Saturday, April 30, 2011



High percentage of Romanian teens reject Jews, Roma, gays, Muslim as neighbors

April 29, 2011

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- One third of Romanian teenagers would be opposed to living next to Jewish neighbors according to a poll that found even higher levels of prejudice directed at Roma, Muslims and gays.

Three quarters of respondents said they did not want gays living next door, according to the poll, reported Friday by Associated Press and carried out last November.

Two thirds rejected being neighbors with Roma and AIDS sufferers, while 42 percent rejected Muslim neighbors and 34 percent rejected Jewish neighbors.

The poll, commissioned by the Soros Foundation, questioned 5,680 students between the ages of 14 and 18 and has a margin of error of 2 percent.



The devil wears a handlebar mustache

Gypsy violinist Roby Lakatos to perform during Ventura Music Festival

By Benjamin Pearson


Scientists haven’t discovered a gene that produces violin prodigies, but anyone familiar with fifth-generation violinist Roby Lakatos might have wondered if such a thing exists. The acclaimed virtuoso first performed in public at the young age of 9, but his family has been playing the fiddle in the scorching Hungarian Romani (or Gypsy) tradition as far back as the 18th century.

That family tree includes the influential János Bihari, the “grandfather” of Romani violinists, whose melodies were appropriated by such well-known composers as Franz Liszt and Beethoven. For centuries, Romani and classical music have influenced each other, as Romani violinists performed their fiery, expressive takes on classical pieces while composers incorporated Romani elements into their compositions. As part of this year’s Ventura Music Festival, Lakatos and his ensemble of Hungarian musicians will give Ventura a glimpse of that traditional synergy combined with a signature modern flair.

Roby Lakatos was born in Hungary in 1965. After studying both with his family and at the Béla Bartók Conservatory in Budapest, he created an ensemble that played at a club in Brussels for 10 years. Since then, Lakatos has taken the Romani tradition of traveling seriously, playing all over Europe, Asia, Australia and the United States. Lakatos plays with uncommon technical prowess, speed and passion — all part of the Gypsy tradition, according to Ventura Music Festival Artistic Director, Nuvi Mehta, who says that Lakatos does “things that classical artists can’t do.” That might be one reason Lakatos has been dubbed the “devil fiddler.”

Like the namesake, he’s also an impressive shape-changer whose repertoire extends far beyond traditional Hungarian czardas (perhaps the definitive Romani music to most audiences) and classical. His Ventura program includes everything from jazz icon Fats Waller to Argentine tango composer Ástor Piazolla, alongside a healthy dose of Hungarian Romani music by József Suha Balogh and Lakatos’ own compositions. Film buffs can also look forward to renditions of Michel LeGrand’s Academy award-nominated “Papa Can You Hear Me?” from Yentl and a piece by Ennio Morricone, known for his scores to spaghetti westerns.

Whatever the genre, a Lakatos’ performance is sure to give it a Romani spin. In his ensemble, he’s assembled a group of like-minded Hungarian musicians who can similarly interpret diverse styles through a Romani lens. They can also all hold their own against Lakatos’ often-furious pace. Jenő Lisztes, who plays the hammered dulcimer-style instrument called the cimbalom that’s characteristic of Romani music, is especially known for his speed — his frantic hammer strokes are as much a feast for the eyes as the ears.

Mehta thinks the ensemble’s performance promises to be one of the most interesting shows of the festival. That’s saying a lot for a schedule that includes the U.S. premiere of a recently-discovered Mendelssohn piano concerto. But like Lakatos’ carefully waxed and curled moustache, the concert is sure to seamlessly blend precision and showmanship, tradition and personality.

The Roby Lakatos Ensemble will perform on Saturday, May 7, 8 p.m. at Ventura High School Auditorium, 2 N. Catalina, Ventura. Tickets are $15-$45. For more information about the Ventura Music Festival, visit

Friday, April 29, 2011



Far-right parties gain amid resentment over economic battering of Hungary

Tensions have escalated between Hungarians and the Roma minority and vigilantes began patrolling towns, saying the government was not doing enough to ensure safety.
Roma families left their homes on Good Friday to escape potential violence involving a far-right vigilante group.
The buses pulling out of Gyöngyöspata made grim viewing on Good Friday.

They were carrying almost 300 Roma women and children away from their village in north-eastern Hungary, which holds the European Union presidency, where a far-right vigilante group, Defence Force, had set up an Easter training camp.

The Roma wanted to escape potential violence from the vigilantes, some of whom wore full military uniform and red berets, in the latest incident to highlight the dangerous tension between Hungary’s nationalists and its large Gypsy community.

Paramilitary groups like Defence Force have appeared in several villages where they claim the local police are unable to protect white Hungarians from “Gypsy crime”.

Most of them are linked to Jobbik, the Movement for a Better Hungary, which was founded in 2003 but just six years later won its first three seats in the European Parliament and last year took almost 17 per cent of votes to come third in a general election.

Jobbik rode a surge to the right in Hungarian politics, triggered by the implosion of the Socialists after former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány was heard in a leaked recording telling allies how his government had done nothing useful while in power and had lied to win re-election.

The leak triggered riots around the 50th anniversary of Hungary’s 1956 doomed uprising against Soviet domination, and fuelled not only the rise of Jobbik but the resurgence of Fidesz, the country’s main centre-right force, which had lost the previous two elections to the Socialists.

When Hungarians went to the polls again last April, the Socialists were in disarray, and barely scraped home ahead of Jobbik while Fidesz secured an unprecedented two-thirds majority in parliament.

Fidesz leader Viktor Orbán promised to root out corruption, crackdown on crime and restore pride and patriotism to a Hungary badly battered by the economic crisis, which forced it to seek a €20 billion international bailout and left many people in dire financial straits.

Jobbik promised to do the same in more radical terms, by focusing on the Roma as the major source of criminality and social unrest and by offering itself as an alternative to the entire post-communist political elite, including Fidesz, which had led the country into the mire.

The party appealed to many Hungarians who had failed to prosper after 1989 under a succession of centre-left and centre-right governments, who resented living in long neglected, crime-riddled districts alongside Roma, and who saw no benefits from EU membership.

As much of the working class abandoned the Socialists, a significant portion saw little prospect for improvement under Orbán, who had already served as premier from 1998 to 2002, and sought a distinct break with the political past by turning to Jobbik.

The party’s depiction of a small, brave country laid low by traitors and foreigners chimes with a popular view of national history, which centres on the 1920 Treaty of Trianon that stripped vast territories from Hungary, and on the rebels’ 1956 defeat to the Red Army and its local vassals.

Keen to distinguish itself from the “out of touch” main parties, Jobbik campaigned hard at local level on local issues, and additionally made its presence felt in the regions through the Hungarian Guard, which was founded in 2007 by Jobbik leader Gábor Vona.

While the guard called itself an innocent defender of Hungarian values and traditions, critics denounced it as an anti-Roma, anti-Semitic, homophobic paramilitary group whose uniform and symbols were reminiscent of those used by the country’s wartime fascist rulers.

Hungary banned the guard in 2009, but it has reappeared in various forms under slightly different names, and is mirrored in groups like Defence Force and other uniformed volunteer organisations that march and conduct “patrols” in Roma districts.

The Fidesz government, which sought to play down the departure of the Gyöngyöspata Roma, has vowed to prevent such patrols.

But it is also wary of driving its own “soft nationalist” supporters into the arms of Jobbik, an ally in Brussels of the British National Party which could benefit if Fidesz, currently Hungary’s only major mainstream political force, fails to revive a struggling economy and soothe social divisions.

Hungary’s slide to the right has unnerved neighbouring states, where many ethnic Hungarians live due to the carve-up of Trianon.

Budapest’s recent relations with Slovakia have been especially tense, particularly when the far-right Slovak National Party was a member of the ruling coalition from 2006 to 2010.

