Monday, February 28, 2011


Lost in translation: The mystery behind Scotland's travelling community

Scotland's Gypsy/Travellers are a mystery to most people, but they have a rich and vibrant culture underpinned by their own language

SO this is it," says Shamus. "Bobbin Mill." Shamus McPhee, a warm, sharp, gently melancholy 39-year-old with silver hair and a silvering beard, lives in Pitlochry's Bobbin Mill Woods along with four sisters, an elder brother, and two other members of the extended family. The McPhees are Scottish Gypsy/Travellers, to use the official term, though they think and speak of themselves as Nackin - an old word thought to have its roots in Hindi. Despite the exoticism of his ethnic origin, Shamus is as rooted in Bobbin Mill as the grey and leafless oaks which are being battered with rain on the morning I visit.

Bobbin Mill has been a Gypsy/Traveller stopping place since the mid-18th century. In 1946 it became the site of the so-called Tinker Housing Experiment in which the political and religious authorities established low-grade huts for nomadic families in an attempt to assimilate them into mainstream society and - as Shamus, who was born here, puts it - "dilute the culture to the extent that all Gypsy contamination was eradicated".

But it didn't work. Today, Bobbin Mill is simply home to eight adults and a number of slinking cats. It could not be less like Channel 4's hit series Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. There are no meringue dresses, and stretch limos are in short supply. Instead, there are old-fashioned touring caravans, some stained green with mould, and six wooden chalets. These chalets are a very recent development. For most of their lives, the McPhees got by without electricity or hot water, washing clothes in a large, blackened tin kettle over a campfire. Growing up, they would clean themselves in the burn with a bar of carbolic soap; the nearby waterfall was an ersatz shower.

Shamus continues to live in a caravan, considering anything else an "alien environment". It is not always comfortable; he has woken up in winter with his beard frozen and the carpet hillocked with ice, but it is the life he knows. His sister Roseanna, a teacher of Gaelic in her forties, tried living away in a flat in Pitlochry but it didn't work out. "You'd come back from work and there would be a note on your door saying, 'Go home, tink, we don't want you here'," she recalls.

Both siblings have struggled to find employment, which they put down to prejudice. Big Fat Gypsy Weddings gave the impression that the community had a great deal of money to spend; in fact, 90 per cent of those living on authorised sites are unemployed. Shamus does casual outdoor work - tree-planting, turf-digging and the like - and struggles financially.

To meet the McPhees is to experience a temporal collision.
These are sophisticated people - articulate university graduates who speak with ease about wireless connections and dongles and telly shows, but they also inhabit an old world of ritual, custom and superstition. They understand the etiquette of cursing and the correct way to read tea leaves. They also speak Cant - the old tongue of the Scottish Gypsy/Travellers which is still spoken widely within the community. Roseanna, in fact, struggled at school at first because English was essentially her second language. Though Gypsy/Travellers tend not to speak Cant in front of outsiders, Shamus seems pleased to be asked about it. To hear him say those words feels like a privilege.

"The language I speak and the language the Roma in England speak is very similar," he explains. He is a linguist with a postgraduate diploma in translation. "Like, I'll say 'yarra' for egg and they'll say 'yorro'. I'll say 'yag' for coal, they'll say 'yog' for fire. 'Peev' is to drink in Cant. 'Peev a tass of chai' is to drink a cup of tea. Language is a real mark of difference between us and wider society. I might say to you, 'Jaar shan gadgie jal avree tae the gav, bing anee tae the chovi, feek hizz a wichin habben fur ma juggala tae ha.' That means, 'Ask the strange man to go to town, go into a shop, and get some food for my dog.'"

There are an estimated 20,000 Gypsy/Travellers living permanently in Scotland, though no-one knows for sure. Shamus believes the true figure to be closer to 50,000. There are population clusters in Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.

The Scottish Government recognises Gypsy/Travellers as a distinct ethnic group. This year's census will contain, for the first time, a Gypsy/Traveller option within the ethnicity category. Though their precise ancestral origins are disputed, one theory is that the present population is a genetic mix of indigenous nomads from the Celtic period, Roma incomers who arrived in the early 16th century, and wandering clansmen burned out of their homes following the Jacobite uprisings.

In any case, the point is that there are huge numbers of people living in this country and throughout the UK whose lives and culture remain a mystery to most of us.

And where there is ignorance, there is sometimes hatred. Gypsy/Travellers say they are the frequent victims of hate crimes - name-calling, physical attacks, excrement smeared on their property - and subtler but perhaps more damaging discrimination in the form of lack of support from local authorities.

The most common complaint is that there is inadequate provision of pitches for caravans, and that those which are provided are often located next to refuse sites, beneath pylons or close to motorways. This leads to the use of unauthorised sites which, in turn, can cause bad-tempered conflicts with local people. The situation is likely to get worse this summer if Dale Farm in Essex, the largest site in Europe, is closed down.

Scotland's Gypsy/Travellers are a mystery tomost people, but they have a rich and vibrant culture underpinned by their own language

Both siblings have struggled to find employment, which they put down to prejudice. Big Fat Gypsy Weddings gave the impression that the community had a great deal of money to spend; in fact, 90 per cent of those living on authorised sites are unemployed. Shamus does casual outdoor work - tree-planting, turf-digging and the like - and struggles financially.

On Wednesday in Edinburgh, a number of Gypsy/Travellers visited several European consulates, highlighting discrimination in the countries concerned. A letter handed into Bute House, the official residence of Alex Salmond, pointed out the problems with pitches and with racist bullying in schools. The storyteller Jess Smith sang a song on the steps of Bute House and called for an end to hostility, ridicule and shame.

There is concern within the community that Big Fat Gypsy Weddings has already led to an increase in bullying at school and may incite racially motivated attacks. None of the Scottish Gypsy/Travellers to whom I speak recognises the culture portrayed. The provocative sexual display and dress of the young people has left them especially mystified. There is a great emphasis on privacy in Gypsy/Traveller society, which is why each adult family member requires a separate caravan. People tend not to undress in front of one another and avoid the likes of communal showers.

It is a society governed by codes of behaviour concerning everything from eating to laundry to relations between husband and wife. Gypsy/Traveller life revolves around the family, within which children are protected to the point that many find it restrictive. Children are sometimes taken out of the education system after primary school so that they do not receive sex education, a taboo subject.

"We've got separate values and systems of belief," says Shamus McPhee. "They are old-fashioned in some ways. You know, no sex before marriage. Don't believe in promiscuity or adultery. Divorce is uncommon. We don't believe in childcare or putting our elderly relations into nursing homes."

Couples marry young. A woman in her mid-twenties is considered an old maid. Marriages are not arranged, exactly, but a young man and woman will often be brought together by their respective families in the hope that they will hit it off. There is a popular idea that domestic violence is prevalent within the Gypsy/Traveller community but I'm told that it is simply less hidden than in mainstream society.

"We've also got our own wedding rituals," says Shamus. "A common practice is for the bride and groom to go behind the tent and urinate in a pot. You then throw that on the fire, and how much smoke is produced will tell you how successful and fruitful the marriage is going to be. But you don't see that on Big Fat Gypsy Weddings."

Increasingly, Gypsy/Traveller society is religious. There is a tendency towards born-again Christianity. However, faith coexists with a contWhen someone is going to die you get some sort of warning in advance." When Shamus and Roseanna's brother died at the age of 37, the family burned his caravan in a sanitisation ritual.

The idea of karma is also important within the community. "Cursing people is really frowned upon," says Roseanna. "But I'm not saying people won't do it. I had an argument with a lady here three years ago; her daughter got a Bible and cursed me and my father and my brother. She said my father would die with a yellow face and a lot of pain. Well, he took cancer and was jaundiced and then died. And I had a lot of bad luck and illness, and my brother was very ill. But then, after that, the woman who cursed me lost her mother and her brother and her sister all to cancer. There's an idea that it comes back on you. It's like the power of prayer in reverse."

When it's time to leave Bobbin Mill and catch my train, I'm sorry to go. Shamus and Roseanna have offered a glimpse of an older, stranger world within my own. It is a great shame that people who come from such a rich culture should live impoverished lives. Like so many others, Shamus has struggled simply because society has, for centuries, regarded his people with, at best, incomprehension and often with murderous hatred. First it was the kids at school who punched him and spat on him, now it's those who won't give him work, or who look at him as if he was dirt. Gypsy/Travellers have a low life expectancy, and in his own lowest moments, Shamus seems almost glad about that.

"I don't want," he says, smiling sadly, "another 40 years of this."


I have not addressed the issue of this racist "smash" reality show in Britian.  There's lots of information about it if you haven't heard.  The reaction of the Romani/Gypsy/Traveler community in Britian has been adamantly negative pointing out the danger, lies and racism of the show.  But all that matters is that

Now they want to bring it to the United States.

This article is from

Simon Cowell looking to bring 'My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings' to US

February 27th, 2011
Simon Cowell is one busy man. He is still working on bringing "X Factor" to Fox channel 10 in Tempe later this year, but now he is looking to bring another television series from the UK to America - "My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings."

The Sun released the news earlier this weekend, and apparently Cowell is in talks with the people behind the series. In the UK, the series is a big hit, and Cowell sees the potential for the series to do the same when made for the American market.

A source said the following about the venture by Cowell:

"Simon knows all the TV execs in America. He is the man to make it happen. Everyone at Firecracker is very excited about it."

Would this series be something viewers would be interested in? Simon Cowell does seem to have the magic touch when it comes to television series. He is still hard at work on "X Factor" though. That series is promising to change things up from what he used to have on "American Idol." September 2011 should be interesting with the premiere of "X Factor".

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Dear Friends of the Holocaust Center,

Please contact your state legislators today and ask them to support the extension of the King County lodging tax. It will only take one minute, just follow the link below. The Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center depends on grant funding from this revenue source.

Thank you for your support.


Delila Simon
Co-Executive Director
Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center
phone 206-774-2201, fax 206-774-2202
I encourage all in Washington State to support the continued activities of the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center.  They do an incredible amount of education and outreach every year.  Their many testimonials speak for themselves.
I have had the privledge of working with the center for years as a friend ally and member of the speakers bureau.
The Center has been unwavering in their support of the past and present travails of the Romani people.  They simply MUST continue to exist.


They appear most recent first.  Romani had high hopes for the interest of Mr. Hammarberg.  It appears that, once again, our hopes are misplaced.
Dear Sandra

Thank you so much for your message. I can appreciate how very busy Commissioner Hammarberg is however, we are extremely disappointed that the commissioner has not arranged for his office to be represented at the meeting on the 16th March.

The World Health Organisation stated that there is no safe level of lead in the blood for children. Yet, 11 million euro has been awarded to organisations that have not used this vast amount of funding to either provide proper medical treatment for toxic waste or even a healthy diet for the victims of, which in this case is children; the only thing being provided at the moment is Mulit-Vitamins, as intimated in our last message, pray what possible use will they be without proper nourishment which, as we know can only come from Food?

If the High Commissioner feels his office has given as much support as is willing to provide concerning what Paul Polansky termed as a ’Senseless Tragedy’ then we are saddened.

The meeting will be publicising the latest reports on one of the world’s most recent man-made mass violations against humanity and its basic human rights, that has been recorded to date and one that is frighteningly reminiscent of events preceding the holocaust. There are many appropriate organisations/individuals that would be perfectly happy to represent the office of the HCHR so we are perplexed as to why HC office will not be represented.

Furthermore, we feel if the office of a High Commissioner for Human Rights in Europe cannot see it’s way clear to support these poor little innocent children who at the end of the day, are the real flesh and blood victims of this human man-made tragedy, by simply sending a representative to attend the meeting then, madam I think that say’s it all. Many thanks.


Kind regards

Rachel Francis-Ingham

Inclusion office

UK Association of Gypsy Women
From: FERREIRA Sandra

Sent: Thu, 24 February, 2011 18:07:29

Subject: FW: Invitation to House of Commons Meeting

Dear Ms Francis-Ingham,

The Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, would like to thank you for your kind invitation to attend the House of Commons meeting on the situation of children in camps of Osterode and Cesmin Lug, to be held on 16 March. Though the event seems a very interesting and topical one, I regret to inform you that the Commissioner's agenda is fully booked for that date and Mr. Hammarberg is therefore unable to participate.

Thank you once again for contacting the Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Office wishes you every success with the even.

With best wishes,

Sandra Ferreira

Personal Assistant to Thomas Hammarberg

Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights

Council of Europe


From: Rachel Francis-Ingham []

Sent: Wednesday 23 February 2011 01:48

To: Commissioner

Subject: Fw: Invitation to House of Commons Meeting

Dear Commissioner Hammarberg

I wrote to you on the 17th February inviting you to attend a meeting on the 16th March 2011 to be held in the House of Commons London; please see invitiation attached and my message below. We would so appreciate it if you could attend or send a colleague, as we feel that as the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Strasbourg your attendence would lend some weight to the lobbying for support for the poor children that so desperately need recogniton to have their human right to access to proper medical treatment and the provision of a healthy diet. The mulit-vitamins provided by Mercy Corps are pretty useless without a healthy diet. Thanking you in anticipation and look forward to hearing from you..


