When we will start calling things by their name?!

A man kills a Roma girl in Amfissa, Central Greece: Racism?! When we will start calling things by their name?!

Greek media reported: “Local businessman shoots and kills 13-year-old Roma girl in Amfissa, Central Greece” on Monday, June 4, 2018. One of two available articles in English[1] acknowledges the existence of racism in Greece, but only in one sentence and at the end of the article.[2] But what is lacking is not only the ignorance of Greek media of the extent of antigypsyism in the country. It is shocking to read that “the motive of the shooting remains unclear”.

The motive of the shooting is clearly antigypsyism. The media talks about the murderer as someone who used to always drive faster when passing by the Roma in Amfissa. He then approached Roma and simply fired bullets in their direction.

The media even go further to implicitly suggest that Roma might be guilty, speculating about a gossip that Roma might have stolen something from the shop of the murderer. This is how the media reproduces racism. They also reproduce racism by not calling things by their proper names. Antigypsyism is not only what is being said or done, but also what is not being said or done.[3] Most parts of the available English language media articles are focused on the “tension in the area”, which is “high as locals fear of revenge and members of the Roma community have already set the perpetrator’s car on fire and damaged his shop”. The main message that the articles about the case send to the public is putting the blame on Roma since they create tensions. This shifts the focus from a tragic loss of life of a young girl to a typical imagination of the Roma communities.

ERGO Network calls upon the authorities to properly investigate the case and punish the perpetrator for committing hate-crime against Roma and to prevent filling the society with fear of Roma. We also demand the protection of the Roma community in Amfissa by the Greek authorities as well as respect for the Roma members of the Greek society. The European societies, including Greece, have to start acknowledging antigypsyism and make concrete steps to demonstrate that the phenomenon should not be accepted. We welcome the statement of the Greek Government that acknowledges that “the tragic event [] was not an accident or the result of a ‘bad moment’”, but it “brings back to the scene the huge racism, stereotypes and hostility against Greek Roma, as well as the difficult conditions in which most of them live”.[4]

Photo credit: http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2018/06/05/amfissa-businessman-kills-roma-girl/

[1] http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2018/06/06/roma-girl-amfissa-perpetrator/, http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2018/06/05/amfissa-businessman-kills-roma-girl/

[2] “Meanwhile, on social media, dozens of Greek racists spew hate against the Roma and some even hail the child’s murderer. The decline of a part of the Greek society is getting frightening”.

[3] http://antigypsyism.eu/?page_id=17

[4] https://www.newsit.gr/politikh/syriza-gia-ti-dolofonia-tis-13xronis-stin-amfissa-den-itan-atyxima-den-itan-kakia-stigmi/2544031/

Nothing about us without us – housing in Usty nad Labem

ERGO Network today wrote a letter to the Social and Health Commission of the Municipality of Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic, concerning the housing situation of more than 200 inhabitants of two residential hotels, among them at least 80 children and most of them of Romani origin.

The news agency Romea writes:  “The inhabitants of two residential hotels in the Czech city of Ústí nad Labem that will close at the end of June still do not know where they will be moving. During their housing search they are encountering the need to pay deposits they cannot afford, as well as discrimination from landlords.  The Střekov Municipal Department wants to buy out the residential hotel on its territory, according to local mayor Eva Outlá (PRO!Ústí), who informed the Czech News Agency (ČTK) and Czech Radio of her plans. The tenants of both facilities allegedly learned last week from media reports that their current landlord will be closing up shop.”

The local Roma organisation Konexe describes the situation as follows:

“We have been using the community work and empowerment methods in the residential hotels intensively since Friday, 25 May. During that time, several meetings of tenants were held at both residential hotels, during which the people facing eviction have formulated their demands. These families are actually facing the pressure of a horrible situation. On the regular housing market they have almost no chance of finding apartments, there is an atmosphere of depression and hopelessness dominating the facilities. That is being passed on to the children there”.