Party leader Ján Slota is well known for his antipathy towards Hungarians and Roma, having threatened to drive tanks into Budapest and called a “a small yard and a long whip” the best means of resolving Roma issues.


Gypsy guitarist Lulo Reinhardt is appearing at Kantara House

29 Apr 11

KANTARA House is set to host one of the world’s finest contemporary Gypsy guitarists, Lulo Reinhardt on Sunday, May 8.

In a bit of coup for the coast, the grand-nephew of celebrated Gypsy musician Django Reinhardt, Lulo, will bring his Latin Swing Project tour to Green Point and showcase his latest creation, a new album called Katoomba Birds.

Lulo first picked up a guitar at the age of five and was taught to play by his father Bawo. He hasn’t looked back since.

As a youngster he spent every day rehearsing with his cousin Mike, who was five years older than him, with the pair regularly performing at family gatherings.

In 1973 Lulo performed at his first concert with his cousin in front of 4000 people and it cemented in him what he already knew, that he was born to perform.

Through a life devoted to music, he has honed his talent into an inimitable style that absorbs all of his musical passions from the flourish and fire of flamenco, to the intricate arrangements of Latin and Brazilian jazz.

“The audience sometimes expects me to play exclusively in the style of Django Reinhardt, but I have found a style of my own and I’m happy and grateful that the people love it,” Reinhardt said.

Reinhardt’s association with Australia, like his music, is very passionate.

After establishing himself as a star all over Europe and the US, Reinhardt came to Australia in 2008, a trip which changed his career.

Audiences in Australia embraced the musician so much that he was inspired to record the live CD and DVD Lulo Reinhardt Live in Melbourne.

So when it came time to record his new album he hopped back on a plane and set up camp in a recording studio and Katoomba Birds was the result.

Lulo Reinhardt will perform at Kantara House, Green Point on Sunday, May 8.

The show starts at 1pm, tickets cost $49 for the show only and $75 for the show and a buffet meal. Inquiries: 4369 1528.
Wish I was in Australia.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


By Veronika Gulyas
PHOTO AFP/Getty Images  Roma women and children leaving the village at Easter

A Hungarian far-right paramilitary group and local Roma clashed Tuesday night in Gyongyospata, a village in eastern Hungary, in the latest display of tensions over the ethnic minority that the group accuses of criminal behavior.

The uniformed members of Vedero, or “Protection Force,” organized a training camp in the village over the Easter weekend and patrolled it for days in what they called an attempt to “restore order.” Nearly 300 Roma women and children left their homes soon after the far-right group entered the village, with the Hungarian Red Cross calling it “an evacuation” it organized. It’s a term the government rejected as “provocation,” saying the Roma were taken to an Easter campout arranged earlier by the Red Cross.

Police Friday arrested the paramilitary group’s members, including its chief Tamas Eszes. The individuals were then released because authorities couldn’t find a legal basis for prosecution.

Police and ambulances are present in the village in high numbers after the latest clashes, and the situation is tense between the locals and the vigilantes, Hungarian state news agency MTI said.

In response to the events, the government will submit a proposal to parliament to amend the criminal code, imposing a prison sentence of up to two years for unauthorized patrolling or attempts to restore order. A prison sentence of up to three years will be set for the intimidation of any communities by groups dressed up in unauthorized uniforms, Peter Szijjarto, spokesman of the prime minister, said at a press conference Wednesday.

“There’s a new form of criminality in Hungary, namely delinquency in a uniform,” Mr. Szijjarto said, adding the change of the criminal code will be discussed by parliament as early as Wednesday. The governing Fidesz party has an overwhelming majority in parliament. It’s therefore possible that the amendment will be approved the same day.

The government last week changed another piece of legislation, making it possible to fine groupings for unauthorized patrolling in uniforms with 100,000 Hungarian forints ($556).

Hungary’s ombudsman for minority rights, Erno Kallay, has initiated a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday saying the state should immediately bring the situation back into normal in Gyongyospata. State Secretary Karoly Kontrat vowed the interior ministry will take steps to keep the public safe.

“We cannot hope the situation will end after the Tuesday night clash,” Mr. Kallay said, adding “everybody knows” the clash was a result of continuous provocation by the far-right groupings, and the feeling of intimidation and fear of local Roma inhabitants.

“We don’t know whose interest it is to provoke a civil war-like situation,” Mr. Kallay added.

The local police refused to intervene earlier, even though the Roma community was complaining of an atmosphere of intimidation, AFP said. Gyongyospata has a total population of around 2,800, with the Roma population numbering around 450. Some 60 Roma have decided to move to relatives from the village after the Tuesday night clashes, MTI said.

Many in Hungary link the far-right groupings patrolling Gyongyospata to the Jobbik party, also present in parliament. The party denies involvement, although it puts the blame on the ethnic minority.

“There’s terror by gypsies in Hungary, and it’s not Jobbik’s responsibility, but a direct consequence of the past 20 years,” MTI cited Jobbik MP Gyula Gyorgy Zagyva, also a member of far-right youth group Hatvannegy Varmegye.

Government official Laszlo Horvath said provocations from either side should stop.

“There’s an intention to blow up this event into an international scandal to ruin the reputation of the country and the government,” MTI cited Mr. Horvath as saying.

Amnesty International requested the Hungarian state to take measures and fend off what it called racist aggression. The non-governmental organization is calling a demonstration for Wednesday afternoon in front of the Ministry of the Interior to protest against social exclusion and racism.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011



Find real Gypsy culture, community at the 15th Annual Roma Festival

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Sani Rifati, co-founder of the annual Roma Festival held in Ives Park, Sebastopol.



Sani Rifati emigrated from Serbia two decades ago, and in 1996 started a Roma (“Gypsy”) festival from his Graton home to honor the culture and raise money for refugees in Kosovo. The 15th annual festival kicks off in Sebastopol on May 6.

What does it mean to you?

Mostly, it’s about promoting authentic Roma culture, sharing it with everyone, and educating people about Romani, letting them see who we are.

For the past two years, our fundraising is also for the Roma community here. Since the economic crisis began, many have lost their jobs and homes.

Who are you?

When I first came here, I was amazed at the stereotypes people in the West had about Gypsies, that we are fortune-tellers, travelers, musicians or thieves. Those stereotypes persist.

Roma don’t really travel because they want to, they travel because they have to. They have no country. They have been persecuted all over the world, and sometimes the road is the safest place to be.

True, some Roma work in fortune-telling. It is a traditional occupation, however, it’s also common for Roma here to work in asphalt, in car dealerships and body shops. Some came as apple workers and grape pickers.

In the former Yugoslavia, where I’m from, there are many educated Romani. I have a Masters degree in chemistry, and I can tell you, I never saw a caravan in my life.

Romani have many nationalities. They are everywhere, in all cultures, and the different groups don’t often interact. But we share history, and we have the same values.

Like what?

Most important to us is family. Next is community, and then celebration. We are similar to Jewish culture in that way. Our culture has been passed on through strong oral traditions, and through music and dance. There is little written history. For this event, we are bringing some amazing musicians and performers from around the world.

Why do they come?

They love Sebastopol because it is a chance to play together freely and informally. Musicians are highly regarded in Roma culture, sometimes even treated like gods. It’s an honorable trade passed down through families.

Some musicians have told me they come because our festival gives them a sense of home. To a Gypsy, that is something special.

What are you most looking forward to?

The music. I play the drums, my father and grandfather were musicians, and now my son is an amazing trumpet player. My son and I are going to play together, and I’m looking forward to wonderful, foot-stomping music.

What else does the festival offer?

Great food, dance and other workshops, and a chance to engage with the community. We have local businesses donating food, and we have great support from the community. I think they help because this festival is kept alive through the love of sharing our culture with everybody.

15th Annual Roma Festival

Friday 5/6, 7:30-10:30 p.m. at the Sebastopol Veterans Building, 282 South High St. Tickets: $12.

Saturday 5/7, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. at Ives Park, Sebastopol. Tickets: $18, students & seniors $15, 12 and under free.

