteria for the latter. This study, supported by United Nations Democracy Fund, documented the housing situation of Roma in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia.

It points out that private citizens were also found to have discriminated against Roma in access to publicly available rental accommodation and to have organized campaigns during or prior to collective evictions to prevent Roma from relocating to their neighborhoods. In extreme cases, non-Roma have attacked and set fire to the temporary housing prepared for Roma.

This research reveals that local authorities continue to forcibly evict Roma. At times, local authorities destroyed the homes of Roma without allowing residents the opportunity to remove their personal belongings. Some authorities have built segregated social housing for Roma only. Some such communities are located next to garbage dumps or other hazardous areas.

Well known Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Balkans needed to urgently address these Roma issues and follow the international and European law and human rights standards.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that this undeclared apartheid of Roma in Europe must end immediately. Roma reportedly regularly faced 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 added.

Established in 1996 and headquartered in Budapest (Hungary), ERRC is an international public interest law organization having consultative status with the Council of Europe as well as with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Robert Kushen is the Executive Director while Dr. Jeno Kaltenbach is the Board of Directors Chair. (ANI)

Thursday, December 16, 2010




Published: November 13, 2010


A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.

Nazi Hunting The 600-page report, which the Justice Department has tried to keep secret for four years, provides new evidence about more than two dozen of the most notorious Nazi cases of the last three decades.

It describes the government’s posthumous pursuit of Dr. Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death at Auschwitz, part of whose scalp was kept in a Justice Department official’s drawer; the vigilante killing of a former Waffen SS soldier in New Jersey; and the government’s mistaken identification of the Treblinka concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible.

The report catalogs both the successes and failures of the band of lawyers, historians and investigators at the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which was created in 1979 to deport Nazis.

Perhaps the report’s most damning disclosures come in assessing the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement with Nazi émigrés. Scholars and previous government reports had acknowledged the C.I.A.’s use of Nazis for postwar intelligence purposes. But this report goes further in documenting the level of American complicity and deception in such operations.

The Justice Department report, describing what it calls “the government’s collaboration with persecutors,” says that O.S.I investigators learned that some of the Nazis “were indeed knowingly granted entry” to the United States, even though government officials were aware of their pasts. “America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became — in some small measure — a safe haven for persecutors as well,” it said.

The report also documents divisions within the government over the effort and the legal pitfalls in relying on testimony from Holocaust survivors that was decades old. The report also concluded that the number of Nazis who made it into the United States was almost certainly much smaller than 10,000, the figure widely cited by government officials.

The Justice Department has resisted making the report public since 2006. Under the threat of a lawsuit, it turned over a heavily redacted version last month to a private research group, the National Security Archive, but even then many of the most legally and diplomatically sensitive portions were omitted. A complete version was obtained by The New York Times.

The Justice Department said the report, the product of six years of work, was never formally completed and did not represent its official findings. It cited “numerous factual errors and omissions,” but declined to say what they were.

More than 300 Nazi persecutors have been deported, stripped of citizenship or blocked from entering the United States since the creation of the O.S.I., which was merged with another unit this year.

In chronicling the cases of Nazis who were aided by American intelligence officials, the report cites help that C.I.A. officials provided in 1954 to Otto Von Bolschwing, an associate of Adolf Eichmann who had helped develop the initial plans “to purge Germany of the Jews” and who later worked for the C.I.A. in the United States. In a chain of memos, C.I.A. officials debated what to do if Von Bolschwing were confronted about his past — whether to deny any Nazi affiliation or “explain it away on the basis of extenuating circumstances,” the report said.

The Justice Department, after learning of Von Bolschwing’s Nazi ties, sought to deport him in 1981. He died that year at age 72.

The report also examines the case of Arthur L. Rudolph, a Nazi scientist who ran the Mittelwerk munitions factory. He was brought to the United States in 1945 for his rocket-making expertise under Operation Paperclip, an American program that recruited scientists who had worked in Nazi Germany. (Rudolph has been honored by NASA and is credited as the father of the Saturn V rocket.)

The report cites a 1949 memo from the Justice Department’s No. 2 official urging immigration officers to let Rudolph back in the country after a stay in Mexico, saying that a failure to do so “would be to the detriment of the national interest.”

Justice Department investigators later found evidence that Rudolph was much more actively involved in exploiting slave laborers at Mittelwerk than he or American intelligence officials had acknowledged, the report says.

Some intelligence officials objected when the Justice Department sought to deport him in 1983, but the O.S.I. considered the deportation of someone of Rudolph’s prominence as an affirmation of “the depth of the government’s commitment to the Nazi prosecution program,” according to internal memos.

The Justice Department itself sometimes concealed what American officials knew about Nazis in this country, the report found.

In 1980, prosecutors filed a motion that “misstated the facts” in asserting that checks of C.I.A. and F.B.I. records revealed no information on the Nazi past of Tscherim Soobzokov, a former Waffen SS soldier. In fact, the report said, the Justice Department “knew that Soobzokov had advised the C.I.A. of his SS connection after he arrived in the United States.”

