Tuesday, November 29, 2011

DuBois shows in December.

Wanted to tell you about two wonderful events coming up in Seattle.

Marchette DuBois will be performing at both of these events.
She is not only a wonderful musician but also one of the founders of Untempered Productions, which amazingly pulled together the Esma Concert in weeks. 
(The concert was cancelled unfortunately, no fault of the producers.)

If you're in the area i encourage you to check these performances out.
Hi folks,
I'm sending out one of those rare updates to let you know about two shows in December which I am very excited about.

1.  Hell's Bellows! at the Chapel with James Hoskins.

Thursday Dec. 8th  8-11 PM

5-15 sliding scale, no one turned away.

Hell's Bellows Plays original music for accordion quartet, and features Scott Adams, Amy Denio, Marchette DuBois, and Eli Kaufman.

James Hoskins from Boulder CO is an incomparable 21st century cellist with a deep and wild musical sensibility.

We will play individually and together.

2. Nights for folklife fundraiser at Columbia City Theater

Dec. 9th 9 pm -2 am

Featuring your favorite Balkan Misfit bands:

Alchymeia - Nu Klezmer Army - Orkestar Zirkonium - Bucharest Drinking Team.

I hope to see you in December!

Happy Winter.




Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Area Colorado

The Sand Creek Massacre took place on November 29, 1864. That morning 650 Colorado volunteers attacked a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. Dawn was broken by the clanging of muskets, artillery, and the booming voice of John Chivington - the Fighting Parson's final harangue to his troops

On 29 Nov. 1864, a Colorado Militia, composed of 650 volunteers and led by John Chivington, attacked a sleeping village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians.

At least 160 peaceful Cheyenne, mostly women, children and old men, were murdered in what has become known as the Sand Creek Massacre.

John Chivington was greeted as a hero in Denver.




Reconsidering Roma in a shifting Europe





A new Berlin exhibition featuring the work of Roma and Sinti artists aims to raise awareness about a segregated people, who continue to face discrimination. "Reconsidering Roma" runs until December 11.

A new exhibition at Berlin's Kunstquartier Bethanien hopes to raise awareness about Europe's 12 million strong Roma and Sinti population - who despite widespread perceptions about what it is to be a "gypsy" remain a segregated and unrecognized people.

The show "Reconsidering Roma - Aspects of Roma and Sinti Life in Contemporary Art" - features diverse work such as Delaine Le Bas' "Witch Hunt" and Daniel Baker's "Mirrored Books."
Many of the artists have a Roma or Sinti background and some have experienced discrimination first hand.

Viennese painter Karl Stojka and his sister Ceija Stojka are also on show at the exhibition with pieces which they hope will continue to chip away at what they say is a pervading silence about the crimes committed against Roma and Sinti during Nazi Germany.

Curators Lith Bahlmann and Matthias Reichelt say little is known about the Roma and Sinti on the international art scene and they want to change that.

"The effect of the Holocaust on the Roma community is not so well-known and [we've brought all this artwork together in one place because] we feel it's very important to make the issue more visible," said Bahlmann.

Haunting dolls of the Holocaust

It is an aspect of German history that has taken at least 60 years to gain a place on the national stage - let alone in the art world.

During this year's Holocaust Memorial Day (January 27), Zoni Weisz became the first ever representative for Roma and Sinti communities to address the German parliament.

As a seven year old, Weisz escaped while being taken to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. In the Bundestag, he talked about the genocide of Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust.

But he also talked about the discrimination they face today.

The cultural segregation and discrimination felt by Roma and Sinti is reflected in the work on show in Berlin. It is hoped the work will reach beyond art and go on to influence the political and historical debate.

Featured artists Karl Stojka and his sister Ceija Stojka were themselves victims of the Nazis.

Karl first began breaking the silence he felt surrounded Nazi atrocities against Roma and Sinti through his painting in the 1980s. Ceija also deals with her experiences at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen in her drawings and paintings.

Le Bas - whose "Witch Hunt" series shows haunting, but vibrant dolls dressed in brightly colored clothing, and wearing masks to distort their faces - agrees that the experiences of Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust are not well known.

"The works here are very important because they will force people to recognize what happened," Le Bas told Deutsche Welle. "I was interested in the witch hunts and did lots of research. There was this idea of people, who were seen as different, being used as scapegoats and the pieces evolved from that."

No place is home

In post-war Europe, discrimination against Roma and Sinti continues.

Le Bas is the eldest of five children and was the only one of her siblings to go to secondary school in Britain. She says her family was often subject to discrimination and their home was once targeted by vandals, who spray-painted it.

"My mother was particularly upset," said Le Bas. "Stereotypes are so ingrained. But I work in the visual arts because I hope it's a way to get people to see Roma and Sinti in a different light."

Like Le Bas, Daniel Baker is a Roma artist based in Britain.

"There is definitely still persecution happening in Europe, particularly in Italy and France," Baker told Deutsche Welle. "The treatment of Roma by some governments goes relatively unchallenged. They don't seem to be able to see that what happened in 1939 is happening still."

Baker says this is partly because there is no real place of origin for Roma and Sinti.

"I think it's a very threatening position," he said. "Nation states seem to think Roma and Sinti have no legitimacy and they are treated as if they don't fit in and don't belong. It is an excuse."

Baker's work features reversed writing painted on glass, with silver or gold leave gilded onto the surface to create a mirrored background.

He says he uses the idea of reflection to challenge perceptions about Roma - to turn perceptions around.

"Lots of my work uses natural reflection because the mirrors symbolize the gypsy experience," said Baker. "It is a real but also imagined space."

The exhibition runs until December 11.