No one turned away for lack of funds. For more information contact Voice of Roma.
I encourage everyone to visit Voice of Roma




*A U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia, acting on orders from the Supreme Court, will again review the death sentence of death-row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal in a hearing scheduled for Nov. 9, reports the AP.

Abu-Jamal, 56, has been on death row since his 1982 conviction for killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner the year before.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2008 granted the one-time radio reporter and former Black Panther a new sentencing hearing based on what it deemed were flawed jury instructions. But the Supreme Court this year upheld a death sentence in an Ohio case with similar jury issues — and ordered the Philadelphia court to revisit its Abu-Jamal ruling.

“The case is indistinguishable from the Ohio case, which is why the Supreme Court sent it back,” Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney Hugh J. Burns Jr. said last Wednesday. Defense lawyer Robert Bryan does not believe the Ohio case seals Abu-Jamal’s fate. He argues that they involve different facts that will enable the three-judge appeals panel to reach a different conclusion.

The appeals court last Tuesday agreed to hear arguments again on the issue, a decision Mr. Bryan saw as positive. The judges could have ruled solely based on written briefs.

Abu-Jamal “was humbled by the good news. We are cautiously encouraged that the federal court has taken this step,” Mr. Bryan said in an e-mail to supporters.

Abu-Jamal has argued in numerous appeals that racism by the trial judge and prosecutors corrupted his 1982 conviction at the hands of a mostly white jury. Those appeals have so far failed.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have fought a federal judge’s 2001 decision to grant Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing because of the flawed jury instructions.

The flaw relates to whether jurors understood how to weigh mitigating circumstances that might have kept Abu-Jamal from being executed. Under state law, jurors did not have to unanimously agree on a mitigating circumstance.

Last Tuesday, the officer’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, attended the Philadelphia premiere of a new film about the case. The movie, “The Barrel of a Gun,” discusses Abu-Jamal’s brushes with the Black Panther movement and the radical Philadelphia group MOVE, which had deadly clashes with city police in 1978 and 1985. [See trailers below.]

Abu-Jamal also himself called into a discussion that followed the screening of a starkly different take on his case called “Justice on Trial.” That film, which debuted across town, argues that evidence was suppressed or tampered with.

DA Williams to appeal new sentencing hearing for Mumia Abu-Jamal

April 26, 2011



Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says he will appeal a federal court decision granting a new sentencing hearing for convicted killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 of the shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

The Tuesday ruling from the U.S. appeals court is the latest in the decades-long courtroom saga involving the 58-year-old Abu-Jamal, a former journalist and Black Panther.

The case has garnered international attention, protests and books. On the one side are Abu-Jamal's supporters, who believe he is innocent. On the other side, are Faulkner's family and friends, who believe Abu-Jamal should be executed. After decades of appeals, Abu-Jamal remains on death-row.

While the Tuesday decision means Abu-Jamal might get a life sentence instead of the death penalty, it does not change his first-degree murder conviction.

The appeals court granted Abu-Jamal a new hearing after determining the original trial judge issued confusing instructions to the jury when it came to the sentencing phase.

Williams had appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court handed the case back to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which once again ruled Abu-Jamal deserves a new sentencing hearing.

Abu-Jamal's attorney, Judith Ritter, said four federal judges have now ruled that the sentencing phase of the trial was unconstitutional.

"In 2001, the death penalty was set aside. And we haven't been able to feel comfortable that that decision has stuck. And hearing the Third Circuit today, re-affirm its decision, it's very, very significant," she said, adding that she believes the ruling will stand.

Williams, who maintains the jury instructions were correct based on the law at that time, said when it comes to Abu-Jamal's case, it's not an issue of guilt or innocence.

"This is not a case of whodunit. The court of appeals ruled that this is not a new evidentiary hearing. That Mumia Abu-Jamal did in fact kill Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. The question is will we let him remain in jail or ask for the death penalty," Williams said.

Suzanne Ross, spokeswoman for the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, said the group wants "Mumia free and life in prison without parole is never what we wanted. But the looming threat of execution is not something we took lightly."

Williams said he spoke to Faulkner's widow, Maureen Faulkner, after the ruling. He said she is upset and wants his office to continue pursuing the death penalty.

Williams says it could take years to settle the issue.

"Of course it's a hot-button issue for Americans whether or not we should have the death penalty. But the fact is that the Supreme Court, the courts of appeals, ruled that clearly Mumia Abu Jamal killed Officer Faulkner," he said. "So I don't want to get into the whole comic book nature of people who think otherwise."

So just when is enough enough.  Reminds me of the Rosenburgs, Black Panther, Communist.....
and the beat goes on.  'They" do so want to kill him, as so many Black men before him.

Monday, April 25, 2011


The Knife Prep New Album For 2012 Release


25th April 2011,

By DIY News Desk

The Knife are working on a new album for release in 2012.

The announcement of new material, made via their website, was somewhat secondary in a post about housing rights of Romani people in Europe. The update reads:

"The Knife is now recording a new album to be released in 2012

Lately we have read a lot about the ongoing discrimination of Romani people in Europe which is totally unacceptable. The forced evictions must stop and adequate alternative housing must be arranged. Now!

We would like to ask you to make two postcards to take action for the Roma housing rights in Rome:

And sign the petitions:

Here’s some information in Swedish:


The Knife

Read more

The Knife are electronic musicians from Sweden.  It is great to have entertainers taking on the blatant racism against Romani people. 
Makes me want to thank Madonna all over again.
People are asking Miley Cyrus to raise the issue during her "Gypsy Heart" tour.  She's stated that she wants to use her concerts to spread "love", but so far she's not responded to requests that she address the situation of the Romani. What better opportunity for her than during her GYPSY heart tour.  Hmmmmm



 Gypsy life... it’s not all about spray tans and grabbing girls

Alex Ross, Reporter

Sunday, April 24, 2011

NOTORIOUS for their spray-tanned brides and ‘girl-grabbing’ grooms - but also associated with underground crime and general mischief - the Romany gypsy community often gets a bad name but one Weston woman, who was born into a gypsy family in Hewish, claims the common public perceptions are wrong and has written a book to shake off the typical stereotypes and raise understanding of true traveller life.

Rosemary Penfold, aged 73, has revealed her experience as a gypsy child in A Field Full of 
Butterflies, already selling more than 20,000 copies in major book stores such as Waterstone’s.

The Dunster Crescent resident admits she may have since ‘settled down’ from her gypsy upbringing, leaving behind her teenage home to marry into a ‘godje’ lifestyle, but she has never lost her roots.

Born in a caravan in land called Heathgate, purchased by her family for £150 in the 1930s, Mrs Penfold says her ‘special childhood’ was a far cry from that portrayed in the recent hit Channel 4 TV series My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

 “Our lives were nothing like what has been shown on TV.

“We started from scratch with no money, bought some land and lived off it - completely self-sufficient.

“But the image the TV show portrays is of big, glitzy caravans, flash cars and lots of money. It is so wrong.”

Unlike many of her friends, Mrs Penfold received full-time education at St Andrew’s Primary School in Congresbury.

Outside of school, she would help her mother with the cooking while her father and brothers ran the family scrapyard, spending days picking up metal to melt down to sell.

She said: “People say I had an underprivileged upbringing, but in fact I say I had a privileged upbringing.

“Despite times sometimes being tough, we were always smiling, happy and socialising. Childhood was a lot of fun for me.”

At the age of 18, however, Mrs Penfold moved out of her gypsy community to marry husband John and live in Weston.

She began a career in care work and has had four children, but she claims to have maintained her Romany roots.

She said: “I’ve written this book to help non-gypsies understand a little of how real Romanies lived in the early part of the 20th century, not in misery or deprivation but enjoying a way of life that many today would envy and yearn for, even as I do still.”


