Archiv der Kategorie 'außerhalb Europas'

The Dom: Syria’s Invisible Refugees

More than 70,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands left homeless by the civil war in Syria, spreading misery among all of the nation’s ethnic and religious groups. But one ethnic minority has undergone more than its share of suffering — both during the current fighting and for centuries preceding it — and few outside of Syria know much about it. The group is known as the Dom and it has been a presence in Syria since before the Ottoman Empire. Often mislabeled by the pejorative “gypsies,” the Dom get their name from their language, Domari, means “man.” They have joined the exodus of Christian, Muslim and other Syrians refugees into Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and beyond. But wherever they go, they generally face a less than warm welcome. As one source told VOA, „They are the most despised people in the Middle East.“

Who are the Dom?

Misunderstood and complicated, Dom have been present in the Middle East for at least a thousand years. Most information about them is gleaned from their language, Domari, an Indic variation. It is similar to Romani, the language of the European Roma, suggesting their common roots in India. Both Roma and Domari are peppered with words borrowed from other languages, reflecting their history of migration through Iran and elsewhere. Beyond that, little of their origin is known—or agreed upon by scholars. During the Ottoman period, Dom migrated freely throughout the Middle East as “commercial” nomads, providing services to communities wherever they settled. The fall of the Ottoman Empire following World War I led to the formation of nation states with proper borders, which greatly curtailed Dom movements. Locals in Syria, as elsewhere in the region, call the Dom Nawar — a word likely derived from “fire,” referring to their traditional work as blacksmiths. But over the years, the word “Nawar” has evolved into a pejorative, connoting someone who is uneducated and uncivilized. They also differentiate Dom by the region in which they live and the work they perform. In Aleppo and Idlib, the Dom are called Qurbat and work as blacksmiths or untrained dentists. The so-called Riyass live in Homs and Hama, where they sell handicrafts or entertain at parties. Dom women, dubbed Hajiyat, might dance in Damascus nightclubs, beg or tell fortunes.

The numbers

It is almost impossible to estimate Syria’s Dom population, as they often conceal their identity out of fear of being stigmatized. SIL International’s Ethnologue estimates 37,000 Syrian Dom speak Domari, alongside Arabic.But the Syrian newspaper, Kassioun, reported twice that number in 2010. Kemal Vural Tarlan is a photographer, documentarian, writer and activist who focuses, he says, on those who live on the sidelines of society, chiefly Dom and Roma. He also authors the Middle East Gypsies website. He says Dom are viewed as outsiders and intruders, therefore they are almost universally discriminated against. So they often hide their ethnic backgrounds through what they call the skill of “invisibility,” which helps them move into and out of communities. “The official Dom population could be much higher than estimated, because so many Dom describe themselves as Kurdish, Arab or Turkmen,” Tarlan said. Whatever the number, he says more Dom live in Syria than anywhere else in the Middle East.

Dom refugees in Turkey

Turkey has been home to “gypsies” since Byzantine times, and in 2005 the UNHCR estimated a Roma/Dom population of 500,000. Kemal Tarlan has spent much time in recent weeks near the border documenting the influx of Dom from Syria. He believes as many as 10,000 to 20,000 Dom have settled in southern Turkish towns such as Kilis, Gazientep and Şanlıurfa. “İnitially, some were able to register in proper refugee camps,” Tarlan said, “but now they cannot get into camps, because they are full.” Some Dom have gone to live with families in the cities. Those with no place to go live as nomads in tents. Tarlan says they receive little assistance from the government, so in order to survive, they beg or work in the fields. “But the majority are unemployed,” he said, and this has given rise to local tensions. Recently, after citizens of Şanlıurfa started to complain about a rise in petty theft, Turkish authorites dismantled and burned a makeshift tent city. The media referred to the campers as “Syrians.” But Tarlan says most were Dom.