ERGO Network is asking the municipality that a solution is found in dialogue with the target group. It is very important not to favor solutions that are not designed together with the people whose lives will be influenced by the decisions.  Local organizations, naturally, should play an important role in facilitating such contact and organizing a series of meetings. At those meetings solutions could be found that will satisfy all sides.

We are aware of the situation in the Czech Republic. Romani people face antigypsysm daily and their chances at being included in the fair housing market are almost zero. Nevertheless, the fact that Romani people do not have that opportunity and that they pay much higher rents to be accommodated in shocking conditions is something that must be underlined in this case. Who else besides City Hall and nonprofit organizations is able to give a helping hand with aiding the inclusion of these people onto the housing market?

Read the letter here in English or in Czech.

Read the full article of Romea about the situation in Usty nad Labem:

Statement regarding Bulgarian EU conference on Roma Inclusion

Brussels, 29th May 2018

The European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO) and its Bulgarian member Integro Association together with the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) and a number of Bulgarian Roma activists and organizations support the position of prominent advocates for Roma rights in Bulgaria concerning today’s event entitled “Roma inclusion – where we stand and where we are heading to”.

We would have appreciated the effort to prioritize Roma inclusion as a topic if the event had stood up for values such as meaningful Roma participation, not just tokenism, and the fight against antigypsyism. As this is not the case, we join the 51 Bulgarian organisations, coalitions and individuals participating in the Roma Standing Conference, who decided not to take part in the event in a letter supporting a society free from antigypsyism.

Today’s conference is organized by the Bulgarian National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues, an institution that fails to implement the priorities of the National Roma Integration Strategy. The institution is chaired by Valeri Simeonov, who in 2017 was convicted by the regional court of Burgas and the Commission for the Protection Against Discrimination for his antigypsyist statements.

For these reasons, we characterise this event as yet another illegitimate attempt to represent ‘Roma issues’. We call upon the authorities to include the Roma community and Roma CSOs as equal stakeholders rather than token participants for public relations.

Download the statement here.

     The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC)     Bulgaria_Integro 

 

Signatures:

Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, ERGO Network; Ðorđe Jovanoviç, ERRC; Liliya Makaveeva – Integro Association; Lyubomir Dimitrov, Roma-Lom; Nikolay Kirilov, member of the RSC; Asen Yordanov IG-Boychinovtsi; Miglena Mihaylova “Leader” NGO, Blagoevgrad; Asen Karagyozov ICRC, Plovdiv; Zapryan Hristev, IG, Rakovski; Yanko Krivonozov Future Rakitovo; Krassimir Kirilov IG, Sliven; Ophelia Krumova IG, Vidin; Peter Tsvetanov – National Network of Health Mediators, Branch Montana; Veselin Lakov –  IG Montana; Assen Hristov- Association of Roma pastors – over 100 Roma churches; Alexander Strahilov – IG Razlog; Svetlin Raikov – Development Initiative for the Northwest; Anton Karagyozov – Roma-Plovdiv; Nikolay Nikolov, Center for strategies for minorities – Varna; Metin Shefket – Roma – Vazovo; Daniela Mihaylova – Equal opportunities Association , Sofia;  Roumyan Sechkov, S. E. G. A. Foundation; Emil Metodiev, RSC; Demir Yanev, Roma Solidarity, Petrich; Yuksel Yasharov, Peshtera, Roma Active Albania, Romano Centro Austria, La Voix des Rroms, France, Advancing Together, Kosovo, Amaro Drom, Amaro Foro, Germany, Asociatia CRIS, Romania

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The European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network’s mission is to fight against antigypsyism and advocate for better policies for Roma in Europe. We create strong networks and empower Roma activists all over Europe. More information on our website: http://ergonetwork.org/.

Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, ERGO Director:  g.hrabanova@ergontwork.org

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) is a Roma-led international public interest law organisation which monitors the human rights of Roma in Europe and provides legal defence in cases of human rights violations. For more information see at:  http://www.errc.org/.

