Will the EU include Roma in the so-called ‘Union that protects, empowers and defends’?

Will the EU include Roma in the so-called ‘Union that protects, empowers and defends’?

The European Commission entitled its proposal for the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework ‘A budget for a Union that protects, empowers and defends’, but will it really defend all its citizens? While we remember the victims of the Roma Holocaust on 2nd of August, racist crimes against Roma still continue in Europe today.

Approximately 12 Million Roma are European citizens, and according to the Fundamental Rights Agency, 80% of them are at risk of poverty. One in three Roma are victims of harassment and 20% of non-Roma would not like to have a Roma colleague.

Antigypsyism, a specific form of racism against people who are perceived as Gypsies, is today the most widespread and socially accepted form of racism and is the basis of the social exclusion and poverty of Roma people.

In 2011 the EU adopted a Framework in order to improve Roma inclusion, but its mid-term review in 2017 showed a very little progress and highlighted the importance of focusing on antigypsyism in the next EU Roma Framework. It confirmed that ‘fighting antigypsyism and stereotypes by targeting majority society is a pre-condition for generating political will and for the success of any Roma inclusion intervention.’

Also in 2017 the European Parliament adopted a report on the “Fundamental rights aspects in Roma integration in the EU: fighting anti-Gypsyism”, highlighting the persistent antigypsyism in politics and societies across Europe, despite the efforts undertaken under the EU Roma Framework and the legislative framework against discrimination, hate speech and hate crime.

Is there an end to the Genocide of Roma in Europe?

However, while we commemorate the Roma Holocaust on 2nd of August, today’s reality proves that extreme efforts are still needed to combat antigypsyism across the EU. More than 70 years after the end of World War II, antigypsyism finds its expression in a series of hate crimes. These crimes are hardly followed up, their racist character is often ignored and they meet little outrage by the majority society.

The following are only the most widely reported crimes of the last few months – we can believe that they are not the only ones:

  • A 13-year old Roma girl in Amfissa, Central Greece was shot by a local businessman on June 4, 2018. The man drove by the Roma camp and fired with a shotgun at the inhabitants, killing the young girl.
  • In July 2018 in the outskirts of Rome a 14-month old Roma baby girl was shot in the back while being in her mother’s arm. The man who shot her with an air rifle from his balcony claims it was an accident as he was cleaning his gun.
  • In July 2018 a 21-year old Romani man was beaten up by skinheads in a pub in Žilina, Slovakia. The skinheads were screaming “We will kill you, Gypsy scum”. According to the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), a policewoman who came with the ambulance said: “The town center is not for Gypsies, but for whites.”
  • In July 2018 In Greece, a Roma man was shot in the face by his non-Roma neighbor who claims the reason was an argument about leaves flying into his garden. (source: http://www.newspallinis.gr/2018/07/blog-post_83.html?m=1)
  • Just outside the EU’s borders, in Ukraine, 23-year old David Popp was murdered in his sleep in the frame of several anti-Roma pogroms by neo-Nazi gangs .

At the same time, Matteo Salvini, Minister of the Interior of Italy, asked for a census of Roma and regretted that he could not just kick them all out of the country; but even this, or hate speech in the European Parliament, regular evictions of Roma from their homes or the demand for segregation of Roma children in school by non-Roma parents do not cause any bigger concern by decision-makers and citizens in the EU.  These cases of extreme racist violence, however, should lead the EU institutions to take real action.

Will next EU Programming Period include more than a lip service to combatting antigypsyism?

The next EU Multi-Annual Financial Framework is currently negotiated. It is now time to dedicate sufficient resources to combatting antigypsyism through a strong EU Roma Framework that has the fight against antigypsyism at its core. Addressing the social policy areas of employment, education, housing and health is crucial for their social inclusion, but will not be enough to end Roma exclusion when hate crimes remain completely unchallenged.

With the Race Equality Directive, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Articles 2 (rights of minorities) and 10 (combatting discrimination) of the Treaty of the European Union, a strong legal basis exists for the EU to combat antigypsyism. The next MFF is the chance for EU policy-makers to give more substance to these commitments and to do everything in their power to make sure that Roma will not have to face a new genocide.

Call for applications: Study Session on Antigypsyism

Study Session: Knowledge is Power – Strengthening the voices of young people against antigypsyism

7-13 October 2018 – Budapest, Hungary

Are you an anti-racist and human rights activist? Are you a youth worker or a youth leader combatting antigypsyism with young people? Then you should apply to take part in our study session ‘Knowledge is Power: Strengthening the voices of young people against antigypsyism.

When?            7-13 October 2018 (including arrival and departure)
Where?          European Youth Centre, Budapest
Who?              18-30 year olds from Council of Europe member states
Deadline        Sunday 26 August, 23:59 (CET)

The study session is organised by TernYpe International Roma Youth Network and ERGO Network in the framework of the Alliance against Antigypsyism together with the European Youth Centre Budapest of the Council of Europe.