Kind regards

Rachel Francis-Ingham

Inclusion office

UK Association of Gypsy Women

Ah, I am so happy to add this update

Dear Sandra

Please give my sincere appreciation to the HC, I cannot tell you how very, very pleased we are that HCHR office will be represented at this most important meeting after all. May I also thank you for your kind help. Take care.


Kind regards

Rachel Francis-Ingham
Inclusion office
UK Association of Gypsy Women

Thursday, February 24, 2011





The European Roma and Travellers Forum deeply regrets the sudden death of Mr Kasum Cana on 22 February 2011 in Zagreb. Mr Cana represented Croatia in the Forum and made a valuable contribution towards its expansion and influence. He was a respected colleague, a hard worker and fully committed to the promotion of Roma interests.

Apart from his multiple activities in favour of the Roma cause, Mr Cana was also a talented painter, photographer and poet and highly respected by all who knew him.

We will all miss his pleasant company, his steadfast support and his good personality.

The European Roma and Travellers Forum conveys its deep sympathy and condolences to Mr Cana’s family.


O Evropako Forumo e Romengo thaj e Phirutnengo si but dukhado palal o sigutno meripen e Raje Kasum Canasko and-o 22 februaro 2011 and-o Zagreb. O Raj Cana sas o reprezentanto e Hrvatskako and-o Forumo thaj andjas jekh bari kontribucja palal lesko barvalipen thaj zoralipen. Vov sas jekh pativalo kolego, jekh butivarno manush savo djas piro zutipen te promovirinen pen e interesura e Romenge.

Avrjal e akvititetura vash e situacja e Romengi, o Raj Cana sas jekh prindzardo piktoro, fotografo thaj poeto, but pakivjardo kater e manusha kaj prindzarde les.

Savorre ame kam rovas lesko shukar manushipen thaj lesko zutipen.

O Evropako Forumo e Romengo thaj e Phirutnengo bichalel peski dukh thaj mila karing i familia e Raje Canaski.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011




HuffPost Reporting


02/22/11 09:37 PM

WASHINGTON -- The lawmaker behind Arizona's infamous bill cracking down on undocumented immigrants has introduced additional anti-immigrant legislation seemingly destined to ignite further controversy and legal challenges.

On Monday, Russell Pearce, Arizona state senate president and the author of SB1070, proposed a bill that would deny children of undocumented immigrants the right to attend K-12 public schools in the state. The measure would turn school administrators into de facto immigration enforcement agents by asking them to turn over families that did not provide citizenship or legal resident papers.

The bill, SB1611, seems bound for challenges over its constitutionality, as it runs up against the Supreme Court's 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe, which explicitly prohibits states from discriminating against young students for their immigration status.

"They're trying to create tests. This is all aiming for Supreme Court test cases by doing something that is over the constitutional line," Gabriel Chin, a professor at the University of Arizona School of Law, told HuffPost. "The problem is that all of these people have taken an oath to support the constitutions of the United States and Arizona. It's really alarming and astonishing that they would deliberately violate the Constitution in this way."

It's not the first attention-grabbing bill from Pearce, who is reportedly planning a run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. A long-time foe of illegal immigration, the Arizona Republican gained a national spotlight for his work on SB1070, which the Obama administration is fighting in federal court. Pearce is now pushing a number of other anti-immigrant bills, including one to deny citizenship to children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents.

With respect to his most recent effort, he downplayed the legislation's ramifications. "This is clean-up," he told reporters. "All it does is do what the voters have passed in terms of no taxpayer dollars for illegals. It just ties it up.''

The latest two bills, SB1611 and the bill to change birthright citizenship, were both discussed in hearings in the state capitol on Tuesday, immediately producing tensions between opponents and proponents, according to sources in the room.

In addition to prohibiting the children of undocumented immigrants from attending school, SB1611 would also require community colleges and universities to close the doors on students who are not citizens or legal residents. Current law allows these students to attend college, even though they must pay out-of-state tuition. The bill would also place harsh penalties on undocumented drivers -- including seizing and selling their cars. Arizona already denies driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, but the bill takes it a few leaps further by requiring a 30-day jail sentence for driving without proof of legal residence. It also allows the state to impound and sell cars of illegal immigrants caught by police

Tuesday, February 22, 2011



Scotland's big fat gypsy apology

Feb 21 2011 Donna Watson

Travellers' hopes boosted on ethnic cleansing scandal

HOPES of an apology for the horrific "ethnic cleansing" of gypsy communities have been revived.

Talks on the scandal broke down. But last night a Scottish government spokesman insisted the matter was still open.

He said: "We remain very willing to discuss this issue and the wrong that was done in the past."

Generations of Scots gypsy children were ripped from their families as part of a move aimed at the "eradication" of their culture.

A campaign, backed by high-profile Scots gypsies including author Jess Smith, was launched to win a formal apology for the scandal.

Smith, 62, said: "Our community has suffered mistreatment and prejudice at the hands of the authorities for centuries.

"But the most shameful of all was them tearing bairns away from their folks because it had been decided that travellers were too uncivilised to look after them. The authorities decided that the travelling life was not suitable for a child and created hideous myths that all gypsies were drunks and layabouts.

"We need an acknowledgment of the worst deeds in order to move forward."

The Channel 4 show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding has raised interest in travellers' culture.

And gypsies hope that an apology for 500 years of mistreatment might be on the way at last.

In 2008, First Minister Alex Salmond was said to be considering issuing an apology like that given by the Australian authorities to the Aborigines.

The Church of Scotland are also considering apologising to gypsies for centuries of discrimination at the Kirk's hand
I urge readers to visit the DAILY RECORD website to read the comments left.  As is often the case, the comments are more telling than the article.

Monday, February 21, 2011



Sonia Meyer, Gypsy Activist, to Speak on KOGA Radio

Posted: 20 Feb 2011 05:51 AM PST

Littleton, MA (PRWEB) February 19, 2011,

Sonia Meyer, famed Gypsy activist and scholar will be appearing on the Josh Mackey radio program on KOGA ( in Ogallala, Nebraska on February 22 2011 at 1:30 PM Mountain Time to talk about the oppression of Gypsies across Europe and the impact her book, Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies, has had on her battle for recognition of the rights of Gypsies all over the world.
Sonia Meyer
is renowned Gypsy (Romani) activist. She fled the Nazis with her parents when she was two years old to live in the woods of Germany and Poland among partisans and Gypsies. They lived in the woods, in abandon houses, and inns, always dodging the German and later Soviet armies who hunted them relentlessly. Her father taught her to throw hand grenades using a wooden darning egg. Just after the war Sonia and her family returned to Cologne Germany where she foraged for food with a band of Gypsies camped nearby.

