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Courtesy of the KARFIN Lollipop email list:

Here is a link to a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who has been aware of Romani issues for some time), marking this day:

This is a short documentary on International Day of Roma (as celebrated by some Russian Roma). It shows an interesting contrast between Roma who beg on the streets and the rest of the Roma portrayed in the clip, who have most likely had access to better education and better opportunities.

Read more...Collapse )

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16/03/2009 - Maria Basescu, the Romanian First Lady, had on March 9 a meeting with the Deputy for Roma minorities, Nicolae Paun, at her initiative, in order to ask the parliament to make an extra effort for sending them to school in order to diminish the illiteracy among Roma children.

Maria Basescu expressed her “concern” regarding the school abandon among Roma children and the increased number of illiteracy in this community, asking the deputy to involve more in order to create the needed conditions for those children in order to go to school, says NewsIn.

As per Nicolae Paun Deputy, in this context, Maria Basescu said that among the children they baptized, there is a Roma child coming from a numeros family, with other nine siblings, none of them going to school. The First Lady said those children together with the entire community need to be helped to benefit from education.

Paun declared he promised the First Lady he will do his best to contribute to Roma children education, but he showed he cannot send funds to education. “I will try on NGO area with money designated to Roma Party and I will do my best”, promised the deputy.
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by Guy Dinmore in Rome

Published: March 2 2009 01:32

Italy’s Red Cross has launched its biggest vaccination programme since the second world war, with the goal of immunising several thousand gypsy children living in camps around Rome.

The operation began at Casilino 900, a camp on the eastern outskirts of the capital that is believed to be one of the largest gypsy settlements in Europe. Some two dozen doctors were among 200 Red Cross volunteers that included clowns to provide entertainment in one of the big tents erected for the exercise.

The Red Cross action comes at a critical moment for Rome, with its human rights record under the international spotlight. Gianni Alemanno, the capital’s right-wing mayor, is under scrutiny for his plans to remove almost all the 50 or so legal and illegal gypsy camps around Rome and replace them with a small number of “maxi-camps” . Non-Italian gypsies without proper documentation, mostly from Romania and the Balkans, will be obliged to leave and could face expulsion from Italy.

A Council of Europe report to be released soon is expected to be highly critical of the squalid conditions in the camps, and particularly the treatment of children born in Italy but denied citizenship.

Casilino 900, its shacks and caravans the home for some decades for gypsies from the former Yugoslavia, is under threat of closure. It was one of many camps raided by police and regular army units recently in search of suspected criminals and those without proper documentation. Casilino 900 residents said about 40 men were detained last week.

This sense of fear and uncertainty, explained one woman, was a reason some families had not brought forward their children for vaccination. By mid-afternoon on Saturday about 160 children – accompanied by their mothers – had been vaccinated, with about 100 still not seen by the doctors.

An earlier Red Cross campaign commissioned by mayors to carry out a voluntary census of gypsy camps in Italy’s three biggest cities – Rome, Milan and Naples – ran into similar problems, with residents afraid that the headcount would be a prelude to mass expulsions. Such fears grew in recent weeks when police and army, using their own lists, entered camps and took away suspects.

Mr Alemanno’s plans, while still lacking in detail – including proposed sites for the new camps – have been generally welcomed by Romans who see the gypsy settlements as a health and security hazard.
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Brussels, 27/02/2009 - Ethnic discrimination on the Belgian labour market, neo-Nazi extremism in Austria and abuses against Roma in nine EU countries are some of the findings of the 2008 US government report on human rights.

The report, issued on Wednesday (25 February) by the State Department for each country of the world, says that the Belgian government "generally respected the human rights of its citizens," but found several problems, such as overcrowded prisons, lengthy pre-trial detention, poor detention conditions prior to expulsion and "ethnic discrimination in the job market."

Roma are discriminated against and excluded in a number of EU societies (Photo: Studii Romani)

Labour discrimination was directed particularly against young men from the Muslim community, estimated at 450,000 people, principally of Moroccan and Turkish origin.

Discrimination regarding housing, restaurant access and an increase of racism on the internet were also noted.

"On July 10, the European Court of Justice ruled that a manufacturer of automatic garage doors had discriminated when he refused to hire a Moroccan applicant under the pretext that his clients would object to having a Moroccan worker in their homes. The case was referred to a labour court for sentencing under the antidiscrimination law," the report states.

Neo-Nazi incidents and "rightwing extremism and xenophobia directed against ethnic minorities" were a cause of concern in Austria.

"In 2007 the Ministry of the Interior recorded 240 neo-Nazi, right-wing extremist, and xenophobic incidents directed against members of minority groups. The government continued to express concern over the activities of extreme right-wing skinhead and neo-Nazi groups, many with links to organizations in other countries," the US report notes.

Despite being discriminated against in employment and housing, the situation of Roma people in Austria had "significantly improved in recent years," with children being moved out of "special needs" into mainstream classes. The government also initiated programmes in recent years to document the Romani Holocaust and compensate its victims.

This was however not the case in nine other EU countries: Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria, where discrimination and even violence against Roma is on the rise.

On Monday, a Roma man and his son were shot to death in a village in Hungary as they were fleeing their home, which had been set on fire. The Hungarian ministry of Interior promised to step up policing in rural areas, but admitted that it could not prevent all racist incidents, which had increased in the recent months.

EU commissioner for social affairs Vladimir Spidla reacted to the incident, as well as other measures, such as Italy's controversial crackdown on Roma camps.

"The European Commission strongly condemns all forms of violence against Roma and calls upon the authorities of all Member States to guarantee the personal safety of all persons on their territory," he said in a statement.

Mr Spidla was "deeply concerned" that in some member states, "Roma have become the target of organised racist violence - fed by political populism, hate speech and media hype."

"In some cases, Roma are being made scapegoats for wider societal problems."

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I made this and thought I would share. Feel free to use/distribute....

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Augsburg, WEST GERMANY, 03 July 1980

The world is slowly, very slowly, beginning to acknowledge some of Auschwitz' other victims. Four decades after the notorious camp was closed, a plaque here, a promised cultural center there, a possible investigation of discrimination elsewhere, is all that commemorates the martyrdom of the Roma.

But that's one more plaque, cultural center, and acknowledgment of prejudice than the second-largest group of Hitler's victims -- after the Jews -- could claim a few weeks ago. and Franz Wirbel and his fellow Roma are grateful for that.

As a boy, Franz Wirbel was expelled from school in 1936 for the crime of being born into the wrong race. In 1938 his family was restricted to the west Prussian town where they lived. In 1941 they were deported to Poland and then interned, first in the Stutthof and then in other concentration camps. His mother was separated from him in Auschwitz on Aug. 2, 1944, at 4 p.m. and burned to death at 6. He lost sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, 39 relatives in all, in the Holocaust.

Because of his youth and hardy constitution he managed to survive Nazi "experiments" in freezing, and was freed by the Americans in 1945. He married, but the couple has no children, for his wife had been sterilized in the camps.

Mr. Wirbel can still remember every stone in Auschwitz. And he still bears the number Z9805 tattooed on his arm. Yet he does not receive the usual monetary restitution for camp survivors, because, he explains, officials told him back in the '60s that he hadn't filed his documentation in time. He lives today by repairing musical instruments. And he thinks the real reason he hasn't gotten reparations is that he is a Roma.

By last spring, Mr. Wirbel had enough of second-class citizenship and the absence even of public recognition that half a million Romanies -- the nonpejorative name for Europe's Roma -- perished in the extermination camps.

He and eleven other Sinti (German Romanies) went on a hunger strike at the Dachau camp memorial near the Bavarian capital, Munich, to demand full "moral rehabilitation."

Among the other hunger strikers were Romani Rose, who lost thirteen relatives in the camps; Jakob Bamberger, who was forced in Dachau to drink nothing except sea water for eighteen days in "survival experiments"; Hans Braun, whose mother, father, and nine sisters and brothers died in Auschwitz, while his sons are still assigned schoolbooks saying that Roma steal chickens, evade work, and eat snake meat and carrion; and Vinzenz Rose, who was awarded the West German Distinguished Service Cross in 1978, but was told a year later that an official dossier states (completely falsely) that the Rose family had been thieves.

The hunger strike was resisted by Bavarian officials, by Jewish spokesmen, and by most Dachau and Munich clergymen. But one Lutheran prodeacon let the Sinti conduct their fast in the Dachau camp memorial chapel.

The eight days without food turned out to be an act of consciousness-raising both for the strikers and for West Germany as a whole. The Bavarian government was shamed into admitting that there had been postwar injustices against Sinti and that the "necessary dismantling of prejudice and discrimination" has yet to be achieved. The Bavarian Roman Catholic cardinal and Lutheran bishop to counteract prejudice against "Roma" in their churches. The West German justice minister telegraphed his personal support for the Sinti Cause.

A joint statement by the Bavarian Interior Ministry state secretary and representatives of the three parties in the Bavarian legislature called for tolerance and understanding of Sinti by the public and even Bavarian Interior Minister Gerold Tandler -- who had previously termed the Sinti complaints "slanders" and called their demands "unreasonable" -- finally agreed to investigate any injustice in "individual" cases.

The hunger strike proved to be a catalyst for other actions. In May, north German government officials offered the Sinti a memorial in the Bergen-Belsen campsite. The Bavarian Cultural Ministry offered to finance a center where young Sinti could study their native language and their people's heritage.

Bureaucrats became more sensitive to the miserly awarding of standard reparations to Sinti, and to the bizarre postwar circulation of anti-Gypsy Nazi records.

