Wednesday, January 30, 2013


30 JANUARY-----

On this day in 1933 Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany.

In 1948, Mohandas Gandhi was shot to death.

In 1968, the Tet offensive (good word) began during the Vietnam War.
Vietnamese people call it the American War.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013




VIENNA, Jan 29 (Reuters) -

Romani artist Ceija Stojka, whose work helped expose the Nazis' persecution of the Romani people, died in a Vienna hospital on Monday aged 79, her publisher told the Austria Press Agency on Tuesday.

Holocaust survivor Stojka wrote one of the first Romani autobiographical accounts of Nazi persecution, the 1988 book "We Live in Seclusion: The Memories of a Romani", and dedicated decades to telling her people's story through music and art.

The Romani people, like the Jews, were sent to concentration camps by Germany's Nazis during the Second World War. Up to 1.5 million were murdered in an attempted genocide.

Austrian-born Stojka survived internment in the Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Ravensbrueck concentration camps, along with just five other members of her 200-strong family.

"I reached for the pen because I had to open myself, to scream," the activist said at an exhibition in Vienna's Jewish Museum in 2004.

The Budapest-based European Roma Cultural Foundation on Tuesday described Stojka as an "outstanding Austrian Romani woman ... and a key figure for the history, art and literature of Romani culture in Europe".

The foundation's executive director, Timea Junghaus, wrote in an email to Reuters: "She was a role model for the present generation and an inspiration for the future generations of Roma in Europe."

Stojka began painting at the age of 56, often using her fingers or toothpicks instead of brushes to apply acrylic paint and ink.

Her works, many of which are recreations of her experiences in the concentrations camps, have been described as "eerie" and "childlike" by viewers of her exhibitions around the world.

Romani people are still subject to forced assimilation or segregation, cultural repression, eviction and other forms of discrimination in many countries, especially in Europe.

The European Union estimates there are between 10 and 12 million Romani people in Europe, making them the continent's largest ethnic minority, although populations are hard to count, since many choose not to register their ethnic identity. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Sunday, January 27, 2013


This is a tape of the Day of Commemoration in Memory of Victims of the Holocaust.

This is only the second time that a Romani was invited to speak. (Not without much Romani activists).

And SHE is brilliant.

The entire program is excellent.

Ethel Brooks speech begins at 48:16

Ethel Brooks (nais tukai phen) Thank you my sister. I am so proud of you


"Light a candle. Take a breath" Marchette

Friday, January 25, 2013





Budapest, 25 January 2013:

A Romani woman was attacked and injured in front of her children during a protest at the Centre for Social Work in Prilep, Macedonia at the end of last year.The European Roma Rights Centre is expressing its concern to Macedonian authorities about the incident, and asking for more information about what happened, whether there was any follow-up investigation, and whether any racial motivation was taken into account.

A group of Romani people gathered to protest about unpaid social allowance on 31 December 2012. They asked to speak to the director of the CSWP; some tried to enter the building but were stopped by security guards. During this incident a Romani woman was punched in the stomach and head by one of the security guards. The woman fainted and was taken to hospital. Media reports suggest that her two children were also pushed and mistreated by the security as well.

The ERRC is highlighting that this excessive and disproportionate use of force against the Romani woman and her two children by the CSWP’s security guards may be incompatible with national and international standards. It is not clear if the police were notified about the incident, or whether any disciplinary measures were taken against the two security guards involved in the incident.The ERRC is asking the authorities to disclose this information.

Macedonian version (PDF)

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre

Thursday, January 24, 2013




The Harper government has launched an ad campaign in the Hungarian city of Miskolc – from which many Roma have migrated to Canada in recent years – warning of tougher immigration laws.

By Bilbo Poynter, Contributor / January 24, 2013

Hamilton, Ontario

Canada has long had an international reputation of welcoming refugees from around the world. But now it's telling Hungary's Roma community that that doesn't apply to them.

The Canadian government is spending approximately $13,000 on an information campaign, including billboards, notices in bus shelters, newspapers, and on radio spots in the Hungarian city of Miskolc, to dissuade would-be Roma asylum-seekers from coming to Canada.

The campaign began on Jan. 15 and, according to a spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, is to last one month.

The billboards read, “An announcement from the Government of Canada: To deter abuse, Canada’s refugee system has changed. Asylum claims are evaluated within weeks instead of years. Applicants with unjustified immigration claims are sent home faster.”

A problem with Roma?

