Saturday, July 16, 2011



Town hall in Romania building wall around part of Romani housing estate

In Romania, the Baia Mare town hall is building a wall around part of a Romani housing estate. A wave of protest has immediately risen up against the construction, Czech Television channel ČT 24 reports.
Human rights defenders, locals and politicians are arguing over the two-meter high, 100-meter long wall going up between the prefabricated apartment blocks housing Romani people and the road. "We don't want to discriminate against anyone or isolate them from anything. This wall separates the community from a busy road. Last year there were several serious traffic accidents here," argues the Mayor of Baia Mare, Catalin Chereches.

Human rights defenders say that is only an excuse. They also do not recognize the argument that there have been regular complaints from drivers on the road that their cars have been damaged by people throwing garbage and stones at them. The human rights defenders say the wall is creating a ghetto and that racism is the motive.

"The solution to this problem is education, employment opportunities, and integration. People must respect one another," Delia Nita of the Center for Legal Resources says.

Romania has a population of 22 million. An estimated two and a half million Romani people live there, making it the country in Europe with the highest proportion of Romani people. When the country joined the European Union in 2007, hundreds of thousands of Romani people left Romania for a better life in the west.

The Czech Republic experienced similar protests 12 years ago over the case of Matiční street in Ústí nad Labem. At the time the town hall had to remove the fence it had erected to separate the dwellings of rent defaulters - primarily Romani people - from the neighboring houses.

You can read the entire article (in Czech) at

ČT24, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

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