New reports about racism and inequality in the UK

New reports about racism and inequality in the UK

The “Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on her visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” has been published and makes specific reference to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.

The UN Special Rapporteur E. Tendayi Achiume stated in her report that the UK Government’s policies exacerbate discrimination, stoke xenophobic sentiment and further entrench racial inequality. It highlights persistent racial disparities in, among others, education, employment, housing, health, surveillance, interactions with police, prosecutions, and incarceration.

“The structural socio-economic exclusion of racial and ethnic minority communities in the United Kingdom is striking,” the Special Rapporteur said in her report, based on a fact-finding visit to the country in April and May 2018.

“Notwithstanding the existence of a legal framework devoted to combating racial discrimination, the harsh reality is that race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability status and related categories all continue to determine the life chances and well-being of people in Britain in ways that are unacceptable and, in many cases, unlawful.”

During her fact finding visit to the country in April and May 2018 she held a special meeting with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller organisations.

The full report of the Women and Equalities Committee “Tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities” was produced in April 2019:

The Government has now produced its response to this in which it states that “the Government agrees that an ambitious programme of work needs to be undertaken in order to tackle inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government will lead in co-ordinating a cross-Government strategy to improve outcomes for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. The ministry will work closely with other Government departments including the Race Disparity Unit within the Cabinet Office, the Department for Education, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Government Equalities Office and the Home Office to develop the strategy.”

This follows years of pressure from NGOs, including the civil society monitoring reports and the “Experts by Experience” report of the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups and will be a “Roma Integration Strategy” in all but name. The Strategy won’t be operational until 2020 to give time for community input into its formulation, but the commitment to produce it is a positive move and we will be working alongside other NGOs to ensure that the Strategy is “bottom up” rather than merely being imposed from above.

Exchange visit to Nevo Parudimos

Exchange visit to Nevo Parudimos

From 5 to 9 June 2019 ERGO Network visited Nevo Parudimos in their town of Resita in Romania, along with members from all over Europe to learn about the invaluable work Nevo Parudimos is doing in their country for their local Roma communities. Among the fellow member organizations who attended were staff from Pavee Point in Ireland, FAGIC from Spain, and RomanoNet and Life Together from the Czech Republic.

Once there everyone visited Nevo’s office where Daniel Grebeldinger presented the different projects they are involved in.

This includes youth work, social work, rural development policy and many volunteering projects. Nevo Parudimos is currently hosting 18 international volunteers and works with many local volunteers who support local schools, kindergartens, elderly homes and more. Another focus of the organization is on building local partnerships that benefit Roma communities, the municipality as a whole and the organization.

The participants also had the opportunity to drive though Resita visiting local Roma communities and hearing more about their specific issues and the work that Nevo Parudimos is doing to support them. The day closed with discussing what the other ERGO members could learn from Nevo Parudimos, how they deal with similar challenges and how they could get involved in Nevo’s projects.

The next day the group visited Dognacea, a village in the surrounding mountains that are governed by probably the only Roma woman mayor in the country, Elena Moise. Everyone was greeted with open arms when entering her office, she was so welcoming and willing to answer any questions we had. Elena Moise was previously a local school teacher

and for the last 12 years has taken the position of mayor.  After our conversations with her, it is safe to say she is an amazing and inspiring woman and her work is has changed the lives of many people in her village. Especially for the children in the schools, she is a role model who tells them to be proud of themselves. She said that whenever she feels down she goes to visit the local school to speak with the children to cheer up. Her message to us was that it is important to take up roles such as hers in order to do good for our communities, not to be scared of anyone and to be proud of what we do.

On the last evening, we all participated in a networking dinner to meet with Neo Parudimos’ partners, to make contacts and build relations between people working for the same cause. We met with Nadia Potoceanu, the president of Fundatia Activity for Sustainable Development, Lidia Rosianu, the head of the social department of the Municipality of Resita, Cristrian Chioncel, the Vice Dean of Eftimie Murgu University of Resita and Adrian Constantin, director of the Roma Radio Broadcast in Radio Resita.

Everyone left on the morning of the 9th to their respective countries. The exchange visit proved to be a success with our member organizations, and ERGO plans to organize similar visits to other members in the next years. This type of event is very important for our work to learn about the problems faced by Roma in different countries and to learn how local organizations are trying to find solutions to these problems.

Aggression towards Roma in Bulgaria

Aggression towards Roma in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian Roma civil society coalition Intelect, co-chaired by ERGO Network member Integro Association, has issued a statement regarding the latest agression against Roma in the town of Gabrovo.

You can download the statement as PDF.

