Antigypsyism and statelessness in DENK election manifesto

Antigypsyism and statelessness in DENK election manifesto

As a follow-up of the political recognition of antigypsyism in the Netherlands, the same political party who addressed this in October 2020 – DENK -, included antigypsyism and statelessness among Roma in their election manifesto 2021-2025.

After the elections took place in March 2021, DENK MP Stephan van Baarle addressed several questions on this matter. In the Netherlands, some Romani people who have been living here legally for over more than 40 years with residence permits are still being sent away when applying for Dutch citizenship.

This is in contravention with European and international law since covenants on preventing and eliminating statelessness have been ratified by the Dutch government. Even tough much has been done already by Roma NGOs and their political supporters and activists in addressing the issue of statelessness, things are moving (too) slow. Numerous children are at risk of becoming stateless or are confronted with “unknown nationality”.  This is a major obstacle in their daily lives and affects their education and their future.  Statelessness is one manifestation of antigypsyism, which impacts heavily on the position of Roma in society. It is vital to combine powers and to see that proper written solutions shall be put into practice, as everyone has a right to a nationality. Although people who are stateless do not have voting rights, thanks to the cooperation between DENK and Roma Utrecht Netherlands we managed to address this in the Dutch Parliament. Roma Utrecht Netherlands remains in close contact with the DENK party.

Antigypsyism politically recognised in the Netherlands

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