Strong European Parliament call to address antigypsyism

Strong European Parliament call to address antigypsyism

Brussels, 13 February 2019 – The Alliance Against Antigypsyism welcomes the adoption of a European Parliament Resolution yesterday calling the EU and Member States to adopt strong Roma inclusion plans post-2020 and to step up the fight against antigypsyism – the specific form of racism towards Roma.

“This Resolution is a step forward in the recognition of antigypsyism as the root cause of social exclusion of Roma”, said Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network. “We now need both the European Commission and EU Member States to take that commitment forward when they develop future Roma inclusion plans to be implemented from 2020 onwards.”

The Resolution calls for a number of measures to improve the EU Roma Framework after 2020, including: a stronger focus on antigypsyism and a specific goal on non-discrimination; the involvement of Roma in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Roma inclusion strategies; ensuring that intersectional discrimination, gender mainstreaming and a child-centred approach are properly addressed; and the inclusion of a truth, recognition and reconciliation process.

When revising National Roma Integration Strategies, EU Member States should recognise antigypsyism as a form of racism and ensure appropriate sanctions, in line with national anti-discrimination and anti-racism legislative frameworks. Member States should also make sure that they allocate adequate national funding to measures for Roma inclusion and for combating antigypsyism, in addition to European funds.

In addition, although the Resolution acknowledges the importance of involving Roma in the design of the EU Framework, there is a need for a proper mechanism, including financial resources, to ensure that lip service is not paid to Roma participation.

“The European Parliament’s involvement with Roma issues was key to the adoption of the first EU Framework for Roma Integration Strategies in 2011”, said Michaël Privot, Director of the European Network Against Racism. “We welcome the European Parliament’s commitment to ensuring that the future European Commission continues the work done so far on Roma issues at EU and national level.”

For further information, contact:

ERGO Network: Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, Executive Director, g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.orgTel: +32(0)2 893 10 49

European Network Against Racism (ENAR): Georgina Siklossy, Senior Communication and Press Officer, georgina@enar-eu.org – Tel: +32 (0)2 229 35 70 – Mobile: +32 (0)473 490 531

Central Council of German Sinti and Roma: Jonathan Mack, Policy Officer, jonathan.mack@sintiundroma.deTel: +49 (0) 6221 981101

Notes to the editor:

  1. The ‘Alliance against Antigypsyism’ is a coalition of organisations across Europe that promote equality of rights for Roma and combat antigypsyism on institutional and societal level. The aim of the Alliance is to advance understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism, and to strengthen the political will and institutional mechanisms in order to tackle antigypsyism in Europe. The Alliance is coordinated by the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, the European Network against Racism (ENAR) and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.
  2. The European Parliament Resolution on the need for a strengthened post-2020 Strategic EU Framework for National Inclusion Strategies and stepping up the fight against anti-Gypsyism is available here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B8-2019-0098&format=XML&language=EN

Hate speech by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister

Picture credit: Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Once again, antigypsyist hate speech comes from the highest political level in Bulgaria. This time, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Krasimir Karakachanov demonised Roma in strongest terms after two incidents of violence carried out by individuals of Roma origin.

While we condemn the violent acts against a police man and a service man, we need to make it clear that hate speech and collective punishment against a whole group of citizens is utterly wrong and unacceptable.

Hate speech against the Roma community has strongly increased in recent years and no state institution in the country raises the issue. Vice versa: all political parties use anti-Roma rhetoric – not only the far right nationalists, but also the big mainstream parties.  This comes together with purposeful propaganda of the political class against civil society organisations and corrupting of the democratic process among the Roma community. 

Liliya Makaveva, ERGO Network board member from Integro Association has translated the following article reporting on the hate speech of Krasimir Karakachanov in order to raise awareness of European civil society that there are no limits for the political class in Bulgaria to blame the Roma community in their chase of political power.

Original article in Bulgarian.

“Gypsies in Bulgaria have become extremely insolent and the tolerance of Bulgarian society has been exhausted”.

This was said by the Minister of Defense, Krassimir Karakachanov, in connection with the latest case of assault on a serviceman in the village of Voyvodinovo. The Minister visited the village, where he met the village mayor Dimitar Toskov, the Mayor of Maritza Municipality Dimitar Ivanov and the head of the Plovdiv Regional Police Directorate. The commander of the 68 Brigade Special Forces, Brigadier General Yavor Mateev, met Krassimir Karakachanov as well. The Minister revealed that before the meeting he visited the injured military at ‘St. Panteleimon’ Hospital. “He will be operated tomorrow. He has a scuffed cheek and a lot of bruising around his eyes. The attackers hit him mainly in the head. His condition is good, he has an average bodily injury and maybe he will be released from hospital in a few days. The Ministry of Defense will bear all the costs of the treatment”, said Karakachanov.