 

Position of the National Coalition Intelect

on the manifestation of unjustified aggression towards the Roma minority from the town of Gabrovo

Bulgaria is powerless to pursue the goals and values ​​enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

As a country that should adhere to the rule of a law and a Member State of the European Union, Bulgaria must ensure equality before the law of all its citizens, including their minorities.

Bulgaria must be guided by the principle of the rule of law and guarantee the freedom and security of its citizens through justice rather than mob law.

Today Bulgaria has a problem to ensure equality, justice and protection of its Roma ethnic minority.

2011 was the year when, due to the accumulated anger against a Roma oligarch, racist anti-Roma riots broke out in many Bulgarian cities.

In the following years attacks of Roma neighborhoods were repeatedly organized by ethnic Bulgarians – namely in Garmen[1] (2015), Asenovgrad[2] (2017), Rousse[3] (2018), Voyvodinovo[4] (2019) and now in Gabrovo[5].

Each of these cases was provoked by conflicts between individuals of Bulgarian and Roma origin. Thus, despite the principle of individual guilt, the victims of the protesters’ criminal actions are thousands of innocent Roma people who are attacked, beaten, their houses demolished, and their children not able to attend school.

Roma in Bulgaria do not have collective rights as a cultural minority, but they are collectively punished when individuals of Roma origin violate the law.

Roma neighborhoods lack security, quietness. Roma homes are not inviolable and Roma do not enjoy prosperity.

In many cases, the authorities are simply spectators of the events, while the law enforcement agencies only prevent excesses.

Institutions are not able to pursue the Union’s objective of combating social exclusion and discrimination when it comes to the Roma population, nor are they guided by the values ​​of building a society in which human dignity is the most important cornerstone of fundamental rights  as well as inclusion, tolerance and non-discrimination.

The task of the state is by its actions to show and prove that it has the will to impose the most essential principles for the society – justice and solidarity, as well as to punish criminals with the power of the law while at the same time to care for and protect the vulnerable groups.

We call for:

1) The Bulgarian government and the political class to show vision by starting to plan and implemen inclusive policies free of fascist ideology in line with the European Social Pillar in cooperation with Roma intellectuals and leadership;

2) The President of the Republic of Bulgaria to intensify the dialogue within the National Security Advisory Council on the issues of prevention of ethnic-inspired conflicts;

3) The Chief Prosecutor of the country to take responsibility for publicly-dangerous crimes against citizens’ rights and especially for crimes against citizenship as incitement to discrimination, violence or hatred or use of violence based on race, nationality or ethnicity.

4) The Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria to manifest his inherent activity in order to stop the violation ofbasic human rights of the Roma population and to prevent the spread of racism and national fascism as a public ideology in Bulgaria;

5) The European Commission to strengthen both the monitoring of Bulgaria’s implementation of the objectives and values ​​of the Union’s Lisbon Treaty and its support for the implementation of meaningful inclusive and non-discriminatory policies for the Roma minority.

12 April 2019

On behalf of the 25 Member Organizations of of Intellect coalition:

Ms. Liliya Makaveeva

Director of Integro Association, Co-Chair of NC Intellect

 

 

 

Ms. Daniela Mihaylova

Director of Equal Opportunities Initiatives Association, Co-Chair of NC Intellect

 

[1] В-к 24 Часа „Ново напрежение в Гърмен:50 българи тръгват към ромската махала“ https://www.24chasa.bg/novini/article/4880413

[2] В-к Монитор „Хиляди пак на бунт в Асеновград, щурмуват ромската махала“

 https://www.monitor.bg/bg/a/view/70354-%D0%9D%D0%B0%D0%B4-2000-%D0%BF%D0%B0%D0%BA-%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D0%B1%D1%83%D0%BD%D1%82-%D0%B2-%D0%90%D1%81%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B4-%D1%82%D1%80%D1%8A%D0%B3%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%85%D0%B0-%D0%BA%D1%8A%D0%BC-%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BC%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B0-%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%85%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%B0

[3] Канал3 „Напрежение в Русе! Мотористи нахлуха в кварталите, където е живял Северин“  http://kanal3.bg/news/86075-Napredzenie-v-Ruse%2521-Motoristi-nahluha-v-kvartalite%252C-kadeto-e-dzivyal-Severin

[4] Агенция Фокус „Напрежение и протести след циганското нападение в пловдивското село Войводиново“ http://www.focus-news.net/news/2019/01/08/2609936/naprezhenie-i-protesti-sled-tsigansko-napadenie-v-plovdivskoto-selo-voyvodinovo-obzor.html

[5] БТВ „Напрежението в Габрово ескалира, изпращат жандармерията“ https://btvnovinite.bg/bulgaria/eskalacija-na-naprezhenieto-v-gabrovo.html

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.



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.