With regards to the European Parliament’s plenary session about the Implementation of and follow-up to the EU framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, together with our partners in the Alliance against Antigypsyism we ask MEPs to call upon the other institutions to continue after 2020 a renewed EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies which should address antigypsyism as a central priority.

Read our letter below:

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Dear Member of the European Parliament,

This evening you have an important opportunity to address the European Council and Commission during the European Parliament’s plenary session about the Implementation of and follow-up to the EU framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.

This is a crucial moment to bring forward our discussions of the EU Roma Week that took place in April in the European Parliament, and in particular the recommendations of the European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2017 on fundamental rights aspects in Roma integration in the EU: fighting anti-Gypsyism (2017/2038(INI)).

Based on this resolution, we ask you to call upon the Commission and Council to continue after 2020 a renewed EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies which should address antigypsyism as a central priority.

  1. The EU Framework on National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 has brought improvements, especially in the field of inclusion of Roma in education, but has not managed to tackle the systemic cause of Roma exclusion. Therefore, there is a need for a new EU Framework on National Roma Integration Strategies that would benefit from a greater focus on the fight against antigypsyism. Member States and European institutions should recognize the responsibility of mainstream institutions to monitor and counter antigypsyism in order to ensure democratic values, the rule of law and fundamental rights and equal treatment of all citizens in our societies.
  2. The new framework should include and support financially specific measures to prevent and fight all the manifestations of antigypsyism and dedicate public funds to be used for these purposes, such as:
    1. Support structures and data collection methodologies that monitor antigypsyism systematically in all fields of society, while respecting fundamental rights principles;
    2. Support Roma civil society watchdog groups;
    3. Support and ensure meaningful Roma participation and empowerment to participate in designing and implementing joint policies;
    4. Support social awareness programs about antigypsyism targeting majority populations and trainings of professionals, especially those working in public administration, policy makers, police, prosecutors and judges.
    5. Support diversity policies ensuring representation of Roma in decision-making bodies
    6. Ensure inclusion of antigypsyism in National Action Plans against Racism as well as policy coherence and complementarity with the National Roma Strategy.
  3. Having a new EU Roma Framework is crucial. However, it must not hinder but strengthen the processes of mainstreaming the fight against Roma exclusion. Relevant mainstream policies, programs and structures should ensure targeting the phenomenon of antigypsyism too. The EU should commit human and financial resources specifically for programs directly addressing antigypsyism within the mainstream policies.
  4. The European Commission should establish a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to analyse the causes, manifestations and effects of antigypsyism, as well as to develop appropriate strategies and recommendations to counter antigypsyism at all levels.
  5. The European Commission should draft and implement an action plan (or guidance note) to monitor and combat antigypsyism in order to ensure efficiency of the equality legislation (EU Race Equality Directive), coherence between social inclusion outcomes (Roma Framework, EU 2020 strategy) and the adequacy of the legal and policy frameworks in place to reach these outcomes.

Further information

Press release by the “Alliance against Antigypsyism”, October 2017: European Parliament takes important step forward to address the fundamental rights of Roma

Press release and recommendations of the “Alliance against Antigypsyism”, December 2017: Antigypsyism on the agenda at EU’s High-Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance

Alliance against Antigypsyism: Reference Paper on Antigypsyism: http://antigypsyism.eu/

On behalf of

Gabriela Hrabanova, European Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network

Jonathan Mack, Central Council of German Sinti and Roma

Violeta Naydenova, Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI)

Marius Tudor, European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)

Julie Pascoet, European Network Against Racism (ENAR)

Vicente Rodriguez Fernandez, ternYpe International Roma Youth Network

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/

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

 

 

 

ERGO Network Statement on recent neo-Nazi attack against a Roma camp in Ukraine

02/05/218 – Brussels, Belgium

The European Roma Grassroots Organizations (ERGO) Network strongly condemns the recent neo-Nazi attack against a Roma camp that took place on April 21 in Lysa Hora, Ukraine dispersing and setting fire to Roma families’ tents. The criminal investigation of the violent dispersal has been initiated after days of negligence and implausible denial by Kyiv police forces, which is yet another example of pure antigypsyism.

