Saturday, March 31, 2012


Marge Piercy - Biography


Marge Piercy was born March 31, 1936 in Detroit into a family that had been, like many others, affected by the Depression. Her mother, Bert Bernice Bunnin, born in Philadelphia, had lived also in Pittsburgh and Cleveland; her father Robert Douglas Piercy grew up in a small town in the soft coal mining region of Pennsylvania. They had not been living in Detroit long. Her father, out of work for some time, got a job installing and repairing heavy machinery at Westinghouse. When Piercy was little, they moved into a small house in a working-class neighborhood in Detroit which was Black and white by blocks.

Piercy had one brother, fourteen years older, her mother's son by a previous marriage.. Piercy's maternal grandfather Morris was a union organizer murdered while organizing bakery workers. Her maternal grandmother, Hannah, of whom Piercy was particularly fond, was born in a Lithuanian stetl, the daughter of a rabbi. "Grandmother Hannah was a great storyteller. She and my mother told many of the same stories, but always the stories came out differently." It was her maternal grandmother who gave Piercy her Hebrew name, Marah. Although Piercy's father was not a Jew (he was raised a Presbyterian but observed no religion), she was raised a Jew by her grandmother and her mother and has remained one.

Piercy credits her mother with making her a poet. Piercy describes her mother as an emotional, imaginative woman full of odd lore and superstitions. She read voraciously and encouraged her daughter to do the same. Enormously curious , she urged her daughter to observe sharply and remember what she observed. As Piercy grew older and became more independent, they fought viciously. Finally, Piercy left home at seventeen and recalls that she and her mother were not really in sustained harmony until very late in her mother's life. Her mother died in 1981. Piercy was much closer to her mother than to her father, who died in 1985.

Piercy recalls having a reasonably happy early childhood. However, halfway through grade school she almost died from the German measles and then caught rheumatic fever. She went from a pretty and healthy child into a skeletal creature with blue skin given to fainting. In the misery of sickness, she took refuge in books. She lavished love on her cats. She went to public grade school and high school in Detroit. At seventeen, after winning a scholarship to the University of Michigan which paid her tuition, Piercy was the first person in her family to go to college. Piercy remarks that in some ways college was easy for her. She was good at taking exams and strongly motivated to learn. However other aspects of college life were painful.

She did not fit any image of what women were supposed to be like. The Freudianism that permeated educated values in the fifties labeled her aberrant for her sexuality and ambitions. However, winning various Hopwood awards (the playwright Avery Hopwood, writer of sex farces, had left his fortune to the University of Michigan to be used to encourage good and original student writing) meant that during her senior year Piercy didn't have to work to support herself. A Hopwood also allowed her to go to France after graduation. Her schooling finished with an M.A. from Northwestern where she had a fellowship.

Piercy went to France with her first husband, , a French Jew who was a particle physicist and who had been active in opposing the war in Algeria. Although he was a kind and bright man, his expectations of conventional sex roles in marriage and his inability to take her writing seriously caused her to leave him. Afterward, once again Piercy was extremely poor.

After that marriage, Piercy lived in Chicago, trying to learn to write the kind of poetry and fiction she imagined but could not yet produce. She supported herself at a variety of part-time jobs; she was a secretary, a switchboard operator, a clerk in a department store, an artists' model, a poorly paid part-time faculty instructor. She was involved in the civil rights movement.

She remembers those years in Chicago as the hardest of her adult life. She felt she was invisible. As a woman, society defined her as a failure: a divorcee at twenty-three, poor, living on part-time work. As a writer, she was entirely invisible. She wrote novel after novel but could not get published. Piercy remarks that at that time she knew two things about her fiction: she wanted to write fiction with a political dimension (Simone de Beauvoir was her model) and she wanted to write about women she could recognize, working class people who were not as simple as they were supposed to be.

In 1962, she married again to a computer scientist. This second marriage wasn't conventional and in many ways wasn't a marriage at all. It was an open relationship and often other people lived with them. They had serious involvements that were sometimes beautiful and rich and sometimes ghastly and bumpy. They first lived in Cambridge, then in San Francisco. Eventually, they returned to the East coast and lived in Boston. At that time they were both becoming upset about the war in Vietnam. Piercy began going back and forth to Ann Arbor frequently as it was there that The VOICE chapter had been started. It was the beginning of SDS. Meanwhile, , Piercy was still trying to get published. Realizing that one of the problems with the novel she was trying to sell was its feminist viewpoint, she consciously decided to take on a male viewpoint character in Going Down Fast. However, from 1965 until the collapse of her health in 1969, Piercy's main focus was political. She always continued to write but only in the time not used up by political organizing. She would go to work by six thirty and write before anyone else was stirring. After that she would begin a full day and evenings of political work. She wrote Dance the Eagle to Sleep that way.

In the spring of 1965, they moved to Brooklyn. She researched the CIA; helped found NACLA and did power structure research. She continued to be active in SDS, starting an MDS chapter in Brooklyn that was the adult off-campus SDS. In 1967, she became an organizer with the SDS regional office in New York.

Several factors pushed them out of New York. Her health was poor. The movement community which had been close and warm was split into warring factions. It had become infiltrated by violent agent provocateurs; members were wracked by a sense of futility because the war was ongoing despite the fact that we had been opposing it for eight years. Piercy was involved in the women's movement, organizing consciousness raising groups and writing articles, but her husband was feeling alienated and bored.

In 1971 they moved to Cape Cod. They had little notion of what it would be like to live year round on the Cape, having never lived anywhere but in the center of cities. They bought land in Wellfleet and had a simple house built. Piercy began Small changes and the Tarot poems, "Laying down the tower". Her creativity seemed suddenly liberated as she regained health and a measure of peace.

She began gardening almost immediately. She loved grubbing in the dirt; time growing fruit, vegetable, herbs and flowers was time pleasantly spent. She became active in the women's movement on the Cape. She also began relating to Boston as The City. She has a number of good friends there she sees regularly and often she does research in Boston. Over the years that she has lived on the Cape, she has sometimes been politically centered in Boston and sometimes on the Cape, depending on which issues she has been involved in. While Piercy quickly put down roots at the cape, he felt isolated. The relationship was really over by 1976 but disentangling emotionally and officially took years.

Piercy's poetry has changed since moving to the Cape. She now has a sense of herself as part of the landscape and part of the web of living beings. The Cape is her home although she travels a great deal here and abroad, giving readings, workshops and lectures.

Piercy knew her current husband, Ira Wood, for six years before they married in 1982. Early on, they wrote a play together The Last White Class. He had written a number of other plays and has published two novels. They have a very close and intimate relationship. They wrote a novel together to be published in 1998, Storm Tide, and in 1997 founded the Leapfrog Press, a small literary publishing company.

She finds it important to like the routine of daily life in order to survive as a political writer in the long haul. In the past, when she did not have support at home, she has felt as if she were fighting on all fronts at once with no base. One gift Wood has given her is that warm place of support. She is a writer who feels guilty if she is not writing or writing enough. In the last fifteen years, she has become involved in Jewish renewal. She helped found the havurah of the Outer Cape, Am ha-Yam. She worked on the Or Chadash siddur and often teaches at the Jewish renewal retreat center, Elat Chayyim.

Piercy has always celebrated whatever she could find to celebrate. Her mother's family taught her early in life to enjoy what you could because trouble is never far. Pay sharp attention to that trouble looming but don't let it taint your Shabbat celebration. In her poetry, she bears thanks to what she has been given as well as bearing witness to what is withheld from us and what is taken away. Piercy doesn't understand writers who complain about writing, not because it is easy for her but because it is so absorbing that she can imagine nothing more consuming and exciting at which to labor. So long as she can make her living at writing, she will consider herself lucky.

Compiled by Terry McManus

" those I love I still whisper, don't die..."



Romani Rose (1946, Heidelberg, Germany - ) is a Romani activist. He is the leading figure in the movement for Sinti and Roma civil rights. As a member of a German Sinti family that lost 13 members in concentration camps and the Holocaust Romani Rose has been politically active since the 1970s in the struggles of the minority for acknowledgement and material compensation for the wrongs they have suffered. His significant successes include the acknowledgement of the German Sinti and Roma as a national minority under the terms of the Framework Agreement on the Protection of national Minorities (Rahmenuebereinkommen zum Schutz nationaler Minderheiten) of the Council of Europe.