The study session will advance a common understanding of the roots, mechanisms, manifestations and implications of antigypsyism among youth activists so that they can actively contribute to combating it.

The participants will contribute to producing a ‘youth-friendly’, easy-to-read version of the Reference Paper on Antigypsyism that the Alliance against Antigypsyism has developed in 2016.

The study session will introduce participants to the concept of antigypsyism, discuss its manifestations and give the space to develop activities, case studies, counter-strategies and visuals that will foster the understanding of antigypsyism.

Objectives

  • To advance a common understanding of the roots, mechanisms, manifestations and implications of antigypsyism
  • To contribute to the development of a ‘youth-friendly’ version of the reference paper on antigypsyism for better use in youth work, human rights education and advocacy
  • To share approaches of combatting antigypsyism and other forms of racism
  • To experience, develop and test activities that introduce the concept of antigypsyism to empower young people to articulate and fight antigypsyism
  • To further the work of the Alliance against Antigypsyism through education, advocacy, communication and networking activities

Profile of participants

We aim to invite a diverse group of Roma and non-Roma participants from a variety of organisations that are active in their respective (youth) organisations with experience and commitment to combat antigypsyism. We aim to have a wide international outreach and diversity, as well as multiple experiences of activists (grassroots, European, non-formal education, youth participation, advocacy, from general anti-racist and minority organizations).We aim to have a gender-balanced group.

Participants must:

  • be able and committed to act as multipliers in youth work and activism on the theme of combating antigypsyism and other forms of racism.
  • Have some experience in nonformal education and knowledge on antigypsyism or other forms of racism.
  • be motivated to develop their competences in human rights education and to share their experiences with other participants.
  • be motivated to contribute to developing the youth-friendly version of the Reference Paper on Antigypsyism and corresponding tools during the study session.
  • Come with an open-minded and sensitive attitude towards discussing antigypsyism and share related experiences.
  • be aged 18 – 30.
  • be committed to attend for the full duration of the course.
  • be able to work in English.
  • be resident in a member state of the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe.

We welcome applications from all candidates who fulfil the specific profile of activities, irrespective of gender, disability, marital or parental status, racial ethnic or social origin, religion belief or sexual orientation.

Costs

The following costs will be reimbursed by the Council of Europe Youth Department:

  • Travel from and to your place of residence
  • Accommodation and meals
  •  Visa costs

There is a participation fee of 50 € per person, which will be deducted from the participant’s travel  reimbursement.

If you are interested to participate, please apply through our online form by 26 August 2018.

Download the call for participants

Questions? Contact Christine Sudbrock from ERGO Network: c.sudbrock@ergonetwork.org or +32 2 893 10 49

 

 

Evictions of Roma Travelers in Brussels

Evictions of Roma Travelers in Brussels: Is Antigypsyism the last accepted form of racism?

On 28 June 2018, evictions of Roma Travelers are to take place in Anderlecht, Brussels. The group of Roma who are going to be evicted are Belgian Roma for centuries. They were born here, as well as their parents and their grandparents. Roma Travelers have always been living on the territory of the Municipality of Anderlecht – part of the European capital Brussels.

Nevertheless, Belgian Roma Travelers remain one of the most neglected communities in Europe. During the Second World War, a big part of the Belgian Roma Community who is traditionally travelling and living in caravans were deported to the Nazi concentration camps. Today, a generation later, Belgian Roma Travelers are being constantly evicted from site to site, unwanted and unwelcomed by the local authorities.

Only two weeks ago, the Anderlecht Municipality announced to the Belgian Roma living on Dante Street that they needed to leave the site. The motive: the land where the camp is located is polluted.

Apparently, this is not the first attempt of the Mayor of Anderlecht Eric Tomas from the Socialist Party to get rid of the Belgian Roma Travelers site. Many times the police have come to the site and ordered them to move without any official order or notice.  In April 2018, the local police went to the Belgian Roma Travelers site on Dante Street and ordered them to move, again without any document. However, this time the Roma refused to follow orders without the needed legal attributes.

The owner of the land where the Roma camp is located is not the municipality of Anderlecht.  The land of the camp is the private property of the Boghossian Foundation – an Armenian philanthropist family. So far, the Boghossian Foundation refused to cooperate with local authorities and police and to support the eviction of the Roma from their private land. Despite this, the municipality have found an excuse to still conduct the evictions – the pretext is that the land is polluted. This is happening in the context of the coming local elections that will take place in October.

The questions are many. Is Antigypsyism acceptable in the very heart of the European Union and its values? Is the Socialist Party ready to take responsibility for such an act and do they propose any alternative for the Belgian Roma who actually are Belgian citizens? What is the moral right of an Armenian foundation to evict another minority that went through the very same persecution and genocide? Is Antigypsyism the last acceptable form of racism?