Ðorđe Jovanoviç,  ERRC President:  dorde.jovanovic@errc.org

Association Integro Bulgaria is a not-for-profit non-government music organisation. It was incorporated in 2002. Its main goal is to support Roma in the rural areas of Bulgaria and supply musical equipment, such as drum samples and drum sounds. The name of the Association is an abbreviation of “Roma INTEGRation”. More information on our website:  http://www.integro-bg.org/

Liliya Makaveeva, Director Integro: L.makaveeva@gmail.com

 

 

 

Roma Cafe

Roma Café discussion kicks off on Romani Resistance Day

May 16 is a symbolic date for now in the contemporary Roma movement throughout Europe – a day that intends to shift into a positive narrative by highlighting Roma heroes during the holocaust. ERGO Network together with the Diverse Youth Network organized a renewed concept of Roma Café on May 17 to engage in discussions with Roma and non-Roma on what it means to us to have a Roma Resistance Day.

During the Roma Café guests came together from all over Brussels and Europe. Ms Evelin Verhas joined us from the Budapest based Tom Lantos Institute to present the approach of a human rights organization as well as to provide insights into the Roma Resistance research that has been conducted in 5 European countries. It was important to set the scene with a video interview, where a French Roma World War II survivor, Raymond Gureme explains his every days during the 40s in a very informative testimony. Mr. Atanas Stoyanov kicked off the discussion sharing his own motivation and experience being part of the Dik I Na Bistar movement as a young Roma who has been involved since the very beginning as a participant, later as a trainer and group leader. The DIK I NA BISTAR movement is organized by the Ternype Roma International Youth Network bringing together young people from all over Europe to Krakow and Auschwitz to commemorate the Roma genocide on August 2. Besides the remembrance initiative, a training component is also empowering young Roma and non-Roma.

The research – Joanna Talewicz-Kwiatkowska: `Resistance and Survival of the Roma and Sinti in Auschwitz-Birkenau` – presented by Evelin Verhas pointed out a number of focal points to consider in the current discourse. The minority rights perspective requires the equal recognition of the genocides that have been committed against minorities, and inter and multicultural education must serve as a basis for that. May 16 is researched using the resources that are at disposal such as Roma and Sinti survivor testimonies, memoirs, official records etc., most of them found in the archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. It should be noted that Joachimowski submitted his testimony three times, each time giving a different date for the events at the Zigeunerlager. Whilst recalling a date from the past may be a challenge for a person submitting a testimony, one needs to be cautious assuming that testimonies necessarily describe historical facts. It should be noted that, until now, no existing research could verify or or disprove Joachimowski’s story. Therefore, this research was meant as a first step towards reconstructing events connected to Roma and Sinti resistance in the Zigeunerlager.

The intention was to stimulate new thoughts and to engage in discussions. The meaning of resistance and how it is present in our everyday lives was very important, but the questions of identity also raised a number of valid points.

 

Transparency and accountability – training for trainers

Training of Trainers – Transparency and Accountability Criteria

12 -15 May 2018, Durres, Albania

Being transparent and accountable are important prerequisites for the effectiveness of civil society organisations that are taken seriously by their institutional counterparts. ERGO members from the Western Balkans, Turkey and the ‘Visegrad countries’ Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic met in Durres, Albania from 12-15 May under the project “Strengthening Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations” for a training on how to become accountable, transparent and independent organization that can be examples for others.

The training was based on a set of transparency criteria developed by ERGO Network that focus on financial management, governance and political transparency of grassroots civil society organisations. Once the organisations will implement what they have learned, they will receive a ‘transparency label’, recognising their good governance, accountability and transparency.

The participants learned and practiced how to address these organisational and managerial challenges through a board game that introduced in a playful way what is needed to implement the transparency criteria. Back in their countries they will multiply what they have learned within their local grassroots organisations and in a later stage with institutions in order to increase each other’s visibility and accountability. The group also stressed the importance of building trust between institutions and grassroots civil society through the criteria.

The project receives funding from the International Visegrad Fund and is part of the Joint Initiative to Empower Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey, financed by the IPA Civil Society Programme of DG NEAR and ‘Roma Included in Social Europe’, funded by the EaSi Programme of DG EMPL.