Since 1982, Romani Rose has held the post of Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, and since 1991 he has directed the Documentation-Cultural Center of the German Sinti and Roma, an institution known across Europe for presenting the first permanent exhibition on the destruction of the Sinti and Roma. Together with other representatives of minorities from the USA, Mexico, Argentina, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, France, and The Netherlands, Romani Rose is a member of the executive committee of the International Movement against Discrimination and Racism (Internationale Bewegung gegen Diskriminierung und Rassismus – IMAR), founded in Tokyo in 1988. In March 2006, the Polish government named Romani Rose to a seat on the International Auschwitz Council. (from:


“How minorities are treated is the measure of democracy and social values as well as the condition of EU membership.”

"That money cannot just be allowed to leak away, or what is even more surprising, to not be drawn on at all. The only possible interpretation in that case is that these countries do not intend to change the state of our exclusion from society."

"The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia have never thoroughly come to grips with their shared responsibility for the crimes committed against Jewish and Roma people."

"Unfortunately, it was too late for many of the Holocaust survivors who would have loved to have been there. That generation is dying out."

"In many countries, however, a large number of Roma are exposed to massive discrimination and, in a situation that is in any event characterized by terrible deprivation, suffer more than other people by being excluded and disadvantaged. Refugee families who leave their country because of persecution and racist violence - as is happening now in Kosovo - must be given appropriate assistance, not least by the OSCE. The same holds true for the comparatively small number of people who have long been stateless. This is the only realistic policy and the only one that has a perspective.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012


On 29 March 1951 Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were covicted of espionage for revealing atomic secrets.
The entire case against them was a travesty of justice and an example of anti Semitism in the United States.

On 29 March 1971 Army Lt. William L. Calley Jr. was convicted of murdering 22 Vietnamese civilians (mostly women, children and old people) in the My Lai massacre.

The difference is that the Rosenbergs were executed while Calley spent most of his sentence under 'house arrest', until his release by the U.S. government.

Go figure eh.......

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


The Politics and Poems of Adrienne Rich


In 1973, reviewing Adrienne Rich’s seventh book of poems, “Diving Into the Wreck,” Margaret Atwood called it “one of those rare books that forces you to decide not just what you think about it; but what you think about yourself. It is a book that takes risks, and it forces the reader to take them also.” Ms. Rich, who died on Wednesday at 82, spent her career forcing such confrontations.

Reviewing “Midnight Salvage,” a collection of Ms. Rich’s poems from the 1990s, for The Times, Matthew Flamm wrote: “Rich’s unwavering passion for a more just world is in constant dialogue with her sense of life’s impossible complexity.” In the last two decades, the paper documented the many awards Ms. Rich received, as well as those she resisted. In 1997, Ms. Rich declined to accept a National Medal for the Arts from President Bill Clinton, saying that art was “incompatible with the cynical politics of this Administration.” She told a reporter, “I am not against government in general, but I am against a government where so much power is concentrated in so few hands.”

Ms. Rich, who published her first book in 1951, made generations of fans. In her new memoir, “Wild,” about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail while grieving over the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed writes about adding a book of Ms. Rich’s poems to her already dangerously overweight backpack: “I’d read ‘The Dream of a Common Language’ so often that I’d practically memorized it. In the previous few years, certain lines had become like incantations to me, words I’d chanted to myself through my sorrow and confusion. That book was a consolation, an old friend, and when I held it in my hands on my first night on the trail, I didn’t regret carrying it one iota — even though carrying it meant that I could no more than hunch beneath its weight.”

In a 1989 review, Jay Parini identified what he called “the mature Rich style: bright shards of thought and feeling held in loose communion by an overarching, frequently angry voice.” Other critics were less taken with the aggrieved tone of Ms. Rich’s work. In 1987, William Logan criticized the increasingly political nature of her poems, writing that “she allows what once was an instrument in her hands to become just a blunt instrument,” and, “One senses in her the wish to integrate the realms of her experience — poetry and politics, art and activism. The more she tries to fuse them, however, the more deeply they remain divided; in her work what is poetry isn’t political, and what is political isn’t poetry.”

Later that same year, Nan Robertson ended a profile of Ms. Rich in The Times with this:

Some critics have accused Ms. Rich of being increasingly political and thus somehow less of a poet. When asked about this she smiled and looked away in thought. “One man said my politics trivialized my poetry,” she said. “I don’t think politics is trivial — it’s not trivial for me. And what is this thing called literature? It’s writing. It’s writing by all kinds of people. Including me.”
Adrienne Rich died today. And yet another hero is gone


On March 28, 1941, Virginia Woolf committed suicide by drowning.

She walked into the River Ouse the day before with the same intention, but she floated and couldn't sink.

She returned the next day with her pockets full of rocks. This time she went under and drowned.

It's very interesting that both her husband Leonard, and her sister, Vanessa were at the home on SUICIDE WATCH OVER VIRGINIA both days. But neither noticed her return home on March 27th soaking wet.

I've never trusted Leonard, who was both a control freak and very jealous of Virginia's literary success. Both were writers.

He's the one who promoted the theory that Virginia was mentally ill, because she was unhappy. He successfully got her a psychiatric diagnosis and her life was never the same.

Part of her treatment dictated that she not be allowed to write.

And so it goes.


16th Annual California Herdeljezi Roma Festival
Sebastopol Veterans Memorial Building, Sebastopol, CA

A benefit for Voice of Roma Cultural and Educational Programs, and Humanitarian Aid for the Roma of Kosovo

Friday, May 4, and Saturday, May 5, 2012, in Sebastopol California

Voice of Roma presents the 16th Annual Herdeljezi Roma Festival, a traditional Romani (Gypsy) neighborhood celebration announcing the end of the cold indoor season and the beginning of the warmer season.

Read more on http://events. sebastopol_ ca/events/ show/250922864- 16th-annual- california- herdeljezi- roma-festival


Final Solution of the Gypsy Question
FROM Ian Hancock

When countries are at war, certain individuals and organizations in those countries become singled out as potentially harmful to the national interest, and are dealt with in different ways, usually by expulsion or by

In Germany during the Second World War many groups were thus identified: Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, male homosexuals and others, but only two populations identified by what they were born were targeted for extermination: the Jews and the Romanies (“Gypsies”).

Policies aimed at these two peoples predate the Second World War, beginning in the year that Hitler became Chancellor of Germany:

“In 1933 a process began which was to pursue the racial differentiation of people into Aryans and non-Aryans. The intended goal was the final
annihilation of all Jews and Gypsies in Europe.”

The overarching label for this intent was the Final Solution.

Although the word Holocaust is sometimes generalized to include all groups
targeted by the National Socialists between 1933-1945, it should strictly refer only to the implementation of this policy: the genocide of
the Jews and the Romanies.

Though not a ‘racial’ group nor one defined by religion, the handicapped too were singled out and destroyed for the same reason­: they were seen to constitute a genetic contaminant in the creation of Hitler’s envisioned Herrenvolk, his ‘Master Race.’

The term itself is euphemistic and vague. The words “The final solution of the Gypsy problem” (in the Romani language o Paluno Impachimos le
Rromane Puchimaske) can be found as early as 1888 on the first page of the first issue of The Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, though the
“problem” referred to there was for scholars to determine Romani origins.

Reference to “the final solution of the Jewish question” is found
in a Nazi party document from 1931 concerning the
possible use of Jews for slave labor.

For Romanies, the earliest Nazi document referring to “the introduction of the total solution of the Gypsy problem on either a national or an
international level” was drafted under the direction of State Secretary Hans Pfundtner of the Reichs Ministry of the Interior in March 1936.

In his 1938 address to The German Association for Racial Research, Dr. Adolph Würth of the Racial Hygiene Research Unit said “the Gypsy question is a racial question for us today.

In the same way as the National Socialist state has solved the Jewish question, it will also have to settle the Gypsy question once and for all.

The race biological research on Gypsies is an unconditional prerequisite for the Final Solution of the Gypsy Question.”

