Ivo Skoric on Fri, 7 Apr 2000 21:32:31 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> (Fwd) (Fwd) ERRC Press Statment: International Roma Day 2000

In the societies where the citizenship has ethnic identity, as it is 
the case with the post-communist Europe, mistreatment of ethnic 
minorities is bound to be institutionalized. Roma population, which 
is a minority population in all of Europe, due to its past nomadic 
nature, is on the bottom rung of the ladder of xenophobia. Kind of 
like Europe's "blacks." Perhaps, if it would be possible to solve 
hatred of Roma, and the apartheid practiced in Europe's societies 
against them, it would be easier to address other xenophobic, 
chauvinist posturing as well, and eventually build a strong civil 
society as the best measure against Bosnias and Kosov@s 
happening over and over again.


------- Forwarded Message Follows -------

European Roma Rights Center <errc@errc.org>
ERRC Press Statment: International Roma Day 2000

April 8 is International Roma Day. On the occasion, the European Roma
Rights Center (ERRC), an international public interest law organisation
which monitors the situation of Roma in Europe and provides legal defence
in instances of human rights abuse, calls attention to Roma rights abuses
around Europe:


Human rights values were vindicated in Central and Eastern Europe on April
3, 2000, when SFOR troops arrested former Bosnian Serb leader Momcilo
Krajisnik following his indictment for war crimes by the Hague tribunal.
The ERRC cheers the determination of international authorities to see that
the genocidal actions of Serb paramilitaries during the Bosnian war do not
go unpunished. As the first anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Roma
from Kosovo by ethnic Albanians approaches, however, no similar
prosecutions of Kosovar Albanians are foreseen. According to reports by
NGO observers, the international press, and even high-ranking United
Nations officials charged with administrating Kosovo, Kosovar courts
dismiss -- often on technicalities -- cases against ethnic Albanians
charged with serious hate crimes. At present, no international tribunal is
planned to ensure that persons responsible for violent crimes including
murder, torture, rape, arson and kidnapping are brought to justice.
Possibly over 100,000 Roma from Kosovo live in extremely precarious
circumstances outside the province, while the approximately 30,000 Roma
inside -- many of them displaced -- face daily the threat of ethnically
motivated violence.

Anti-Romani Violence

Violence by state actors against Roma is widespread throughout Europe: a
number of Roma have been killed by police in recent years, many while in
police custody. Many more have suffered torture, physical abuse and racist
verbal abuse at the hands of law enforcement officials. The public appears
to support and even promote "hard tactics" vis-a-vis Romani individuals
and communities, and abusive officers are rarely brought to justice. At
the same time, racially motivated violence against Roma by skinheads as
well as by ordinary citizens is endemic and severely under-prosecuted
throughout the region.


Western European governments and media regard recent migrations of Roma
from Eastern Europe to the West as "only economic migration" and often as
"abuse of the right to asylum". In doing so, they disregard the steady
stream of reports of unremedied police violence, skinhead attacks and
racially motivated pogroms, as well as pervasive discrimination in all
spheres of social life. In some cases, Western European governments may
have failed to provide Roma protection, in violation of states'
obligations under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of
Refugees to grant asylum to persons with a well founded fear of
persecution in their country of origin. Most recently, according to the
French news agency Agence France Presse, German authorities sent at least
one Romani family to Kosovo on March 29, 2000, raising the concern that
they may have been "refouled", or returned to face persecution.


Publics throughout Europe adhere to the view that "Roma do not value
education" and cite as evidence low school attainment of Roma and high
rates of indicators such as illiteracy. In reality, Roma face intense
discrimination at all levels of the school system, and racism in the
classroom is rampant. Roma are often segregated within the school system
and educated in substandard classes. In some countries in Central and
Eastern Europe, disproportionately large numbers of Roma receive their
education in schools for the mentally disabled. In many areas, de facto
racial segregation exists. This situation should be challenged in many
ways, including anti-discrimination litigation, advocacy to challenge the
legal and institutional framework of education systems, adoption of strong
anti-discrimination legislation, teacher training, development of
anti-racism curricula, as well as grassroots activism.


More than fifty years after the end of the Romani Holocaust -- the most
recent but certainly not the only attempt by the people of Europe to
eradicate the entire Romani people -- Roma live at the margins of European
societies, unable to live with dignity and often under physical attack.
Europe remains a debtor to the Romani people, owing respect and real
measures to include Roma in the European society of the 21st century.


The European Roma Rights Center is an international public interest law
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal defence
in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the European
Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC on the web at http://errc.org.

European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93

Telephone: (36 1) 42 82 351
Fax: (36 1) 42 82 356



The European Roma Rights Center is dependent upon the generosity of
individual donors for its continued existence. If you believe the ERRC
performs a service valuable to the public, please join in enabling its
future with a contribution. Gifts of all sizes are welcome; bank transfers
are preferred. Please send your contribution to:

European Roma Rights Center
Budapest Bank Rt.
1054 Budapest
Bathory utca 1

La Historia es nuestra
y la hacen los pueblos.

       Salvador Allende


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