Tuesday, June 21, 2011




Festival to combat discrimination toward Roma bottle collectors

Monday, 20 June 2011

Roma Amor campaign will encourage respectful behaviour though crime fears linger

Among the initiatives is a measure to ensure that children are not overworked (Photo: Roma Amor)

Reports of abuse and discrimination against Roma gypsies who attend Roskilde Festival to collect bottles for their deposits has led festival organisers to begin a campaign to help foster better relations.

The campaign, Roma Amor, started earlier this month and has stimulated lively debate on Facebook where many people have voiced their worries about the link between the Roma and crime at the annual music festival.

“I have had some bad experience with Roma,” worte Andreas Thanh Long Jensen. “I busted one of them going through my tent and my bag. He said that he was just checking for cans, but why would I hide them in my sleeping bag.”

Frederik Petersson commented that the bottle deposits ought to go to charity. “I find it kind of selfish to collect bottles for personal gain, when other people do the exact same thing to help people who are actually in need.”

Aware of these sorts of concerns, the festival has launched a refund mediation team as part of the ‘good refund initiative’. The team will maintain a dialogue with the Roma collectors and encourage them and festival-goers to be respectful of each other.

The campaign also hopes to highlight conditions for a group of people that faces high rates of poverty. Many of those in Denmark have travelled here to pick up bottles in order to scrape together a living.

Roma Amor is part of a larger effort by Roskilde Festival organisers this year to bring about awareness of poverty and the plight of people such as the Roma.

Campaign Manager, Anna Sophie Rønde, drew attention to the discrimination by festival guests, who have been known to hang signs outside their camps warning off Roma, often in profane or offensive language.

“When Roma people go to Roskilde Festival to collect deposits, it’s not necessarily because they are Roma, but because they are poor,” she said.

Rønde also pointed out that in Romania, where Roma make up 2.5 percent of the population, only 27 percent of Roma are employed. Those that are employed earn around €10 a day.

A team of social workers has also been established to ensure that children are not made to work through the night and in front of main stages, where their size allows them to slip through the crowds to pick up discarded cans and bottles.


The Roma

The Roma are an ethnic group who trace their origins to the Indian subcontinent but are now distributed widely across Europe.

Romania and southeastern Europe houses their most concentrated population of Roma, which is estimated at approximately 10 million across Europe.

The Roma people have a history of persecution, reaching back from their enslavement by the Byzantine Empire to their attempted genocide by the Nazis in the Second World War.

The accession of eastern European states to the EU led to Roma travelling to Denmark for work. At the Roskilde Festival they can be found collecting bottles, earning them several hundred kroner a day.

In July last year the Immigration Service ordered the arrest and deportation of 23 Roma, some of whom were guilty of property theft, who were living in squatted accommodation on Amager.

But in April this year, 14 of the deportations were found to be unlawful and were overturned, on the grounds that simply living in illegal shelters was not sufficient grounds for deportation. Several of them have now returned to Denmark.

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