The issue of reparations arises from West Germany's unique program of making payments to the victims of Nazi persecution as a gesture of contrition. In the case of Jews this program is well established. But in the case of Sinti, up to ninety percent of those who should receive compensation do not, according to Sinti spokesmen. Vinzenz Rose's humiliating experience in a reparations office in 1979 is repeated many times over every year -- and the documents cited to withhold payments are often as scurrilous as the allegation that the Rose family had been thieves.

The reason for the West German discrimination in compensation -- and the main object of the Sinti hunger strike -- is the long-lived heritage of the Nazi police central office to combat the "Roma Pest" in Munich. This office, which provided the files to round up Roma and deport them to concentration and annihilation camps in the Third Reich, was dissolved after the war.

A euphemistically named "Vagrants Center" was set up in Munich, however, that preserved the old Nazi files and distributed them indiscriminately to local police in West Germany to promote surveillance of the country's 50,000 Sinti.

And under a 1953 Bavarian law "nomadic tribes" had to carry identification documents for their members that included fingerprints -- and they were allowed to move only with permission of the Vagrants' Center.

In 1970, the Vagrants' Center was formally dissolved, and officials of the Bavarian Interior Ministry in Munich say the old files were destroyed over the next four years. Yet they still keep surfacing in cases where reparations are denied Sinti applicants because of alleged criminality.

Thus, one Sinto woman was refused reparations because her own "serious arrest" and prison term in Austria (in Nazi times) were held to disqualify her for compensation. Yet the "serious arrest" and prison term -- in a Nazi concentration camp -- were precisely what she was seeking compensation for.

Similarly, records of Sinti's insulting or accusing the Gestapo have been interpreted as proof of their criminality when they have applied for reparations. and Wirbel and his friends still have not won the full acknowledgment they sought from the Bavarian Interior Ministry -- that the Vagrants' Center practiced racial discrimination and violated the rights of the Sinti in its entire postwar operation.

West Germany is far from the only European country where Romanies encounter difficulties. Throughout Western and Eastern Europe prejudice against and persecution of the five million Romanies have long been a fact of life, various Council of Europe and other studies repeatedly conclude. Yet little has been done to correct the situation.

In Eastern Europe, apart from Yugoslavia, forced denomadization and assimilation is the rule. And in Western Europe those Romany who are nomads frequently meet with police harassment when they stop for the night. (In West Germany, moreover, they are explicitly forbidden access to public trailer parks.) Only the Netherlands and, to a lesser extent, Britain, have begun providing caravan sites for Romanies.

Romanies also find it hard to get jobs, because of their lack of training and the widespread belief that they are thieves. Sweden seems to be the only country to have begun a modest training and placement program for them.

Illiteracy is high, and no European country has come up with an education program that effectively reaches Romany children and gives them decent choices in the adult world. Only a few West German cities like Cologne and Freiburg are beginning even to provide Sinti nurseries and youth clubs.

Franz Wirbel's consciousness-raising, it seems, still has a long way to go.
By Elizabeth Pond

Read more articles about the Roma and the Holocaust at www.pir-mk.blogspot.com/search/label/Forum

Political party for Roma integration-PIR
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Source: B92


BELGRADE -- An action plan for evacuating the illegal Roma encampment below the Gazela will be signed by the end of the week, says Belgrade Deputy Mayor Milan Krkobabić.

Implementation of the action plan is expected by Aug. 31 at the latest, he added. Krkobabić said, speaking to B92, that 114 families from the neighborhood would receive new accommodation, while the rest fell under jurisdiction of the government and the local communities they came from.

The mayor explained that the problem would be resolved according to models from European cities, in order not to create another slum quarter, as inhabitants would instead be given new accommodation in different locations in Belgrade.

This is the beginning. But to separate these two things, these people have to move out, they have to be socialized, the children have to go to school and they have to get jobs. But Belgrade citizens also have to be aware of the fact that they cannot resist and prevent citizens of that socially destitute encampment under the Gazela Bridge from coming to their neighborhoods, he said.

He added that such discrimination can no longer be tolerated.

This city administration will not tolerate that. Which means that Belgrade neighborhoods will no longer be entitled to say they don't want them to come here or there. All Belgrade citizens are equal under this administration and have equal rights, but also equal obligations, Krkobabić underlined.
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For making a direct donation to help the Domari Gypsy people of Gaza, please, contact Amoun Sleem
by e-mail amoun_sleem@... or by phone +972 (0)54 206 62 10.
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A young actor Misha Buzylyov in the film "Fellows / Мужики"

A famous singer, Esmeralda in Russian version of "Notre-Dame-de-Paris" (musical), Diana Savelieva

(Code to add that to your blog:
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An actress from Teatro Romen, Anzhela Lekareva, in a historical costume

Other pictures here:
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