Tag Archives: Roma

Roma Blamed Once Again

Copenhagen is a modern metropolis with hundreds of thousands living within its confine as well as millions who visit it each year. Danish police recently found 12 Roma living in a derelict abandoned post office and arrested them for trespassing on private property. Police are concerned about the ever increasing number of Roma who have come to their fair city of Copenhagen to find a way of life. Political leaders are currently discussing ways of coping with this large influx of undesirable aliens who supposedly beg for money, sell bottles or engage in life of crime. Current estimates place the number of these hordes of Roma at anywhere from 200–400! A police spokesperson promised a “series of police raids will be carried out and there will be nothing soft-handed about it.” They are working with Romanian police to ascertain the status of the 12 arrested Roma.

Let us accept the figure of 400 as the number of Roma in Copenhagen. Is it possible that among these 400 a few are working at paying jobs? If not, can an employment agency help secure work for these men and women. I am certain they prefer a weekly wage to what they could earn begging.

Roma Forced To Leave Homes In Turkish Town

Roma live in many nations throughout the world, but there is one thing that is a common experience for these embattled people– forces of hate are always present to make their lives uncomfortable. Local Roma in the province of Selendi in Turkey have been forced to leave the town and will be relocated to another place of residence after violence broke out against them. Reports indicate violence began when a Roma tried to smoke in a coffee house according to one account, although another says it began when the shop owner refused to serve Romas. A few days later a mob of about 1,000 assaulted the Romas destroying tents and other property. Local Roma leaders blame the mayor of the district for stirring up trouble by making anti-Roma comments which served to stir up bigots in the community.

Roma residents will be relocated to another district. Many Turkish human rights advocates believe the relocation only serves to placate bigots and the problem remains, the only difference being the absence of Romas in the town.

Necati Kaplan of the Aegean Roma Association put it clearly: “As Roma, we have never thrown a stick or stone at the flag, nation or government. We were born here and we will die here. We’re calling on the prime minister to stick up for the Roma. We are not terrorists.”

Romani Language Ignored In Czech Republic

Language is what identifies people as much as skin color, and for those who are called, Romas, their speech has been part of their identify for hundreds of years. A recent study by the Council of Europe revealed there is extensive discrimination against Romas in the Czech Republic due to language issues. Romany is relatively little represented on television, in radio or in public life, and the language is absent from kindergartens and nurseries. Most probably, Romany is what young Roma children speak so when they enter primary grades in school, they are immediately behind students who have been raised with the Czech language. The report also revealed the small German minority in the nation lacks opportunity to witness extensive use of German in ordinary discourse of the society.

Undoubtedly, the decline of German is also related to World War II and its horrors. But, Romas never damaged the lives of Czechs and discrimination against their language can only be explained by prejudice.

Blame It On Minorities Gets Votes In Bulgaria!

The world-wide recession has sparked a rise in racism and blame economic problems on the presence of ethnic minorities within a country. The recent election in Bulgaria witnessed a remarkable victory for right wing racist parties that used anti-Turkish rhetoric in seeking electoral victory. Ahmet Dogan, a Bulgarian politician who is of Turkish ethnicity and heads the Movement for Rights and Freedom (HOH) was the target of numerous attacks by the Order Law and Justice Party(RZ5) whose leader Yane Yanev ran on an anti-Turkish platform of blaming problems on that ethnic group. Sofia Mayor Boyko Borisov, was openly racist and termed Turks and Romas as the “bad human capital of Bulgaria.”

Among the victims in this victory by right wing racists is any hope of enabling Turkey to become a member of the European Union. Borisov, who is close to the ideas of French President Sarkozy in matters dealing with Turkey, made clear his views by saying, “I am convinced that Turkey will not meet the membership criteria for at least 20-30 more years.”
Hatred has won the battle in many parts of Europe during the past few months. The question is whether failure on the part of Obama to offer economic success will result in similar outcomes in America.

Money Alone Can’t Solve Roma Problems

The European Union is willing to spend millions of Euros in an effort to improve the lives of Roma children in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Educational opportunities undoubtedly are a key component of dealing with issues of prejudice and bigotry, but money in itself spent in school improvement is not sufficient for the tasks that lie ahead. An estimated 300,000-500,000 Romas live in Slovakia and a large number inhabit settlements which lack running water or electricity. Roma children do not succeed in school which places them at a disadvantage in seeking decent paying jobs or even securing modern housing.

The story in America of dealing with poverty and discrimination is the importance of simultaneously confronting education, housing, and jobs as well as undertaking programs for adult education. Spending another hundred or two hundred million Euros will not result in much difference unless it also addresses other issues. There is also need for an extensive program dealing with multiculturalism for children in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Death Of A Roma Family In Hungary

The Roma family was gathered around the dinner table prepared for the evening meal when suddenly their peaceful life was interrupted by shouts and then fire bombs entered their home. As the family tried to escape, the father and his five year old son were gunned down by a group of bigots who hate and fear anyone who is not like them. The attack was one of several that in recent months have hit Roma families in an area south of Budapest. The police chief in the town said at least four Romas have been murdered in this manner. “There have been at least sixteen attacks on Roma homes, involving guns, petrol bombs or grenades in the last twelve months. In only one case has the perpetrator been brought to justice.”