“A few days ago a policeman was beaten, and now a military officer and this cannot go on any longer. The truth is that a comprehensive program to solve the Gypsy question needs to be elaborated. People don’t have to tolerate part of the population that only has rights and does not want to understand that there are duties and must that they must comply with the law. The measures must be literally binding the social benefits with the education and labour. Bulgaria must stop taking into account Brussels officials and human rights defenders“, the military minister said, quoted by Radio Focus. “Illegal buildings are another problem. The ghettos are a Scots story. Kids beat in succession. That cannot go on any longer. The program has been prepared and it will be submitted for discussion to the Council of Ministers. There is no point in waiting and endure more”, Karakachanov continued.

How long will the state fund the promiscuous gypsy birth-rate? This population does not want to work, to study and, in practice, become a marginalized community that lives under its own laws. For a person who used to live for granted, the easiest job is to make children to receive benefits. They have no any stimulus to work, to improve”, said the Deputy Prime Minister.



Roma rights organisations respond to EU inclusion plans

Brussels, 6 December 2018: Today, a coalition of more than fifteen Romani and anti-racism civil society organisations from across Europe called for the Council of the European Union, and governments of European countries, to make a clear commitment to the new proposals for post-2020 Roma inclusion plans made by the European Commission in its communication to the European Parliament and Council yesterday.

Director of ERGO Network Ms Gabriela Hrabanova welcomed the new Communication: “The Commission and Parliament have clearly positioned themselves for a continued investment in Roma Inclusion after 2020. Now is the time for national governments to do the same, to strengthen their fight against antigypsyism and to update and improve their strategies in line with community needs by working alongside Romani civil society.”

The new communication from the Commission highlighted key elements to improve the EU Roma Framework including: the need for inclusion of Roma in mainstream policies, fighting antigypsyism, improving Roma participation, addressing the diversity amongst Roma, and better data collection, target indicators and reporting in integration strategies.

“Until now, Roma Inclusion plans in EU member states and accession countries have failed to include measures to fight antigypsyism, and have largely failed to significantly improve the situation for Roma across Europe” said Ðorđe Jovanović, President of the European Roma Rights Centre. “The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies after 2020 must serve to counter the effects of the specific structural racism which affects Romani populations throughout Europe.”

The organisations explicitly call for measures in European countries to recognize present and historical antigypsyism as a form of racism; counter and sanction manifestations of antigypsyism in public discourses, public services and institutions; empower civil society, and ensure that the necessary legal and institutional mechanisms are in place and implemented to prosecute hate crimes and hate speech. It is time for European governments to give priority to “reinforcing and distinguishing the focus on antigypsyism as a root cause of Roma exclusion” as concluded by the EU High Level Group on Combatting Racism, Xenophobia and Other Forms of Intolerance in their guidance paper on antigypsyism.

European institutions have to make sure that the next EU budget cycle (Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027), which is currently under negotiation, is connected to policy priorities of the EU Roma Framework including the fight against antigypsyism. In addition, partnership agreements with Member States and operational programs must explicitly name Roma as an investment priority. The next cycle of funding must ensure that funds are also available for specific measures to fight antigypsyism, and to allow the efficient operation of civil society organisations to hold governments accountable and to ensure fundamental rights of Romani citizens across Europe.

For more information, or to arrange an interview contact:

Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova
Executive Director
ERGO Network
info@ergonetwork.org
+32(0)2 893 10 49

The coalition of organisations includes:

Alliance against Antigypsyism
Central Council of German Sinti & Roma
European Network against Racism
European Public Health Alliance
European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network
European Roma Rights Centre
FAGiC Federación de Asociaciones Gitanas de Cataluña
Jaw Dikh Foundation
La Voix de Roms
Nakeramos
Nevo Parudimos
Roma Active Albania
Romanipe
Roma Education Fund
RROMA Regional Roma Educational Youth Association (Macedonia)

Notes for editors:

The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies was adopted by the European Commission in 2011. It requires member states make provision to address inequalities in their countries which Roma face in education, employment, healthcare, and housing.

Antigypsyism is the specific racism towards Roma, Sinti, Travellers and others who are stigmatized as ‘gypsies’ in the public imagination. The term 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. More information is available in the reference paper on antigypsyism.

Need for mapping of Local Roma Communities

Our Romanian member, Center of Resources for Social Inclusion CRIS in October organised two meetings in Ploiesti with the representatives of 10 Local Action Groups (LAG) from South-Muntenia and South-East Regions and of 2 newly established Urban Local Action Groups from Ploiesti and Campina, within the framework of the Annual Work Programme 2018 supported by the European Commission’s Program for Social Innovation and Employment.