Sunday, April 24, 2011



Gypsies Protest Rome’s Shelter Plan


Published: April 23, 2011


About 150 Gypsies, whose camp had been dismantled, took refuge in one of this city’s ancient basilicas, creating a standoff on Saturday with city officials.

Italy is struggling to deal with hundreds of Roma, as Gypsies are often called, who live in illegal trailer settlements on Rome’s outskirts. In February, four children died in their sleep as a fire tore through a shack in an illegal camp, prompting the mayor to promise that the camps would be torn down and safer ones built.

The Gypsies entered the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on Friday to protest city plans to send women and children, but not men, to shelters, temporarily breaking up families.

City hall has said that families would be reunited in a Roma camp in a few weeks. The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, has declined to send the men to the shelters. “The solution cannot be, as is demanded by many Gypsy families and various association, that we offer an accommodation to these families,” he said.

Mr. Alemanno said that would send a signal of “indiscriminate acceptance” that might result in more homeless in the capital.

On Saturday, the Roman Catholic charity Caritas sent a truck full of crackers, biscuits and water to the basilica. As night fell, charity groups were preparing to send tents in case any Roma who had left to procure food or work were not allowed back in.

A version of this article appeared in print on April 24, 2011, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: Gypsies Protest Rome’s Shelter Plan..

Saturday, April 23, 2011




THEY have done it again this year: The Spanish Embassy will be bringing in some gypsy flavour to the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), the Macande Flamenco, an internationally acclaimed five-member song and dance company.

Only last year, they brought an epic classical act, Carmina Burana, which left the audience spell-bound by the voices and stage performances, and the versatile Los Aslandticos, which was also well received by the Zimbabwean audience.

For the record, Carmina Burana opened the HIFA 2010, dubbed “About Face”. Though the performance had a Zimbabwean chorus with two pianists, soprano, tenor, baritone soloists and Western and African percussion, the show was directed by La Fura dels Baus from Spain.

But the Spanish Embassy has gone an extra mile this time around: To top the icing on the cake, part of the HIFA programming will be broadcast live on Spain’s Radio 1 and 3, which are part of the publicly-owned Spanish Radio and Television Corporation.

A popular radio presenter on Radio 3, Pablo Batista, will set up camp here where he will broadcast live some of the events to Spanish listeners.

However, in gypsy language, Macande Flamenco literally means flamenco loco. Flamenco is a style of dancing characteristic of the Andalusian Gypsies in Spain which is vigorous and rhythmic with clapping and stamping of feet; and loco literally means crazy — the combination of these characteristics is surely a house in total disorder. In other words, prepare to dance and make merry all the way.

Macande Flamenco will do their act at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale on April 28.

According to Marina Garcia, the Spanish Embassy cultural attaché, flamenco music emerged from the marginalised working-class neighbourhoods of the Andalusian community from Spain.

“The ability of the music to grasp the most profound human emotions of seguidilla (drama), soleá (love) and bulería (joy), which comprise the complexity of human sentiment, is the reason why flamenco music and literature have been declared a World Heritage by UNESCO,” said Marina.

She said the company consists of two famous flamenco dancers — Oscar de los Reyes and Carmen Gonzalez — guitarist, Luis “el Salao” (meaning salty and is slang for charming/ amusing), percussionist, Juan Heredia, and singer, Bernardo Vazquez.

Radio 3 is the official broadcaster of nearly all the important music festivals in Spain, she added, saying the live broadcasts will be held during the week-long premier arts festival in the country.

Marina said Batista would go live on Hoy Empieza Todo, a morning magazine on Radio 3, En la Nube, a night cultural programme on Radio 3 and Música 3, a musical slot also on Radio 3. He will also feature on three other programmes on Radio 1, among others.

Friday, April 22, 2011



Europe News

Hungarian Red Cross evacuates Roma villagers amid far-right fears

Apr 22, 2011, 7:30 GMT

Gyongyospata, Hungary -

The Hungarian Red Cross evacuated hundreds of Roma women and children from a remote village Friday morning as a far-right group moved in to begin a weekend of paramilitary training nearby.

'This is the first time the Hungarian Red Cross has organized the evacuation of Hungarian civilians threatened by paramilitary activities since the Second World War,' the organization said.

The move was a response to the latest provocation by far-right activists - this time a paramilitary group calling itself the 'Hungarian Defence Force' - in the remote Hungarian town of Gyongyospata.

On its website, the group called on sympathizers to enroll for a weekend of paramilitary training at a camp on the edge of the village.

Participants were asked to come in military-style uniform and, if they have them, bring airsoft weapons - lifelike replica guns that fire plastic bullets.

Farkas Janos, the deputy leader of the Hungarian Roma Citizens' Movement and a resident of Gyongyospata said the town's Roma feel 'terrorized' by far-right paramilitary groups.

'The children had to be sent away this weekend because they wouldn't be able to sleep at night,' Farkas told the German Press Agency dpa.

The village of 2,800 found itself at the centre of a media storm in March when another far-right group, the 'Civil Guard for a Better Future' moved in and patrolled the town for more than two weeks, intimidating the local Roma inhabitants.

The group went on to carry out similar actions in other rural villages, where it claims the ethnic Hungarian (or Magyar) majority is 'terrorized' by 'gypsy criminals.'

Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said on Thursday that the government, which has been criticized for failing to clamp down on such far-right agitation, was now legislating to give the police the power to prevent further actions by extremist vigilante groups.

The town council of Tiszavasvari, a town in eastern Hungary controlled by the ultranationalist party Jobbik, had launched its own 'gendarmerie' earlier in the week, a response to what it says is a failure on the part of the police to prevent 'gypsy crime.'

The Red Cross action was unannounced, and villagers watched in surprise as 276 Roma women and children were driven away in six buses for a weekend at summer camps organized by the Red Cross.



Hungary denies Roma families evacuated over attack fear

By Nick Thorpe

BBC News, Hungary

Hungary's government has accused its political opponents of staging an unnecessary "evacuation" of Roma families from a northern village.

The village, Gyongyospata, was recently the scene of ethnic tension between local Roma and right-wing vigilantes.

A vigilante group was due to hold a paramilitary training exercise in the village at the weekend.

But officials have told the BBC there is no connection between the two events.

A total of 277 Roma were taken from the village by bus by the Hungarian Red Cross on Friday morning.

The action was reported by both local and international media as an evacuation of terrified Roma women and children, linked to the fact that a new far-right group called Vedero, or "Defensive Strength", were planning a paramilitary training weekend in the village.

This followed incidents last month in the same village, when another far-right group mounted anti-Roma patrols, ostensibly to protect the local population.

But Red Cross spokesman Erik Selymes said there was no connection between what he called a "pre-planned holiday" organised for the Roma and the paramilitary training exercise.

Zoltan Kovacs, a state secretary in the Hungarian Justice Ministry, told the BBC that the so-called evacuation was "a clear-cut political provocation" and completely unwarranted.

The government this week passed new legislation which aims to prevent paramilitary or other uniformed groups from encroaching on the role of the police to keep law and order.

Yes, the Roma of Gyongyospata were just being escorted on one of their many "preplanned holidays".

Thursday, April 21, 2011



19/04/2011 -

 "The youth, this force which toppled the Berlin wall in November of 1989, will now break down the wall of discrimination and stereotypes."

This was the message that young people expressed during the "First Congress of Roma Youth", organized by “Roma Active Albania” on April 15-th 2011, which attracted more than 200 young people from Tirana, Durres , Korca, Fier, Pogradec, Vlora, etc., as delegates, representing Roma youth in those cities. "We are part of the society of this country; we are that force which will contribute for Albania to join the European family, "said Erion Xhaibra, one youth representative from the city of Durres .

In this congress participated also the Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation, Mrs. Yvana Enzler, who stressed out the importance of education in the integration of young Roma. Ms. Enzler also recalled the measures being taken in various international levels, such the one of Roma Education Fund, regarding the improvement of education of Roma youth, and opportunities that they have related to the access in higher education. Also Ms. Enzler expressed the support and consideration for young Roma as an integral part of youth as a whole, seeking, in the first place, from their selves in strengthening and mobilization, and from the society in terms of their integration.