The campaign appears to be part of the larger overhaul of the Canadian immigration system implemented by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government in recent months. The Harper government passed sweeping and controversial changes to the immigration and refugee process here in December. At the time, it hinted at this new move by suggesting that “bogus refugees” would no longer be able to take advantage of Canadian’s generosity – statements widely held to have been directed at Roma coming to Canada.

Now applicants coming from a designated list of “safe countries” will have their hearings streamlined, in most cases within 45 days, and can be detained and deported with no possibility of appeal in the case of a negative decision by the quasi-judicial Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).

A main focus of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s message track in introducing the changes to the law has been the mass migration of Hungarian Roma to Canada since 2008, the year the visa requirement for the EU country was dropped. Mr. Kenney has publicly called this migration “peculiar,” and has seemed to suggest that the migration from Miskolc was organized – raising fears of human trafficking, which the government has vowed to fight.

As was widely expected, Hungary was put on the list of safe countries in December, meaning that refugee applications originating from there are considered baseless by the Canadian government and effectively undermining asylum claims by refugees from the country.

According to the Roma Community Centre in Toronto’s west end, more than 400 Roma families have been granted asylum in Canada by the IRB since 2008.

A beleaguered community in Hungary

Miskolc, in the northeast of the country, is the second-biggest city in Hungary after Budapest, and the locale from which a majority of Roma claimants to Canada come from – as many as 40 percent in 2011, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada spokesperson Paul Northcott – while Canada accounted for 98 percent of Hungarian refugee claims worldwide in 2011.

Hungary's Roma community has been subject to ongoing abuse in recent years. A 2010 US State Department report on the human rights situation within Hungary cited several instances where Roma rights were apparently violated in and around Miskolc, including the mistreatment of prisoners, police abuses of Roma suspects, and the segregation of Roma schoolchildren.

Miskolc has also seen demonstrations by the far-right Jobbik Party and paramilitary groups against the Roma, and is near where a group of alleged anti-Roma serial killers were active. The trial was postponed earlier this week while defense counsel is replaced.

Quoting a Hungarian government spokesperson, Hungarian news agency MTI reported earlier this week that Kenney wrote the Hungarian interior minister ahead of the publicity campaign to thank him for his efforts at integrating the Roma into Hungarian society, and chalking up the timing of the ads to “internal problems” within Canada – the nature of the “internal problems” was not specified.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Miskolc, Akos Kriza, upset that the Canadian ad campaign has singled out his community, was quoted by MTI as saying, “Canada will not send its asylum seekers back.” Mr. Kriza is quoted elsewhere as saying that Miskolc will not welcome back repatriated Roma refugee claimants arriving from Canada.

In a November interview, Kenney spoke about his October fact-finding mission to Hungary, that included a visit to Miskolc.Kenney expressed concern that abuse of Canada's immigration system had become routine among the Roma. “The impression I got most clearly from my meetings, when I went to a Roma village near Miskolc, and met with local community leaders in that city ... was that there was a view in the community that coming to Canada through this means was a kind of normal, generally accepted form of migration,” says Kenney.

Downplaying the problem?

Critics say the Harper government's publicity campaign in Hungary, particularly its anti-Roma bent, is wholly inappropriate.

“I am really perturbed the minister is spending money on advertising to suggest how unwelcoming they’ve become,” says Jinny Sims, the Canadian New Democratic Party’s immigration critic. Ms. Sims points out that 150 people from Hungary were accepted as legitimate refugees by the IRB in 2011 alone.

“I don’t think we can say that [Hungary] is a safe country. I can remember reading comments made by the minister to say how terrible the persecutions were when he was over there in Eastern Europe,” she says.

The minister has been criticized in the past for inflaming anti-Roma sentiment and downplaying the human rights situation in Hungary.

One of those critics is Gina Csayni-Robah, the executive director of the Roma Community Centre. She sees many of Canada’s Roma refugee hopefuls through her doors.

Ms. Csayni-Robah points to the minister’s comments at a press conference last April, when he discussed a similar Canadian brochure campaign in the Miskolc region, and to comments attributed to the minister on a popular primetime Hungarian news magazine show. "Being a refugee is not just about whether they like the state they're living in or not, and it's not about whether life is easy there or not, nor is it about occasional acts of discrimination," Kenney is reported as saying.

This newest campaign is, “adding insult to injury,” says Csayni-Robah. Though the minister has already gotten what he wanted, says Csayni-Robah, as she doesn’t know of any new asylum cases since December, when the law took effect, she gets reports of deportations “every day.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


My heart aches for the 'gains' we've made.
I have spent my entire life opposing wars and the story of the poor killing the poor. And now we are rejoicing in the official recognition of women killing as well as men.
When I fought for equality this is far from what I meant.
Neither men nor women should go to war and kill others just like themselves.