Sonia Meyer is the author of the novel, “Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies.” The novel spans the early life of a Gypsy girl, from a childhood spent with partisans in the Polish forests to her defection to the West during Khrushchev’s visit to Helsinki.

Clarion Review said, “…Dosha: Flight of the Russian Gypsies tells the three-part story of a talented gypsy equestrian woman who gets drafted into the Soviet dressage team in Leningrad. Even as she is promoted as a star and given elevated status, Dosha’s only desire is to defect. Well-integrated into the book’s gripping plot are historical facts and vivid descriptions of the Russian gypsies and their role fighting the Nazi invasion during Stalin’s reign, followed by their oppression during Khrushchev’s Thaw in 1956, which instigated the Hungarian Revolution. Khrushchev’s first state visit to Helsinki, Finland, on June 6, 1957, plays a crucial part in this enthralling story
“Edgy, entertaining, and filled with political stratagem, even a jaded fan of novels set during the Soviet era will not be disappointed. Indeed, Meyer’s knowledge and research shines on every page. At no point does she neglect her story to force sterile history on the reader, yet she manages to convey all essential information effortlessly. Her ability to capture the unique relationship between a sensitive rider and her dedicated horse is outstanding. This beautiful stallion is such an integral character in the book that his emotions can be felt during the hard training sessions and unexpected separations from Dosha.”


It's a wonderful blog and I urge you to visit.


Italy wants to expel Gypsies without housing and income

Posted: 20 Feb 2011 05:54 AM PST

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

ROME: Italy wants to expel Gypsies who are citizens of other EU states who live solely off state benefits, the interior minister said recently, a move that would extend a crackdown on the Gypsy People criticised by rights groups as discriminatory.

France has sent masses of Roma on flights home to Romania in a mass repatriation that it says is voluntary, though some said they were coerced to leave. In fact, it is about as voluntary as were the round ups and deportations of the Nazi era.

Applauding France's move, Maroni, from the anti-immigrant Northern League party, said mandatory deportation of Roma who do not meet basic requirements should now be allowe
The policy would apply to all non-Italian EU citizens who fail to meet certain criteria, not just Roma, said Maroni when asked if such a plan would be discriminatory.

"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," said Maroni. Maroni's comments were immediately denounced by the political opposition, including the Italy of Values party which said the plan smacked of racism.

What we can see is how the government of Italy thinks as regards to the Sinti and Roma in the country. If they could but find a way they would also consider throwing those Gypsies with Italian citizenship out of the country.

I am sure they will find a way soon; removing the citizenships off them is something that they, I am sure, are thinking about already.

At the same time Jobbik in Hungary is calling for all Gypsies in Hungary to be put into internment camps and if Jobbik can get the general public of Hungary behind it then the government of the country might just think of this too, I would not be surprised.

And while the European Commission may have spoken out rather strongly, finally, against the actions of the government of France with regards to their removal of Gypsies from their country. But, it would appear, France is going to take absolutely no notice of what they are told. Now let us see as to whether the Commission is prepared to go all the way and drag France before the court. I am not holding my breath.

All I am seeing is that the EU is permitting an ethnic cleansing by proxy...

Friday, February 18, 2011



Romani Rose: States that collaborated with Nazi Germany have not come to grips with that past

Prague, 17.2.2011 12:42, (ROMEA)

In an interview with the German daily Bonner General-Anzeiger published in mid-February, Romani Rose, chair of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, discussed the situation for his minority in Central and Eastern Europe. When asked why many Roma living in Bulgaria and Romania were better off before 1989, Rose said the same applied to many post-communist states.

"More than 80 % of the Roma had jobs then. Today there are regions where 90 % of the Roma are unemployed. That is a formidable lack of prospects," Rose said. With respect to the high EU subsidies being offered for Roma integration, he asked that the use of those finances be reviewed. "That money cannot just be allowed to leak away, or what is even more surprising, to not be drawn on at all. The only possible interpretation in that case is that these countries do not intend to change the state of our exclusion from society," he said.

According to Rose, strong anti-Gypsyism particularly reigns in the states that collaborated with the Nazis during the war. "The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia have never thoroughly come to groups with their shared responsibility for the crimes committed against Jewish and Roma people." He believes this is related to the current rise in neo-Nazi parties in these countries. "We also have the NPD here [in Germany], but there is also broad resistance to it. That's the difference," he said.

Rose's opinions are considered objectionable at the very least among historians. The states concerned were either occupied by the German Wehrmacht during Nazism, or were governed by puppet regimes installed by Hitler's Germany. It is true that with the exception of the Poles, most of the populations of those countries either passively or willingly collaborated with the Nazi regime, as did the German population. On the other hand, the Nazis murdered no small number of the members of the ethnic majority populations in those states. Primarily, however, there were no democratically elected governments in those countries to support the genocide of the Roma as executors of the people's will. The post-war communist system prevented those societies from freely coming to terms with the ideological inheritance left them by the Nazis. After 1989, democratically elected governments only hesitantly supported research into the history of the Holocaust.

In relation to the recent temporary removal of Roma people from France, Rose said the main reason for the French government's repressive policy was that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had been facing massive criticism over his domestic policies. The Roma people in question served as his scapegoats. Their deportation was just a maneuver to draw attention away from the deficiencies in other areas of his policy. "I am very glad the EU resolutely rejected him, as did the French public. Silvio Berlusconi is playing the same tune, by the way," Rose said.

When asked how things are in Germany, Rose said that according to research performed by his organization, 76 % of Roma people in Germany face discrimination in education, housing and jobs. "This horrid fact also explains why the better part of the Roma and Sinti minority live anonymously [not expressing their ethnicity]," he said. Rose did point out that today some Roma have been presenting themselves as Roma in a program on the second channel of German public broadcast television, including the head commissioner of the criminal police in Kehl, a journalist in Hamburg, an advertising expert working for the well-known Metro firm, and a department head at a nuclear power plant. "Many Roma are also working in sports, in the past one of the most famous German footballers was Roma, as was Jean-Marie Pfaff, a former goalie for Belgium," Rose said. When asked what he says to people who mostly only encounter Roma as beggars, he points out that Roma are not the only people who beg. "Most Roma people live normally in society. Based on the behavior of some individuals a myth has been created about the character of the entire nation. That won't get us anywhere."

Rose, who was born just after the war, lost 13 relatives in the German concentration camps. Since 1982 he has been chair of the main organization of German Sinti and Roma. At the end of January he managed to have Roma survivors of Nazi persecution speak in the German Parliament for the first time ever. "Unfortunately, it was too late for many of the Holocaust survivors who would have loved to have been there. That generation is dying out," Rose said.