Author: Louise Osborne, Berlin
Editor: Zulfikar Abbany


Monday, November 28, 2011





Deportation set: From left, Jan Pohlodko and his wife Eva Tulejova and their three children - Robert, 5, Sabina, 8, and Samantha, five months. The local Roma family wants to stay in Canada to avoid persecution in the Czech Republic, but immigration officials are sending them home.


Immigration officials have set a deportation date for a local Roma family from the Czech Republic, despite their pleas to stay in Canada to avoid persecution in their home country.

Jan Pohlodko and his wife Eva Tulejova have three children and have been in Canada since June 2, 2009. They've been ordered to leave the country by Nov. 30. They applied for refugee status, citing persecution in the Czech Republic and pointed to cases of racist skinheads attacks on Roma as reason to let the family stay. Their application was denied on Dec. 21, 2010.

The family was living in a housing complex in South Burnaby, but they've moved in with relatives.
The family also underwent a pre-removal risk assessment, but that was rejected on Sept. 1. The assessment is to make sure that Canada is not deporting people to countries where their lives are at risk or they face the risk of persecution, torture or cruel and unusual treatment. The senior immigration officer who reviewed the family's case cited credibility concerns in the assessment results.

"While incidents of violence continue to occur, the government has initiated a number of programs and efforts to address the situation for Roma and other ethnic minorities," the officer wrote.

Read more: http://www.burnabynow.com/life/Deportation+date+Burnaby+family/5574698/story.html#ixzz1f1TvHrpS

Saturday, November 26, 2011



Serbian authorities continue to evict Roma communities in violation of human rights standards
© Praxis

The situation of a Roma family forcibly evicted from their Belgrade home and made homeless this week again highlights the need for the Serbian government to stop forced evictions and introduce legislation prohibiting them, Amnesty International said today.

“Roma families in Belgrade are being forced out of their homes at an increasingly rapid pace.” said Nicola Duckworth Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

“This is the fourth eviction in Belgrade since October, and two more are announced for the next week.”

The Ramadani family, including two children under the age of three and an 80- year-old woman, were forcibly evicted from their flat on 23 November. Their personal possessions were left in the street. The family had fled Kosovo after the 1999 war. The municipality of New Belgrade, which ordered the eviction, did not provide them with alternative accommodation or any other kind of assistance.

At least 110 more Roma living in an informal settlement in New Belgrade are also threatened with forced eviction before the end of December. Their homes are to be bulldozed to make way for a new housing project to be built by a government-owned company. That project was approved three months ago by the government.

“The 110 Roma who are about to be evicted from Dr Ivana Ribara Street in New Belgrade have been offered alternative accommodation either in container settlements, abandoned houses or collective refugee centres, that falls far short of international standards.”

The authorities in Serbia held meetings this week with representatives of the Roma threatened with eviction. However, Amnesty International is concerned that these meetings did not constitute genuine consultations and were not conducted in line with UN guidelines. The organization has called on the authorities to hold meaningful consultations with those threatened with forced eviction and provide all of them with adequate alternative housing.

More than half of those under threat are children. Twenty of the families are Roma who fled to Belgrade from Kosovo after the 1999 war. Many of their children were born in Serbia. If the eviction goes ahead as planned, they may be encouraged to return to Kosovo where Roma face cumulative discrimination amounting to persecution, moved to abandoned houses in villages in the north of Serbia or sent to a collective centre for refugees where accommodation is inadequate.

“If these evictions go ahead on schedule, these families could be forced into inadequate accommodation in freezing temperatures” said Nicola Duckworth.

“They need to know that they will be provided with adequate housing in an area close to their children’s schools and where they will still be able to earn a living. The Serbian authorities are obliged under international standards to guarantee these rights.”

Friday, November 25, 2011




The Municipal Hospital in Ostrava has settled out of court with Ms Iveta Červeňáková, a Romani woman who was sterilized there by doctors 14 years ago even though she never requested the surgery. News server iDNES.cz reports that while details of the settlement agreement have not been made public, the hospital has indicated it will respect a court ruling in the case, which means it will probably pay half a million Czech crowns in compensation.

Červeňáková originally sought one million Czech crowns in compensation. Four years ago, the Ostrava Regional Court upheld her right to half of that amount. The hospital appealed to the High Court in Olomouc, which ruled that Červeňáková's right to financial compensation had expired and that the hospital only had to apologize to her. Neither Červeňáková nor the League of Human Rights, her legal representative, found that verdict acceptable, so they appealed to the Czech Supreme Court, which has ruled that Červeňáková's right to financial compensation has not expired, as that would be unethical.

The hospital itself initiated a turning point in the case when it offered to settle out of court. Both parties have agreed not to publicize the details of the settlement agreement. "I really can only confirm that we consider this case closed," said hospital spokesperson Jiří Maléř. When asked by news server iDNES.cz whether financial compensation was part of the deal, Maléř just said: "We respected the court's decision."

The case was scheduled to be reviewed by the Olomouc High Court once more, but since both parties have confirmed that it has been settled out of court, there will be no hearing. The development could mark a precedent for the many other women who have been forcibly sterilized. By the end of 2005, about 80 predominantly Romani women had turned to the Czech ombudsman with complaints that their fertility had been brought to an end against their will.

