Sunday, January 13, 2013


An appeal to the UN and the European Union to put an end to the anti-Roma measures being carried out in Italy

Rome, January 13th, 2013

An urgent appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the European Commission, and civil society

EveryOne Group is launching a dramatic appeal for an end to the persecution of the Roma people in Italy. Since 2007 the Roma in Italy have been subjected to thousands of evictions during which many abuses have taken place, with the ill-treatment of men, women and children and forced evictions without the offer of alternative housing.
The authorities have also carried out expulsions due to "social dangerousness". There have been charges and convictions for child exploitation, begging, occupying public land and other crimes specially crafted to target the Roma people.
Hundreds of children have been taken from their legitimate families for reasons of poverty, and put up for adoption to Italian families (their parents often lose them because they have no money and no home to undertake legal proceedings). Many Roma have died from disease, the cold, accidents, fires, and violence from third parties. Many babies have died in the womb after their mothers miscarried during evictions.
The mortality rate for Roma children is 15 times higher than that of Italian children. In 2007, about 70,000 Romanian Roma were living in Italy. More than 20,000 received prison sentences. Many families have now fled to Spain, France, Greece and other European Union nations to escape this persecution. Many others have returned to Romania. EveryOne Group has assisted many families with its own resources, both in Italy and when they have sought refuge in a different country or returned to their home country.
The Geneva Convention does not protect persecuted Roma families in a EU Member State when they move to another country, one of many serious violations of the right to asylum that is now institutionalized.
For our part, we have worked with the European Parliament and the Council of Europe in the drafting of directives and resolutions, particularly when the MEPs Viktoria Mohacsi and Els De Groen were defending the Roma people. Now that these two MEPs, and the MEPs of the Italian Radical Party are no longer in the European Parliament, the European policies on the Roma have become cut off from reality, they are ineffective, and far from the reality of the human rights defenders and the Roma themselves.
At the present all our appeals are falling on deaf ears and the information that we pass on to international institutions are merely included in reports and are not followed up by actions in support of the Roma people.
The co-presidents of EveryOne Group themselves have suffered severe political and judicial harassment, including eight criminal charges brought by the Italian authorities with the risk of long prison sentences (for slander, libel, interruption of public service, etc.)
Only after intervention from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Commission, FrontLine Defenders, Avocats sans Frontières and dozens of organizations for the rights of Roma people all over the world were the activists of EveryOne Group acquitted.
However, these criminal proceedings have been very costly and they have been forced to change cities often to prevent fresh attacks from the institutions and racist movements.
The EveryOne Group activists have also been subjected to serious measures by police headquarters; they have been followed and summoned to talks with the authorities on the strangest of pretexts. They have also received threats, intimidation and physical assaults. They have been followed by anonymous persons, blacklisted in neo-Nazi and racist lists, and have received media and cultural censorship (in that the activists of EveryOne are also writers and artists).
However, the members of EveryOne Group have remained at the side of the Roma people, defending them with their own resources - the organization is self-financing - and are committed to fighting a daily battle against a persecution that is getting worse by the day, without any protection from the international authorities.
Currently only 6-7,000 Romanian Roma remain in Italy. They are broken up into small communities that the police evacuate in continuation, arriving at dawn in order to ensure that Italian citizens do not witness such unjust and cruel actions. Families are treated as "asocial gangs" and a security problem, just as they were before and during the Holocaust. They receive heavy fines, complaints are filed against them and they are subjected to numerous evictions.
Children are still being taken from their parents because they live in poverty and hardship. Most families are now leaving their children in Romania to prevent the police, social services and the juvenile court taking them off them.
Many parents have been sentenced to many years imprisonment for "slavery": an accusation founded on prejudices that punish those in need, measures that affect families who stick together even during the extreme and humiliating activity of begging, an activity they are forced to undertake in order to survive poverty and marginalization.
EveryOne Group is calling on the United Nations and the European institutions not to close their eyes, appealing to them to acknowledge the severity of the persecution that affects the Roma and the human rights defenders in Italy.
This is a serious problem that involves the media (in Italy newspapers receive significant government funding and therefore are at the service of the different powers); the political parties (which attack the Roma people, using slanderous accusations to win electoral consensus); the Mafia (which uses the Roma to divert public attention from its own crimes and dirty money, which in 2012 amounted to 200 billion Euro) and the racist movements, which in Italy are getting stronger and more influential all the time without the institutional bodies doing anything to put a stop to them.
Today the "anti-Roma machine" is very strong and only a few human rights defenders are able to hold out against the persecution of activists. We have seen, in our talks with humanitarian organizations in France, that Italy (with its policies of ethnic hatred that are tolerated by the UN and the EU) has become a bad example for the French institutions who are now following Italy’s tragic example.
While we write, new evictions and fresh anti-Romani measures have just been carried out, causing death, pain and marginalization: in Rome, in the abandoned buildings of Colle degli Abeti, in Via Sfondrati and Via Piolti de' Bianchi; in Turin, at Lungo Stura Lazio; in Civitanova Marche, against a family living in serious humanitarian conditions; in Milan, along the railway lines(while the dismantling of the Roma camp in Via Malaga had already been announced); in Via Maceri in Forlì; in Via Fucile in Torre Annunziata (Naples); in Genoa-Cornigliano and in many other places.
EveryOne Group is asking the authorities this letter is addressed to not to ignore our appeal and to implement, according to their functions, appropriate and binding measures and actions of civilty aimed at stemming the institutional hatred that the Roma in Italy are being subjected to.
Acts of persecution that put them through an unbearable ordeal, lowering both the life expectancy of Roma children and the longevity of people who belong to this ethnic group (currently only 40/45 years in Italy), and denying these people who are already the victims of poverty and intolerance the right to employment, health, a home and their dignity as human beings.
EveryOne Group is also appealing to the institutions to intervene and put an end to the repression of activists and cultural workers who work for an end to racism, while promoting a politics and culture founded on tolerance.

For EveryOne Group, the human rights defenders Roberto Malini, Dario Picciau, Glenys Robinson, Morena La Rosa, Steed Gamero, Ipat Ciuraru, Daniela Malini, Laura Louise Stirner

The photograph, taken by EveryOne Group during an eviction in Pesaro in 2008, shows a young pregnant Roma woman called Veta, after she fell to the ground, terrified by the eviction operations being carried out by a large group of armed officers. After the police action she suffered a miscarriage. Mihai, the older man on the right, later died of ill health and starvation on the bus from Pesaro to Bucharest; the other Roma were forced, with help from EveryOne Group, to take refuge in “safer” cities and nations in order to escape the removal of all of their children by the authorities.

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