I really must be a fossil.
When I've fought for the rights of Gay men and Lesbians it was neither for the 'right' to marry, nor the 'right' to be in the military.
I oppose both marriage and the military.

I, for one, have never wanted to be 'just like you'.
I still oppose the military with all my heart and soul.
And I see marriage as basically an institution of economic injustice.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Poem for MLK Day




Rise up!

Rise up, Americans!

Too long have you delayed!

While imperial-minded presidents

Their cruel wars they have made.

The hard-earned coin for which you toil Is spent on wars on foreign soil,  

The liberties you enjoyed of late

Are clubbed to death by the police state.

Rise up! Rise up, Americans!

Adopt the non-violent creed!

MLK showed us the way

Love is all we need.

Friday, January 18, 2013







Special to The CJN

PHOTO Roma Canadians observe a vigil in Toronto against human rights abuses and racism in Hungary

On Sept. 25, 2006, seven days after arriving as an intern at the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest, Hungary, I was given an opportunity to attend a roundtable discussion at the Central European University hosted by the Canadian government and the former Canadian ambassador to Hungary, Robert Hage.

The purpose was to assess the social situation for Roma in Hungary. Prior to attending the meeting, I was informed that it was in fact an inquiry into whether Canada could again remove its travel visa restriction for Hungarians. Within an hour of being in the university in downtown Budapest, surrounded by Canadian government representatives, Hungarian academics, representatives of various human rights and social justice NGOs, and a scattering of Roma intellectuals and activists, I realized that I was in a very unique position. I was the sole Canadian-born, Hungarian Roma in the room.

In the day of presentations and discussions that followed, it became abundantly clear to Hage that the majority of Hungary’s Roma live in dreadful conditions and have genuine reasons for seeking a more hopeful existence in Canada, as thousands had done between 1997 and 2001, when a visa was not required to travel to Canada. The Canadians heard details of the deeply embedded systemic discrimination in Hungary that section 51-53 of the Geneva Convention Handbook of refugee determination describes as equivalent to persecution. Hungarian lawyer Lila Farkas, founder of the Chance for Children Foundation, described the serious problem of endemic racism, poverty, segregated and substandard schooling, and systematic placement in special-needs schools that has resulted in 50 per cent of Roma children in Hungary not achieving more than a primary education.

It would take three years and mounting pressure from the European Union for Canada to finally remove the visa requirement in 2009. In the meantime, things continued to worsen in Hungary, with a deteriorating economy and the rapid rise of the far-right nationalist movement.

The Fidesz political party took power in the 2007, and a steady move toward fascism and centralization of power in the government began.

Even more menacing was the birth of Jobbik, Hungary’s third-most-powerful political party, which proclaims that Hungary is for true Hungarians, while confidently declaring itself to be anti-Roma and antisemitic.

Jobbik maintains a stronghold in northeastern Hungary, where the majority of Hungarian Roma live and where Jobbik’s 47 members of Parliament and four members of European Parliament come from.

This is where Miskolcs, Hungary’s second-largest city, is located and where the vast majority of Roma refugee claims originate.

It’s widely acknowledged that Jobbik and its paramilitary wing, the Hungarian Guards, have modelled themselves on Hitler’s Nazi Party. Jobbik’s power and organization make Greece’s Golden Dawn party look amateurish.

But the systemic discrimination that Roma face in Hungary pales in comparison to the direct threat posed by the Jobbik party. Its entire political platform is based on the vilification, demonization and dehumanization of Hungary’s Roma population.

On Oct. 30, 2011, one year after I became executive director of Canada’s sole Roma organization, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney visited the Roma Community Centre in Toronto.

Once again, I realized that I was in a very unique position. I was the sole Canadian-born Hungarian Roma in the room. In addition to preparing a complete information package with reports from Amnesty International, I arranged for Kenney to meet a roomful of people that included some notable human rights and social justice activists, as well as settlement workers who have helped countless Roma families and Roma refugee claimants.

I carefully explained the situation in Hungary and included details of the serial murder spree between 2008 and 2009 that left eight Roma dead and 48 injured for life, which became a huge catalyst for Roma to flee to Canada in 2009. Unfortunately, the Canadian public has never heard of the small yet significant number of Roma refugees from Hungary who are politicians, engineers, journalists, teachers, and police officers. Talk of bogus refugees, organized crime, taking advantage of social benefits, and safe democratic European countries has drowned out the truth that people ought to know.