The League of Human Rights says the problem of forced sterilization is not over. The organization is still considering filing a complaint by multiple applicants with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
fk, iDNES.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert ROMEA

Thursday, November 24, 2011


European Roma Information Office (ERIO)

Condemns Filip Dewinter’s discriminatory remarks against Roma

Brussels, 22 November 2011

PHOTO: Homeless Roma asylum-seekers in Brussels

ERIO finds very worrying the offensive and discriminatory remarks about Roma by Filip Dewinter – deputy for the far-right party Vlaams Belang in the Flemish Parliament in Belgium – during the plenary session of the Flemish Parliament on 16 November 2011. The deputy stigmatised the Roma population by stating: “Minister, in the eyes of the population, as you know, Roma stands for R of thieves; O for trouble junkies; M for knife pullers and A for aggressive people” (the original: “de R van rovers, de O van overlastjunkies, de M van messentrekkers en de A van agressievelingen”). He continued:”You don’t want to see this reality. I repeat: no integration stewards but police officers are what you need, to bring Roma back to where they belong: Romania and Bulgaria, not here.[1]

ERIO condemns these remarks fuelling anti- Gypsyism in Belgium. Mr. Dewinter’s remarks mirror the rising trends in anti-Roma sentiment, racism, xenophobia and far-right extremism in Europe. ERIO believes that these derogatory statements constitute a direct violation of the fundamental rights of this minority and disrespect for the European Union values. These remarks come at a time when EU member states are expected to submit their National Roma Integration Strategies to the European Commission by the end of this year. One of the aims of such strategies is to improve the socio-economic situation of Roma in the EU. Mr. Dewinter’s remarks are a direct attack to Belgium’s official position on Roma inclusion and to the values promoted by the EU such as human rights, tolerance and equality.

ERIO calls on all politicians in the EU to refrain from discourses and behaviours likely to incite anti-Gypsyism and intolerance. ERIO calls on all EU institutions, as guardians of the EU principles and values, to take the necessary measures and a strong position against discriminatory political speech. ERIO calls on the Belgian Equality Bodies to take immediate action and use all available legislation providing protection by racist hate speech, discrimination and unequal treatment.

European Roma Information Office (ERIO) is an international advocacy organisation which promotes political and public discussion on Roma issues. It aims to combat racist discrimination against Roma and to contribute to an improved public awareness of the problems faced by Roma communities. http://erionet.org

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


my home



mugur shares these photos of Roma (sometimes referred to as Gypsy) informal settlements near Baia Mare, Romania, taken in late September 2011. Residents of these settlements face eviction after authorities decided to demolish the buildings which they call home.
(This is just one of several photographs available at the above site.  I encourage you to visit and see the others.) Morgan
mugur says: 'I hope that one day my dedication to the Roma cause will help people better understand them and put an end to their plight. After seeing my story on the ghetto in Baia Mare, I was contacted by Amnesty International and [asked] to cover for them the Roma communities facing the danger of being thrown on the streets.'

He adds: 'It is absolutely unacceptable the discrimination against the Roma both at home in Romania and in Europe. I believe there is still time to act and change this situation for the better. But there isn't much time left. If we don't act now, we will soon regret it.'
- elchueco, CNN iReport producer
In the media, we are all for human rights and integration. In real life, however, France for instance, only appreciates Romas in movies at Cannes film festival.
Inspired by the French authorities' solution to move Romas from point A to point B, Romanian authorities planned and started forced evictions of Roma informal settlements in cities like Cluj-Napoca, Baia Mare, etc...

Some of these settlements date back to early 90’s. They were always tolerated by the authorities who verbally encouraged Romas to build in the area while giving reassurances that nothing bad would ever happen to them. Yet, today, while campaigning on a hate ticket, the same authorities are planning forced evictions without reasons other than ethnic cleansing of the cities.

Our humanity is as big as the distance between us and the real problems of the world...This is why we can shed a tear for the starving kids of Africa and not give a damn about the desperate Roma kids living next door.

We ask of the Romas to send their kids to school, but we never ask if those kids can bathe or have a decent breakfast before attending classes. As they live in ramshackle dwellings, ‘bathing’ itself is an improper word to describe how these kids manage to wash themselves. Without direct access to running water, each child or woman goes 5-6 times each day to collect water from a nearby water pump. A task like that would make even Sisyphus go crazy.

Without heating or electricity the Romas lead a harder life today than in the Middle Age -- harder as the discrepancies then were less visible than those today...The most fortunate of them get an improvised electricity line from the near by apartment blocks. When you discover how much they pay for this bootlegged current that fuels maybe one lightbulb (20 Euro a month), you realize being poor doesn't come cheap.

They do all the dirty work for us by working for companies collecting the garbage or cleaning the cities. They can never make ends meet so they are always indebted to loan sharks. With less than 100 euros a month the public garbage dump is their supermarket.

Because we deem unimportant their traditions, pottery or other ancient roma crafts struggle for survival. Because of their lack of education and our own discrimination we only hire them on a daily basis and than spend all day in fear they might steal some fruits from us. Almost all the grapes are collected with the help of Roma people.

I live in a country where people look at poor Roma people living in inhumane conditions and ask me if they are thieves. I always reply with a question which renders them speechless. I ask, ‘how many thieves eating out of garbage do you know?’

Yet they live their life without asking too much. They only ask not to be evicted and thrown out on the streets. They ask to be consulted and presented with alternatives for relocation. If segregation is all that comes out of these relocations, they ask to be left where they are today. They realize life is hard for those without education, but regardless of how poor they are, they shouldn’t be denied the right to non-segregated social housing programs.

We deem them irresponsible for having so many children, but we seem to forget how many children our grandmothers used to have. If it wasn’t for our grandmothers we wouldn’t be here today...

Protected by current legislation, or the lack of it to be more precise, the racists of this country fail to understand the real power of Roma people. In less than a hundred years they will be the majority population of Romania.

How ironic is the fact that we want to get rid of them while our survival as a nation depends on them?

This is Europe at it’s worst...It doesn’t need to be that way...If South Africa were to forcibly send other African citizens back to their countries of origin, Europeans would find that unacceptable and human right activists would ask for all kinds of measures to put a stop to it...

When France does it, everybody turns a blind eye...