In March the same year a letter to the “Imperial Leader of the SS” from Dr. Werner Best, Head of the Nazi Security Police addressed the “initiat[ion of the] Final Solution to the Gypsy problem from a racial point of view.”

The first official publicly-posted Party statement to refer to the Final Solution of the Gypsy question (endgültige Lösung der Zigeunerfrage) was issued at that time signed by Himmler, who also ordered
the Bureau of Romani Affairs to be moved from Munich to Berlin.

In his post-war memoirs, SS Officer Perry Broad of the political division at Auschwitz wrote that ‘it was the will of the all-powerful Führer to
have the Gypsies disappear from the face of the earth” (“es war der Wille des allmächtigen Reichsführers, alle Zigeuner von der Erde
verschwinden zu lassen”), and that “the Central Office knew it was Hitler’s aim to wipe out all the Gypsies without exception” (“das Zentralbüro
wusste, dass es Hitlers Ziel war, alle Zigeuner ohne Ausnahme auszulöschen”) .

“The final resolution, as formulated by Himmler, in his ‘Decree for Basic Regulations to Resolve the Gypsy Question as Required by the Nature of
Race,’ of December 8th, 1938, meant that preparations were to begin for the complete extermination of the Sinti and Roma” (emphasis added).

In 1939 Johannes Behrendt of the Office of Racial Hygiene issued a brief stating that “[a]ll Romanies should be treated as hereditarily
sick; the only solution is elimination. The aim should therefore be the elimination without hesitation of this defective element in the population.”

In 1940, a memorandum from Leonardo Conti, Secretary of State for Health in the Ministry of Interior, to the Main Office of the Security Police, Kripo headquarters, and the Reich Health Department, Berlin sent on January 24 read:

“It is known that the lives of Romanies and part Romanies are to be regulated by a Gypsy law (Zigeunergesetz) . . . I firmly believe, now as
before, that the final solution of the Gypsy problem can only be achieved through the sterilization of full and part Romanies.”

Heydrich, who had been entrusted with the ‘final solution of the Jewish question’ on 31 July 1941, shortly after the German invasion of the USSR,
also included the Romanies in his ‘final solution’.

The senior SS officer and Chief of Police for the East, Dr. Landgraf, in Riga, informed Rosenberg’s Reich Commissioner for the East, Lohse, of the inclusion of the Romanies in the ‘final solution.’

Thereupon, Lohse gave the order, on 24th December 1941, that the Romanies
“should be given the same treatment as the Jews.”

Reinhard Heydrich, who was Head of the Reich Main Security Office and the leading organizational architect of the Nazi Final Solution, ordered the
Einsatzkommandos “to kill all Jews, Romanies and mental patients.”

According to the minutes from a conference on racial policy organized by Heydrich and held in Berlin on 21 September 1939 to decide, inter
alia, upon the Final Solution of the Gypsy Question, four issues were decided:

the concentration of Jews in towns;
their relocation to Poland;
the removal of 30,000 Romanies to Poland,
and the systematic deportation of Jews to German-incorporated territories using goods trains.

An express letter sent by the Reich Main Security Office on 17th October 1939 to its local agents mentioned that the ‘Gypsy Question will
shortly be regulated throughout the territory of the Reich.’ . . .

At about this time, Adolf Eichmann made the recommendation that the ‘Gypsy
Question’ be solved simultaneously with the ‘Jewish Question,’. . .

Himmler signed the order dispatching Germany’s Sinti and Roma to Auschwitz
on 16th December 1942. The ‘Final Solution’ of the ‘Gypsy Question’ had begun.

Monday, March 26, 2012




The end of March may herald the start of spring, but at the Council of Europe it will mark the end of an era.

After six years as Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg will be stepping aside and we would like to express our thanks to him for all he has done for European Roma.

Hailing from Ornskoldsvik in Sweden, Hammarberg has been defending human rights for several decades.

His many illustrious roles before being appointed CoE Commissioner for Human Rights included the Ambassador of the Swedish Government on Humanitarian Affairs and was Secretary General at “Save the Children Sweden” and Amnesty International.

On 1st April 2006, the Swede took over as Commissioner in Strasbourg and has pursued a noble fight against Europe’s treatment of its Roma minorities.

He has been refreshingly outspoken in his criticism of national governments and in 2009 Hammarberg wrote an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel urgently recommending that deportations to Kosovo be stopped.

The Commissioner had been appalled by what he had seen and heard in Kosovo, where Roma families were living in despair and danger amid a led-poisoned camp in Mitrovica.

He urged national leaders, such as Merkel, to visit Kosovo for themselves and see the reality which he described as “a humanitarian catastrophe”.

Hammarberg was similarly angered by the well-publicized deportations of French Roma in 2010 and was extremely critical of the French policy.

In September that year he released a statement entitled “Do not stigmatise the Roma” which was triggered by the French deportations but aimed at all European nations.

He demanded: “The stigmatizing rhetoric has to stop. Serious steps must be taken to counter discrimination of Roma, not least in their home countries.”

In the same statement Hammarberg spoke of a “long and bitter history” of discrimination against the Roma in Europe.

His support of the Roma has been relentless and this April he will be presented with the European Civil Rights Prize of the Sinti and Roma in Berlin by the Documentation and Cultural Centre and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma and the Manfred Lautenschlaeger Foundation.

In one of his last acts as Commissioner, Hammarberg contributed to the report “Human Rights of Travelers and the Roma” on February 27.

In the report he stated: ““In many European countries Roma and Travellers are still denied basic human rights and suffer blatant racism. They remain far behind others in education, employment, access to decent housing and health. Their average life span is shorter and infant mortality rates are higher compared to other groups.”

Hammarberg’s continued stand against what he often refers to as ‘anti-Gypsyism’ is something for which we are truly thankful.

It has been our pleasure to cooperate with the Commissioner during his tenure, particularly in 2011 when he gave a powerful interview for our film “Uprooted.”

What the immediate future holds for the Swede is unclear but he is expected to continue working within human rights. His wealth of experience and knowledge mean it was not surprising to learn that he also has plans to write a book.

Whatever his next move may be, we wish Thomas all the very best and also welcome the incoming Nils Muiznieks of Latvia, who takes up the post at the start of April, and we hope he can build on the steady foundations his predecessor has laid.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Today is the 101st anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which took the lives of 146 workers, the majority young immigrant women.

Please visit this blog dated 25 March 2011 for more information.


The news today is much better. It's seems that all things internet are under control and 'back to normal', whatever that is, eh.

This has certainly taught me a lesson in internet vulnerability.

And to all my contacts, I am not lying in a heap behind an embassy in London.
Actually, I'm warm in Seattle.

PS. The best news of this whole fiasco is that so many people were willing to do their best to help me. I really do appreciate that.
Later tootszinas,
Morgan in Seattle WA, safe and warm.

Saturday, March 24, 2012



I am really close to closing down this site. That's after days of trying to deal with a hacking.

I just want to go back to the days of subscription newsletters. It seems so much safer.

This hacking thing has been an exhausting and terrifying experience.

I really do miss the days of pen and paper communication, when research was done with books in the library.






Around 1500 Roma people are at risk of being forcibly evicted from their homes in Belvil, an informal settlement in Belgrade, Serbia 's capital , at any time from 1 9 March. They have not been given information about resettlement and may be resettled in inadequate conditions or left homeless.

The planned eviction of the informal settlement was first announced by the Belgrade city authorities in March 2010. They stated that most of the residents of Belvil settlement would be evicted to make way for access roads for a new bridge over the River Sava. The authorities did not carry out any meaningful and genuine consultations with residents nor did they have a resettlement plan. However, following massive campaigning by Amnesty International and local human rights organizations, the eviction was put on hold. As a result of continued lobbying, the European Investment Bank (EIB), which is co-financing the Sava bridge project, was persuaded that the eviction should be carried out in accordance with international standards.

In April 2011, the city authorities, assisted by the EIB, called a meeting with those residents of Belvil who live on the route of the access road (around 100 families) and promised the eviction would be carried out according to international human rights standards. The authorities said that they would develop a detailed Resettlement Action Plan, which would be consulted with each affected individual. They also said that residents would be accommodated in pre-fabricated houses, which Amnesty International considered to be adequate housing.

However, the affected residents were not informed of any further developments until 15 March 2012, when the city authorities told all residents of Belvil that they would be soon evicted. On 16 March, the Belgrade city authorities distributed eviction notices to residents in the settlement who are not living on the route of the access road. They were told that they have three days to destroy and leave their homes. They were not consulted on any alternative housing options or on plans for resettlement, and the authorities have failed to respond to repeated requests for information. Those living on the route of the access roads were told they will also soon be evicted, but were not told when this would happen. Despite assurances from EIB and the city authorities, they were not given any information about their resettlement, including where they would be resettled and what kind of housing would be provided.
Want to inform readers that my email account was hacked. So far everything seems fine with the blog but we're being watchful.

Thursday, March 22, 2012



PHOTO Men, women and children of the Roma and Sinti peoples are deported from the Third Reich


This is the opening scene of 2008 award winning film A Blue Hole in the Sky. It dissolves to another part of the film, where schoolchildren commemorate the genocide on gypsies at the Amsterdam Museumplein, where the Roma anthem Djelem, djelem is performed.

This probing film tells the touching story of twelve people who survived the second World War and talk about it for the first time, thus breaking a taboo. Through sometimes violent and also beautiful images and stories, the spectator is sucked in by a piece of history that everybody has always kept silent about up to now.

Taking into account that the war is taboo and is never discussed, most certainly not in front of a camera, Bob Entrop has been able to make a unique and special film. As a result of a growing trust and the friendships that have development in the past few years between the Sinti and Roma and filmmaker Bob Entrop, they were willing to go public with their story for the first time.

This film is a journey through time. In the present, we travel with three people to Auschwitz, and at the same time we travel with the others back into the past, to the time in which almost a million Sinti and Roma, gipsies, were murdered.

It doesn't appear that this film is available presently but we have been in communication with the filmmakers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012




PHOTO: Roma people, France divided again.

Lyon, Budapest, 21 March 2012:

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is writing to express concern about multiple forced evictions and attacks on Roma taking place in Vaulx-en-Velin, Lyon. The ERRC is calling on authorities to act immediately to provide safe and secure accommodation for a Romani community who are at immediate risk.

A total of 130 Romani individuals, including 35 children, are currently living in inadequate accommodation, where they face violent attacks. On March 4, an unidentified attacker threw a Molotov cocktail, destroying a car. The families were evicted from a school building on February 27, after their previous accommodation was burned down in unexplained circumstances. According to local activists, authorities have repeatedly evicted these families.

The ERRC is calling on French authorities to provide adequate alternative housing for the evicted families. The attacks against this community should be investigated and anyone involved should be prosecuted. In the longer-term, authorities must find sustainable, adequate integrated housing solutions for all Roma and implement meaningful employment, education and health projects to promote real inclusion of Roma in the Lyon area.

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gökcen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law organisation which monitors the human rights situation of Roma and provides legal defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at:
To support the ERRC, please visit this link:

European Roma Rights Centre

Tuesday, March 20, 2012



PHOTO Travellers - Wiltshire, England by cromacom



The demand for new Traveller pitches is being badly underestimated, research reveals


The Government is underestimating the demand for new Gypsy and Traveller sites, exacerbating the already dire shortage and making "a future Dale Farm inevitable", according to research to be published this week.

In January, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) announced grants of £47m for 170 improved and 620 new pitches in a number of schemes across the country.

But according to information gathered from local planning departments and housing associations, fewer than 300 new pitches are likely to be built before 2015, when it is feared the funding will be withdrawn.

Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, has claimed that the HCA funding will reduce the number of unauthorised Traveller sites, which he says create tensions between Travellers and the settled community. But Michael Hargreaves, a planning expert and author of the research, said Mr Pickles was "either misinformed about the funding scheme, or is being disingenuous".

He added: "The mass eviction at Dale Farm in Essex was a direct result of the dire shortage of authorised pitches and created incredible tensions between the Traveller and settled communities. Yet the HCA funding programme, as it stands, can only make a future Dale Farm inevitable."

The research, due to be presented on Thursday at a conference attended by ministers from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), shows more than 80 per cent of local authorities that have received funding for proposed schemes do not have planning permission, which can often be difficult to push through in the face of local opposition.

The take-up of funding has been patchy. The report found that Essex, Kent, Cambridgeshire, Surrey and Hertfordshire had the most Gypsies and Travellers, but had been awarded only 4 per cent of the funding between them.

"There is a striking mismatch between need and where the money has gone," said Mr Hargreaves. "The Midlands, South-west, Yorkshire and the North-east have done reasonably well, but there have been few applications from London, the East and South-east, and much of the North-west."

A DCLG spokesman said: "Ministers are clear that the previous top-down targets for Traveller sites forced councils to encroach on the Green Belt, seriously harming community relations, leading to an increase in the number of unauthorised sites and meaning site funding was allocated but often left unspent.

"That's why we've allocated £47m towards the building of 620 new pitches, with more funding to follow. Councils will also get powerful financial benefits for building authorised sites that have the backing of the local community, through the New Homes Bonus."
I recently received an email from a reader of the blog. She wanted to share this graphic (made by people she works with) with readers, and is very anxious to receive feedback.
Those interested can either leave a comment on the blog or twitter her
JEN RHEE at twitter. Her twitter handle @jenicarhee.

Please visit this address to view the graphic originally from Creative Commons.

Monday, March 19, 2012



PHOTO : The Serbian group GRUBB, or Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats, mixes the musical heritage of the Roma with hip-hop beats.(PHOTO REUTERS)


Belgrade teenager Danijel Rasitovic has performed in Montreal and London, but the message of his dance group is rooted firmly at home in the prejudice and discrimination facing the Roma of the Balkans.

“We, the Roma, want to battle prejudices about being beggars and petty thieves and to demonstrate we can produce something meaningful, something that can have an impact,” the 19-year-old said this week.

He spoke in an abandoned Communist-era printing house in the Serbian capital Belgrade, where the dance and music group GRUBB -- Gypsy Roma Urban Balkan Beats -- is putting a contemporary spin on the rich musical heritage of the persecuted Roma, infusing traditional melodies with hip-hop beats.

The journey will take them to the United States this year, where they will perform at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. “It sounds like a Disney movie ... an American dream,” said Canadian actor and director Serge Denoncourt.

It began three years ago, when GRUBB and the British charity RPoint convinced Denoncourt to help them out. “When this began I didn’t believe it, they didn’t believe me and I didn’t believe myself,” Denoncourt said. “I fell in love with them, with the project, with their sense of dignity and pride and their culture.” Since 2009, GRUBB have performed at Belgrade’s BITEF international theater festival, at the Montreal Jazz Festival and London’s O2. They return to Montreal this year, and make their US debut. It’s a long way from the poverty and squalor facing most of their at least 100,000 fellow Roma in Serbia.

Denigrated as “gypsies,” Roma across the Balkans live on the margins of society, often unregistered and unemployed, branded beggars and thieves. The Roma were caught up in the great waves of refugees during the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and have often been the target of ultranationalist attacks in Serbia.

Part of their musical, called the “Cardboard Child,” tells the story of Belgrade’s Roma slums constructed from cardboard collected on the streets. The audience is asked whether they have ever stolen, and the troupe sings back at them, “So don’t say only Gypsies are stealing,” and, “No more segregation. We do not want much, only to be in touch.”

While as many as 86 percent of Roma children in Serbia now finish elementary school, few progress further and only a fraction go on to university. Roma rights are slowly improving as Serbia edges closer to membership of the European Union.

“Our attitude, our posture changed since we started, people are no longer calling us names, they are no longer calling us gypsies,” said 15-year-old dancer Emina Duda.

The dancing, however, comes with a catch. Under RPoint rules, members must attend school regularly and produce good grades, said RPoint spokeswoman Sasa Radetic. “No school, no dancing. That’s the rule.”


FROM Maria Roach


17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed while walking home from a convenience store on the evening of February 26th. The shooter, George Zimmerman, was the neighborhood watch captain.

Zimmerman, a 200 pound 28 year old with a history of violence, claimed self defense although Trayvon Martin, with no criminal history, had nothing more than candy and an iced tea in his hands. George Zimmerman remains free.