In the past decade, at least 1,000 Roma families have been acknowledged and accepted as genuine refugees in Canada by the Immigration and Refugee Board. Kenney also heard first-hand accounts of human rights abuses, terror and racially motivated violence that these Roma families had been subjected to from every sector of Hungarian society, including police and the Jobbik party.

Last May, refugee lawyer Maureen Silcoff and I testified together in Ottawa before a parliamentary committee on immigration and citizenship regarding Bill C-31, now called Protecting Canada’s Immigration and Refugee System Act.

Once again, I found myself in a unique position as being the first Romani person in Canadian history to testify to the federal government. On June 18, I returned to Ottawa to present to a Senate committee.

On both occasions, I also submitted a brief to explain in more detail some of the factors leading to Roma seeking asylum in Canada, as well as the contributing factors as to why there have been a significant number of withdrawn refugee claims. Lack of first-language support, few skills to navigate the complex refugee-determination system, fear and mistrust of institutions, feeling unwelcomed by the government, and negligent legal advice and representation by immigration consultants and a small number of lawyers were the main reasons for withdrawn refugee claims.

Despite our best efforts, Kenney did not reconsider the creation of a safe countries list, nor did he make an amendment to the legislation to include an independent panel of experts that would designate countries as either safe or unsafe. Kenney centralized all discretionary power in his office to designate countries as being either being safe or unsafe.

On July 1, Bill C-31 became law. More recently, on Dec. 14, Kenney announced the “designated countries of origin list”(DCO), which includes 27 countries, of which 25 are member states of the European Union.

In addition to all refugee claimants from DCO countries being denied access to basic health care, they are now being discouraged from coming to Canada to seek asylum by the threat of detainment and being subjected to a system where they’re set up to fail because of drastically reduced timelines that do not provide an opportunity to secure counsel and submit a strong, well-substantiated refugee claim.

In addition, failed claimants are sent back faster with no opportunity to appeal or to access a judicial review of their case or a pre-removal risk assessment for at least 12 months after being rejected.

In preparations for the struggle to help Roma refugee claimants at the Roma Community Centre, we are working with our community partners and multifaith religious institutions to help secure sanctuary for families with extremely compelling refugee claims who have been rejected. We’re also applying for funding to run our in-house legal clinic for one full day, as well as seeking sources of medical care and engaging in ongoing advocacy and public education to raise awareness about the conditions that compel Roma to seek refuge here.

Who are our allies in this battle to access justice for Roma refugees? Some are community workers, social justice advocates, students, teachers, academics, lawyers, doctors, politicians, and concerned citizens. Many of those working closest with us are Jewish. Many of us feel strongly that Jews and Roma have an intimate connection from being Europe’s undesirables for centuries leading up to the shared experience of extermination during the Holocaust.

Countless members of the Roma Community Centre, as well as Roma refugee claimants, lost relatives or entire families prior to and during World War II. My great-aunt was a survivor. I have interviewed a survivor and attended her funeral. I have cried with those who were orphaned. There is a mutual feeling of comfort, safety and understanding that we Roma and Jews feel for each other. We have come to each other’s aid in our times of need in the past, and, thankfully, I have learned that our hands and hearts are still there now.

Gina Csanyi-Robah is the Canadian Roma community’s chief spokesperson and executive director of the Toronto Roma Community Centre.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


with Robert Herschkowitz

Thursday, January 17, 2013

At the Museum of Flight
9404 E. Marginal Way South, Seattle
Free and open to the public.
Clock hours available for educators.*

Why didn't the Allies bomb Auschwitz? Robert Herschkowitz, historian, Boeing engineer, retired Naval Commander, and Holocaust survivor, will discuss one of the most debated questions of World War II.

RSVP:, Ilana Cone Kennedy, Director of Education, Holocaust Center.
*Clock hours-please email for details.

Sponsors of Bombing of Auschwitz Lecture
Logo Color 205px
Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center

I just can't say enough about how wonderful and supportive of the Roma  this organization is.  I thank my friends at the center with all my heart.


Discovery Network: Remove racist programming ("Gypsy" Sisters) from their subsidiary, The Learning Channel.Discovery Network: Remove racist programming ("Gypsy" Sisters) from their subsidiary, The Learning Channel.

Petition by

Lisa Antolcic

The American Romani community continues to suffer from misrepresentation in American media. Such racist stereotyping and false claims about the ethnic population and their culture has a very real impact on Romani living in America. In a nation that fails to recognize us as an ethnic minority and continues to stigmatize Romani persons, any such program is a severe threat to the well-being of the more than one million Romani who currently live in the United States of America.