Where is the democracy in that?'
Please visit
to see the other photos.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Russian LGBT activists are detained for the simple act of publicly demanding their rights.



The party led by Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin is pushing discriminatory legislation against lesbian, bi, gay and trans people that could eliminate their freedom to speak publicly and assemble.

Russia is a signatory to numerous international human rights treaties - including the European Convention on Human Rights. We call on you to urgently speak out and hold Russia accountable to its treaty obligations - and stand with LGBT Russians whose ability to speak for themselves is under attack.

 Political leaders in St. Petersburg are about to vote on law that will make it illegal for any person to write a book, publish an article or speak in public about being gay, lesbian or transgender. The ruling party led by President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin could make millions of people invisible with the stroke of a pen.

Human rights defenders around the country are doing everything they can to stop it. They are risking their freedom to organize flashmobs and protests, but they are afraid that it won't be enough.

Right now, the world needs to speak up and tell Russian authorities to drop the bill. Join this call to leaders around the world to reach out to their counterparts in the Russian government - and ask them to reject this discriminatory and anti-democratic law.


Monday, November 21, 2011


The International Romani Union has launched a new web site.

I encourage people to visit.  They are one of the oldest existing activist Romani groups.  Lolo Diklo has been a member for many years, since it was called the World Romani Union.


The first Congress of Roma took place near London between 8. - April 12, 1971. There, the participants decided to found the International Roma Union (IRU) which was originally called "World Union of Roma". Delegates at the congress have set the priority task to spread self-consciousness of the Roma and to fight for human rights. Congress has operated within the four committees. These were social and legal, educational, cultural, and honor the victims of Nazism in the Second World War. Delegates from fourteen countries attended this first Congress. The Congress adopted Roma anthem and flag as symbols of international Roma. Anthem is a song based on the text's old Roma "Djelem, Djelem" ("Go, go") and a well known song among Romanian Roma. Jarko Jovanovich, a french musician, together with Slovak Doctor Ján Cibulka made the final version of the Anthem. The flag was originally composed of two colors, blue and green. The red wheel in the middle was added on Veerenda Rishi's proposal which was adopted at the Congress in London. Since 1993 IRU organization has consultative status to the United Nations. IRU is not the only international organization for Roma, but it is certainly the oldest and most widespread.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


EU Platform for Roma Inclusion: 


17 November 2011

Who are the Roma?

There are around 10-12 million Roma people in Europe. They have been part of Europe for centuries and are integral to its society and economy, but frequently face prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and exclusion.

Reliable data are hard to come by, but estimates by the Council of Europe (see annex) show that almost all EU countries have Roma communities of varying sizes. They form a significant proportion of the population in Bulgaria (around 10%), Slovakia (9%), Romania (8%), Hungary (7%), Greece, the Czech Republic and Spain (all 1.5-2.5%).

Around a third of these live in the countries of the western Balkans, such as Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and in Turkey.

What is the European Platform for Roma Inclusion?

The European Platform for Roma inclusion (or European Roma Platform) was created to help coordinate and develop policies for Roma integration and stimulate exchanges among EU Member States, international organisations and Roma civil society. It aims to make existing policy processes more coherent and facilitate synergies. The first meeting was held in April 2009 ( IP/09/635 ).

How does the Platform support Roma integration?

The Platform’s role was enlarged and reinforced when European leaders agreed an EU-level Framework for national Roma integration strategies in June 2011 ( IP/11/789 ). This was based on a proposal put forward by the European Commission in April 2011 ( IP/11/400 ).

Under the EU Framework, each of the EU’s 27 countries will set out how they intend to improve the situation of the most vulnerable Roma communities living on their territory. Member States will have to address four key areas for better social and economic integration – education, employment, healthcare and housing – and set out measures proportionate to their Roma population . It is also about ensuring that Roma people’s fundamental rights are respected. Governments have until the end of 2 011 to submit their national strategies. The Commission will then assess the plans and report back next spring.

The EU Framework reinforced the role of the European Roma Platform by making it the main forum for discussing and exchanging policy approaches to promote Roma inclusion. In this respect, the Platform can play a crucial role in helping Member States develop or up-date their national strategies for Roma integration – as they are required to do under the EU Framework.

The Platform also allows representatives of the Roma communities to play a direct role in EU-level discussions and exchanges on Roma integration policies. International organisations and other stakeholders working in the field are equally involved in the process.

Finally, the Platform will provide the Commission with feedback on the results of national efforts on the ground through the voice of Roma civil society.

What will be discussed at this meeting of the Platform?

The meeting that will take place today and tomorrow is specifically aimed at helping Member States prepare their national strategies for Roma integration under the EU Framework process. It will focus on the contributions of Member States, civil society and international organisations to making the EU Framework a success.

Member States will discuss the ir challenges and successes in preparing their national strategies; civil society organisations will discuss how they can provide a coordinated input into the Framework’s process; and international organisations will exchange views on their contribution and possible synergies.

As such , the meeting provides a unique opportunity for policy exchange and discussion before Member States are expected to present their strategies to the Commission.

How will the EU framework help the Roma?

The EU framework develops a targeted approach for a more effective response to Roma exclusion by setting EU-wide goals for integrating Roma, in education, employment, health and housing.
It will make a tangible difference to Roma people’s lives over the next decade by focusing on Roma in national, regional and local integration policies in a clear and specific way, addressing them with explicit measures to prevent and compensate for the multiple disadvantages they face.

Member States will be asked to submit national Roma strategies to the Commission by the end of 2011, specifying how they will contribute to achieving the overall goals, including setting national targets and allowing for sufficient funding (national, EU and other) to deliver them.

Finally, the Framework strategy proposes solutions for using EU funds more effectively and lays down foundations for a robust mechanism to monitor results.