That's why I signed a petition to Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General and Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General, which says:

"George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin, an African American teenager, reveals a history of racism in Sanford, FL that has stubbornly refused to die. Weeks after the shooting, the Sanford police department is slow to release details of the shooting and, more surprisingly, has not arrested George Zimmerman, a man who has a history of violence.

We urge you to sign this petition to protect private citizens from gun violence and inept law enforcement. Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi must step in and provide justice for Trayvon Martin, his family, and the community."

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:

Sunday, March 18, 2012





Channel 4 is searching for the ‘ultimate Jewish mother’ – maybe someone like Maureen Lipman as Beattie in the BT ad campaign from the 1980s?

Channel 4 revels in the muck of the human sideshow and has become increasingly adept at disguising it not just as documentary but
also as justifiable entertainment. Straddling these two forums is
the hit show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding which both invites us to
observe a culture and mock it until our hatred of them is
superseded only by our joyful derision. So gleeful are we about
the laughs the gypsy community can provide us with that we
literally place them beyond contempt.

I saw Channel 4's new ad for documentaries the other day, it
proclaimed itself either the home of modern documentary or the
future of documentary. Something hyperbolic and worrying. Just
when I thought I couldn't be more depressed by the situation, I
found this article on
the Guardian 's website.

Here is that article from the Guardian


Channel 4 is searching for the ‘ultimate Jewish mother’ – maybe someone like Maureen Lipman as Beattie in the BT ad campaign from the 1980s?

Channel 4 will launch a nationwide hunt for the "ultimate Jewish mother" in which contestants will be tested on their cooking, home-making and matchmaking skills.

The broadcaster has faced accusations of stereotyping with its breakout hit, Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and may face similar criticism over the new four-part series.

Channel 4 has joined forces with The Jewish News for the show, Jewish Mum of the Year, which will air in the autumn.

"The competition will seek out the traditional, the overbearing, the cheek-pinching and the charming," said Channel 4.

"The winner is out there somewhere in the land of the Jewish princess and the over-pampered bar mitzvah boys, and no strudel will be left unturned in his quest to find the perfect Jewish mum. It's a television show with a heart of gold."

Channel 4 head of factual entertainment Liam Humphreys, who commissioned the show, emphasised the partnership with the newspaper behind the show.

"We hope the Jewish News' search for the greatest Jewish mum in Britain will provide new insights for all of us as we enter the wonderful world of bar mitzvahs, match making and Friday night dinners, discovering the secrets behind one of the most successful and engaging communities in Britain," he said.

The Jewish News will be the driving force of the competition, joined by a judge who will be a pillar of the community and a "classic Jewish mother figure".

Contestants will be put through their paces in a number of "gruelling tasks" including cooking, matchmaking, home-making, event organising and how well they know their children.

Each programme will also feature guest judges in their respective fields as the candidates are narrowed down to the eventual winner.
------------------------END OF ARTICLE/RETURN TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE-------


It might sound innocent enough but if you read between the lines, they're not looking for the Jewish Mum of The Year. They're
looking for the Jewish female stereotype of the year. They're
looking for a cheek-pinching, fish-frying, son-smothering
stereotype. They're looking to display the easiest, most mockable
parts of my heritage for the edification of people who find the
world an easier place to exist in when they can write-off whole
cultures as risible.

They might as well be looking for Nigerian Traffic Warden of the
Year, French Waiter of the Year or Irish Labourer of the Year but
they would never be that forthright. Just like with Gypsy
Weddings, Channel 4 seems to think if they expose their viewers
to a stereotype they weren't previously familiar with, it can be
passed off as enlightenment rather than mockery.

It seems just as Channel 4 provided us with ammunition we were
previously unaware of to sling at the gypsy community, they're
now extending the favour to my own people.

First they came for the gypsies, and I didn't speak out because I
wasn't a gypsy.

Then they came for the people who only eat weird things, and I
didn't speak out because I don't only eat weird things.

Then they came for the people who have strange facial
disfigurements, and I didn't speak out because I don't have one
of those.

Then they came for the fat people who couldn't get out of bed,
and I didn't speak out because I could still get out of bed.

Then they came for me.

And there was no one left to speak for me because they were all
having too much fun watching these shitty TV programmes without
stopping to think how they pander to our lowest base prejudices
and that despite how easy they may be to watch, all we're really
doing is feeling better about ourselves through the denigration
of others.

Friday, March 16, 2012




There are many different styles of Romani music. Romani folk songs and the Balkan-style music from Romanies in the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Greece incorporate musical instruments such as the bouzouki, a stringed instrument that sounds a bit like the Indian ‘Veena’, which is played in Hindustani music.

For hundreds of years, people have been enthralled by the dance and music of the Romanies. Kings, Queens, Tzars and Emperors have all enlisted Romani musicians to play for them in their castles and palaces.

The fiery Flamenco dance and music from Spain is Romani in origin. The earliest accounts of Flamenco stem from the beginning of the 19thcentury where Spanish Romanies (Kale) played and sang at social events or gatherings. The onlookers participated in the performance by clapping their hands to the rhythm of the guitars while loudly cheering on the skilful flamenco dancers.

The dance gets its name from the flamingo bird, whose body, together with its long neck and raised leg, reminds one of the typical body posture of a flamenco dancer.

I really enjoy the impacting sounds of trumpets, trombones, clarinets and drums of the music played by Romani bands such as ‘Fanfare Ciocarlia’ from Romania. Their raging sounds and fast rhythms depicting sorrow, pain, rage, joy, fierceness and compassion reflect the many different aspects of Romanies.

This style of music, which originated in the Ottoman Empire changed over time to become a style of fast, sometimes dark blues that has become something akin to a release or an outpouring of feelings, as life has often been hard for Romanies... and this shows in Fanfare Ciocarlia’s music.

Some say let the spirit move you. Dance scarves, and vividly coloured dresses with many layers that spread out like butterfly wings when swirled around are what Romani women often wear to dance in. Black fire group, Kali Jag, are an example of a Romani group.

Romanies from Hungary, Russia, Serbia, and one I personally know from Macedonia, all play beautiful violin music. It was forbidden to sing in the Romani language because of assimilation laws that were enforced in the past in many European countries. Also, 400 years of slavery of Romanies in Romania suppressed any freedom of choice. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of discrimination happening against Romanies and for some, it’s on a daily basis.

These days however, many Romanies sing their songs in their mother language. A famous one is the Romani national anthem, Djelem Djelem, which you can listen to here.

Faster songs, like the wedding song, Usti Usti Baba, (Get up father the drums are playing) are very popular in Europe. There was one particular Balkan Romani dance that I participated in where the people hold hands and dance around in a big circle in quick, step-like movements.

The leader of the dance holds a handkerchief out high in one hand and waves
it around like a flag, beckoning for more people to join the circle. As more and more people break in to the circle the musicians pick up the tempo to get everyone really moving. It’s a lot of fun.

Of course you’ve heard of Django Reinhardt, a famous Sinto Romani jazz musician, who was born in Belgium in 1910 and lived till 1953. A relative of his, Lulo Reinhardt, who is a very talented guitarist, came to Bellingen, NSW during his Australian tour in 2010, and played Sinti Jazz at the Global festival.


March 16, 1968 | U.S. Soldiers Massacre Vietnamese Civilians at My Lai




Credit: Ron Haberle; courtesy of National Archives

A soldier burning down a hut in My Lai village. Ron Haberle’s photos of My Lai were published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer more than a year after the events of March 16, 1968.

On March 16, 1968, during the Vietnam War, United States troops under the command of Lt. William L. Calley Jr. carried out a massacre of about 500 unarmed men, women and children in the village of My Lai.

The C Company, also known as the “Charlie Company,” of the 11th Brigade, Americal Division, was ordered to My Lai to eliminate the Vietcong’s 48th Battalion. On the night of March 15, Capt. Ernest Medina, the commander of Charlie Company, told his men that all civilians would leave the village by 7:00 the following morning, leaving only Vietcong soldiers and sympathizers. He ordered them to burn down the village, poison wells and wipe out the enemy.

The next day, at 8 a.m., after an aerial assault, Lieutenant Calley’s 1st Platoon of Charlie Company led the attack on My Lai. Expecting to encounter Vietcong soldiers, the platoon entered the village firing. Instead, they found mostly women and children who denied that there were Vietcong soldiers in the area. The American soldiers herded the villagers into groups and began burning the village.

The New York Times provided an account of the massacre from a survivor in its Nov. 17, 1969, edition: “The three death sites were about 200 yards apart. When the houses had been cleared, the troops dynamited those made of brick and set fire to the wooden structures. They did not speak to the villagers and were not accompanied by an interpreter who could have explained their actions. Then the Vietnamese were gunned down where they stood. About 20 soldiers performed the executions at each of the three places, using their individual weapons, presumably M-16 rifles.”

Lieutenant Calley gave explicit orders to kill and participated in the execution of unarmed villagers standing in groups and lying in ditches. There were also accounts of soldiers mutilating bodies and raping young women. Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson watched the massacre from his helicopter. Realizing that civilians were being killed, he landed his helicopter near one of the ditches and rescued some survivors.

The Army initially portrayed the events as My Lai as a military victory with a small number of civilian casualties. A year later, Ronald Ridenhour, a former soldier who had heard about the massacre from other soldiers, sent letters to leaders in Washington alerting them to the events. The Army opened an investigation and in September 1969 filed charges against Lieutenant Calley.

Two months later, in November 1969, the American public learned of the My Lai massacre as the journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story. Several publications ran in-depth reports and published photographs taken by the Army photographer Ronald Haeberle. The My Lai massacre intensified antiwar sentiment and raised questions about the quality of men being drafted into the military.

The Army charged 25 officers, including Lieutenant Calley and Captain Medina, for the massacre and its cover-up, though most would not reach court-martial. Lieutenant Calley, charged with premeditated murder, was the only man to be found guilty; he was initially given a life sentence, but after a public outcry he would serve just three and a half years of house arrest.

Connect to Today:

In 2004, 35 years after he broke the My Lai story, Seymour Hersh reported on the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by United States soldiers at Abu Ghraib, a prison compound west of Baghdad. The story sparked comparisons with My Lai and reignited the discussion on punitive justice for United States military atrocities committed abroad.

In November 2005, a group of American Marines killed 24 unarmed civilians, including women, children and a wheelchair-bound man, in Haditha, Iraq. As with My Lai, the military at first claimed that enemy insurgents had been killed in the attack before media reports revealed that only civilians had been targeted.

Eight Marines were charged under United States military law, but charges were eventually dropped for all but one, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who was able to avoid jail time with a January 2012 plea deal.

In a January 2012 New York Times article. Charlie Savage and Elisabeth Bumiller reported that the case illustrated the difficulty in investigating and prosecuting crimes committed by military members, who are much more likely to be acquitted on murder and manslaughter charges than civilians charged with those crimes. Soldiers can “argue that they feared they were still under attack and shot in self-defense,” Mr. Savage and Ms. Bumiller wrote, and the “military and its justice system have repeatedly shown an unwillingness to second-guess the decisions made by fighters who said they believed they were in danger.”

In late 2011, The Times uncovered a classified interview transcripts of United States troops discussing the Haditha massacre, which reveal the scope of civilian killings in Iraq. Marines said that they saw nothing “remarkable” about the massacre and one described it as “a cost of doing business.” Michael S. Schmidt of The Times wrote: “Troops, traumatized by the rising violence and feeling constantly under siege, grew increasingly twitchy, killing more and more civilians in accidental encounters. Others became so desensitized and inured to the killing that they fired on Iraqi civilians deliberately while their fellow soldiers snapped pictures.”

This week, a United States Army sergeant has been accused of methodically killing at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan. Officials say he had been drinking alcohol — a violation of military rules in combat zones — and suffering from the stress related to his fourth combat tour.

What is your reaction when you hear of incidents in which United States troops explicitly target civilians? In your opinion, should soldiers be punished for their actions in the same way that civilians would be? Should wartime atrocities be viewed as unique events or as part of a bigger picture of the dehumanization of war and “history repeating itself”? Why?

AND TO CONNECT TO THE PAST----The massacre at My Lai reminds me so much of the massacre of Native Americans at Sand Creek.

Thursday, March 15, 2012




A CAMPAIGNING Warwick schoolgirl is in the running for a prestigious national writing competition.

Alice Woodhouse, a pupil at King's High, has been shortlisted for Amnesty International’s Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year award.

The 16-year-old's report on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Rights was selected in the top ten for her age category from hundreds of entries nationally. Her article weaved together a history of gypsys and travellers with the modern day issue of prejudice against such communities.

Her work will now be judged by a panel of editors, authors and industry professionals including mutli-awarding Guardian journalist Ian Cobain, renowned author Anna Perera and television celebrity Danny Bartlett.

Over 3,000 young people from all four corners of the United Kingdom took part in the competition, which is being run by Amnesty International UK, the Guardian and the secondary school magazine SecEd.

Alice said: "I hope I have managed to bring to light a rather unpublicised human rights abuse, and feel privileged to have been longlisted for the award."

Kathy Hewitt, Alice’s teacher, was overjoyed.

She added: "This is great news! Alice has been a keen supporter of Amnesty International. She brings a fine critical mind to issues, along with a sensitivity which is admirable in such a young person."

Pete Henshaw, editor of SecEd, was involved in the listing process and described Alice's report as "a powerful piece with a powerful aftermath".

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said: “Journalists play such an important role in exposing human rights abuses and it is inspiring to see so many children and young people taking an active interest in human rights.”

The top three from each category will be invited to an awards ceremony held at Amnesty International UK’s headquarters in May, where the winner will be announced.

The winner’s work will then be showcased at the organisation’s annual Media Awards in central London in front of an audience of over 400 of the nation’s top media figures on May 29.

The winner will receive a goodie bag from Amnesty International, The Guardian and SecEd.

Alice's report - Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Rights:

Human rights abuses have the stereotype of being seen to happen in some far flung corner of the world, or else occur in some kind of hidden underbelly of society. Yet they can, and do occur, almost literally in our back gardens. Flamenco dancing as we know it owes much to the Gypsy and Roma community. Django Reinhardt, was a Belgian Sinto Gypsy and one of Europe's first great jazz musicians.

Gypsy culture is built upon strict codes of cleanliness learnt over centuries of life on the road. Concepts such as mokadi and mahrime provide strict guidelines, detailing, for example, on what objects can be washed in what bowls.

And Gypsies have been present in Britain for at least 500 years. Yet so many still seem to think of them as an invading, uncivilised, dirty force, setting out to wreck people’s livelihoods and their cultures.

Evidence would seem to suggest that the attack comes from the opposite direction. Programmes such as Big Fat Gypsy Weddings have been criticised by people such as Roma author and Teacher Dr Ian Hancock, and in the words of filmmaker Yale Strom "When entertainment of any kind feeds the public's false stereotypical image of a particular ethnic, religious or racial group it only reinforces ignorance”. This is exactly what such programmes do.

More than this, one of the many victims to the cuts was the maintenance of official Traveller sites in Britain. But the main issue concerning the abuse of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller rights should perhaps be the common source of these abuses - a lack of knowledge and understanding from childhood about this culture.

Casual racism and name calling may not seem to be such a major abuse of human rights, when far more dramatic horrors occur all over the world. But it is still abuse. And it is right in front of us, in a so called civilised society.

A Children’s Society survey in 2007 found that eight out of ten Gypsy and Traveller children have suffered racial abuse and almost two thirds have been bullied or physically attacked. Terms such as “Pikey” fall frighteningly easily from the lips of otherwise amiable people. And if cultural conception of an entire culture is affected by programmes and myths which seem to focus on the worst, it does not look as though either understanding or acceptance is going to make any headway. An old Traveller woman and her husband come to our village sometimes, to sharpen blades for old clothes. Doors and windows shut in their faces, like something out of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The Nazis killed about 25% of European Roma. Of slightly less than a million before the war, up to 220,000 were killed. Yet as a culture we are developing. For the first time in British history, the March 2011 census acknowledged Gypsy, Roma and Traveller as a separate ethic group. Perhaps equality is not too far away.

