Antigypsyism politically recognised in the Netherlands
Together with my colleague Andreia Nicolic, who is chair of the Roma Utrecht Foundation & the Roma Advocacy Network Netherlands, we have been working for almost for 20 years as volunteer activists from the Roma grassroots level. In October 2020 a motion by Selçuk Öztürk on antigypsyism and how to combat this injustice has been adopted by the majority of the Dutch National Parliament.
Mr Öztürk is a Member of Parliament of the political party DENK, a party that focuses strongly on combatting racism and injustice. More than 75 years after the Roma Genocide/Roma Holocaust of the Second World War, antigypsyism finally has been officially recognized, hence we can take further steps to tackling it. This political recognition thanks to Mr Öztürk’s motion obligates the Dutch government to improve the legal position of Roma. We know from our advocacy’s perspective that we have to stay on top of this to make sure that improvements shall be put into practice. In addition, our community-led and advocacy role surely has been strengthened, so from now on we shall have more influence in decision-making processes. There is still a long way to go but this has been a first significant and crucial political step.
Also at local level in Utrecht a motion of DENK Utrecht (of the same political party) on antigypsyism and how to combat this has been adopted, thanks to Mahmut Sungur and Ismail El Abassi, who are the local representatives.
Grassroots activism is crucial to make change happen – together with our political friends we shall intensify our networks whilst continuing our strife against antigypsyism, statelessness and any other injustice, for now and for our future generations.
©Michelle Mila V. Burik Bihari, Advocacy Coordinator Roma Utrecht & Roma Advocacy Network Netherlands, March 2021