A member of the European Union reacted with anger saying there apparently was little effort on the part of police to actively search to find the murderers. It took days before police in the village even admitted there had been a murder because their initial reaction was deaths followed a fire in the home. Hungarians a few weeks ago were shocked when an outstanding Roma handball player was murdered, but his assailant was never found. When will Hungary wake up to the hatred in their backyard?

Racism Places Romas Under Peril In Hungary

The Roma minority continues to be the most persecuted in eastern Europe as well as the group which experiences the greatest poverty. Romas have been in eastern Europe for hundreds of years during which time myths and beliefs have built up concerning their behaviors and desires. Albert Pasztor, police chief in Miskoic, told the media in blunt terms, “except for bank and gas station robberies all crimes in Miskoic during the months of December and January were committed by gypsies.” A rather amazing statement which appears to suggest that non-Roma people in Hungary are law abiding to an extent not known elsewhere in the world. We in America would be more than happy to dispatch to Hungary some of our criminal bankers and investment brokers, none of whom is a Roma.

The emphasis in Hungary has been more towards anti-discrimination rather than economic an educational development. Statements like those of Pasztor reflect ignorance since it is doubtful if non-Roma criminals were classified in any way other than being criminals. Crime either comes from the wealthy who use stock markets or business to steal or it comes from poor people who are trying to survive. The Roma people need jobs, good education, and efforts to establish social relations with other members of the community.

Roma Czech Woman Sterilized Against Will

In a surprising development the Czech High Court over-ruled a decision to award a Roma woman damages for being sterilized against her will. In 1997, Iveta Cervenakova went to the hospital to have a Cesarean section procedure and while going through this experience was urged to sign a consent agreement which allowed the hospital to sterilize the young woman. The hospital argues sterilization was in accord with the law which allows such procedures if the patient gives consent. Actually, her case was one of several that have been taken up by the Sterilized Women’s Association(SZPS) which believes several hospitals have been forcing young women to go through the sterilization procedure. The Olomouc High Court overturned a 2007 ruling which awarded her financial damages for the procedure. The court ruled she had to file her case within three years after the event and since it came past that date, she could not receive financial compensation.

The court did rule the hospital had to apologize to the woman. Cervenakova said she didn’t even know she had been sterilized until fairly recently when she tried having a child. One can only wonder how many middle or upper class women were urged while going through a medical procedure to undergo a sterilization process. We suspect only poorer women are asked such questions.

Hungarian Neo-Nazis Demonstrate In Budapest

Before and during World War II, there was a strong pro-Nazi right wing group in Hungary which actively supported Hitler’s ideas and carried out brutal actions against Hungarian Jews which resulted in the death of thousands. It is not surprising that descendants of those nationalist extremists are alive and well in modern Hungary. The Magyar Garda, a right wing nationalist group, showed its power by inducting into its militia 400 new recruits, including young children. Members of the Hungarian Guard, wearing their distinctive black uniforms, held their fourth national ceremony in Heroes Square.

Members of parliament attended the ceremony as did a controversial priest, Lorant Hegedus. The Magyar Garda was registered in June, 2007 as a “cultural organization” whose goal is to “prepare youth spiritually and physically for extraordinary situations when it might be necessary to mobilise the people.” It has attacked Roma groups on several occasions and has marched in their communities.

It is rather sad, given the history of such groups in recent Hungarian history, they are still around and spouting their hatred.

Anti-Immigrant Hysteria Sweeps Italy!

Last week, an Italian woman was walking home when she was brutally attacked by a band of criminals who not only robbed her but left her dead body in a gully. The crime has aroused a fury of anger by Italians against their immigrant population which numbers nearly a million. Police swept through Roma immigrant camps, which are nothing more than shanties thrown together out of discarded wood and boxes. They demolished hundreds of these shanties and sent the immigrants to staging areas where they will be deported. A new law just passed by Italy’s parliament allows a local prefect to expel any European Union citizen is their actions constitute threaten “public security.” The law is now being enforced throughout Italy against Roma immigrants who historically have been hounded and persecuted wherever they attempt to live. Recent figures in London reveal that while the foreign immigrant population is 27% of the population, they only commit 20% of the crimes. Since arrival of about 700,000 immigrants nine months ago from countries like Rumania, Romas have been charged with exactly nine murders. It would be interesting to ascertain the number of murders committed by members of the Mafia during the same time period. Xenophobic and populist politicians are having a field day with the murder in order to justify their desire to get rid of immigrants.

Fear of foreign people is alive in Italy, a nation which historically welcomed such arrivals to their country. A single murder has now become the spark plug to unleash the fury of populism against foreigners. Italy might benefit from a similar anger being directed toward the Mafia in Sicily where crime far surpasses anything done by Roma immigrants.