The aim of the meetings was to strengthen the cooperation between Roma civil society from local level and LAGs in regards to accessing, implementing and monitoring of measures affecting Roma communities in the Local Development Strategies (LDS).

The handbook on Training for local stakeholders and Local Action Groups teams on CLLD and how to increase the access to funds available in the LEADER program for Roma developed by Nevo Parudimos, another member of ERGO from Romania, was presented to participants and it was considered to be useful for the implementation of the LDSs.

While improvements have been done since last year’s meetings with the LAGs, by having Roma communities from local level and especially the urban marginalized communities from Ploiesti and Campina included in the LDSs through specific measures, more needs to be done according to the representatives of LAGs.

For example, the Urban LAGs mentione had to refer to the official number of Roma in the two cities according to the late census in 2016 when they developed the strategy. As this number is obviously lower than the reality, the measures targeting Roma in the strategy could have been more than only one or maximum two as it is now.

Therefore one of the main conclusions of the meetings was the need for mapping of the local Roma communities to be recognized, assumed by each ministry, and to be taken into account in the future financial allocations, with Roma among the target groups.

The Alliance against Antigypsyism demands clear commitment of European Parliament President Tajani against antigypsyism  

                                

 

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels, 29 October 2018

The Alliance against Antigypsyism demands clear commitment of European Parliament President Tajani against antigypsyism

 

Brussels, 29 October 2018 – European Parliament President Antonio Tajani criticised the Italian government’s plan for a citizenship income in an interview on Italian public broadcaster RAI earlier this week, and said that “the citizenship income will end up in the pockets of Roma, of foreign citizens — from the EU and non-EU — and certainly not in those of many Italian citizens.”

The Alliance against Antigypsyism criticizes that such statements fuel antigypsyism in the public discourse, and demands a clear commitment of European Parliament President Tajani against antigypsyism.

Romani Rose, Chair of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, said: “The statement of Parliament’s President Tajani confirms how deep-rooted antigypsyist stereotypes are in European societies and institutions. Even unconscious linguistic images often lead to the exclusion of minorities and consolidate antigypsyism in society. In 2015, the European Parliament recognized the Holocaust against the 500,000 Sinti and Roma in Nazi-occupied Europe and adopted a clear strategy to combat antigypsyism in its October 2017 resolution. Political leaders and representatives have an important responsibility for the cohesion of our society. Therefore, it would be a sign of political responsibility that President Tajani proclaims unequivocally the fight against antigypsyism as a constitutional and democratic task.”

Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, underlined: “Mr Tajani’s narrative is a reflection of antigypsyism as the norm in the political discourse. This is especially dangerous ahead of the EP elections and elections at the national and local level. It is a contradiction that the EP asks Member States to implement the Framework Decision, transpose and enforce the Racial Equality Directive, and most recently calls on Member States to ban neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups, while it keeps othering Roma who have been European citizens for centuries. These kinds of statements also undermine ongoing work at EU level on fighting antigypsyism.”

Michaël Privot, Director of the European Network Against Racism, said: “Mr. Tajani’s racist comment just shows how mainstream politicians can legitimise racist and xenophobic discourses put forward by far-right and neo-fascist groups instead of rejecting them. It is high-time that the European Parliament’s President tackles racist speech both within and outside his own house. This means both taking disciplinary measures against Members of the European Parliament who use hate speech against Roma and other minorities and initiating public condemnation of hate speech in Member States.”

Although some members of the European Parliament denounced the comments and demanded a public apology, the leadership of the European People’s Party, of which Mr Tajani is a member, did not condemn the statement and Mr Tajani has to date not publicly apologised.

 For further information, contact:

 

ERGO Network: Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, Executive Director, g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org

Tel: +32(0)2 893 10 49

Central Council of German Sinti and Roma: Jonathan Mack, Policy Officer, jonathan.mack@sintiundroma.de

Tel: +49 (0) 6221 981101

European Network Against Racism (ENAR): Georgina Siklossy, Senior Communication and Press Officer, georgina@enar-eu.org

Tel: +32 (0)2 229 35 70 – Mobile: +32 (0)473 490 531

 

 Notes to the editor:

 

  1. The ‘Alliance against Antigypsyism’ is a coalition of organisations that promote equality of rights for Roma and combat antigypsyism on institutional and societal level. The aim of the Alliance is to advance understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism, and to strengthen the political will and institutional mechanisms in order to tackle antigypsyism in Europe. The Alliance is coordinated by the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, the European Network against Racism (ENAR) and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.
  2. European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2018 on the rise of neo-fascist violence in Europe (2018/2869(RSP)),http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2018-0428+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN