Thursday, August 9, 2012






Police begin to clear Roma from the city’s streets before the Olympic Games. During repeated operations hundreds are rounded-up, their belongings destroyed. But this is not Berlin in 1936, rather London 2012.

For Operation Chefornak, the Metropolitan Police Service has imported ten special officers from Romania. They make fortnightly sweeps along Oxford Street, Edgware Road and the area of Marble Arch, to “engage, disrupt and deter”.

They include seasoned male and female officers, who like the Taser-armed riot police who stormed the Dale Farm estate last year, are ready with borough wardens to clear up the “gypsy rubbish.”
Close to Marble Arch is the Hyde Park Holocaust Memorial, where Romanian Roma and others, together with members of the Jewish community, gathered on 3 August to remember the Porrajmos and annihilation of the Auschwitz Zigeunerlager.

Even as we recalled the murder of 500,000 Roma during the Nazi New Order in Europe, London’s Evening Standard continued in collusion with the Met its anti-Roma campaign, drumming up race hatred by calling Roma beggars “disgusting” and a menace to Olympic visitors.


Sinto death-camp survivor Franz Rosenbach, just 15 when transported from Germany to Auschwitz ( likens the present upsurge of racism and neo-fascist violence to the first years of Nazi rule, also a period of economic depression and unemployment.

“We could fall into the same trap again,” warns Rosenbach.

The Roma Center in Gottingen, which has participated in youth group visits to Aushcwitz, points to the similarities between Nazi activities in the l930s and the militia-led ethnic-cleansing of 100,000 Roma from Kosovo in 1999.

Romani Rita Izsak, UN expert on minorities, at the 2 August Porrajmos commemoration in Budapest urged that more be done to counter “a rising tide of hostility to Roma in Europe.” Three years ago, neo-Nazis murdered Maria Balogh and seriously wounded her 13-year-old daughter in the village of Kisleta. With support for the far-right in Hungary now at 21%, there have been more victims since.
Rudko Kawczynski, president of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, says the genocide of the Hitler era and the re-growth of fascism today, which is but a reflection of wider anti-Roma prejudices, must determine how we now apply ourselves in defence of human rights.

In Bulgaria, five days before this year’s anniversary, Malin Iliev, a candidate of the Euroroma Party, died of his injuries received when a bomb exploded at party headquarters in Sandanski. Four members of an extreme right-wing group have been arrested.

A score of other Roma have been murdered. Yet more activists are currently in prison in Bulgaria than anti-Roma killers and vigilantes.

Returning to the Hitler years, Bajram Haliti, secretary of the WRO, reminds us that the war-time state of Independent Croatia set up at Jasenovac a camp that matched, if not exceeded, in bestiality even the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

While assisting the US Justice Department during the extradition to Jugoslavia of former NDH interior minister Andrija Artukovic, this writer was shown the long lists of Roma taken from Croatian villages. These support the belief that up to 80,000 Roma perished in Jasenovac.

Research continues in many countries and documentation has been brought together, notably by Romani Rose in Heidelberg, Dragoljub Ackovic in Belgrade and in Austin, Texas by Prof Ian Hancock, among others. Much more about the Roma genocide has been brought to light since the first standard work in 1972 published in 1988 as Bersa Bibahtale.

As Haliti says, collection in one place – on a website? – of all available documentation would be a step forward. To help combat Europe’s present-day resurgence of extremist violence, and official repression, which includes forced deportations, evictions and policies of exclusion amounting to apartheid, we must centralize and share data on all past and current outrages.

On all sides the wake-up call is heard telling us the time has come to get out in the streets and physically demonstrate our opposition. The example of Yag Bari and the European Roma Movement, which with No Borders last month protested against deportation flights from Dusseldorf, is a ready inspiration.

The next big opportunity, which many activists are advocating, is Roma Nation Day 8 April 2013. All that is required to achieve simultaneous demonstrations in cities across Europe, and the globe, is some co-ordination on the internet.

O baro strajk.Let’s do it! Let’s step out and, raising our voices as one, head-off the growing menace that is the nascent second Porrajmos.

Usten Romalen!

8 April Movement


No comments: