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.



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

 

 

 

Strengthening Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations

Strengthening Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations

ERGO members from the Western Balkans, Turkey and the ‘Visegrad countries’ Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic met in Brussels on 24-25 November to prepare a new ERGO project that will strengthen Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations.

Being transparent and accountable are important prerequisites for the effectiveness of civil society organisations that are taken seriously by their institutional counterparts. It also shows public authorities that civil society take transparency and accountability very seriously and demand the same from the public sector.

With financial support from the International Visegrad Fund and the European Commission, ERGO Network member organizations therefore agreed on joining their efforts and put their thorough expertise together to set up a list of ‘transparency criteria’ and capacitate Roma civil society in their countries in implementing them.

During the meeting, all partners agreed that using transparency criteria would give them more legitimacy, better fundraising opportunities and more trust from both the grassroots level and institutions. They then drew up a list of criteria, divided into the chapters ‘governance’, ‘finance’ and ‘performance’. These include points such as giving access and distributing information about statutes and funding sources of CSOs, clear decision-making structures that divide responsibilities and ensure gender equality in CSOs, as well as the participation of target groups in the development of strategies and goals.  The partners furthermore stressed the importance of open leadership and regular training within the organisation that contribute to a positive performance of the staff, as well as the need not to use ‘dirty money’ coming for example from illegal sources or from companies using child labour.

Transparency also demands a proper and clear communication strategy (both internal and external) that communicates the vision, mission and the long term goals of the organization. If applicable, diversification of funds also contributes to more independence of organisations.

In 2018, ERGO Network will organise a training for trainers on the transparency criteria in order to help their usage and dissemination in the participating countries as well as offer coaching visits to the partner organisations. You will be able to find regular updates on our website.

“The inclusion of the Roma community was encouraged and evaluated through a system of indicators developed by the ERGO Network”* – a story of success

“The inclusion of the Roma community was encouraged and evaluated through a system of indicators developed by the ERGO Network”* – a story of success

Our Bulgarian member organisation Integro analysed the Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) process and Roma inclusion therein.

In Bulgaria the implementation of the CLLD in the 2014-2020 programming period started within the Rural Development Program 2014-2020, a successor of the LEADER approach. During the current period, the budget for implementation of local development strategies is significantly higher – so that it is expected that two times more local development strategies will be funded.  With the help of ERGO Network’s quality audit tool, Integro analysed Roma integration in local development strategies and local action groups, and identified four steps that are important to take when wanting to improve Roma access to the CLLD programme.