What are the specific EU-level goals?

The goals address the four main areas for improving social and economic integration for Roma, all of which are primarily national policy areas:

Education: ensuring that all Roma children complete primary school;
Employment: cutting the employment gap between Roma and other citizens;
Health: reducing the gap in health status between the Roma and the general population;
Housing: closing the gap in access to housing and public utilities such as water and electricity.
How will the Commission monitor progress?
The Commission will report annually to the European Parliament and to the Council on progress on the integration of the Roma population in Member States and on the achievement of the Roma integration goals.

It will base its monitoring notably on:

The results of the Roma household survey regularly carried out by the Fundamental Rights Agency, the United Nations Development Programme in cooperation with the World Bank.
National reform programmes in the framework of the EU 2020 Strategy, in particular for those countries with a high share of Roma population.
Ongoing work within the Open Method of Coordination in the field of social policies.
Member States contributions based on their own monitoring systems which national authorities are requested to include in their national Roma integration strategies.
It will also take into account the work of the European Platform for Roma Inclusion.

How do EU policies support Roma integration?

Many of the most important areas for improving Roma integration – such as education, employment, health and housing – are national or regional responsibilities. But the EU has an important role to play in coordinating action by Member States. The EU can lend support with powerful policy and financial tools such as European legislation against discrimination, policy coordination, common integration goals and structural funding.

EU legislation (the Race Equality Directive) obliges Member States to give equal access to ethnic minorities, such as the Roma, in education, housing, health and employment. Nevertheless, these rules need to be well implemented and applied in practice in order to offer effective protection to individuals, and if need be, access to justice in cases of discrimination.

Several EU funds are available to Member States to support national Roma inclusion policies , namely the European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The EU already co-finances projects for the Roma in sectors like education, employment, microfinance and equal opportunities (in particular equality between men and women).

For the forthcoming financial period the Commission has proposed an increase in the ESF budget of at least 7.5%, amounting to at least €84 billion over seven years. Furthermore, the ESF of the future will have a stronger social dimension. The Member States will be required to allocate at least 20% of their European Social Fund resources to social inclusion. This could significantly increase funding in some countries with big Roma minorities where only 5 to 10% of EFS is currently spent on social inclusion.

What is the role of Member States?

Member States are primarily responsible for Roma integration, because the key areas which are the biggest challenge for Roma inclusion remain mostly national prerogatives. These include access to quality education, to the job market, housing and essential services, and healthcare.

P olicies in these fields are often handled by regional and local authorities, depending on the country. This means different levels of government have a joint responsibility for Roma inclusion and need to cooperate closely to achieve results.

For example, the EU makes funds available to support inclusion and employment of Roma, among other things, but Member States and regions are responsible for allocating and implementing funding for specific integration projects.

What are the main areas where Roma face exclusion?

In education , Roma children have lower attainments and often face discrimination and segregation in schooling. Although the situation differs between EU countries, a survey by the Open Society Institute in six EU countries (Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia) found that only 42% of Roma children complete primary school, compared to an average of 97.5% for the general population across the EU as a whole.

This has a knock-on effect in the labour market, where young Roma are less well-equipped and less qualified to find a job. The Europe 2020 strategy sets a headline target of 75% of people in the EU aged 20-64 to be in employment, compared to a current rate of 68.8%. For Roma, the employment rate is significantly lower, with a gap of around 26 percentage points according to World Bank research covering Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, and Serbia.

In health , Roma have a life expectancy which is 10 years below the European average of 76 for men and 82 for women and a child mortality rate that is significantly higher than the EU average of 4.3 per thousand births. Indeed, the United Nations’ Development Programme research in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic put Roma infant mortality rates there at 2-6 times higher than those for the general population, depending on the country. These outcomes reflect poorer living conditions, reduced access to quality healthcare and higher exposure to risks. There is also evidence that Roma communities are less well informed about health issues and can face discrimination in access to healthcare.

Roma also face significant gaps as compared to the average European in terms of access to housing and essential services . While between 72% and 100% of EU households are connected to a public water supply, the rate is much lower among Roma. Research by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency points to wider problems in accessing housing, both private and public. This in turn affects Roma health and broader integration prospects.

What are the benefits of better Roma integration?

In addition to better respect for the fundamental rights of a large number of EU citizens and greater social cohesion, better Roma integration can bring considerable economic benefits.

The Roma represent a growing share of the working age population, with an average age of 25 compared to the EU average of 40. Some 35.7% of Roma are under 15, compared to 15.7% of the EU population. Roma also form 1 in 5 new labour market entrants in Bulgaria and Romania.

According to a recent research by the World Bank 1 , full Roma integration in the labour market could bring economic benefits estimated at around €0.5 billion annually for some countries.

What about Roma outside the EU?

To improve the situation of the estimated 3.8 million Roma in the western Balkans and Turkey, the Commission intends to step up support for integration in the context of EU enlargement.

Among other things, the enlargement process includes funding for social development projects. The Commission will support national efforts to improve Roma inclusion by improving the delivery of aid under the Instrument on Pre-Accession Assistance and by encouraging Roma involvement in formulating, implementing and monitoring policies. It is currently implementing or planning projects worth €50 million which could exclusively or partly benefit Roma.

The Commission will also closely monitor the economic and social situation of Roma in its enlargement progress reports for each country.
We remain hopeful, though more cynical with the passing of each year of the 'DECADE OF THE ROMA IN EUROPE'.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Excerpts from a BBC radio interview with Professor Ian Hancock which was edited for broadcasting on the Romani Radio Perth.

