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.

Alliance Against Antigypsyism Drafts Recommendations for Post 2020 European Programming Period

Alliance against Antigypsyism and its partners work intensively to create recommendations for the Post 2020 European programming period

On the 14th of March 2018, ERGO Network together with European Network against Racism (ENAR) and Central Council of German Sinti and Roma organized a meeting of the Alliance against Antigypsyism.

The aim of the meeting was twofold. The participants explored two topics. One of them is Roma inclusion in EU social and employment policies and another one specifically about the antigypsyism framework at the EU level and beyond. The ultimate aim was to discuss the draft papers authored by some members of the Alliance themselves and contribute into the content by discussing specific relevant policy processes and by formulating recommendations. New steps were jointly set in creating the two documents with recommendations with purpose to help the institutions with clear guidelines that will be used as an advocacy tool by stakeholders in their work on Roma and the post 2020 programming period.

Other participation organizations such as Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), Roma Active Albania, OTAHARIN, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Romano  Centro, Slovo 21, Romea, European Roma Right Center, Sozialfabrik, Society for the Research on Antigypsyism, were consulted in order to help make the recommendations feasible and relevant ranging from the international to the national and local level perspectives.

Secondly, a joint advocacy work occurred in light of preparation for the upcoming European Commission consultation meeting organized by DG JUST a day after, on 15th of March. The key objective of the consultation was to collect views on the implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies launched in 2011 and running until 2020. Our discussion was yet another coordinated action among various civil society stakeholders aiming at reaching a common agreement on priorities and possible action plan that will lead our work in 2018 and further so we achieve strong Roma inclusive policies after 2020.

 

ERGO’S work and its partners continues in the NEW FRAMEWORK PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT with EASI DG EMPL: 1st working meeting

ERGO’S work and its partners continues in the NEW FRAMEWORK PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT with EASI DG EMPL: 1st working meeting

ERGO Network brought together its co-workers from Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria to Brussels on March 5-7, for the 1st working meeting under the Annual Working Program (AWP) 2018- 2021. The meeting marked a continuation of the last four years work ERGO and its partners conducted under the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation funded by Director General: Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion support (DG EMPL).

The aim of the meeting was to discuss all the priorities under the four years framework. The meeting aim was to plan and discus the AWP 2018 and find ways to raise the effectiveness and productiveness and continuation of the previous activities conducted. A special focus was put on the methodology and guidance on how our members should carry out the implementation of the AWP in the next months.

Our members were very active in commonly agree on the next steps in our work at the grassroots level. In addition, the ERGO members were updated with the ongoing work of ERGO at European level and together we planned further steps for the events which are in the next days (Roma week etc.)

ERGO will continue in the next period together with its partners to equip multipliers with the competencies to train local Roma civil society organizations and public authorities in engaging more effectively with national and EU decision-making processes.

Join us at the EU Roma Week 2018!

Join us at the EU Roma Week 2018!

The EU Roma Week 2018 will take place in Brussels starting on 8 April, International Roma Day and continue until Thursday 12 April. A series of events will be organised during the week, including an event co-organised by ERGO Network on addressing From quality education to decent employment, Antigypsyism, Theatre peformance,  International Roma Day commemoration and celebration with concerts.

Click here to see the programme  of the EU Roma Week!

Register for the events by 3 April  here. 

French activists fighting against environmental violence and police brutality towards Roma and Gens du Voyage

French activists fighting against environmental violence and police brutality towards Roma and Gens du Voyage

ERGO Network visited its member La Voix des Rroms in France between March 16 and 18, 2018. The purpose of the visit was to take part in one of the meetings of the Rromani Resistance Movement, learn about the fights of the French Roma and Gens du Voyage and think together how we can support each other. The participants were activists from different regions of France: women from Northern France who organized themselves in their community to fight environmental violence, Roma from Paris, Saint Denis, Bordeaux, Nice, a sister and her friend who seek justice for Angelo, a man killed by the French police, Raymond Gurême a Roma genocide survivor with his daughter and many others.

Gens du Voyage women who fight environmental violence ask no more than for their right to health. Their camp is surrounded by factories and railways. The consequences of the bad position of their camp on their health are severe. In addition, the toilets are cold, outside of the premises they live in. They have talks with relevant authorities who are supposed to react, especially because there is a French law that does not allow the conditions this community lives in. Even though the process is slow, the women we talked to expect their camp to be moved sometimes next year. In general, in France, there are not enough caravan camps.

In this community in Northern France there are about 500 people not only at risk but already having health issues (skin problems, for example). The women have written to the mayor and are waiting for the response. A specialist is also going to access the consequences of these living conditions on the people’s health. These women activists are sending a message that they want to move their camp and to have toilets inside – all they want is their basic rights to be respected.

You can read more about the women living in Hallemes-Ronchin dedicated caravan sight in the suburbs of Lille we met, but also more about “a significant gap between the officially stated goals of such sights and the reality of life within them” in an article written by Lise Foisneau here.

Beside environmental violence, one of the big problems in France is police brutality. Aurelie, a sister of Angelo who was murdered by some French police officers, and few supporters formed “La justice pour Angelo” movement. On the 31st of March, in the city of Blois, Angelo Garand’s family and their supporters will march to remind the public that it is intolerable to kill someone just because he is a prisoner and a Roma. A month after the march, on April 30th, the judge will decide if there is enough evidence and if the police officers are going to be sent for a trial. More information about the case and the opportunities to support the cause can be found here  and here , and at the Facebook page of Angelo’s family.

Photo credit: Valentin Merlin 

After an exciting day and a half of learning, getting to know each other, learning more about the 16th of May – Rromani Resistance Day from our partner from La Voix des Rroms Saimir Mile and working in small groups following Tara Dickman’s and Anina Ciuciu’s presentation of community organizing methodology, figuring out the most efficient and effective next steps, Sunday was about connecting past and present, listening a research findings of Lise Foisneau and Valentin Merlin about the resistance of “Nomads” during the Second World War. The public in general lacks the knowledge about Roma genocide, but even less known is the resistance of the Roma, which was continuous and had both an individual as well as an organized dimension.