The attitude towards Turkish Roma during the Pandemic

The attitude towards Turkish Roma during the Pandemic

News from ERGO member Zero Discrimination

Attitudes towards Roma during the Covid Pandemic in Turkey were heterogenous. While inclusiveness was much improved, especially on the part of the interventions of the local authorities, discriminatory discourses were also witnessed.

To count a few positive interventions: in İstanbul, the Metropolitan Municipality prioritized Roma neighbourhoods in food aid; in Ankara, the Metropolitan Municipality employed paper and scrap collectors; in İzmir, Municipalities in cooperation with local authorities, Red Crescent and a Roma NGO provided food parcels and hygiene kits as well as cash assistance; in Edirne, Municipality embraced “crisis municipalism approach” and provided regular food parcels to Roma neighbourhoods and regularly disinfected the streets; in Manisa, the Municipality provided food assistance to quarantined Roma neighbourhood; in Tekirdağ, the Municipality employed Roma musicians and in Canik/Samsun food parcels were also distributed in Roma neighbourhoods.

Moreover, Zero Discrimination Association in cooperation with local authorities and municipalities, through the Roma Solidarity Network provided food, hygiene kits and clothing to scores of Roma families in different parts of Turkey, including Balıkesir, Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep.

Apart from these positive examples, some municipalities do not take measures specially designed for the Roma. While many provide social aid to disadvantaged groups, as many Roma are illiterate and many lack access to internet, they cannot even apply for this assistance. While Zero Discrimination Association tries to facilitate their access, there is a need for sustainable and permanent mechanisms. On the other hand of the spectrum, unfortunately, some municipalities employed discriminatory practices. One of the municipalities refrained from disinfecting a Roma neighbourhood, on their ill-founded assumption that “Roma are already infected and that there is no need to disinfect”. In another district, the needs of the Roma were disregarded on the misfortunate belief that “Roma are already used to hunger and thirst”. In some cities, Roma’s need for social assistance were stigmatized on the again unfounded prejudice of Roma’s laziness and lack of will for hard work.

Image: “Mücadele olmadan yaşam olmaz” means “There is no life without struggle”. Written on the wall of a Roma Neighbourhood.

Social Media Accounts – Roma Solidarity Network
Facebook: @romandayanisma
Instagram: @romandayanisma
Twitter: @romandayanisma
Social Media Accounts – Zero Discrimination Association
Facebook: @SifirAyrimcilikDernegi
Instagram: @sifirayder
Twitter: @sifirayder