The program not only uses an ethnic slur within the title, but exploits the American Romanichal community. The individuals involved in the show are not part of any Romanichal community within America & the show in no way represents Romani, Romany, or Romanichal culture.

Please help us to have this show cancelled.



Dani Karavan

Ruth Schneider


Dani Karavan and Chancellor Angela Merkel at the memorial opening ceremony on October 24. Photo by Stephanie Drescher

On October 24, 2012, following 20 years of political controversy and logistical cock-ups, the Memorial for the Murdered Sinti and Roma was finally unveiled in the Tiergarten across the street from the Reichstag. The audience comprised octogenarian survivors, Romani representatives and government members including chancellor Merkel herself. The end of ignorance, prejudice and ostracism?

As 58 percent of 21st century Germans still reject the idea of having “gypsies” as neighbours – and Germany is currently engaged in the deportation of some 10,000 Sinti and Roma (including their German-born and bred children) to the Kosovo they left over two decades ago – the fate of Europe’s most persecuted people doesn’t seem to be of much concern to the country which, 70 years ago, attempted to exterminate them.

Furthermore, gruesome debates over numbers and semantics persist as the Romani still struggle to be heard as the ‘other’ victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

We asked the memorial designer Dani Karavan to share his thoughts on the topic.

(Check back in a couple of days for part two of the story, where we talk to preeminent Romani scholar Ian Hancock.)
I told them, if they  were Jews, you would move the bus stop in one week. I can say that because I am a Jew. But they don’t care about the Sinti and Roma.
The Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan was commissioned to design the memorial in 1992, on the personal suggestion of the head of Germany’s central council for Roma and Sinti, Romani Rose. The world-renowned artist is responsible for many site-specific monuments and memorials across the globe – from Israel to Japan to France. Most of them are concerned with human rights and blend into their surrounding elements in a unique reflection of the cross-section between nature, history and space. At 82, the busy jet-setting artist hasn’t lost any of his bite.

You worked on this memorial for a pretty long time...

I’m used to this. You have political problems, elections... But, yes, this time it took a long time because first there was an eight-year discussion between the administration and the central council of Sinti and Roma. One issue was that they wanted to use the word Zigeuner (gypsy), but the council thought it was insulting.

They really wanted to use that word?

This was the concept of the ministry of culture. They said that all the Nazis’ historical documents about killing these people never mention the Sinti and Roma, only the Zigeuner. So that was one discussion. The other discussion was about how many Sinti and Roma were killed. The government wanted to put 100,000 while the Sinti and Roma said at least 500,000.

But isn’t 500,000 already a low estimate?

There are people who believe this is a high estimate, for political reasons. The committee for the rights of Sinti and Roma in the European Parliament told me it was closer to one million. So I supported the idea that the memorial should definitely mention at least half a million. And I was criticized by a professor at the University of Haifa in Israel who said it was much less! In all of the discussions with the German administration, I took the side of the Sinti and Roma.

How was your relationship with the administration?

I was forced to work with people from the Senat of Berlin, from the city planning department, people who were not professional. When you see what happened with the airport, with the Topography of Terror... these things were poorly done. With my project they treated it in such a way that I came close to believing it was some kind of racism. They didn’t care about what was being done, which materials were to be used, which firm would do the work. They acted as if I was nothing, in an unpleasant, aggressive way.

How do you explain such a lack of professionalism?

I cannot explain it. I did a lot of work in my life. I never had these problems with any of them. These years of my life were hell, and I am not a young man. I started on it when I was 68; now I am 82. It was impossible to accept what they did. When I tell people the whole story, nobody believes that this happened in Germany. Germans should ask: who spent this money, how, why did it take so long? In my opinion these people should get taken to court.

You had a pretty 
limited budget of €2.8
 million, right?

It was 
even less, but then they 
had to spend more
 because they couldn’t do 
the work correctly. They 
changed the concept. Th e
entrance was supposed to 
be from the side of the 
Reichstag, but there is a
 bus stop. Which is why we 
changed the location of
 the entrance. Can you imagine, you can’t move a bus stop for the main entrance to a memorial for the Sinti and Roma?! I told them, if it were Jews, you would move the bus stop in one week. I can say that because I am a Jew. But they don’t care about the Sinti and Roma.

Until the federal government stepped in?

Yes... even Wim Wenders said that if this wasn’t changed it would be a big international scandal. They finally switched the responsibility from the Berlin Senat to the Federal Ministry of Construction, with very serious people, who had respect for the project and respect for the Sinti and Roma. And they respected me and commissioned the project to an architectural office in Berlin. We should thank the minister of culture Bernd Naumann. The moment he understood, it changed everything. If not, this memorial would never have been finished.