After two years of wrangling, this year a key memorial to the Holocaust of the European Roma will finally be unveiled in Berlin. Rose's organization has fought for this memorial for more than 10 years. Rose has also personally sharply criticized both the Czech and German governments for permitting the operation of a large-scale pig farm on the site where Czech Roma suffered during WWII at Lety by Písek.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


United States of America


Vol. 156

Washington, Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No. 2



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, as co-chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission,

I wanted to bring to the Senate's attention that next week, February 23, will mark a tragic anniversary. Two years ago on that date, assassins gathered outside the home of Robert Csorba. They threw a Molotov cocktail into the house. Although some family members escaped the blaze, five-year-old Robert Csorba and his father did not: as they tried to flee the flames, their attackers riddled them with bullets. The murderers were prepared: if the bomb did not finish them off, their guns would. They were prepared to kill men, women, and children.

The Csorbas were just two of the victims in a wave of racially motivated attacks against Roma that has roiled Hungary. According to the European Roma Rights Center, between January 2008 and July 2010 there were at least two dozen cases where Molotov cocktails, hand grenades or sniper fire were used. The victims included nine fatalities, including two children, and others who were seriously injured.

Among them was the 13-year-old daughter of Maria Balogh. Ms. Balogh was murdered when snipers shot into her home in the middle of the night on August 3, 2009, killing her and leaving her daughter an orphan. Her daughter was also grievously wounded: she was shot in the face, blinded in one eye, and maimed for life. It is no wonder that these attacks led one Romani activist to declare that Roma would need to arm themselves or flee, and another asserted that if these attacks continued, Hungary would be headed toward civil war.

There are some positive developments. The fatal attacks have stopped. Hungary's new government has reached out to the victims to provide support for rebuilding homes that were damaged or destroyed in arson attacks.

Hungary's new Minister for Social Inclusion, Zolton Balog, has demonstrated a rare and welcome compassion for his Romani fellow citizens.

But the wounded and the dead still wait for justice in Hungary. Although four men have been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the serial killings of Roma that occurred in 2008 and 2009, there have been no trials and no convictions.

The Czech Republic has also seen a dramatic rise in anti-Roma rhetoric and violent actions in the past few years. Last October, I joined Helsinki Commission Cochairman, Alcee Hastings, in welcoming the lengthy sentences handed down in the Czech Republic to four neo-Nazis who firebombed a Romani home in 2009, an act which left an infant, widely known simply as ``Baby Natalka,'' with second and third degree burns over 80 percent of her body and a lifetime of painful rehabilitation ahead of her.
When that judgment was handed down against the four men who firebombed Baby Natalka, I was heartened. I also said I was watching another Czech case--one that is largely unknown.

On November 8, 2008, a roving mob attacked several Roma in the town of Havirov. One teenager was so savagely beaten, he was effectively left for dead. For a prolonged period of time afterwards, he was in a coma, and when he regained consciousness, he was unable to talk. Although he has learned to speak again, he has suffered permanent brain damage. He is paralyzed, was forced to end his studies, and may never be able to work.

A decision in the case is expected to be announced in the Ostrava regional court at 8:30 a.m. on February 24. Behind the high profile murder cases of Roma that make their way into the news, there is an even larger number of cases involving Roma who have been attacked, but not fatally; they do not die but are maimed, disabled, and traumatized for life by the racially motivated violence they have encountered. Their stories are often never told, but each of them stands as a living monument to everyone in their families and everyone in their communities, testifying to the government's failure to protect them. Each of them deserves justice, including Jaroslav Horvath, the teenager attacked in Havirov.







TIME: 10 AM TO 11.30 AM

CHAIRED BY: Bob Walter MP, vice chairman of the parliamentary All-Party Human Rights Group.

SUBJECT: The meeting will provide a progress report on what the World Health Organisation

described as “EUROPE’S GREATEST MEDICAL EMERGENCY FOR CHILDREN TODAY”. They were referring to the plight of 150 Roma families including over 200 children under ten years of age,
caught up in the war in Kosovo, after which they were placed “temporarily” on highly toxic waste sites by UNHCR, and abandoned there for eleven years where they suffered from unprecedented levels of heavy metal poisoning. After over 80 related deaths and an intense campaign to save the children, USAID and the European Union found 11 million euros for their eventual resettlement and medical treatment. This fund is currently administered by Mercy Corps UK.

FORMAT: After the introduction by Bob Walter MP, Mr Paul Polansky – well-known human rights
campaigner for the Roma people, as well as author and poet who exposed the cover up of the WWII
Leti death camps for Roma in former Czecholsovakia, will show a short film, address the meeting
and answer any questions.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011



Hip hop classes for young Gypsies and Travellers

 Young Gypsies and Travellers from Cardiff will be learning hip hop street dance skills thanks to a £4,690 Awards for All lottery grant.

The Newport-based Urban Circle project will be working with youngsters from the Shirenewton site.

The aim is to perform at an event to mark Gypsy Roma and Traveller History Month in Newport on 30 June.

"Gypsy and Traveller children don't get many opportunities to do things like this," said Isaac Blake of Romani Arts.

"I am particularly pleased to be bringing at least one tutor from within the community itself," he added, referring to Irish Traveller Daniel Flynn.

Daniel impressed the audience with his solo display at an event in Cardiff to mark Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month in June 2010.

Isaac Blake founded the Cardiff-based Romani Arts organisation to promote a positive image of the travelling communities and to break down the barriers of understanding with the rest of society.

Loren Morris of Urban Circle said the youth arts group had already worked with people from a variety of backgrounds, but this would be their first project on a Gypsy and Traveller site.

Young Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are being urged to celebrate their culture

"We have worked with a number of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma people through our centre in Newport, but I'm looking forward to having the stereotypes of life on the site blown apart by these young people," she said.

"I'm not taken in my some of the very negative images of Gypsies and Travellers portrayed in recent television programmes."

The youngsters will be encouraged to develop a performance on any theme to help mark Gypsy Roma and Traveller History Month in June.

They will take part in the national event for Wales at the Riverfront arts centre in Newport on 30 June.

It will feature music, drama and performance by adults and children aimed at an audience including members of the settled population as well as travelling communities.

Younger children will be encouraged to explore their traditions through storytelling and wagon painting workshops.

A group from the Shirenewton site will also present a film put together with support from animation company Cinetig.
To read some backlash to this program, visit

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


 The following is a message from BERNARD SULLIVAN and PAUL POLANSKY, both tireless workers for the Romani of Kosovo

"I am writing to you because you entered your details on the Toxic Waste Kills website to express your support for the lead-poisoned children of Kosovo.

This is to let you know that our petition to President Obama calling for evacuation to the US base at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo was sent to the White House at the end of last week.