Read more: My big fat gypsy rights campaign | Leamington Observer

We thank you, young Alice Woodhouse and wish you baxthale.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


PRESS RELEASE by the Romedia Foundation

It is with immense pride and excitement that the Romedia Foundation announces that its latest film Uprooted has been nominated for an award at the 8th Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival on April 19-22 in Doha, Qatar

From over a thousand entries, Uprooted was the only Hungarian film chosen among 46 films competing in the short film category. At a press conference on Tuesday 13th March, Mr Abbas Arnaout, director of the festival, revealed the confirmed line-up.

Going back and forth between Germany and Kosovo, Uprooted brings the voice of Romani youths into the debate on immigration in Europe.

In October 2010, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany have "utterly failed". From the perspective of children like Anita, Sedat and Nasmija, born and raised in Germany by parents who had fled Kosovo in the 1990s, the statement makes no sense. For them, there is no question: they are German.

Uprooted was premiered on September 29, 2011, during prime time on RTK (Radio Televizioni i Kosoves). Its US premiere was on Link TV earlier this month and it is soon to be broadcast in the UK on the Community Channel.

Uprooted teaser AVAILABLE HERE

Aljazeera has been striving to show the world from fresh, unheard angles and it is a great honor to have been selected to present the rarely documented Romani perspective.

Executive director of the Romedia Foundation, film director Katalin Bársony is the first Romani director to be nominated for an award at this festival.

This is great recognition for all of our hard work. We would like to sincerely thank all friends and colleagues in Germany, Hungary and Kosovo who supported the production of the film.

The film was financed by the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society, the Open Society Roma Initiatives and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012




Dear all,

Please support the Bulgarian-Roma singer Sofi Marinova, who will represent Bulgaria in Baku, on the Eurovision song contest 2012 with her song "Love Unlimited"! Vote for Sofi, vote for Bulgaria on 24th of May,2012!

More about Sofi:
Sofi Marinova is one of the most famous Bulgarian singers. Her unusual music style consists of Bulgarian pop-folk and ethno music mixed with her considerable vocal capabilities, makes Sofi often compared with Bulgaria’s most highly regarded singer in last few decades – Lili Ivanova. Marinova is supported by one of the most influential gypsy singers and humanitarians in Europe – Esma Redzepova.

The Bulgaria entry „Love Unlimited” features Sofi Marinova singing „I love you” in eleven different languages – Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bulgarian, English, French, Greek, Italian, Romani, Serbian, Spanish and Turkish. It should be noted that this will be the first song ever to feature the language of the 2012 host Azerbaijan in the history of the contest.
After she was announced as the winner of the National Final, Sofi burst into tears and expressed her honest gratefulness for the support of the Bulgarian people. Her entry „Love Unlimited”, which was already a hit in the nation before the final, clearly won the televote and received almost double the amount of votes than the second placed entry received.

Love Unlimited (lyrics):

The song has no limit, language or color
it does not know poor man or rich.
Everybody sings all over the world,
all of them are singing about love
Love has no limit language and color
it is one and the same for everyone in this world,
for you, for me, for them.

Seviyorum seni, Sagapao poli
Yo te quiero a ti, Volim te mon cheri
I love you, I love only you,I am saying I love you
But dehaftu mange, Voglio bene a te
Men seni sevirem, Yahabibi jé táime
I love you, I love only you,There are no limits for us.

The pain has no limit, language and color
it does not know poor man or rich.
The same tears fall down when our life hurts us.
Love has no limit, language and color
it is one and the same for everyone in this world
for you, for me, for them.I love you so much!

Facebook page for support of the Romani singer Sofi Marinova:

To hear Sofi and a clip of Esma visit the following sites.

And be still my heart there is still no one like the Queen, Esma.

Monday, March 12, 2012





1. More than seven centuries ago, our People were enslaved in the Indian subcontinent in the course of the Islamization of India and expelled towards Europe during the Islamic wars.

2. For more than six centuries, we Roma have lived here in Europe. Our history has been marked by Antiziganism, slavery, discrimination, persecution, expulsion, violence and genocide; this history has been written with our people's blood.

3. Hundreds of thousands of our people were victims of the Parraijmos, the Holocaust on Roma, murdered in the name of the Nazi race mania, abused for pseudo-medical experiments and gassed in concentration camps. This injustice and crime against our people has too often been concealed, ignored, treated as a footnote to history, or simply forgotten.

4. We Roma have been deprived of recognition as a national minority group so far. Traditionally, we are regarded as a social fringe group, as a social problem that is to be "integrated" by means of disciplinary measures and state repression.

5. Our fate has been determined by self-appointed experts and specialists; our history has been written by linguists and gypsyiologists.

6. Our people live in deplorable conditions comparable with the Third World, often segregated from the rest of society and subjected to rejection and discrimination.

7. Our people are frequently denied equal access to public health services. Our people's life expectancy is far below the European average; our infant mortality is much higher than average. Our everyday life is determined by segregation in every area of life;

8. Our children are regularly denied access to education or segregated from other children in socalled “special schools”.

9. Discrimination at work is commonplace; our people's unemployment rate is 80 per cent and in some parts of Europe even higher.

10. Hate campaigns against us in the media are increasing year by year; the public image of our people as a criminal and unwanted menace has long been current. Balanced media accounts of the conditions of the Roma are infrequent. Positive media images of Roma are few and far between.

11. Expulsions and expropriations of our people are not condemned by the International Community; on the contrary, authorities are encouraged by the Public Opinion to continue their antigypsy policies through silence and reward.

12. Millions of our people are forced to live in ethnic slums, with no future, with no hope.

13. Thousands of our people were sent to battle against each other in European wars; brothers and sisters, parents and relatives were forced to fight against each other in different armies.

14. Instead of fighting the causes for fleeing, international institutions are fighting Roma refugees. Our people's attempt to flee from discrimination and Antiziganism is interpreted as nomadism, as asocial behaviour.

15. Romani women are exposed to triple discrimination: as women in society; as Romani women in the women's rights movement; and often as scapegoats in our own community. Young women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence and lack of life opportunities.

16. After centuries of expulsion and exclusion, some of us have chosen the path of cultural selfdetermination and a travelling way of life and are particularly affected by prejudices, defamation, violence and rejection.

17. By discrimination against our language, customs, tradition and culture, by falsification of our history and our identity, the breeding ground for European Antiziganism was created.

18. Thousands of Roma children have been taken away from their parents, forced to be adopted and torn away from their roots: a measure that runs like a red thread through our people's history.

19. The defamation of our people as a social fringe group is the basis of deprivation of our rights as a national minority and lack of equal treatment with other people and nations.

20. The traditional adherence to experts and specialists deciding on our fate constitutes a blatant infringement of any kind of peoples' right of self-determination; this discriminatory practice is an integral part of our problem. This kind of neo-colonialism is actually to blame for Europe's failure to

insure Human Rights and Civil liberties to our People.

21. We Roma, as well as our organisations, live in an atmosphere of general suspicion; the system of general suspicion is the most striking feature of Antiziganism and has to this day led to selfappointed experts being entrusted with making decisions concerning Roma instead of Roma themselves.

22. The behaviour of European States towards the Roma in the 21st century will be a critical test of their implementation of the human rights and civil liberties of minorities, as well the sincerity of their commitment to combating any kind of racism, anti-semitism, discrimination xenophobia and antiziganism.

23. The Roma occupy a unique position in Europe, both historically and politically, as a pan-European national minority, without kin-state. Efforts to improve the situation of the Roma in Europe must acknowledge this special position.

24. A constitutional, democratic and just Europe must include the participation of Roma in all areas of society. The participation process needs to draw on common roots and common perspectives beyond citizenship, group affiliation, or country of residence. Ensuring the participation and contribution of Roma in decision-making processes is one of the principal aims we wish to achieve.

25. A Europe in which Roma suffer from Antiziganism and segregation should not be allowed to exist for any longer. Yet we will only succeed in reducing this xenophobia, prejudice, stereotyping and fear emerging from ignorance through systematic and continuous education.