Into Lebanon

With Beirut only about 65 miles away, many Dom from Damascus have fled into Lebanon. Catherine Mourtada is co-founder of Tahaddi (“Challenge”), a non-governmental assistance group that serves Beirut’s underprivileged, many of whom are Dom. “They are excluded from the normal school systems, either because they don’t meet admission requirements or because public schools are full. „So they come to our place,” Mourtada said. Mourtada has seen increasing numbers of Dom from Syria, looking to stay with their Lebanese relatives. “Already, they are very poor, and now they must welcome other very poor members of their family coming from Syria, so it is very hard for them.They are all living in dire conditions,” she said. “They can’t find any work except for recycling things from the garbage dump, like aluminum or iron or cardboard, just to be able to survive.” In some cases, Beirut Dom are forced turn their Syrian relatives away. “So they have to find a room somewhere to rent. They are lucky if they can get a bathroom or running water,” Mourtada said. Because there are no official refugee camps in Lebanon like those built in Jordan and Turkey, Mourtada says Dom have begun to settled in tent cities in the Bekaa Valley.

Into Jordan

In 1999, Amoun Sleem founded the Domari Society of Gypsies, a cultural and educational center in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shu’fat. Herself a Dom, she says she has first-hand experience with discrimination, cultural marginalization and poverty that most Dom face as a result of illiteracy. “Whenever disaster strikes in the Middle East, no one gives a thought to how it will impact the Dom,” she said. Sleem says she has received word that many Dom refugees are living at or near the Zaatari camp in Mafraq, Jordan. She has been trying to get a permit to visit the camp, but has run into a lot of red tape.In the meantime, she is trying to encourage Jordanian Dom families to host the refugees. “It’s not very easy,” she said, “but if it could happen, it would be a very good thing.”

Source: Voa News
Date: 03.12.2018

Syria’s Gypsy refugees find sanctuary in an Istanbul ghetto – but for how long?

In Tarlabaşı, Istanbul’s oldest slum, a tiny community centre offers a crucial place of safety and support for the shunned Syrian Dom community. But as the city gentrifies, there are fears these refugees may become victims once again

On the north-western corner of Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square, a small gang of children dart through the traffic, tapping on car windows and trying to catch the attention of passers-by to sell bottles of water. These Syrian Gypsy children from a community known as the Dom are in many ways the forgotten faces of the Middle East crisis, which has left an estimated 26,000 refugee children homeless across Europe. The Dom speak a separate language which traces back to the Indian subcontinent; even in times of peace they have always existed on the fringes of society, and are used to facing almost universal discrimination.Before war broke out, there were up to 300,000 Dom living in Syria. Now many live on the streets of Istanbul’s ghettos, part of the approximately 366,000 Syrian refugees seeking a new life in the Turkish city. Many reside in Tarlabaşı, Istanbul’s oldest slum. It is just a few streets from the ornate splendour of İstiklal Caddesi, the nearby avenue of sultans that once saw Istanbul dubbed “the Paris of the East”. But life in Tarlabaşı is very different: it has become known as a haven for Istanbul’s minority communities of migrants, Gypsies, transsexuals, prostitutes, and the outcasts of society.

Even here, however, the Dom children are despised. Other Syrian refugees and local Turks refuse to associate with them. When asked why, Ilyas, a shopkeeper who asked for his full name to not be used when speaking about the Dom, simply comments: “It is a prejudice, yes. I can’t explain it though. I just don’t like their complexion.” But one organisation is trying to help. Based in a tiny flat of no more than 70 sq metres, Tarlabaşı Toplum Merkezi (TTM) is a non-profit community centre started a decade ago by Istanbul Bilgi University’s Centre for Migration Research, and initially funded by the European Union. Run by four full-time employees and a small army of volunteer teachers, lawyers and even musicians, it provides educational support, psychological and legal counselling for nearly 5,000 children and 3,000 adults in Tarlabaşı. It exists as a place of safety and comfort; a way out from the deprivation and crime which pervades this sector of Istanbul.

For hundreds of years, Tarlabaşı’s narrow, winding streets were a peaceful home to non-Muslim diplomats and later Greek merchants who served the business district around İstiklal Caddesi. But as religious tensions rose through the mid-20th century, the Turkish government launched organised pogroms targeting non-Muslims in the city – the most notorious of which was the Turkish Kristallnacht of September 1955. In the ensuing violence, homes and shops were looted and destroyed. Over the following decades, those abandoned buildings were gradually filled by Gypsies known locally as “Roman”, and by refugees fleeing the Turkish-Kurdish civil war in the late 1980s. The construction of a six-lane boulevard which segregated the neighbourhood from Istanbul’s wealthy tourist district sealed Tarlabaşı’s fate. “Violence, drug issues and prostitution is definitely more visible here than anywhere else in the city,” says Ebru Ergün, a psychologist who has worked at the centre for the past five years. “The boulevard is one of the causes of that. It intensified the stigma surrounding this area and made it into a slum.”