Mr. Adriatik Hasantari, director of "Roma Active Albania", at the opening of the congress, said that discrimination against the Roma minority, and also of young Roma is present in different shapes. Refusal to enter bars, with the claim of reserved seats, sitting in the desks at the end of a classroom, staying at the corner seat in the bus, treatment as second class citizens, families forced to flee their homes, are phenomena that make youngsters to feel discriminated and excluded. This situation has created a vicious circle that holds back the integration of the Roma community. For this reason this congress has a special importance as the young Roma with the support of other young people, have joined voices in a single force, to break this vicious circle and to bring progress in the Albanian society. "The past cannot change; we can build the future by contributing .Young people are forces of change. To build the future does not mean only to expect from others, but also to ask from ourselves. We all are factors and not just actors of our lives” said Mr. Hasantari. Also he stressed that young people today tell to the local and central government, that they are able to cooperate to find a solution for problems with all the complexity that characterizes them. "This congress is a concrete example that we are ready to engage and provide appropriate input, in order to build a society towards the great European family, "said in his closing speech Mr. Hasantari.

Roma community leaders, Ms. Meleqe Rrenja and Mr. Latif Kazanxhiu, emphasized the importance of youth involvement in the path of integration for minorities, and their role in advancing and concretization, like this congress, of the efforts of Roma community during several years. Efforts spent in the active involvement in the Albanian society.

This activity was also attended by Ms.Andrea Chalupova, representative of EU delegation in Albania . The EU delegation showed high interest on this event and during the nonformal moments encouraged the youth for their achievements.

During the discussion s was appreciated the input of Marsela Taho, the secretariat for minorities in the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. This ministry has attended most of the activities implemented by Roma Active Albania at national level.

The congress aimed the approval of a draft resolution drawn up by young people. This resolution shall be sent to relevant institutions at central and local levels, and addresses the priorities defined by the youngsters about their inclusion in society and in decision-making processes, in order to improve the living conditions of the Roma community as a whole. Also the resolution submits specific requirements related to strengthening youth activism and the strengthening of the Albanian youth in general.

This congress took place in the frame of the campaign, "Thank you Mr. Mayor! –local partnering Roma inclusion", which aims to increase the inclusion of Rroma, through local partnerships. This campaign is part of the campaign "Roma-REACT" - make Europe an equal place for Roma, which is initiated by ERGO Network (European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network). The campaign "Thank you Mr. Mayor! –local partnering Roma inclusion" has started in October 2010 and will last until December 2011. It is supported by the European Commission and aims to develop and implement concrete steps to reduce discrimination against the Roma community and creating a social climate more positive toward Roma.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Viviane Reding is Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of justice, fundamental rights and citizenship. Last summer, she clashed with French President Nicolas Sarkozy over France's expulsion of Roma citizens.
She tells France 24 about the situation of Roma people today, as well as the EU's response to the current wave of immigration from north Africa.
Please visit the following website to watch the interview with Viviane Reding.

Monday, April 18, 2011


A Conversation with Filmmaker Mona Nicoara

April 8, 2011
by Rachel Hart


Mona NicoaraMona Nicoara is producer and director of Our School, a film about three Roma children who are part of a pioneer initiative to desegregate the local schools in a small Transylvanian town. The film, which received a grant from the Open Society Foundations, will have its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City later this month. I asked Mona to discuss her film and the challenges facing school desegregation in Europe.

Roma in Europe face myriad problems, from widespread discrimination and unemployment to poor access to health care. Why did you choose to focus on the issue of school segregation for your film?

It’s a truism that education is the key to unlocking the vicious cycle of disenfranchisement, discrimination, and poverty. When it comes to Roma, we, the non-Roma, tend to throw clichés around, unthinkingly: “Get a job!” or “Learn to behave in the world!” But how are you to get a job and learn how to function in the world if the world rejects you at the first contact? If you’re not given a chance in first grade, what’s the likelihood that, as an adult, you are going to access a better life than your parents? How are you supposed to get out of poverty if you don’t have any skills?

But the answer is also personal: Guilt. I went to elementary school with Roma, back in Romania. I saw them drop out after primary school, or simply disappear from the more competitive high schools that me and my friends were going to. As an adolescent, I never investigated why this was happening. I never even paid attention.

But by the time I started to look for schools for my own children (we were living in Hungary back then), I had worked for quite a while as a human rights activist, and I was keenly aware of the fact that the “good” schools we were looking at had virtually no Roma students, not even in the lower grades. I wanted to go back and see where it all went wrong. I wanted to understand what we need to do differently.

What were you expecting to see before you visited Târgu Lăpus, and what, if anything, were you not prepared for?

I confess I went there with at least one preconceived notion: I expected to see Romanian parents oppose integration, as the non-Roma parents had done in other places—in Croatia, Hungary, but also in other towns in Romania. And I had a keen awareness of historical precedent. I didn’t expect anything like the Civil Rights–era anti-integration demonstrations in Little Rock, or the violent anti-busing protests in Boston—this was, after all, a small, peaceful Transylvanian town—but I expected to see some resistance or discomfort on the part of the parents.

So the smooth acceptance of the Romanian parents took us by surprise. It wasn’t just mere tolerance, there was genuine empathy.

.In Our School you follow three children—Alin, Beni, and Dana. Tell me how you met the children and their families, and what were your impressions of them?

When we first arrived in town, at dusk, we asked several people where the segregated school was. We could not find it, so we assumed we had gotten the kind of imprecise directions that people who live all their life in a place often give. As it turned out, we had passed by the segregated school several times in our car, but didn’t think that the one-room crumbling exposed-brick building we kept driving by could house a school. Our driver even said, in all earnestness: “I thought that was a public toilet.”

We parked in front of the school, which is right at the edge of a small Roma settlement, and started looking around. These two large, imposing Roma men, who I later realized were Alin’s father and uncle, came over, identified themselves as leaders of the Roma community, and asked us if we wanted them to unlock the school for us to look around.

As soon as we explained what we wanted to do, they started telling stories about their own time in the segregated school—about how the building was made up of bricks hand-crafted by their grandparents, about how Roma in town had always been told that their children belong in the “Gypsy school,” about how it had always been a bad place where kids were kept “like cows in the field,” without being taught anything or challenged to succeed in any way. Despite their anger, they were matter-of-fact, even funny. And there was hope in the air, as the desegregation project was just about to begin.

We didn’t meet the kids until the next day, when we came back during school hours. Dana stuck out right away—at sixteen, she was the oldest in class, and she towered over all the other kids. She was so proud to be the best student in class and to be working after school as domestic help in a Romanian home. And she was just such a typical, coquettish teenager—we would have had to be blind not to realize she was a wonderful character.

Alin reminded me right away of my older son: spirited, very physical, mischievous without being rude, and extremely funny. He was so happy to have someone listen to him. I suspect that’s because he is the middle child in a line-up of nine kids, all with strong personalities, and he doesn’t get much air time at home. We connected to him because he has so much awareness, and he is such an incredible storyteller, and such a great ham! He kept showing up, out of nowhere, mid-shoot. My co-director Miruna Coca-Cozma joked that we couldn’t do this film without Alin even if we wanted to—he is practically in every shot!

Beni is a much quieter presence. It took us a while to realize how thoughtful he was, how much hope and strength resides inside him. I think he gets a lot of that from his own parents, who have faith—in him, in God, and in the idea that all people should be equal. He always asked the hardest questions: “Why is this class for Gypsies only?” “Why don’t we get the same treatment as Romanians?” In a way, just like the two other Roma children, he chose us—rather than the other way round.

Last but not least, the Romanian boy who befriended Alin and Beni, Boga, is one of those cool kids everyone looks up to. He’s a very good student, so teachers love him. He’s a soccer fiend, so all his schoolmates want to play with him. He’s friendly and unprejudiced, so the Roma children naturally sought his company. And he’s quite a girl magnet, too!