This video was sent to us and the introduction is by our friend and ally Yvonne in Australia.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


In conversation: Timothy Jones, Barrister


Timothy Jones, a planning and environment barrister at No5 Chambers, talks about the difficulties in provision for Traveller community

PHOTO The eviction of Travellers at the Dale Farm site near Basildon.
BY: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Why have successive governments failed to meet gypsy and traveller needs?

Right from the start of modern planning and the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, Gypsies and Travellers weren't really considered; they just didn't think about caravan sites in general.
In 1960, the government gave councils the power to close commons to Gypsies and to provide sites instead, but this didn't meet their need. Eventually, after several unsuccessful legislative attempts a new duty was imposed on councils to allocate land for Travellers in 2006. It appeared to be beginning to work but far more slowly than hoped especially after negative media campaigns, particularly from the Daily Mail.

And what about councils?

Clearly there were very different levels of provision in different councils. I think the tendency was to suggest one thing but, when the council came up against strong opposition, to stop doing it. There is a lack of realism, certainly on the part of councillors though I think officers understood what was happening. That has sometimes meant a disproportionate amount of money spent on what is a very small proportion of the population, and involves a very small proportion of councils' total land area.

Few councillors have asked the question of where Travellers are going to go. They would force Gypsies off one piece of land, and they would go to another, and we'd be back to square one. I think there was a lot of short-termism too. Councillors would gain popularity for opposing a site. If the Gypsies appealed and won, the councillors could simply blame the secretary of state. The cost of appeals to councils – when there was a high probability that they would lose – didn't be seem to be given great weight.

Why are gypsies and travellers at a disadvantage when it comes to planning?

Many Gypsies and Travellers lack even basic education to the age of 16, which the majority of the population has. Unlike developers, they often lack legal or planning skills, and pitted against them are councillors responding to residents groups who are doing their best to try and make sure there isn't a Gypsy or Traveller site in their particular patch.

Is green belt land ever developed?

If the only way your development plan can provide enough housing is to alter the green belt boundary, then you have to alter the green belt boundary. So housing need is met by land being taken out of the green belt. That has never happened for Gypsies and Travellers. In those authorities in which all the available land or almost all is on green belt, the situation for Gypsies and Travellers becomes intolerable. They're met with the argument 'we're treating them equally, we're not allowing any development on green belt' – made most recently by Tony Ball, leader of Basildon council about the Dale Farm evictions – but there are numerous examples where in order to provide enough land for housing, land is taken out of the green belt.

How will localism impact on Gypsies and Travellers?

The phrase localism needs to be treated with caution. Development plans won't be subject to regional guidance, but they will still be subject to independent scrutiny from an impartial inspector. So councils will assess need and the inspector will inspect it for soundness, and that's true of all development.

What localism certainly doesn't mean is that it's up to the council and nobody else. It's a misconception for all forms of development. Planning should be about finding the best site. The fact that something has previously been refused permission doesn't mean that at some date in the future it won't be the best of the options.

Can human rights arguments prevent evictions?

Human rights are always relevant and they tip the balance in a minority of cases – it's right they should. We've had 31 years of trying to make adequate provision for Gypsies and Travellers, that's getting on to two generations of Gypsy children who haven't actually grown up with a secure base and a secure home that they should have. That has severe social consequences and if you have that amount of deprivation, raises what are human rights issues in the fullest sense.

What do you make of the government's suggestion that councils use caravans to meet their duty to homelessness people and at the same time supporting the eviction at Dale Farm?

It is an ironic response. Clearly the government is looking to the fact that caravans and indeed boats on canals and waterways can provide accommodation, which is a quick answer to a problem that might otherwise take a long time to solve. What I also find ironic and very surprising is that at a time when people accept that cuts are necessary and people know that cuts are painful, so much money is being spent on Dale Farm. This is something that has been happening for decades across England. There is considerable scope for saving money just by finding land, which in many cases Gypsies are the equivalent of house purchasers; they are prepared to buy to develop.

Timothy Jones is a barrister at No5 Chambers
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Monday, November 14, 2011


Statement of Senator Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, as published in the Congressional Record on November 10, 2011.

EUROPEAN COURT DECISION -- (Senate - November 10, 2011)
[Page: S7361]


Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I had the opportunity to visit Slovakia in 2009. It was a great opportunity for me to meet with representatives of a country that is a close ally of the United States. Slovakia and the United States share strong ties thanks to the heritage of many Americans whose parents, grandparents or great grandparents came from Slovakia. We are also bound by our common devotion to democracy and human rights. It is an important friendship.

My visit to Bratislava gave me a chance to strengthen those ties. It also provided me with an opportunity to share with my Slovak friends concerns I have about the practice of targeting Romani women for sterilization without informed consent--a practice that was documented and condemned by the Charter 77 human rights movement more than 30 years ago. Unfortunately, sterilizations without consent continued to be performed in State-run hospitals in the Czech and Slovak Republics--reportedly even in this century.
[Page: S7362]

This week there has been an important development on that front. On Tuesday, the European Court on Human Rights found that the sterilization without informed consent of a Romani woman had violated article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment, and article 8, the right to family life.

This is an incredibly important victory for a woman who was wrongfully sterilized at the time of the birth of her second child and who has since struggled for 11 years to vindicate this claim. I commend her for her bravery and tenaciousness in the face of numerous obstacles. At the same time, I am aware that the damages awarded by the court can never fully compensate for what was taken from her.

I regret that it has taken so long to achieve this single victory. Thus far, the Slovak Government has refused to acknowledge this past practice of targeting Romani women for sterilization. In the last decade, in the face of growing documentation of this abuse and increasing calls for the Slovak Government to acknowledge this grave human rights violation, Slovak authorities have, in turns, made threats against victims, denied the past abuse, and some voices even continue to call for making sterilization freely available to ``socially excluded communities''--a term that is almost synonymously used to describe Roma.

There are other countries where sterilization without consent also occurred in the last century, including Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and 33 States in the United States. But Slovakia has been singularly resistant to acknowledging that these abuses not only happened, but are indefensible by modern standards.

While I welcome this week's decision by the European court, it does not put an end to this issue. There are two other sterilization cases pending in Slovakia's domestic courts, and five other cases pending against Slovakia before the European court. I urge the Slovak Government not to force victims through the painful process of litigating each case--a process that has immeasurable costs for all sides--and to establish a less burdensome process for victims to have their claims recognized. It is long overdue for Slovak authorities to acknowledge that Romani women were targeted for sterilization without informed consent.


Sunday, November 13, 2011




PHOTO: www.unfinishedlivesblog.com

Police have identified a burned torso found on Detroit's east side as belonging to a transgender 19 year old who was reported missing several weeks ago.

The woman, who went by Shelley or Treasure and who was legally known as Henry Hilliard Jr., was last seen at 1:20 a.m. on October 23,reports the Detroit Free Press, which reported on her disappearance earlier this week.

The paper notes that she had a distinctive tattoo of cherries on her upper right arm, which the Detroit Medical Examiner's office used to positively identify her after police found her body near I-94.

A cab driver who Hilliard often relied on for rides dropped her off at home on the night of October 23, Lyniece Nelson, Hilliard's mother, told the Detroit Free Press.

She says he claims there were three men waiting for Hilliard and that her daughter called the driver back and he "started to hear her say, 'What are you doing,' then scream out loud 'No,' then her phone dropped, a few muffling noises, then the phone went dead... By the time he got back around the corner, there was no one in sight."

Police are investigating Hilliard's death as a homicide.

In recent weeks many high profile crimes against LGBT people have involved fire.

In Pennsylvania, Steven Iorio was doused in rum and set on fire by two "friends".

In Scotland, the burned body of Stuart Walker was found by police.

In Texas, Burke Burnett was stabbed repeatedly with a broken beer bottle and then thrown onto a bonfire.

As HuffPost blogger Phillip Miner recently wrote, fire is all too often a weapon used in crimes against LGBT people. He found that a 1994 study showed 26 percent of arson victims are gay -- a staggering figure when you consider that LGBT people supposedly only make up 10 percent (or less) of the general population

Friday, November 11, 2011



Op-ed: Barbara Grier, Lesbian Icon, Dies

Barbara Grier, lesbian publisher, activist, and archivist, died Thursday of heart disease. She was 79.

Barbara Grier, lesbian publisher, activist and archivist, died Thursday of heart disease. She was 79.
When I first met Barbara Grier, I was 19 and knew even then that she was one of the most important lesbian figures I would ever meet. More than 30 years later, after I've interviewed countless other lesbians over the years, Grier still ranks as a mover and shaker of iconic proportions.

For a lifelong queer activist, Grier grew up in unlikely circumstances, in the heart of the Midwest — Kansas and Missouri, where she lived for decades — the daughter of a feminist mother before the word feminist was even known. In the many interviews I did with her over the years, Grier was always succinct about her origins: The pioneer spirit of the Plains states had infused her. She was born to be a pioneer, she believed, and she was one.

Irascible and cantankerous, with a dry and acid wit, she could make a sailor blush and have you laughing till you cried. She worked hard and expected everyone else to work equally hard, because to her, there was always something else to be done.

Grier was a librarian and archivist by trade and an activist by avocation. The two great loves of her life, her first partner, Helen, and then the woman she spent over 40 years with, Donna McBride, were also librarians. McBride survives her.

Grier told me many stories over the years of how she came to lesbian activism — through meeting the town butch dyke as a child, through wooing Helen at the library, through meeting McBride and, as she said about their relationship, “falling as deeply in love as anyone ever could.”

Grier was one of the few out lesbians of the 1940s and 1950s. She was a contributor to and then editor of the pivotal lesbian magazine— the first official such publication in the U.S. — The Ladder. She wrote under the names Gene Damon, Vern Niven, and Lennox Strong. In 1973 she cofounded Naiad Books with McBride, whom she had met while working for The Ladder.

The Ladder, founded by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon as a publication for the Daughters of Bilitis, which they also founded, published monthly between 1956 and 1970 and had an initial mailing list of less than 200. In 1968, Grier took over from activist Barbara Gittings as editor of the mimeographed, brown-paper-wrapped magazine and immediately sought to expand both its readership and its content. Within a month of Grier’s ascension to editor, The Ladder went from 24 pages to 48. Its mailing list grew to 3,800. Grier also broadened the content to include more news and a much more feminist slant.

In 1973, after The Ladder folded due to internal controversies in which Grier was a major player, Grier cofounded Naiad Books, later Naiad Press, which at the time of its closing in 2003 was the world’s largest lesbian publisher.

Naiad published mostly romance and mystery novels — accessible lesbian work. Grier told me that she wanted lesbians in Kansas to have books they could read that were about themselves in an era when very few lesbians were out. The books were first distributed solely through mail order, utilizing the list Grier was accused of (and admitted to) stealing from The Ladder.

Some of the best-known lesbian writers of the past 25 years were first published by Naiad, such as Katherine V. Forrest, whose Curious Wine is still considered the first novel in the genre of “new”lesbian fiction. Grier also published the young Sarah Schulman. The list of award-winning and prolific romance and mystery novelists — Barbara Wilson, Lee Lynch, Isabelle Miller, Valerie Taylor, Karin Kallmaker, and a host of others — put accessible lesbian fiction on the literary map. The late photographer and artist Tee Corinne created many of the press’s early book covers.