As an Israeli Jew, how did it feel for you to work on a memorial for the forgotten victims of the Holocaust?

I believe there should have only been one Holocaust memorial for all. Not divided.

The Jewish community opposed it...

I don’t care. This is my opinion. As a Jew I have every right to tell them that it has to be for everyone. They killed all of them together. Therefore I feel that they are my brother and sisters. At the inauguration I said in Hebrew that I feel like my family was killed and burned with the Sinti and Roma in the same gas chambers and their ashes went with the wind to the fields. So we are together. It is our destiny.

Personally, how happy were you with the result of all these years of hellish work?

I was moved by the way people reacted. The inauguration was really great, thanks to the chancellor and to the minister of culture. Historically, this event was so important. I am still getting comments from people about how they were touched by it. So, that was worth my suffering!

In her speech, Chancellor Merkel said she was dedicated to pursuing the well being of the Sinti and Roma. At the same time, Germany is deporting Romani who have lived in Germany for 20 years. Isn’t that hypocritical? Could you imagine that Germany would deport Jews nowadays?

I think you are right. In a way the Jews are privileged, because the Holocaust entered their culture after the war. It is even used in the wrong way sometimes, by some Jews, in my opinion. Their influence and position are very strong. So it was very important for me, as an Israeli Jew, to do this work for the Sinti and Roma as best as I could.

The memorial in the words of its creator
“I had the idea that the memorial should be only one flower, but to protect the flower I could have water. The water became an integral part of this memorial. The dark reflection on the water makes it look like a hole in the earth. It reflects the trees and the Reichstag, and anyone who comes close to the water becomes part of this memorial. This is very important for me. Everyone who comes is not only observing, but part of it. The flower is also very important, because the Sinti and Roma are buried in huge cemeteries without graves, without signs, only flowers. We don’t know where. Maybe only the roots of the flowers know. The flower is on a triangle, representing the triangle they had to carry on their body. The moment they carried this sign, they lost all of their rights as human beings. So this is the concept.” Dani Karavan

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.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Right Wing Journalist Wants ‘Final Solution’ To Roma In Hungary


Zsolt Bayer at a 2011 rally

In an article published last week in the far-right wing newspaper Magyar Hirlap, commentator Zsolt Bayer unleashed a tirade against the Roma — the preferred term for “gypsies” — for their suspected involvement in a bar fight. The rant borders on the genocidal given the language used, made all the more horrific due to the connection Bayer shares with the Prime Minister of Hungary:
A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals, and they behave like animals. When they meet with resistance, they commit murder. They are incapable of human communication. Inarticulate sounds pour out of their bestial skulls. At the same time, these Gypsies understand how to exploit the ‘achievements’ of the idiotic Western world. But one must retaliate rather than tolerate. These animals shouldn’t be allowed to exist. In no way. That needs to be solved — immediately and regardless of the method.
The Roma, who were among the many targets of the Holocaust in 1940s Germany, make up approximately seven percent of Hungary’s total population and are the frequent target of attacks by vigilantes enforcing “public order.” While right-wing parties have made a stir for xenophobic and anti-Semitic language recently, including a politician in the third-strongest party calling for a “list of Jews,” the proximity of Bayer to power makes his comments all the more stunning.

Bayer was one of the founding members of the ruling Fidesz Party, which has over the last year consolidated power in the hands of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. While some members of the party have condemned Bayer’s statements, including Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics, the odds that Bayer will be prosecuted for incitement or expelled from the party for his statements are slim.

Though he holds no official role in the government, Bayer was one of the organizers of the “Peace March” in Jan. 2012 that showed support for Orbán’s government amid European Union protestations that Hungary’s new Constitution violated E.U. treaties.

The unwillingness of Fidesz to officially criticize Bayer reflects the growing prominence of far-right wing parties in European politics during a time of economic downturn. The Golden Dawn party in Greece has made a name for itself — and increased its standing in the polls to enter Parliament for the first time — by railing against foreigners amid Greece’s lengthy depression.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Gypsy group lodges criminal complaint against Orbán ally Bayer


Photo: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (Photo: AP)Hungarian hate writer calls for Gypsy “solution”

Photo: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (Photo: AP)

A prominent Hungarian commentator who has been widely accused of writing antisemitic articles has said that Gypsies are “animals” that “shouldn’t be allowed to exist”.