As an international Roma and pro-Roma network with 28 member organizations from all over Europe advocating for better policies for Roma and fighting against antigypsyism, we believe it is our duty to step up and call on the following actors to take further steps and measures to restore democratic functioning and institutions, to enforce the fundamental rights of the Roma people and to express our worrying concerns related to extreme right wing activism.

Our claims are listed, as follows:

1.     ERGO Network urgently calls on President Petro Porosenko and the Ukrainian government to speak out against the targeted far right attack and potential similar attacks on Roma, condemning all forms of bias motivation, violence and extreme right ideologies threatening Roma people.

2.     The public condemnation of police negligence and omission, and the call for transparent, impartial, objective and time-bound legal procedures and investigations.  We strongly claim to conduct proper investigation that complies with the rule of law, as well as fair and equal treatment and other fundamental principles.

3.     ERGO Network calls on the respective Ukrainian authorities and international non-governmental organizations to more effectively monitor far right, extremist, and neo-Nazi riots, marches, gatherings and all other forms of activities and movements (online and offline) that are able to pose a threat, denounce, verbally or physically attack, thus violate the fundamental human rights of the Roma people.

4.     ERGO Network calls for the engagement of the European Union to have a stronger position in condemning the Ukrainian neo-Nazi attack against Roma, as well as human rights violations and antigypsyism that is very much present in Europe.

EU Roma Week: an opportunity to focus on tackling antigypsyism in Europe

EU Roma Week took place last week for the third time in the European Parliament, to mark International Roma Day on 8 April. It was an important opportunity to put the fight against antigypsyism – the specific form of racism faced by Roma, Sinti and Travellers – at the forefront of the European Union agenda, and to highlight the need to uphold the fundamental rights of Roma in Europe.

Roma are part of European societies and have been for centuries. But many barriers prevent them from being equal citizens. Tens of thousands of Roma are qualified professionals, but they remain invisible because of the “Gypsy” stigma. An overwhelming proportion of Roma – 80 % on average in the nine EU Member States – still live at risk of poverty, according to a recent report by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. One in three Roma are victims of harassment. Roma also regularly experience discriminatory stop and search by police, police raids on Roma settlements and other forms of harassment by police forces.

Antigypsyism is often used in a narrow sense to indicate anti-Roma attitudes or the expression of negative stereotypes in the public sphere or hate speech. However, antigypsyism gives rise to a much wider spectrum of discriminatory expressions and practices, including many implicit or hidden manifestations. Antigypsyism is not only about what is being said about Roma and to Roma, it is also about what is or is not being done to combat structural discrimination and dehumanisation. As such, it is also a root cause of Roma exclusion in Europe.

Eight years ago, the EU adopted measures for Roma inclusion, but European Roma continue to live in a deplorable situation. Discrimination, hate crime and speech, police brutality and segregation persist across EU countries and fuel exclusion of Roma from society. This highlights the urgency of stepping up efforts to tackle structural and institutional racism so that Roma can finally become equal citizens in their societies.

This will require that structures that monitor racism, discrimination, hate crime, hate speech, policy implementation are revised and strengthened to effectively document and combat antigypsyism in all its complexity. Civil servants, educators, care workers, police, judiciary and other relevant official bodies need to receive training in how to recognise and combat antigypsyism. The EU and national governments must allocate specific and adequate funding to programmes aiming to fighting antigypsyism. Roma civil society must also be empowered to advocate for better policies and make their concerns heard at the local, national and EU level. They have a crucial watchdog role to make public institutions accountable.

EU decision makers must realise that social inclusion programmes will have no impact if racist narratives and discriminatory practices are left unaddressed. A growing sense of impunity for toxic discourses and violent acts will undermine implementation of these programmes on the ground. By fighting antigypsyism, including within institutions, we can secure a better place for Roma in Europe.