The 27 January marks the International Holocaust Memorial Day to remember the millions of Holocaust victims and to celebrate the lives of survivors. Throughout the Third Reich Roma and other minority groups were subjected to persecution and genocide. Approximately 220.000 and 1.500.000 Roma faced extermination during the Holocaust simply because they did not fit ‘the norm’.
It is fundamental for ERIO to remember the Roma victims of the Holocaust. This day provides an opportunity to learn from the European past of intolerance, racism and xenophobia and to seek determination to never allow the repetition of that past. Such future has not yet arrived. Even after the Holocaust Roma currently still remain the most hated and discriminated minority in Europe. Living primarily on the margins of society, they remain uniquely marginalised across the continent and their rights are denied in education, employment, housing and healthcare. Europe is witnessing rising trends in anti-Roma sentiment, anti-Gypsyism, xenophobia and far-right extremism across the continent. ERIO calls on the EU to strengthen their efforts to combat racial and ethnic hatred. The EU must defend the values of human rights and tolerance it advocates and send a strong message that these racist acts are not acceptable and are punishable.
Ivan Ivanov, ERIO’s Executive Director stated: “Nazis tried to eliminate Romani people from the European map with forced sterilisation, mass executions and by sending them to gas chambers. This is something Europeans should be aware and should not forget. The Holocaust has reinforced strong prejudices against Roma as a different and inferior race. Unfortunately these prejudices still exist today. Roma continue to be the most unwanted and hated community in Europe. The EU has enough instruments to take some measures to ensure the equal treatment of Roma and protect its largest minority. This should be done as soon as possible to confront the anti-Roma sentiments generated lately by some Nazi-oriented groups and extreme right-wing political parties.”
ERIO stresses the importance to remember the history of the Roma Holocaust which is relatively unknown. As such, it will hold a conference “Remembering the Forgotten Roma Holocaust” on 25 January, in Brussels as part of a wider project funded by the European Commission under the Europe for Citizens programme which aims to rediscover the forgotten history of Roma victims of Nazi persecutions.
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