Zsolt Bayer is a close friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and a co-founder and former chief spokesman of the Fidesz party. While Bayer does not hold an official position within the party, he is known as someone who often accurately captures the mood of its followers.

His latest diatribe was prompted by a New Year’s Eve stabbing in Szigethalom, a town near Budapest, which one Roma man was arrested. Writing in ultra-right-wing newspaper Magyar Hirlap, Bayer said:

“A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals, and they behave like animals. When they meet with resistance, they commit murder. They are incapable of human communication. Inarticulate sounds pour out of their bestial skulls. At the same time, these Gypsies understand how to exploit the 'achievements' of the idiotic Western world. But one must retaliate rather than tolerate. These animals shouldn't be allowed to exist. In no way. That needs to be solved - immediately and regardless of the method.”

Bayer’s article prompted condemnation by some Fidesz politicians. Tibor Navracsics, who is both justice minister and deputy prime minister, joined with Roma and Jewish groups to call for Bayer’s removal from Fidesz. MEP Tamás Deutsch, also a Fidesz co-founder and friend of Bayer, called the writing “shameful”.

Bayer has allegedly referred to Jews as “stinking excrement” in one of his articles.
I've been remiss in postings on this situation.
To many of us, it's just the same old story.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


beauvoirToday is Simone de Beavuoir's birthday.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908—1986)

Simone de Beauvoir was one of the most preeminent French existentialist philosophers and writers. Working alongside other famous existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, de Beauvoir produced a rich corpus of writings including works on ethics, feminism, fiction, autobiography, and politics.

Beauvoir’s method incorporated various political and ethical dimensions. In The Ethics of Ambiguity, she developed an existentialist ethics that condemned the “spirit of seriousness” in which people too readily identify with certain abstractions at the expense of individual freedom and responsibility.

In The Second Sex, she produced an articulate attack on the fact that throughout history women have been relegated to a sphere of “immanence,” and the passive acceptance of roles assigned to them by society.

In The Mandarins, she fictionalized the struggles of existents trapped in ambiguous social and personal relationships at the closing of World War II. The emphasis on freedom, responsibility, and ambiguity permeate all of her works and give voice to core themes of existentialist philosophy.

Her philosophical approach is notably diverse. Her influences include French philosophy from Descartes to Bergson, the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, the historical materialism of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and the idealism of Immanuel Kant and G. W. F Hegel.

In addition to her philosophical pursuits, de Beauvoir was also an accomplished literary figure, and her novel, The Mandarins, received the prestigious Prix Goncourt award in 1954. Her most famous and influential philosophical work,

The Second Sex (1949), heralded a feminist revolution and remains to this day a central text in the investigation of women’s oppression and liberation.
To you young ones, i hope you will read some of Simone's work.  She was brilliant and a huge influence for the women's movement of the 1970's.
Happy Birthday Simone.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013






Date: 21 June – 13 July 2013
Venue: The Riverfront, Bristol Packet Wharf, Newport NP20 1HG
Admission: FREE
Organisers – The Romani Cultural & Arts Company

The aim of the exhibition is to stimulate discussion and participation amongst the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community, the wider community and the arts community, regarding the complex relationship between visual culture and our daily lives.

The project also aims to question hierarchies of artistic practice by examining the role of visual arts within Romani culture. The debate regarding the influence of visual culture across regional, national and international boundaries is both timely and relevant considering the recent portrayal of Romani and Traveller communities through TV programs such as ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’, whose particular depiction of aspects of Romani and Traveller visual culture has led to controversy and claims of misrepresentation.

A focused period of studio research and practice will result in the production of a new body of artworks that examine the aesthetic power and wider influence of Romani visuality across the boundaries of culture and language. The final outcome will take the form of an installation of new works that examine the central role of décor and its importance as an expression culture, home and family life within Romani communities.

The relationship between artistic practice and everyday life signalled by the Roma preoccupation with the ornamentation of functional objects highlights the interdependence between life and art within Romani culture.

Visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to bring images of objects and décor from their own home environment to be exhibited in an area of the exhibition space.

In the absence of a literary tradition the Roma have acquired a keen facility for aesthetic communication which has resulted in the development of an acute visual and sensory vocabulary. The aesthetic power, contained in Romani artefacts, décor, textiles and other ephemera of Romani daily life, has developed during the Roma’s historic evolution as a collective of diverse yet distinctively connected nomadic groups and continues to play an important role the lives of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller communities and their interactions with the wider world.