Grier’s lifelong passion as an archivist of lesbian writing led her to revive many out-of-print works of lesbian poetry, memoir and fiction. Ann Bannon, Jane Rule, and Gale Wilhelm were among the writers whose early pulp-fiction novels she revived. She also reprinted the work of Renée Vivien and Gertrude Stein.

In 1985, Grier published Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence. Grier told me she paid a half million dollars to the author-editors, Rosemary Curb and Nancy Manahan, both ex-nuns. The book created national controversy and Grier came under fire for allowing excerpts to be printed in Penthouse magazine. But the book was enormously influential and shifted the tone of lesbian publishing.

Grier’s legacy is as a major figure of the lesbian literary world. In 1992 she established the Naiad Collection at the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center of the San Francisco Public Library. In an interview in 2003, Grier told me it took two vans to take the entirety of books, letters, magazines, and other memorabilia such as T-shirts, posters, buttons, and the like which she had painstakingly archived over the years from her home in Tallahassee to the library. It is the largest collection of lesbian letters in the world and includes such iconic writer-activists as Audre Lorde, Andrea Dworkin, and Rita Mae Brown, among others.

Grier leaves behind her longtime partner and a plethora of friends and colleagues. She also gave the world a body of work that was definitively the foundation for the lesbian literature of the 21st century and beyond.

Victoria A. Brownworth is a nationally syndicated columnist, and author and editor of nearly 30 books. She writes weekly about TV and entertainment for both the mainstream and queer press. Follow her on Twitter @VABVOX.    

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Turkish Roma make way for property developers in historic Istanbul district

Sulukule 'urban regeneration' programme sees new townhouses advertised at 10 times the price paid to evictees

Turkish Roma have seen their houses demolished in their former settlement of Sulukule in Istanbul. Photograph: Jonathan Lewis
As property deals go, it leaves a lot to be desired. But then the hundreds of Roma families living in the heart of Istanbul don't have a lot of choice in the matter.

An "urban regeneration" scheme that turfed thousands of Roma out of their historic settlement in Sulukule is now advertising new townhouses in the district at almost 10 times the price paid to the evictees. The Turkish authorities are being accused of deliberately driving out the Roma in the name of town planning.

The saga began in 2005 when the ruling AKP authorities decided that Sulukule, one of the oldest permanent Roma settlements in the world, and situated in the Istanbul district of Fatih, was to become an Urban Renewal Zone. It was part of a drive to expropriate property in dilapidated areas to boost modernisation – in part for safety reasons, in what is an earthquake-prone part of the world.

The 3,400 Roma living in Sulukule were forced to sell their homes for 500 Turkisl Lira (£175) per sq metre to private investors and the Fatih municipality. Despite worldwide protests, a Unesco warning and court cases to halt the project, forced evictions and demolitions started in 2008. Now surrounded by construction fences, 640 "Ottoman-style" townhouses and offices are springing up on the 22-acre (nine-hectare) site that had housed the local Roma population for over a millennium. The price of the new properties? From TL3,500 to TL 4,500 per sq metre.

"It is clear that none of the former residents will be able to afford a flat here," said Sükrü Pündük, President of the Sulukule Roma Cultural Development and Solidarity Association, adding that one in four Sulukule residents lives on TL300 per month. "Most people do not have a fixed income, and live from day to day. This was never meant to be a regeneration project, but a project to generate profit, and to force Roma away from the city centre."

Just outside the construction area Sami Zogun, a former Sulukule resident of more than 40 years, waits for the bus to take him on the one-and-a-half-hour trip to a new development in Tasogluk, a high-rise satellite city constructed on behalf of the public housing development administration, TOKI, roughly 30 miles from the city centre. A single ticket costs TL2.40.

Zogun says that when his friend and landlord sold the 30 sq metre three-storey listed house that he and his wife had inhabited at a modest rent, they moved to Tasogluk, where they must pay TL550 to cover the rent, bills and the commute. His son had to sell his own apartment for the family to afford it.

"If I would have owned that house, I would not have sold them a single needle in it," he says. "To me, our little wooden house was paradise. The new TOKI houses feel like a golden cage. There is no life there; nothing to do."

Lorry driver Metin Ates says that he and his family moved back from Tasogluk a year after they left Sulukule. "It was too expensive for us. We just couldn't make ends meet there." Once a house owner, Ates was unable to buy another property in the area with the money he received for selling his Sulukule house and now lives in a small flat in a neighbouring district with his wife and three children, paying TL500 a month. "They ruined us. They destroyed our community."

Like Ates, all but six of the 300 families that moved to Tasogluk in 2008 came back to Sulukule because they were unable to pay the monthly rates, the bills for gas, water and electricity, and the fares for the journey back to Istanbul in order to secure what is a very modest income – Tasogluk did not offer any jobs at all.

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's Turkey researcher, told the Guardian: "Although on paper there is provision for alternative housing in the form of these TOKI houses, we see that the houses which are – on paper – are available to the people displaced from Sulukule are not appropriate, they're not affordable."

He added: "The right to housing does not preclude urban regeneration. But it has to be done respecting [the rights] and wishes of the people living in these areas."

Mücella Yapici of the Istanbul Chamber of Architects says all of Turkey's urban regeneration schemes are centred on house ownership. "Tenants are never even taken into account, despite them being the most vulnerable," she said. While the Istanbul average for renting stands between 20% and 30% of households, the number of tenants in Sulukule topped 50%; many residents were simply too poor to afford their own property.

"Homelessness never used to be a serious issue in Istanbul. But the demolitions and evictions led to a dramatic increase of people with nowhere to go. They are not safer, but more vulnerable in the case of a natural disaster," says Yapici.

"In a way these urban renewal projects which were presented as a remedy to earthquakes cause the same economic and social damage: the forced loss of a person's home, work, and social ties in a neighbourhood."