EU Roma Week 2019

From 18-21 March 2019, the fourth EU Roma Week in the European Parliament will take place, with the active involvement of ERGO Network, its members and civil society partners.  The Roma Week consists of a series of events discussing  the current and future EU Roma rights agenda, hosted by Members of the European Parliament.

It will be preceeded by a Roma Youth Advocacy Training, bringing together over 30 young people to prepare their inputs to the week and learn more about EU advocacy. This five days lasting seminar is organized by ternYpe International Roma Youth Network, ERGO Network, Phiren Amenca and the Documentation and Cultural Centre & Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.

Additionally, civil society representatives will attend a meeting of the Alliance against Antigypsyism.

ERGO Network will be actively participating in the events in the European Parliament. Besides co-organising the panel debate ‘Roma Included: Can the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals contribute to combatting antigypsyism’, ERGO and its members will participate in discussions on the current and future EU Roma Framework and on creating truth and reconciliation commissions.

For more information, please contact info@ergonetwork.org

Letter to UN Secretary General on lead poisoning in Kosovo

Letter to UN Secretary General on lead poisoning in Kosovo  – 18th of February 2019.

Last week 55 Members of the European Parliament from various political groups sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The letter urges the UNSG to take long overdue steps to ensure that the victims of widespread lead poisoning at UN-run camps in Kosovo receive individual compensation, adequate health care and educational support. The UN’s role in the violation of the rights of these people has been clearly documented by the Human Rights Advisory Panel (HRAP). The affected Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in Kosovo have been struggling to care for sick family members who were exposed to toxic lead for more than a decade. The current Trust Fund, however, falls short of offering individual compensation and no member state has so far contributed to it.

Read here the full Letter to the UN Secretary-General

(Photo credit/ARMEND NIMANI)

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.