26. The Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action,1 affirm the fundamental importance of the right to self-determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development

27. Considering that every attempt to decisively improve the Roma's situation to date has been unsuccessful, a collaboration of the states, international institutions and the Roma's legitimate representatives based on equal rights is urgently needed. Furthermore, it is our obligation and duty to ensure that societies, as well as states and international institutions, revise their opinions;

28. Recalling the spirit of the partnership agreement signed on December 15 2004 between the Council of Europe and ourselves the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF), we the Roma in Europe declare the principles of this Charter on the Rights of Roma as binding for all Roma Representations, Initiatives and particularly for the ERTF, as the only legitimate representation of

Roma in Europe authorised by democratic processes, and actively commit ourselves to promote the implementation of the rights and principles in this Charter, in collaboration with all Roma and everyone of good will.

29. The Roma are a European national minority and citizens of the countries they live in; their participation process needs to draw on common roots andcommon perspectives beyond citizenship, group affiliation, or country of residence.

30. We, the ERTF as the only legitimate representation of Roma in Europe authorised by democratic processes, declare the principles of this Charter on the rights of Roma as binding and actively commit ourselves to promote the implementation of this charter in collaboration with all Roma and
everyone of good will.

As such, we proclaim the following:

Article 1

Roma is; who avows oneself to the common historical Indo-Greek origin ,

who avows oneself to the common language of Romanes, who avows oneself to the common cultural heritage of the Romanipe,

Article 2

We have a shared national identity as Roma, independent of citizenship, state and/or group and/or religious affiliation.

Article 3

Every person of our people has the right to self-determined designation, identity and community. Every person has the right to freely practice his/her religion, culture and tradition.

Romanipe is based on unity through diversity.

Article 4

We Roma are a people equal to every other people in the world. We Roma live in every state of Europe and hereby declare ourselves to be a national minority in Europe without our own state or claim for a state.

Article 5

As a national minority, we Roma engage in the rights and duties stipulated in contracts, agreements and declarations both collectively and individually. Roma have the right to the protection and opportunities as secured in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Treaties of the Council of Europe4 , the OSCE5 and the European Union6 , as well as allfurther national and international civil rights.

Article 6

We Roma have the right to self-determination in accordance with international law including: the right to cultivate one's cultural autonomy, the right to freely promote our economic, social and cultural development and to select our partners, projects, and programmes on our own and, where appropriate, implement them as well; the right to decide on our representation free of any kind of obstruction or discrimination and to vote on it democratically.

We refuse any kind of heteronomy; representations, experts or speakers on ourbehalf who are selfappointed or appointed by third parties,

Article 7

We Roma have the right to a nationality and citizenship, social life, to have access to public health services, the right to physical integrity, the right to freedom, the right to protection from defamation and prejudices. We Roma have the collective right to lead our lives in peace, to equal opportunities,security and equal treatment.

Article 8

We Roma have the right to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of the person. We Roma have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide, pogrom or any other act of violence, including forced sterilisation, internment,compulsory expropriations, forced resettlement, all forms of hard labour or forcibly removing children. To protect our People we have the right to use all appropriate measures that are foreseen by the international community and in accordance with international law.

Article 9

Participation in all areas of society and contribution to their decision processes is one of the principal aims we wish to achieve.

Article 10

We Roma, collectively and individually, have the right to not be subjected to forced assimilation or to abandonment or destruction of our culture. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of and redress for:

- Any action which has the effect of depriving Roma of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities or language;

Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their land, housing or possessions;

- Any form of forced population transfer, resettlement or expulsion;

- Any form of forced assimilation or integration;

- Any form of incitement or promotion (by individuals, organisations the media or any other source) of discrimination, hatred, violence, humiliation, defamation or false reporting against them.

Article 11

States shall ensure by means of appropriate measures that the media cannot incite hatred and violence against Roma through false reporting and hate campaigns. Additionally, statutes shall be revised if, in the name of freedom of the press, they allow humiliation, defamation or incitement or commit offences that are punishable by existing international understanding.

Article 12

States and international institutions shall initiate appropriate education campaigns in their public authorities, departments and among their employees in order to counteract prejudices and stereotypes, as well as xenophobia and Antiziganism, and to raise awareness of injustice and sensitivity toward human rights and civil liberties and the values of the Council of Europe.

Article 13

As our language, Romanes shall be equated with all other European languages.
States, as well international institutions, shall therefore ensure by all appropriate means that Romanes is protected as a living European language. This includes taking measures to promote public acceptance of Romanes and all measures stipulated in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, as well as support our own educational institutions and native-language classes at schools.

Article 14

States shall ensure, by appropriate means, that Roma are able to establish their own media in their mother tongue. The mainstream media, both state and private and including television and radio, shall provide the Roma with the opportunity to report in their own language without discrimination; this particularly applies to state media.

Article 15

States shall ensure that Roma history, origin and fate, persecution and community are included in school curricula.

To this end, States and international institutions shall develop such curricula in collaboration with Roma institutions and integrate them without delay into their educational systems.

Article 16

States shall, in collaboration with Roma institutions, develop effective solutionsfor the improvement of the living conditions of Roma. The EU and its institutions shall take all appropriate measures within their respective competencies to support the efforts of its Member States to carry out their duties under this Charter.

The EU shall establish, in cooperation with the ERTF, a special aid fund for the stabilisation of Roma civil society.

The European Commission shall take all possible measures to ensure that Structural Funds, as well as Social Funds, are used to support disadvantaged regions of the EU in which a particularly large number of Roma live.

Article 17

Political parties, institutions and universities, public service and governments shall take measures, including where appropriate, positive action, to ensure that the proportion of the Roma in their states is reflected in the number of their Roma employees and/or members. The European Commission, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other international institutions shall make particular efforts to act as role models in this regard. The ERTF also appeals to international corporate groups to show more courage and increasingly employ Roma.

Article 18

States shall ensure that any kind of segregation and/or apartheid within their sphere of influence is removed and fought effectively and sustainably. This particularly applies to the education sector.

Article 19

States shall implement and enforce strong and effective laws and action against discrimination in employment against Roma. These shall include provisions against direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment. They shall also allow employers to take positive action to prevent or compensate for disadvantages experienced by Roma. We explicitly refuse short-term projects which merely develop symbolic value. State sponsored programmes to increase the employment of Roma shall be long-term and sustained. The unemployment rate of Roma has to be reduced drastically by positive actions; this also includes the development of appropriate strategies as well as the cooperation of state, economy and Roma.

Article 20

The ERTF calls upon the Roma in Europe to actively participate in the political processes in their states. This implies participating in elections actively as well as passively, becoming members of political parties or founding one’s own party.

Article 21

The ERTF shall instantly begin examining compensation claims to states or their legal successors, which are to blame for violence against the Roma in the past.

Article 22

None of the articles of this Charter shall be interpreted in a way that infringes upon the Charter's spirit and positive intentions.

Article 23

As pacifists who do not wish to participate in acts of war, we Roma shall not be forced into military service; though this does not affect the right of individual Roma to volunteer for military service.

Article 24

States, as well as international institutions, shall support the establishment of independent civilian Roma society, both actively and financially. Based on the ERTF model, each national state shall ensure that existing Roma organisations are enabled to unite to form a national Roma umbrella alliance/forum which is free of state influence. Each national Roma umbrella alliance/forum shall then be granted a seat in the national state's parliament. The national state shall provide sufficient financial assistance to each national Roma umbrella forum/alliance. National umbrella organisations of Roma must be accepted, promoted and supported as legitimate representations of interests and partners of governments.

Article 25

States shall ensure that Roma are granted pro bono legal advice, including on the implementation of existing human rights and civil liberties.

Article 26

In order to succeed in the implementation of large parts of this charter, legally binding agreements of the member states of the Council of Europe, the European Union, the United Nations and the OSCE are necessary. These kinds of legally binding agreements only could contribute to the abolishment of the present unequal treatment of our people among the states and to the respect for the special situation of our people.

Article 27

Nothing in this charter may be interpreted as implying for any state, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or construed as authorising or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent states. In the exercise of the rights enunciated in the present declaration, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all shall be respected. The exercise of the rights set forth in this declaration shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law, and in accordance with international human rights obligations. Any such limitations shall be non-discriminatory and strictly necessary solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for meeting the just and most compelling requirements of a democratic society.