It is also to alert you to the fact that although some families have now been resettled in their old neighbourhood at Roma mahalla, none of the children have so far been treated for lead poisoning, in spite of the World Health Organisation's statement that this was "Europe's Greatest Medical Emergency for Children Today" necessitating an immediate evacuation and proper medical treatment. A WHO representative informed us last night that their role is purely advisory and that they are not even keeping data on childrens' blood lead level results or their medical treatment, so we are doing our best to continue an independent monitoring programme. This involves visits to Mahalla by our local Kosovo and Serbia based reporters and interpreters who discuss the treatment with families, doctors and the implementing partners charged with saving the children. Our reports so far have made disturbing reading.

We now need your help in keeping this process going so please let us know if you can help with a donation within your means. You may do this via our website enquiry submission form at"

Bernard Sullivan
Kosovo Medical Emergency Group

Paul Polansky
Kosovo Roma Refugee Foundation

Monday, February 14, 2011




Inside Out takes a look at one man in Blyth, Northumberland, who runs a business painting wagons for gypsies.

Check this site out.  The restorations are wonderful.


 FROM Frank Mugisha

I've heard some Ugandans falsely cite a "study" that one in four homosexual men have sex with children. This view is no accident. It's pure propaganda straight from the most extreme parts of the American right wing.

Is it any wonder that we are beaten, and attacked, and raped? Is it shocking that our own government sanctions cruelty and murder? With such hate flooding in from overseas, is it any surprise that gay Ugandans who dare to speak up – like my friend David Kato – have lost their lives?

I have seen the ugly extremism of a few anti-gay Americans, but I have also witnessed kindness and courage from many more. Hundreds joined me this week in vigils for the Ugandan dead. And my friends at the Human Rights Campaign tell me that since they sent the message below more than 36,000 of you have signed a petition calling on radical American pastors to stop exporting hate abroad. I cannot tell you how much I thank you.

If you haven't signed the petition yet, I hope you will do so now. To all those who have raised their voice already, I hope you will continue to fight by passing on the message below to your friends and family. Thousands of Ugandans are counting on you.

We simply want our neighbors to understand that gay and lesbian Ugandans deserve dignity and respect. My organization, Sexual Minorities Uganda, has fought the "kill the gays" bill and will continue to advocate for the freedom to be who we are. But we need your help to stop American extremists who are making our struggle so much harder.

Thank you for speaking up.
- Frank Mugisha



Stop exporting hate.

Stand with HRC's Religion and Faith program. Tell American right-wingers to stop hateful proselytizing in Africa.

U.S. pastors are exporting bigotry to Uganda, with brutal results.

This is an issue close to my heart, because I've spent over a decade working for equality as a lay leader in my own church, and now, as acting director of HRC's Religion and Faith program – which helps religious leaders of all stripes speak out for equality and fight back when hatred is promoted in the name of religion.

On Thursday, that perversion of faith cost Ugandan gay rights advocate David Kato his life. He was bludgeoned to death in his home after his name was among those listed in an anti-gay magazine, under the headline "Hang them!"

Since at least 2009, radical U.S. Christian missionaries have added anti-gay conferences and workshops in Uganda to their anti-gay efforts in the U.S. – and now they're beginning to ordain ministers and build churches across East Africa focused almost entirely on preaching against homosexuality.

These American extremists didn't call for David's death. But they created a climate of hate that breeds violence – and they must stop and acknowledge they were wrong.

"Stop Exporting Hate." Sign our petition to Carl Ellis Jenkins, Lou Engle, and Scott Lively.

We'll deliver your signature to three men who have gone out of their way to promote hatred:

•Scott Lively of Massachusetts held an anti-gay conference in Uganda with two other U.S. pastors. A few months later, a bill was introduced in Uganda that would make homosexuality punishable by death.

•Lou Engle, a Missouri preacher whose rallies draw tens of thousands in the U.S., spoke at a rally in Uganda this year that focused on praying for the bill's passage. (Engle claims not to support some parts of the bill, but internal documents show he came to speak about "the threat of homosexuality," and defend the Ugandan government's efforts to "curb the growth of the vice using the law.")

•And Carl Ellis Jenkins of Georgia is presiding over a group that's opening 50 new churches in Uganda to "help clean up bad morals, including homosexuality" according to his staff.

They have been stirring up hostility in a country where homosexuality is already illegal, violent attacks are common, rape is used to 'cure' people of their sexual orientation – and a shocking law has been proposed that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment or even death.

And they're in lockstep with some of the largest and wealthiest right-wing groups in the U.S. When the U.S. Congress considered a resolution denouncing the grotesque Ugandan death-penalty-for-gays bill, the extreme-right Family Research Council – now classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – spent $25,000 lobbying to stop the resolution from passing.

Religion should never be used to spread hate. These men do not speak for me or the millions of diverse religious people who support equality not in spite of our faith, but because of it.

That's what our Religion and Faith program is all about: helping people of faith from all different traditions speak out so we can reclaim the core religious values we hold dear in America.

At the heart of every religious tradition is love of humanity and love of creator – not hatred for our neighbors. Creating a climate of hate runs contrary to the very idea of faith – but that's exactly what the right wing in America is doing.

Tell missionaries and radical hate groups: "Stop exporting hate."

Whether or not we're people of faith, we cannot stay silent or stand idly by while a radical minority pushes a hateful agenda in God's name. Please stand with us and speak out today.


Sharon Groves

Religion and Faith Program


Sunday, February 13, 2011


March 8th 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY. 

Please come, and please spread the word about this celebration of local/Seattle area women activists!


Celebrate International Women’s Day 2011 (100 years!) by honoring our fierce and fabulous sisters at a community potluck. There will be entertainment and great food! The event will be at POCAAN, 1609 19th Ave. (one block south of Madison, two blocks north of Union), from 6-9pm on IWD, Tuesday, March 8th. Wheelchair accessible, no fragrances please. POCAAN is on bus routes 2, 11, and 12. For more info, call 206-722-0729, email, or go to our facebook page Seattle International Women’s Day.

Since this event is a community potluck, we suggest bringing a dish according to the first letter of your first name, so we have a semi balance of dishes – A-D bring a snack or appetizer, E-I bring a salad, J-L a warm vegetable, M-P a main dish, vegetarian, Q-T a main dish non-vegetarian, and U-Z a dessert. Of course you are welcome to choose to bring anything you want to make or have a specialty in!

If you are a member of a group, we are looking for sponsors for the IWD event. We ask you to publicize the event and if you have any amount of money to donate for expenses, that is always welcome!
I encourage everyone in the Seattle area to come to the International Women's Day potluck.  And I am really honored to say that I will be one of the women recognized at the event. And even more importantly, this is also a wonderful acknowledgement of the political work of Lolo Diklo: Romani against Racism, and the struggles of the Romani people.
The first International Women's Day

In 1869 British MP John Stuart Mill was the first person in Parliament to call for women's right to vote. On 19 September 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. Women in other countries did not enjoy this equality and campaigned for justice for many years.