We met his mother, by accident, before we met him: She makes the best, most addictive fried dough in town, and she has a great sense of humor, so we became her regular customers before we even started shooting. She was amused by the attention that her son got from the Roma kids, but never truly bothered by it, and she never discouraged him from hanging out with them.

What do you think viewers will be most surprised to learn about the situation in Târgu Lăpus?

I think it is hard for people who see the film to understand how the current school situation has been so easily accepted by everyone there. If you experience the story from the perspective of the children, as we did, and as our audiences do, you see hope for a better future gradually extinguished within a few short years. But the adults in town did not experience any change—in fact, they only saw more of the same. Everyone, from the Roma parents to the school administrators and the city hall, sees what happened as just par for the course.

There is no tension in the town about it, no sense that what happened, happened on purpose, or that a single person or group should be held responsible. There is no sense of ill will. In a way, this is the true horror of unexamined racism: It shapes the course of events on its own, even going against the peaceful spirit of a small town like that, where everybody knows everybody’s name and no one could even imagine harming a whole generation on purpose.

The children in the film face incredible hurdles just to attend a desegregated school. From your perspective, how can the problem of school segregation for Roma children be resolved?

I wish I had a simple answer, but I took on this project precisely because I knew that we needed to understand the complexity of the problem before we can even begin to think about solutions. It is clear to me that some aspects can be addressed by laws or by courts—matters of principle, like nondiscrimination, resource allocation, and a firm recognition that separate can never be equal where education for Roma is concerned.

There are also structural issues that need to be addressed: housing, the status of Roma settlements (which ties into access to basic utilities such electricity or water), or the availability of early childhood education.

And then there is the battle for our hearts and minds, which is extremely local and personal. I now believe that everyone, every single stakeholder has to be brought on board. Non-Roma parents should be helped to see the value of exposing their children to different cultures, of teaching them empathy, of imbuing them with good values early on. Roma parents have to have faith that their children can succeed even if they themselves did not.

This sounds simpler in theory than it is in practice: It is harder to imagine success if you have never seen it, if you have never experienced a supportive school, or if you have never had a Roma role model to look up to. And Roma children have to learn to push through rejection, rather than give up and retreat. That’s a huge burden for these children, and they’re not going to make it through on their own—they need their parents, their siblings, their friends, their neighbors to cheer them on.

Teachers have to learn that there is an inherent value in a multicultural classroom that goes far beyond test scores, and that a good learning environment for all will raise performance for all. But they can’t do that alone either. They need support from school administrators, local authorities, central decision-makers—things like additional training, additional resources or teaching assistance. Integrating Roma need not be an unmanageable, unfair task for the teachers; instead, it should become one of the ways in which they can get job satisfaction.

Finally, there’s everybody else—local priests, mayors, soccer coaches, you name it. It really takes a village to raise a child, and we all need to learn to be more thoughtful about the messages we send to our children—both Roma and non-Roma. We tend not to think enough about that, to fall back on received notions and racist baggage that we ourselves inherited. The current structures are premised on our inertia—and cannot be broken unless they are confronted with thoughtful consideration, respect for individuals and their rights, an understanding of root causes of segregation, and a willingness to contribute to change.

You can’t really do all of that from a distance—you can do some of that work in Brussels or in Strasbourg, you can take care of some of the issues in national parliaments and central ministries, but the hardest, most important battles are going to be fought locally, almost door-to-door, and the solutions will almost always have to be tailored to the specifics of each place.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Gypsy Culture Gets The Documentary Treatment In DO AS YOU LIKEY

April 16, 2011 5:12 PM

Documentary, UK, Ireland, Australia & New Zealand

One of the most maligned cultures in the world, the gypsies - or travelers - are experiencing something of a resurgence in the UK with shows like Simon Cowell's Travelers Got Talent proving to be hugely successful. And looking to shine a light on the culture are acclaimed filmmakers Nicola and Teena Collins with their just wrapped Do As You Likey. Here's the official word:

Following the success of their award-winning documentary 'The End', an inside look at the lives of East London gangsters growing up in post-war Britain, critically acclaimed filmmakers Nicola and Teena Collins have wrapped principal photography on their new feature length documentary 'Do As You Likey.' Do As You Likey is a compelling and revealing look at life as a British gypsy and has capitalized on the recent headlines and popularity of Simon Cowell's latest talent show installment 'Travellers Got Talent." Instinctive Film's Darryn Welch is financing and producing the project.

With the newfound fame and fascination surrounding the gypsy community, The Collins Twins will be offering audiences rare access to this fascinating and misunderstood culture. Nicola & Teena explore the struggles of five gypsy families and will visit the grand finale of 'Travellers Got Talent,' where many hopefuls battle it out singing, dancing and rapping to become the most talented gypsy in England.

'Do As You Likey' should prove to be yet another fascinating look at alternative cultures by the exciting duo. Using their distinct style, they will be providing the most realistic, intimate and unbiased look into a part of society we usually only get a glimpse of. Music score is by Andy Macfarlane of Scottish band The Twilight Sad.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


BORN 16 APRIL 1889

The following is an excerpt from The Charlie Chaplin website.


"With A King in New York Charles Chaplin was the first film-maker to dare to expose, through satire and ridicule, the paranoia and political intolerance which overtook the United States in the Cold War years of the 1940s and 50s.

Chaplin himself had bitter personal experience of the American malaise of that time. The right wing and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had seen him as an ideal target – a foreigner who had never taken American citizenship, and whose work had a natural appeal to the humanists and radical intellectuals, now regarded as enemies of society. By the late 1940s the political and personal attacks on Chaplin became so acute that in 1952 he was happy to be forced into the decision to leave America for ever, and make his home in Europe.

To take up film making again, as an exile, was a challenging undertaking. He was now nearing 70. For almost forty years he had enjoyed the luxury of his own studio and a staff of regular employees, who understood his way of work. Now though he had to work with strangers, in costly and unfriendly rented studios. In the old days he could take all the time he wanted, trying things over and over again until he got them to his satisfaction. Now every minute cost money. Working under such constraints, Chaplin completed shooting A King in New York in what was for him a record time of only twelve weeks. The film shows the strain...."

Chaplin's grandson is an actor in Tony Gatlif's latest film KORKORO

Friday, April 15, 2011


The following is a comment sent into the blog in response to the entry on Romani in America  VOA.  It is so eloquent and heart felt that I asked for and got permission to publish it as a blog entry.
Thank you so much for your comments Lydia

"I don't know if what I have to say is of any real importance but I really enjoyed reading this article cause it got me thinking.

I'm 3rd generation half Roma half Mexican, so I face race issues quite regularly. First it usually infuriates me whenever I see, hear or am in any way confronted with somebody playing "Gypsy". Whether it is a "Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy" which is popular amongst youth, just people who travel a lot or someone who is just a bit wild; they use the word so casually, as if it holds no real meaning to any people or souls. Yet it is as complete in meaning as any human life is.

This casual and inaccurate cultural theft should be as offensive as when it is taken from any other people. However you'd be surprised with what people get away with in the arena. Despite my anger I know that us Roma ourselves are partly responsible for this.

We live in hiding and so we do not exist. If only we would come together more openly, display ourselves and show that we are an engaging reality. Yet at times we are instead afraid to be who we are even with one an other. I think it is possible to remain ourselves and still become American.

I was not put in school but that does not make me uneducated. In fact I find my knowledge often goes beyond my peers. At a meager 19yrs I don't know if that means anything, because who knows something about anything at 19?

My mother is as traditional as she can manage and makes sure she passes down all that she can. My point being I view it as possible.

When it comes to racism I have to tell you I've faced more of it because someone recognized me as Mexican not for being Roma. When I was a child my mother made sure I understood I wasn't to let anyone know I was half Roma. When I got older I realized this was not for the general population but for the Hispanic community around us.

I believe Roma face more discrimination in South and central America. While it is important to make the general population understand we exist we also have to realize that the Hispanic population is now America's largest minority and their thoughts, ideas an opinions will have a growing impact on the nation in time to come.

So yes shouting we exist is good but changing the opinions that such a large segment of the population have of us would be an incredible place to start. So in the end I think Roma need to cast aside their fears and face the world despite what may happen. We needn't be ashamed and we should not be scared that we will loose ourselves in America. My mother used to say Gypsies have no homes, all homes are our homes and all people are from our home. The Roma people are everyone from everywhere but who you are is up to you."

By Lydia Valdez on ROMANI IN AMERICA - VOA on 4/14/11
Lydia raises so many good points in this comment.  I think anti Romani racism is less flagrant because no one knows who we are.
Lolo Diklo's main purpose is to make others aware of our presence and the reality of our lives, here in the US and also throughout the world.
The traveling museum has been really effective in doing that.
Again I thank you Lydia and encourage comments.  I think Lydia could start a grand dialogue with her thoughts.



Labor stalwart Irene Hull dies at 98
by: Tim Wheeler

March 24 2011

SEATTLE-Irene Hull, a beloved fighter for trade union rights, world peace, equality, and socialism died on the first day of spring, March 20, in Seattle. She was 98.

A week to the day before her death, she attended her Communist Party club meeting in Seattle. Someone announced the Saint Patrick's Day rally in Olympia to protest budget cuts and to demand that the legislature "tax the rich." Hull spoke up: "I'll go if someone picks me up."

She was a tiny dynamo, two inches shy of five feet tall, barely over 100 pounds. She became a national labor heroine when the Seattle chapter of Jobs With Justice (JwJ) published a poster in 1995 of several enormous police officers arresting Irene Hull.

Lonnie Nelson, a Seattle JwJ leader and a member of Irene's CP club, recalled that day. "It was during a sit-in at Republican Party headquarters to protest their attacks on Medicare," Nelson said. "When the Seattle police told Irene to move, she told them, 'I'm going to go limp.'

"So they handcuffed all of us, hauled us out and put us on a transit bus and took us to the county jail," Nelson continued. "They had us in jail for hours. We sang union songs. We talked about standing up against the vicious Republican attack on Medicare. Through it all, Irene's big concern was my wrists aching from those tight handcuffs." Nelson laughed merrily at the memory.

Quality healthcare for all was the last big battle she fought. Every week, she passed out the People's World to every union office in the Seattle Labor Temple.

A member of the Brotherhood of Bookbinders Local 87, she was recipient of the 2008 Mother Jones Award. Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, the city's first African American mayor, proclaimed Sept. 7, 1996 "Irene Hull Day."

Irene Hull was born Feb. 22, 1913, in Republic, Kan. Her family moved to Southern California when she was seven. Her father was a "jack-of-all-trades" instilling in his daughter "a sense of where workers ought to be, in their unions," Hull said in an oral history interview.

She graduated from UCLA with a degree in education and soon after met her husband. It was her father-in-law who introduced her to Marxism, arguing in support of women's equality and socialism. Hull joined the Communist Party USA in 1942.

During World War II, Hull found work in the Kaiser shipyards in Vancouver, Washington, installing insulation in Liberty ships and taught at the federally funded daycare center for the children of "Rosie the Riveter" shipyard workers.

Hull moved to Seattle and threw herself into the struggle to preserve the federal childcare program. It succeeded in convincing the Seattle School Board to keep them open for three years after the war. By now, Hull, herself, had three young daughters, Bev, Sally, and Marj. Marj Sutherland followed in her mother's footsteps, a party leader in Tacoma and sparkplug of the progressive movement. She predeceased her mother. Pushkara Sally Ashford is a peace and justice advocate, a gifted singer, living on Whidbey Island. Bev Rader lives with her husband in Chehalis. Hull is also survived by her 10 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.

During the years of Cold War repression, FBI agents followed her from job to job, pressuring employers to fire her. She helped form the defense committee for those blacklisted and expelled from their unions. She was a delegate to the 27th Convention of the CPUSA, July 2001, in Milwaukee, Wis.

In the struggle to rebuild after Cold War setbacks, Hull joined the Seattle Rank and File Committee, was a founder of the Seattle Coalition of Labor Union Women, and Washington State JwJ. Since 1980 she has been a "delegate in perpetuity" to the King County Central Labor Council. Hull was also a founding member of the now disbanded Seattle Women Act for Peace.

She was one of nearly 60 union members from Washington State who flew via Canada to join in the Sept. 19, 1981, "Solidarity Day" march protesting President Reagan's firing of 12,000 PATCO workers. She traveled to the Soviet Union and was a Venceremos brigadista to Cuba.

Evergreen Labor presented Hull with their "Lifetime Achievement Award" in 2002. Speaking on behalf of the Washington State Labor Council, Robby Stern, now president of Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans, said, "She has never stopped fighting for us. Irene, we love you!"

Photos: Irene Hull is arrested for protesting GOP attacks on Medicare in 1995.

In black and white photo, children, including Irene's eldest, Bev, protest Washington State's Canwell Committee in 1948. It was one of the HUAC/McCarthy committees that conducted political witchhunts during the 1940s and 50s. (Courtesy of Pushkara Sally Ashford)

While this article mentions that she was harassed during the Cold War era, it doesn't say that she was
blacklisted by the HUAC, Joe McCarthy's picadillo.  Her family was harassed and her jobs were threatened.------Morgan

Thursday, April 14, 2011


See our frustration in how little things change when it comes to the situation of the Romani in Europe.  I found the comments of the UN representative particularly telling, as they have been "involved" and apathetic to the Romani in Kosovo for over ten years.
This was sent in by a follower of this blog.  Thank you Rae.


May 20, 2005 The German government has begun sending refugees back to Kosovo this week. The majority of the 50,000 people eventually expected to return are Albanian-speaking Gypsies known as Roma. Their deportation is controversial because human rights groups say they won't be safe in Kosovo.

Germany is sending refugees back to Kosovo. Many of them are Albanian-speaking Gypsies known as Roma who fled the fighting in Kosovo back in 1999. Human rights organizations say the refugees are going back to a place that is still volatile and unsafe. Eleanor Beardsley reports.

Just outside the city of Mitrovica lies the Zitkovac Roma camp, a shanty town of 10 shacks and dirt alleys inhabited by more than 200 people, most of them children. The camp was built as an emergency measure in June 1999 after the Roma were chased from their homes and their neighborhood destroyed by Kosovo Albanians. Six years later, filthy, runny-nosed children play in the camp, which looks like a junk yard strewn with trash and automobile carcasses.

BEARDSLEY: One little girl sings happily as she washes a bucketful of dishes inside one of the camp's common latrines. While Roma, also known as Gypsies, live in poverty throughout Eastern Europe, their existence is especially difficult in Kosovo, says Georgy Kakuk, a Hungarian working for the United Nations here.

Mr. GEORGY KAKUK (United Nations): It is a classic example what happens with a minority stuck between two dominant ethnic groups and those ethnic groups are in a fight with each other.

BEARDSLEY: Kakuk says 8,000 Roma used to live in the neighborhood of Roma Mahala, the largest homogeneous Roma community in the former Yugoslavia. He believes that community is now gone forever. Christian Jennings, a reporter for The Economist magazine, was in Kosovo when the Albanians attacked the Roma, accusing them of collaborating with the Serbs.

Mr. CHRISTIAN JENNINGS (The Economist): The Roma were perceived to have been complicit in aiding and abetting the ethnic cleansing of Basra Albanians from Kosovo.

BEARDSLEY: Jennings says both the Albanians and the Serbs have traditionally treated the Roma as pariahs, but today the 600 Roma spread out in three camps here have other worries. They are settled on a toxic wasteland. As a result, many Roma are living with extremely high levels of lead in their blood.

