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The Roma:

Recent persecution
& current status: Part 2

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Roma are also known as Gypsies, Rom, Rroma, Romani, etc.

This essay is a continuation from Part 1

Discrimination against Roma in various countries (Cont'd):

bulletKosovo: Their Roma population may be the most oppressed in Europe. They appear to be hated by both the Albanian/Muslim majority and the Serbian/Christian minority. A series of articles about the Roma in Kosovo has been published by an anti-cult site. 1,2 This web site claims that the Roma totaled at least 10% of the population of Kosovo. Yet they have been essentially invisible and have not been included in the government's population figures.

The U.S. Department of State issued an annual report on 2009-FEB-25 that deals with the state of human rights in the world. It states that in Kosovo:

"... the Roma were subject to pervasive social and economic discrimination; often lacked access to basic hygiene, medical care, and education; and were heavily dependent on humanitarian aid for survival." 3

bulletPoland: The Polish government approved a 25,000 euro grant to fund a commemoration at Auschwitz by the Sinti and Roma peoples on 2009-AUG-04. This was the 65th anniversary of the day in which Nazis executed 2,800 Sinti and Roma detainees -- children, men, women, and the elderly -- who had been transported from the Birkenau concentration camp.

As the anniversary approached, the Polish government withdrew their financial grant, and the commemoration was almost cancelled. Piotr Kadlcik, chair of Poland's Jewish community, said:

"When I heard that the Polish government had withdrawn its financial support for the Sinti and Roma commemoration, I immediately picked up the telephone. We cannot allow a moment such as the commemoration of August 2 to fall into oblivion." 4

He called friends and organizations, persuaded them to donate money, and  the ceremony was held.

Roman Kwiatkowski, chair of the Polish Union of Sinti and Roma, said:

"For us Sinti and Roma, both concentration camps constitute a symbol of the affliction and death of hundreds of thousands of our relatives. We, Sinti and Roma from all Europe, are united by the memories of the crimes committed by the Nazi dictatorship against our people."

At the Auschwitz ceremony, Romani Rose, chair of the German Central Council of Roma and Sinti said:

"All political forces in Europe must proscribe racism against this group as they have anti-Semitism. Even centrist parties misuse racist clich? and distorted images of our people to chase votes." 4

bulletRomania: About two million Roma live here; many suffer prejudice, poverty and illiteracy. 5

One bright note occurred in 2003 when the government -- an ally of Germany during World War II -- finally acknowledged that the Romanian government had taken part in the mass killing of Jews and Roma during the Holocaust.

In the fall of 2007, President Traian Basescu formally apologized for his country's role sending Roma to Nazi extermination  camps. After presenting state medals to three Roman concentration camp survivors, he said:

"Forgive us brothers and sisters. We must tell our children that six decades ago, children like them had been sent by Romania to die of hunger and cold. We must tell Romanian mothers that the Romanian state killed Roma mothers through slavery and misery."

Florin Moisa, head of the independent Research Centre for Roma Communities responded to Basescu's comments, saying:

"Basescu's address is a badly needed reparation. No-one before him has ever apologized for the atrocities. However, the government should make further efforts to put into practice a national strategy for Roma and eradicate discrimination."

Ciprian Necula, a human rights campaigner in Romania said:

"The plight of the Roma during the Holocaust should be written about in Romanian school history books. ... The Roma people are generally ignored. Authorities should do more to combat discrimination." 6

bulletSerbia: The situation was particularly critical during the 1990's. Many  Serbian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Muslim religious groups and political leaders fueled racial and religious hatred as a means of promoting their own group. The Gypsies have no affinity with any of the political-religious groups. They were attacked by all.

Starting in mid-1997, neo-Nazi skinhead street gangs became active in the cities. Random beatings and killing of Roma men, women and children have became common. Dragan Stankovic, head of the Roma community in Belgrade said:

"The discrimination begins as soon as our children enter school. Gypsy kids are made to sit in the back rows or sent to special-education classes. Many are tossed out of school. They are frequently ostracized and insulted by other children and teachers. Our young people cannot find jobs and our complaints to the police are ignored. We have always lived as second-class citizens, but we are not willing now to die because we are second-class citizens." 7

More data on the above and other countries:

The above listings are merely a sample of the hardships that the Roma experience. Similar oppression appears to be found wherever Roma form a significant minority in Europe.

Amnesty International's "The State of the World's Human Rights" report for 2009 is online at: http://report2009.amnesty.org/ A search for "Roma" gives three pages of links.

On a positive note, The Decade of Roma Inclusion began in 2005. It is aimed at improving the social and economic status of Roma. It was organized by many  countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. Some financial support is provided by the international community. 3

U.S. discrimination:

Alan S, Rosenbaum has written:

"In every single public opinion  poll, including one conducted in the United States (and reported in the 1992-JAN-08 issue of the New York Times), Romas are listed as the most discriminated-against minority, the most despised ethnic population." 8

In 1997, President Clinton appointed Ian Hancock as the only Romani representative to the 65-person U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Hancock was only the second Romani representative in the 17-year history of the Council. 9

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Collateral lives: The exile of the Kosovo Roma," at http://www.kelebekler.com/
  2. "No third country: Roma - people are fleeing from Kosovo who were never mentioned before," at: http://www.kelebekler.com/
  3. "Europe: Discrimination against Roma," Amnesty International," 2007-OCT-25, at: http://www.amnesty.org/
  4. "Roma People Face Discrimination, Attacks Across Europe," Huffington Post, 2009-AUG-02, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  5. Diane Huie Balay of the United Methodist Committee on Relief describes the plight of the Roma in Romania at: http://www.umr.org/ This essay appears to be offline.
  6. "Roma urge Romania to end discrimination," Reuters, 2007-OCT-25, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  7. Chris Hedges, "Gypsies in Serbia targst of pervasive racism, assaults", New York Times Service, 1997-OCT-22.
  8. Alan S. Rosenbaum, "Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives on comparative genocide," at: http://books.google.com/
  9. "Timeline of Romani History," Patrin Web Journal, at: http://www.geocities.com/

Copyright © 1998 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1998-JUL
Latest update: 2009-AUG-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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