In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was the result.

The very first International Women's Day was launched the following year by Clara Zetkin on 19 March (not 8 March). The date was chosen because on 19 March in the year of the 1848 revolution, the Prussian king recognized for the first time the strength of the armed people and gave way before the threat of a proletarian uprising. Among the many promise he made, which he later failed to keep, was the introduction of votes for women.

Plans for the first International Women's Day demonstration were spread by word of mouth and in the press. During the week before International Women's Day two journals appeared: The Vote for Women in Germany and Women's Day in Austria. Various articles were devoted to International Women's Day: 'Women and Parliament', 'The Working Women and Municipal Affairs', 'What Has the Housewife got to do with Politics?', etc. The articles thoroughly analyzed the question of the equality of women in the government and in society. All articles emphasized the same point that it was absolutely necessary to make parliament more democratic by extending the franchise to women.

Success of the first International Women's Day in 1911 exceeded all expectation.

Meetings were organized everywhere in small towns and even the villages halls were packed so full that male workers were asked to give up their places for women.

Men stayed at home with their children for a change, and their wives, the captive housewives, went to meetings.

During the largest street demonstration of 30,000 women, the police decided to remove the demonstrators' banners so the women workers made a stand. In the scuffle that followed, bloodshed was averted only with the help of the socialist deputies in Parliament.

In 1913 International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Wommen's Day ever since.

During International Women's Year in 1975, IWD was given official recognition by the United Nations and was taken up by many governments. International Women's Day is marked by a national holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.



International Women's Day

International Women's Day (8 March) is an occasion marked by women's groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

International Women's Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for "liberty, equality, fraternity" marched on Versailles to demand women's suffrage.

The idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies. Following is a brief chronology of the most important events:


In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate it on the last Sunday of that month through 1913.


The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women's Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women's rights and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. The proposal was greeted with unanimous approval by the conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, which included the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament. No fixed date was selected for the observance.


As a result of the decision taken at Copenhagen the previous year, International Women's Day was marked for the first time (19 March) in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, where more than one million women and men attended rallies. In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, they demanded the right to work, to vocational training and to an end to discrimination on the job.

Less than a week later, on 25 March, the tragic Triangle Fire in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working girls, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This event had a significant impact on labour legislation in the United States, and the working conditions leading up to the disaster were invoked during subsequent observances of International Women's Day.


As part of the peace movement brewing on the eve of World War I, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies either to protest the war or to express solidarity with their sisters.


With 2 million Russian soldiers dead in the war, Russian women again chose the last Sunday in February to strike for "bread and peace". Political leaders opposed the timing of the strike, but the women went on anyway. The rest is history: Four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. That historic Sunday fell on 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia, but on 8 March on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere.

Since those early years, International Women's Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women's movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women's conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point for coordinated efforts to demand women's rights and participation in the political and economic process. Increasingly, International Women's Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of women's rights.



Bill Clinton to visit Montenegro

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton will pay a visit to Montenegro on February 22 upon an invitation of Dusko Knezevic, the founder and president of Montenegro's largest financial group Atlas Group and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), in order to hold a lecture at the conference dubbed Balkan Network for Social Strengthening.

Roma groups are invited to contact the Clinton Global Initiative and ask Bill Clinton to visit Europe's largest refugee camp for Roma while he is in Montenegro. This is at Konik just 3 kms from the capital, Podgorica.

Contact information can be found here

Bernard Sullivan


I encourage everyone, not only Romani groups to ask Bill Clinton to visit Konik Gypsy camp.

So far, no Romani group, including Lolo Diklo, have received any response or acknowledgement from Clinton or his representative.  He hasn't shown up at the camp.

Saturday, February 12, 2011



UNESCO hosts Hungarian EU presidency exhibition of Roma women paintings

February 9, 2011

The Roma and their place in society are the main themes of an exhibition of four Hungarian Roma women painters that opened in the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Tuesday evening.

The "Romantic Roads" exhibition, organised as part of programmes of the Hungarian EU Presidency, presents 42 paintings by Marta Bada, Mara Olah, Jolan Olah and Terez Orsos.

The exhibition's curator Peter Szuhay said the paintings depicted how Roma women feel exposed in society in two ways: to Roma men and to mainstream society.

Szuhay, of the Budapest Museum of Ethnography, highlighted paintings by Mara Olah which feature imprinted texts; the artist "talks back" to society by sending messages.

The exhibition was opened by Laurence Argimon Pistre, the head of the UNESCO delegation to the European Commission and Katalin Bogyai, Hungary's Ambassador to UNESCO.



Romania Declines to Turn Roma Into ‘Gypsies’Romania Declines to Turn Roma Into ‘Gypsies’

Written by: Balkan Insight

By Marian Chiriac

Romanian plans to rename the country’s Roma as “Gypsies” have taken a knock after the upper house of parliament rejected a proposed law to this effect.

The upper house, the Senate, on Wednesday rejected the proposal by 51 votes to 27, few days after the chamber’s committees for human rights and equal opportunities had endorsed it.

“The official name of an ethnic minority cannot be imposed by law as long as people have a right to self-identification,” one of the opponents of the law, MP Toni Grebla, said.

“Romania has to comply with European standards, which recommend use of the term ‘Roma’,” the deputy added.

The draft law still has to go to parliament’s other chamber, the house of deputies, but it is most likely to be rejected there also.

Silviu Prigoana, the MP who initiated the law, argued that the term “Roma” is often confused internationally with the word “Romanian”.

The prestigious Romanian Academy as well as the government of Emil Boc both backed changing “Roma” to “Gypsy”, saying that this was the term most used by people in Europe.

But officials were divided. The Ministry of Culture, the Foreign Ministry, and the National Council Against Discrimination, CNCD, expressed disapproval of the bill. So did the country’s President.

In December, President Traian Basescu said he would never sign the bill into law, adding that it would be seen as a gesture of rejection for the large Roma community.

Ironically, in 2007, the CNCD issued a complaint after Basescu called a journalist a “stinking Gypsy” during a conversation recorded on the reporter’s cell phone and then broadcast on television.

Ambivalence over the Roma/Gypsy issue prevails in Romanian public discourse, too.

While TV stations and the print media almost exclusively use the term “Roma”, they allow comments on their websites which refer in highly discriminatory and even offensive terms to “Gypsies”.

