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Discrimination against the Roma:

Recent media accounts & human
rights reports during 2009

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

Human rights reports on the Roma:

bullet2009-FEB-26: U.S. State Department reports on Roma in Kosovo: The annual report by the US Department of State on the state of human rights in the world, discusses the treatment of Roma in Kosovo. They reported that
"... 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."

They found that 99% of Kosovo Serb children, and 97.5% of Kosovo Albanian children attended school, but only 77% of minority children, including Roma, went to school. They reported that:

"Official and societal discrimination persisted against Kosovo Serb, Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities in employment, social services, language use, freedom of movement, the right to return, and other basic rights. ... During the year violence and other crimes directed at minorities and their property increased from 2007. Minority employment in public institutions continued to be low and was generally confined to lower levels of the government; members of minorities occupied 10.4 percent of government jobs despite a government target of more than 16 percent. ..."

"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. Although there were some successful efforts to resettle Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians in the homes they occupied prior to the 1999 conflict in Vushtrri/Vucitrn, security concerns remained." 1,2

bullet2009-JUL-27: Discrimination in the Czech Republic: The Immigration and Refugee Board in Canada issued a report documenting cases of Roma being firebombed, refused service in restaurants, refused housing, etc. The report described a video shown on Czech television by the extremist National Party that called for a "final solution" to the Roma "question." On a positive note, two separate arson attacks against Roma in their homes triggered nationwide anti-extremism rallies by thousands of demonstrators. They found that:
"... many Roma live in 'socially excluded' enclaves marked by high levels of loansharking, unemployment, substandard housing and poor education. While more Roma children go to school now than in the past, it said they remain overrepresented in schools conceived for students with learning disabilities." 3
bullet2009-AUG-26: Romania: Madonna receives death threats; is booed after Roma plea: Madonna has a series of concerts scheduled in eastern Europe. Perhaps by coincidence, her concert in Warsaw was scheduled for AUG-15, which is the Feast of the Assumption when the Roman Catholic church teaches the Virgin Mary was transported bodily to Heaven. This generated a number of death threats aimed at Madonna. 4 She she kept a low profile during the tour. However, in the middle of her concert in Bucharest, she said:

"I've never been to Romania before and I am happy to be here. But I found out that there is a lot of discrimination against Gypsies in Eastern Europe, and that makes me very sad, especially because we believe in acceptance, Gypsies, homosexuals, people that are different. Everyone must be treated the same, don't forget that!"

Thousands of the fans among the estimated 60,000 present reacted with boos and jeers. Ionut Dinu, a 23-year-old concertgoer, said: "I jeered her because it seemed false what she was telling us. What business does she have telling us these things?"

"Gypsies" is a slightly derogatory term for the Roma people There are officially about 500,000 Roma in Romania. However, the actual number is probably much higher; many do not identify themselves because of fear. 5

References used:

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

  1. "State Department reports pervasive discrimination of Roma in Kosovo," Chachipe Rights and Justice, 2009-FEB-26, at: http://romarights.wordpress.com/
  2. "2008 Human Rights Report: Kosovo," U.S. Department of State, 2009-FEB-25, at: http://www.state.gov/
  3. Juliet O'Neill, "Roma face intimidation, aggression: report: Czech Republic,"
    Canwest News Service, 2009-JUL-28, at: http://www.nationalpost.com/
  4. "Scandal: Madonna concert angers Polish Catholic hardliners," EuroNews, 2009-AUG-13, at: http://www.euronews.net/
  5. "Madonna's Roma appeal sparks crowd jeers," CBC News, 2009-AUG-27, at: http://www.cbc.ca/

Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-FEB-27
Latest update: 2009-AUG-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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