BEARDSLEY: Their children play and sing in the shadow of a slag heap from a now-dysfunctional lead smelter. Tests by the World Health Organization show that at least 60 children have been exposed to such high levels of lead that they will either die soon or face irreversible brain damage.

BEARDSLEY: Thirty-year-old Mirsaka(ph) lives with her husband and six children in a one-room hovel in the Zitkovac camp. The youngest child, two-year-old Gonou(ph) is listless and pale.

MIRSAKA: (Through Translator) Yesterday I sent him for a medical examination, and they found 65 percent of lead in his blood. I have sent three of my children and all of them, they have lead in their blood, and they noted that they vomit every day. I'm afraid they will die.

BEARDSLEY: Mirsaka means 65 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. The WHO says just 10 micrograms can cause brain or nervous system damage. But Mirsaka says she cannot afford to send her children to the hospital for treatment, and even so, she says, they will have to return and live here. She said she is desperate to go to another country. The United Nations, under fire for letting the Roma languish six years in what was to be a temporary camp, have now announced plans to move them back to their former neighborhood. But even if the Albanians accept their return, finding funds to rebuild demolished houses could take years, too late to save Mirsaka's children. For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley.

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011



BASILDON: Human Shield will protect gypsy site Dale Farm on eviction day


BAILIFFS will face a human shield around Europe's largest illegal gypsy camp on eviction day.

The details emerged this week as more than 40 human-rights activists descended on Dale Farm, in Crays Hill, to decide how to resist the planned £18 million eviction of up to 86 families who live on the site without planning permission.

Supporters decided on Saturday that a peaceful human shield at the entrance to the five-acre Green Belt encampment could be an effective tool in keeping Basildon Borough Council's bailiffs Constant & Co at bay.

Activists also received updates on the training of human-rights monitors, who will be observing the eviction to see if human rights are being respected.

A banner emblazoned with "Constant & Co no pasaran!", the Spanish Civil War slogan meaning "they shall not pass", was later unfurled at the entrance to the site.

Meanwhile, the steps that Dale Farm's occupants have taken to fortify their homes also became clear, as evidenced by the masses of barbed wire that now covers fence posts and gates around the site.

Saturday's gathering was held to coincide with Zero Eviction Day, an event staged to raise awareness of the issues faced by gypsies around the world.

Traveller spokesman Grattan Puxon said: "There are many supporters who are prepared to join in a non-violent human shield.

"This is designed to make the eviction operation as difficult as possible because we feel that the eviction itself is an act of violence against those who just want to continue living in their homes."

Dale Farm resident Richard Sheridan is the president of the Gypsy Council, which supports gypsies throughout Britain.

Speaking on Saturday, he said: "We feel very comfortable with the support that people are giving us today.

"There are people here taking the adult approach in the 21st century.

"I am a British citizen and I am glad that we are finally getting a little bit of respect."

Mr Sheridan stressed he did not want any anarchists coming to Dale Farm to cause trouble, should an eviction go ahead.

"The pen is mightier than the sword," he told the Gazette.

Mr Sheridan also said that allowing families to stay at Dale Farm could save the British taxpayer up to £200 million over the next decade.

Pointing to a report prepared by the Commission for Racial Equality in 2005, he said: "Keeping gypsies on the road costs £20 million a year with the new 20 per cent VAT.

"I am hoping to save the taxpayers of this country £200 million over the next ten years."

As supporters of Dale Farm talked through their next moves, resident Nora McCarthy, 31, said: "It is nice to know that we have the support.

"I hope this will make the council listen."

Basildon Borough Council has consistently stressed that it is not anti-Gypsy and that it is clearing the site solely to rectify breaches of planning law.

The council has set aside up to £8m to pay for its part of the operation, although it has yet to serve the travellers with an order giving them 28 days' notice of any forthcoming eviction.

Essex police is currently in the process of applying for £10m from the Government to pay for its role in the eviction.

Tune into Phoenix 98 FM for the Gazette Show at 7pm tonight for a debate between Basildon Borough Council and representatives of Dale Farm.


***The following is a witness account of the deportations of Romani from Germany to Kosovo.  There has been no moral outrage to these "discreet" deportations.  Conditions for Romani in Kosovo are horrendous.  Remember the lead mines.  Sometime it is hard to take seriously the statements of the E.U. (Roma Inclusion), and the U.S. Secretary of State.   Morgan
43 people exposed at Pristina Airport

Yesterday, about 17:00 the deportation planes came after a stopover in Vienna to Pristina. One of our supporters on the ground could see 43 people who arrived by plane. Thus, there are at least less than the planned more than 100 passengers and also less than initially estimated at Dusseldorf Airport. Nevertheless, any deportation is too much and caused great suffering among those affected! Our observer told us of for him hardly bearable scenes on the Pristina airport: children crying, frustrated and desperate people looking for a place to go.

Representatives of the German Embassy and the URA II project were also present and offered the deportees in a few days in a hotel near the airport to descend. This offer was hardly noticed because after their arrival, most fled the airport. Further integration aids are anyway only open to 'voluntary' returnees and not for deportees.

Sabilje Begani and her four children were also found. Whether there will be an opportunity for her to return is uncertain and will probably not succeed overnight. As long as they will have to set up in Kosovo, which might be problematic for a single woman with four small children. All this in addition to the concern is for her critically ill husband, whom she now cannot visit in hospital.

The situation of a man from Rheine is also dramatic. He was deported along with his 20-year-old pregnant daughter while his wife remained with five children in Rheine. Here was again ruthlessly separated a family, too! Previously, they had lived 21 years in Germany.


The association AMCT (Friends of the Memory of the Gypsy Camp), founded byJacques Sigot organized a day devoted to the commemoration of concentration camp Gypsies Montreuil-Bellay in France (exhibition, conference, concert).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Today the future of many inocent people was destroyed!

We do not tolerate any further deportations!

Today, on 12 April, it came despite massive protests and concerns to a large collective deportation to Kosovo. Among the deportees were many Roma, who had been tolerated for years here in Germany. Apart from the fact that deportations represent a violent intrusion into the lives of those affected and therefore already are reprehensible, the deportation of long term tolerated Roma to Kosovo is a special cruelty against innocent people.

Roma in Kosovo are a highly discriminated minority and are exposed to racially motivated attacks and exclusion from society. Their lives are not save there.

Single mothers, elderly and sick people are particularly at risk. In particular, the common practice of the authorities in charge of the tearing apart families, away leads to dramatic destinies and those affected live in fear and vulnerability.

Even now, Germany has an opportunity missed to make amends to a small part of the consequences of the crimes committed against the Roma community by granting Roma refugees protection from discrimination and persecution. On the contrary! New suffering was caused. If we not act quickly especially the youngest generation of children who was born and raised in Germany will have to suffer.

In one case today, a young mother with four young children (1-5 years) was separated from her husband lying in the hospital. Her husband is in a verry bad condition after he was already in January 2010 alone deported to Kosovo. There he lived for several months as a homeless man on the street, before he managed to escape and return to Germany. But he not succeeded his family to see again. He was discovered in Bavaria and put back in detention. After his stay of several months in Kosovo, in deplorable conditions, he was now so ill that he had to be moved to a hospital, where he still fights for his life. In addition to severe tuberculosis and an eye disease he has to cope with the psychological consequences of his experiences. Intensive efforts to prevent the mothers’ deportation failed.

This is just one of known fate of deportation. In the plane were estimated up to 80 involuntary passengers. Many thousands will follow after the plans of the German government. Against the plans has indeed became formed a widespread resistance in the population and the Roma community, but this is not yet enough perceived by the public. Now is important that this resistance is also heard by the people and the politicians. It should be clear that these expulsions cannot be implemented without notice and without resistance. We need the attention of the press for the victims and the fight for their right to stay, so that all may be clear that it should not give these deportations.

Begani family from the district of Wolfenbüttel was lucky. The deportation of the four adult children could be prevented by the decision of a court. The children can stay for the moment with their seriously ill father in Germany.