Polls show that over two-thirds of Romanians prefer to use “Gypsy”, mainly because – like the MP sponsoring the bill – they worry that “Roma” sounds like “Romanian”.

International Roma rights organizations insist that “Gypsy” is a pejorative and discriminatory terms.

“Romanian officials should be more interested in finding ways to protect Roma rights instead of promoting a law imposing a name on us, which is not ours”, David Mark, from the Roma Civic Alliance organisation, said.

Romania is officially home to some 550,000 Roma, although it is widely believed that their real number is at least twice as high. Many people of Roma origin do not declare their ethnicity on account of the widespread prejudice they face in Romania.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011



Cher Lloyd receives Big Fat Gypsy abuse on Twitter

February 9, 2011

By Beehive Staff
Cher Lloyd stands up to Twitter bullies...

Things turned ugly on X Factor finalist Cher Lloyd’s Twitter feed last night as users peppered her account with a barrage of abusive messages. The insults focused on Cher’s traveller background and were seemingly sparked by last night’s episode of Channel 4’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

The 17-year-old singer, currently dividing her time between the studio and rehearsing for The X Factor tour, has previously revealed her traveller roots. She has admitted that her mother’s family are Romany gypsies and that she spent the first few months of her life living in a caravan.

The 140-character attacks came after the latest show in Channel 4’s popular documentary series was aired, with viewers rounding on the most famous ‘gypsy’ they could find.

One tweet read “Ho i swear I just seen half ur fam on channel 4″, while another postulated “Gypsy life expectancy is 50. That means we probably have another 33 years of Cher Lloyd.”

One enquired: “Shouldn’t you be preparing for your big fat gypsy wedding?”

Cher dealt with the insults admirably, offering a “sticks and stones” mentality before tweeting “might shave all my hair off and get a tattoo on my head. goodnight world.”

The young singer showed the maturity to face down the insults while standing up for her ancestry with her final tweet. She wrote: “keep chuckin those gypsy comments in, i’ll tarmac ya drive and trim ya hedges for ya if ya like? No shame in me :L”

The star has recently been the subject of much speculation as reports suggesting collaborations with Rihanna, and producer RedOne have surfaced.

It’s good to see the youngster can deal with the downsides of celebrity as well as the good…

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The History Lesson Europe Needs Right Now

By Bernard Rorke On 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.

FROM Open Society Foundations:

URL to article:


 Four children from one family die after fire tears through illegal gypsy camp in Rome


By Daily Mail Reporter

8th February 2011

Four children from one family have died in a fire in a squatters' camp occupied by Roma nomads.

Three brothers and a sister aged from four to 11 perished when the blaze ripped through their wood shack on Rome's outskirts on Sunday night.

Their mother was out buying food and other adult family members were fetching water when the fire took hold.

The mayor of the Italian capital has now called for special powers to move residents to other sites.

Officials said that the blaze was most likely caused by a burning ember from a wood stove the family used to keep warm.

The area where the fire happened has been popular with Roma travellers for a number of years. It has been occupied, destroyed, and occupied again several times in recent years.

Mayor Gianni Alemanno blamed the bureaucracy involved with moving on Roma people, saying it was taking too much time to obtain all the required local permits to move the nomads to safer sites.

He has now called for special powers to move Roma people to safer sites after complaining there is currently too much bureaucracy involved

He said he would ask the national government for special powers to shut down illegal sites and move the nomads to approved locations.

Such a move would mirror strict rules imposed by Nicolas Sarkozy in France in August last year which allowed Roma Gypsies to be deported.

More than 8,000 Roma were forced to return to Romania or Bulgaria after their camps were shut down. They were followed by hundreds more Roma in the weeks after.

The European Commission rebuked France for the move and Sarkozy faced harsh criticism from rights organisations around the world.

Roma, who come mainly from European Union members Romania and Bulgaria, make up many of the people who enter Italy each year. Most do not integrate and many beg on street corners or wash car windows for change.


 On Feb. 8, 1968, after three nights of escalating racial tension over efforts by students of then-SC State College and others to desegregate the local All-Star Bowling Lanes, three students were killed and 27 others were injured when S.C. Highway Patrolmen opened fire on a crowd of unarmed protesters at the head of campus.

This was the first time in  US history police opened fire on students.

The shootings mark one of the least remembered chapters in U.S. civil rights history, overshadowed by the successive blows of that turbulent year, including the April assassination of Martin Luther King.

For more information please visit the Orangeburg Massacre homepage

Monday, February 7, 2011




Czech mayoral meeting will support anti-Roma hatred

Ostrava, 6.2.2011 17:18, (ROMEA)

The Mayor of Nový Bydžov, Pavel Louda, recently invited his counterparts from other towns to a meeting on "problems with Roma" and options for various repressive measures against them, such as halting welfare benefits. The meeting is to take place on 14 February 2011 in Louda's town, where the aversion to the Roma minority has been steadily rising. According to the mayor, the Roma gamble and steal and therefore have no place in his town.

The hidden purpose of this invitation is to create a whip with which to threaten Roma throughout the country. Ivana Řapková, the former mayor of Chomutov, today a Czech MP, will certainly offer her experience there on how to intervene and proceed. In our view, the mayors who have fallen in with this meeting are just supporting more incitement to hatred against the Roma minority.

These people are promoting hatred and racism among those who know nothing about the real situation in Nový Bydžov. In their view it is better to tar all Roma with the same brush and move them somewhere out of sight to live as they like - they aren't interested as long as their own places are secure.

The main problem today, however, is the failure of the welfare state. This is why so many people are seeking a scapegoat - but assault, rape and shoplifting are not the domain of one minority. All you have to do is read the newspapers to see that.

As the EU and UN recognize, many Roma - and not only in the Czech Republic - are being assaulted by racists, discriminated against, and rejected as members of the workforce. The socially excluded must be helped to stand on their own feet. No one ever wants to be poor.

Whom do the Roma as a whole bother? Just some mayors and people who have long hidden this evil inside them and now sense that others will support them in it. These people do not represent the country as a whole, however - their statements are not the same as a parliamentary decision.

We recommend that these people learn the new style of the 21st century instead. That is "DIALOGUE", not "ABOUT US WITHOUT US“. Such old-fashioned practices are a thing of the past already!

If the Mayor of Nový Bydžov does not know how to address the situation through dialogue, he should invite those who are more experienced with Roma people to do so. Such people do exist. Our organization, o.s. EUROPE-ROMA CZ, helps everyone in the Czech Republic, without distinctions! Distinctions are only made by those refusinge to help both the non-Roma and the Roma find their way on the labor market.

Roma people were born in this state and we have the same rights as all other citizens of the Czech Republic irrespective of our ethnicity, our religion, or our skin color. This is why we must join together against racism.