There has been the possibility for several years now to create a Travelers site with allocated land and facilities. There is even a special fund from the Brussels Region that can be used for this. However, no municipality so far showed an interest and took advantage of this funding (except Haren).

Three days before the evictions part of the camp was set on fire. Тhe perpetrators remain unknown. The evictions will still take place as planned on 28 June 2018. Where will the Belgian Roma go? Will their children attend school? Will they be provided an alternative? The answer is No. Until the next evictions.

Written by Atanas Stoyanov

Civil Society Statement against Antigypsyism in Italy

European Roma and pro-Roma civil society condemns antigypsyism in Italy and asks Italian government to uphold the rule of law

Only a few weeks in office, the new Italian government coalition of far-right Northern League and the eurosceptic Five Star Movement is shaping the racist narrative against Roma in Italy by promoting antigypsyist actions and continuing to engage in hate speech. As European Roma and pro-Roma civil society we strongly condemn the unconstitutional proposal of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to establish a census for Roma in Italy and ask the Italian government to uphold the rule of law and democratic values.

It is now time for the European institutions, civil society organisations and all citizens believing in democracy and human rights to speak up, recognize the nature and the cause of hate speech directed towards Roma and push for the enforcement of the existing legal mechanisms of the European Union.

Even though the proposal for a census of Roma and for expulsion all non-Italian Roma is clearly against the law and has already been retracted by his government, Salvini counts on the support of a large percentage of the population and successfully uses antigypsyism to increase his voter base. Sadly, hate speech by Italian politicians is on the rise and is not a new phenomenon, especially among members of the Northern League.

The mayor of Treviso in 2015 said that it is best “to dress Roma up as rabbits so the hunters will shoot at them”. In 2017, Mara Bizzotto declared on 8th of April, the International Roma Day, that “we should rather commemorate the victims of Roma’s felonies” [instead of Roma victims of genocide]. Just a few days ago, Italian League member MEP Danilo Oscar Lancini argued against future Roma related EU policies and funding in the European Parliament since “Roma do not want to be integrated”.

80 years ago Europe has experienced a similar narrative and we all know the consequences.  This is why we ask the European institutions and the broader public to act responsibly and not only stand by and watch. Everybody should condemn this racist act. The European institutions must make use of the available mechanisms and start penalizing hate-speech against all groups. The European Commission needs to launch an infringement procedure against this Italian government concerning Roma people’s housing situation, which we have been calling for several years. There is no justification for Salvini’s antigypsyist acts and statements.

It is a high time to join our forces and fight antigypsyism because the future of our society is at stake. Europe must start defending its core values and stand up for our right to live in a racism-free society.

Supportive organisations

European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, Federación de Asociaciones Gitanas de Cataluña (FACIG), Catalunya, European Roma Rights Centre, Roma Education Fund, European Public Health Alliance

Roma Active Albania – IRCA, Albania – Roma Women Rights Centre, Albania – Roma Versitas, Albania – T’REJA Centre, Albania – Integro Association, Bulgaria – Equal opportunities Initiatives Association, Bulgaria – RSC, Bulgaria – “Slantse za vseki” association, Peshtera, Bulgaria – Ethnic minorities health problem foundation, Bulgaria – Roma solidarity – Petrich, Bulgaria – National Health Mediators Network, Bulgaria – LIDER Association, Blagoevgrad – Bulgaria- RAKO association, Sliven, Bulgaria – Roma-Lom Foundation, Bulgaria – Federación de Asociaciones Gitanas de Cataluña, Catalunya – Slovo 21, Czech Republic – Vzájemné soužiti/ Life Together, Czech Republic – Awen amenca, Czech Republic – La Voix des Rroms, France – Zentralrat Deutscher Sinti und Roma, Germany – Amaro Drom, Germany – Amaro Foro, Germany – RomaVersitas Foundation, Hungary – Equality, Serbia – Advancing Together, Kosovo – Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians NGO, Kosovo – Roma Community Centre, Lithuania – Romano Avazi, Macedonia – RRoma, Macedonia – Romaversitas, Macedonia – Asociatia CRIS, Romania – Human Catalyst, Romania – Nevo Parudimos, Romania – Policy Center for Roma and Minorities, Romania – Roma Advocacy and Research Centre, Slovakia – Kale Amenge, Spain – Associació Joves Gitanos de Gràcia, Spain – Zero Discrimination, Turkey – Kaskosan, UK – 

Individuals: Ognyan Isaev, Roma journalist , Bulgaria – Alexandra Raykova, expert of ROMACT programme, Bulgaria – Yordan Tankovski, expert of ROMACT programme – Bulgaria

Download the civil society statement against antigypsyism in Italy

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/