(After the case was dismissed, radical Jewish groups urged violence against Mr. Soobzokov, and he was killed in 1985 by a bomb at his home in Paterson, N.J. )

The secrecy surrounding the Justice Department’s handling of the report could pose a political dilemma for President Obama because of his pledge to run the most transparent administration in history. Mr. Obama chose the Justice Department to coordinate the opening of government records.
The Nazi-hunting report was the brainchild of Mark Richard, a senior Justice Department lawyer. In 1999, he persuaded Attorney General Janet Reno to begin a detailed look at what he saw as a critical piece of history, and he assigned a career prosecutor, Judith Feigin, to the job. After Mr. Richard edited the final version in 2006, he urged senior officials to make it public but was rebuffed, colleagues said.

When Mr. Richard became ill with cancer, he told a gathering of friends and family that the report’s publication was one of three things he hoped to see before he died, the colleagues said. He died in June 2009, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. spoke at his funeral.

“I spoke to him the week before he died, and he was still trying to get it released,” Ms. Feigin said. “It broke his heart.”

After Mr. Richard’s death, David Sobel, a Washington lawyer, and the National Security Archive sued for the report’s release under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Justice Department initially fought the lawsuit, but finally gave Mr. Sobel a partial copy — with more than 1,000 passages and references deleted based on exemptions for privacy and internal deliberations.

Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the department is committed to transparency, and that redactions are made by experienced lawyers.

The full report disclosed that the Justice Department found “a smoking gun” in 1997 establishing with “definitive proof” that Switzerland had bought gold from the Nazis that had been taken from Jewish victims of the Holocaust. But these references are deleted, as are disputes between the Justice and State Departments over Switzerland’s culpability in the months leading up to a major report on the issue.

Another section describes as “a hideous failure” a series of meetings in 2000 that United States officials held with Latvian officials to pressure them to pursue suspected Nazis. That passage is also deleted.

So too are references to macabre but little-known bits of history, including how a director of the O.S.I. kept a piece of scalp that was thought to belong to Dr. Mengele in his desk in hopes that it would help establish whether he was dead.

The chapter on Dr. Mengele, one of the most notorious Nazis to escape prosecution, details the O.S.I.’s elaborate efforts in the mid-1980s to determine whether he had fled to the United States and might still be alive.

It describes how investigators used letters and diaries apparently written by Dr. Mengele in the 1970s, along with German dental records and Munich phone books, to follow his trail.

After the development of DNA tests, the piece of scalp, which had been turned over by the Brazilian authorities, proved to be a critical piece of evidence in establishing that Dr. Mengele had fled to Brazil and had died there in about 1979 without ever entering the United States, the report said. The edited report deletes references to Dr. Mengele’s scalp on privacy grounds.

Even documents that have long been available to the public are omitted, including court decisions, Congressional testimony and front-page newspaper articles from the 1970s.

A chapter on the O.S.I.’s most publicized failure — the case against John Demjanjuk, a retired American autoworker who was mistakenly identified as Treblinka’s Ivan the Terrible — deletes dozens of details, including part of a 1993 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that raised ethics accusations against Justice Department officials.

That section also omits a passage disclosing that Latvian émigrés sympathetic to Mr. Demjanjuk secretly arranged for the O.S.I.’s trash to be delivered to them each day from 1985 to 1987. The émigrés rifled through the garbage to find classified documents that could help Mr. Demjanjuk, who is currently standing trial in Munich on separate war crimes charges.

Ms. Feigin said she was baffled by the Justice Department’s attempt to keep a central part of its history secret for so long. “It’s an amazing story,” she said, “that needs to be told.”

The Nazi-hunting report was the brainchild of Mark Richard, a senior Justice Department lawyer. In 1999, he persuaded Attorney General Janet Reno to begin a detailed look at what he saw as a critical piece of history, and he assigned a career prosecutor, Judith Feigin, to the job. After Mr. Richard edited the final version in 2006, he urged senior officials to make it public but was rebuffed, colleagues said.

When Mr. Richard became ill with cancer, he told a gathering of friends and family that the report’s publication was one of three things he hoped to see before he died, the colleagues said. He died in June 2009, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. spoke at his funeral.

“I spoke to him the week before he died, and he was still trying to get it released,” Ms. Feigin said. “It broke his heart.”

That section also omits a passage disclosing that Latvian émigrés sympathetic to Mr. Demjanjuk secretly arranged for the O.S.I.’s trash to be delivered to them each day from 1985 to 1987. The émigrés rifled through the garbage to find classified documents that could help Mr. Demjanjuk, who is currently standing trial in Munich on separate war crimes charges.
Mental inmates in the U S have been telling this tale for years.  Nazis not welcomed here as rocket scientists, were welcomed as psychiatrists and psychologists.  Please read