The Roma’s focus on visual rather than literary communication has resulted in an innate integration of artistic practice into everyday life. This becomes clearer when we consider that all the objects and artefacts accompanying a historically nomadic community were, and are, required to serve multiple purposes. The need to combine cultural knowledge and artistic nourishment with practicality, portability and expediency has meant that form and function have become intimately and symbolically connected for Roma. This connection continues to inform the world view of both travelling and settled Roma communities today.

This notion of interdependence between Romani life and art is not new. The Roma are considered to be the original Bohemians—admired for personifying non-conformist ideals and values and a creative approach to living that greatly influenced the artists and thinkers of the nineteenth century avant-garde.

The Shine project calls for renewed recognition of the value of Roma’s contribution to wider cultural and social innovation—a reversal of the current status quo, to allow Romani culture to shine across contemporary social and cultural boundaries.

Shine: By Daniel Baker

This project is supported by Arts Council of Wales and is commissioned by the Romani Cultural and Arts Company with the assistance of the Riverfront.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


My Big FAT Gypsy Cheque: Travellers raise £800k for mum's lung transplant after Facebook appeal.



This picture is not one I intended to go with this article, but google/blogger has started a new criteria for what can be uploaded to the blog.  Not sure if I haven't figured it out yet or if it's a new way to make one use their products.  Meanwhile there is a good photo of the mother and her children at the website.  Morgan

Dying gypsy needed the bailout after developing life-threatening lung condition
A dying mum denied an NHS lung transplant raised £800,000 to have the op abroad after fellow gypsies from around the world sold off their gold for her.

Clarajane Penfold, 32, needed the Big Fat Gypsy bailout after developing a life-threatening lung condition, The Sunday Peoplehas revealed.

The mum of two claims she was told by doctors that she was not a “suitable candidate” for a transplant.

She suffers from obliterative bronch­iolitis, a narrowing of the airways into her lungs caused by drugs to treat rheum­a­toid arthritis taken since she was seven.

Fearing she would be dead within three years, she set her heart on getting a costly transplant op in the U.S.

To fund the trip she flogged her horse and mobile home in a travellers’ camp.
Relatives raised hundreds of thousands through land sales then travellers worldwide read a Facebook appeal and hawked trinkets to hand over the proceeds.

Clarajane said: “I would like to thank each and every person who helped. The support has been unbelievable. The good thing about the gypsy community is we are one big family and we stick together no matter what.”

The delighted mum added: “I can’t believe the nightmare is over.”

Pal Folomas Valler, who helped raise funds, said: “We have travellers all over the world that have raised money which proves we are still a strong God-giving race of people, proud of who we are, and proud to help our own.

“This has never been done on such a worldwide scale.”

Donations flooded in from as far afield as the US, home to more than a million Romanies, Australia and Kuwait.

Clarajane’s cousin Tory Gaskin said 8,000 people pledged cash within 24 hours of news of her plight spreading on Facebook and Twitter.

Tory said: “Everyone is pulling together.”

Another woman posted on Facebook: “I have just weighed 2 childrens chains, a broken earring and a ring without a stone, it was 3.5 grams and raised £43.59 for Clarajane.”

Money also poured in from raffles, sponsored walks and from the auction of a bridal gown designed by dressmaker Thelma Madine – star of hit Channel 4 show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
Clarajane, of Cranleigh, Surrey – mum to Shane, nine, and Dion, seven – launched the appeal last September.

She had asked London’s Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust, which treats her, to go on the transplant list but was told by doctors she would not be listed for the op.

She then asked a separate body – NHS Specialised Services – for funding to have the operation abroad, but was turned down.

Desperate to find a cure, she began searching online, scouring websites for more information on her condition.

She eventually found a surgeon who could perform a lung-swap op in North Carolina and flew out last month for pre-surgery tests.

It is believed she will head to Duke University Hospital in Durham in the state, hoping to be treated by Dr David Zaas.

Three years ago he performed a lung transplant which saved the life of 16-year-old US girl Laura Margaret Burbach.

Clarajane said: “I’m getting this operation as I want to be with my kids.
“I don’t want them to grow up without me. My daughter Dion keeps crying saying she doesn’t want mummy to die.”

She added: “I wanted to prove British experts wrong as I am stubborn.
“Now I just hope the transplant is a success.”

A Trust spokesman said: “There are strict clinical criteria before patients can be considered for transplantation.

“It would be inappropriate to make any comment on an individual patient.”
National Specialised Commissioning Team’s Fiona Marley said: “The NHS is only able to fund a very small number of patients for treatment abroad.

“The panel can also consider the possibility of a patient being re-assessed for treatment in the UK.”