Many of the children of Tarlabaşı fail to complete primary school before ending up as beggars or labourers, relying on state-run social services that provide little more than free lunches and sacks of coal. The Dom children, though, don’t even make it as far as school. “They live in awful conditions,” says Ceren Suntekin, a social worker at the centre. “They mostly beg or sell things near the tourist districts, and the police are quite violent towards them as they don’t suit the image that Istanbul is trying to create. The Roman mostly collect garbage on the street, sell flowers, or play music at clubs. They struggle to break out of this life because when they go to school, teachers discriminate against them and they don’t have the environment to study in when they come back home.” The TTM centre provides Turkish lessons to children and adults alike, so Tarlabaşı’s many Syrian and Kurdish residents can find jobs, earn a living, or even continue in education. Hasan Kizillar, 19, grew up in the local Roman community but learnt to play the violin, piano and other instruments in the centre’s orchestra. Now he works as a volunteer himself, teaching music to children, while preparing to study finance at Istanbul University. “He came from a very poor family,” Ergün says. “But like many Roman children, he was highly talented. We’re also slowly making progress with persuading families to allow girls to be educated, and running classes on literacy and gender equality.”

Most importantly of all, the centre is a place where those in trouble can seek help. Domestic abuse cases are commonplace in Tarlabaşı, and Ergün describes the centre’s recent attempts to aid a family of migrants where the mother and her two daughters had been beaten and sexually abused by the father for many years. “They were coming to us regularly,” she says. “We tried for a long time to persuade the mother to go to a shelter, and eventually she did. We found her a lawyer and now her husband is arrested and the children are safe. We’ve helped the woman find a job as her husband hadn’t allowed her to work; now she’s no longer dependent, we hope it will be a better life for them.” But this support network may not exist for much longer. Tarlabaşı is undergoing considerable change. Over the past few years, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has outlined an infrastructure agenda worth in the region of $100bn, and Tarlabaşı has been earmarked for urban transformation. Billboards depicting future visions of the neighbourhood – chic young couples strolling past modern apartments, retail outlets and hotels – are strewn outside the many ongoing building projects. Many of the dilapidated 19th-century buildings that have served as homes for Istanbul’s poorest, meanwhile, are rapidly being demolished. When forced out, the inhabitants often receive a fraction of the market price.

Issam Saade, a 51-year-old Kurdish waiter who has lived in Tarlabaşı since the mid-90s, explains that after years of fighting to stay, he was evicted last autumn following a court order. “There is more money coming into Tarlabaşı but not for the people who live here now,” Saade says. Two years ago, Istanbul’s rapidly escalating rents almost saw the TTM centre close down, but with the help of donations from the US, UK, Sweden and Holland, its work has been able to continue – for the moment. “Because of the gentrification process taking place here to attract tourists, the state wants the refugees and migrants who live in Tarlabaşı to move away,” Ergün says. “Many of them have nowhere to go, but the state doesn’t care about that. “They will have to move to wherever they can afford, and when they go, we will have to go too. We hope we can follow them to a new location and continue to help. Our centre is one of the few places where it’s safe for children from these communities to play, and where women can discuss their problems. There’s nowhere else providing that.” And what about the very poorest of all, the Dom children who beg on the streets of Taksim Square, where will they go? “We don’t really know. And I don’t think they know either.”

Source: The Guardian
Date: 03.12.2018

The forgotten children of Turkey’s Syrian refugee crisis

Children from the ‚mysterious, tragic and despised‘ Dom Gypsy community fled the war in Syria only to find more danger begging on the streets of Istanbul.

Towards sunset on the busy north-west corner of Taksim Square, Nisreem, 7, and her raggedy gang of Dom Gypsy street kids grow excited as they prepare to spend the next six hours tapping on car windows and begging passersby to appreciate that they are Syrian war refugees. Nisreem speaks, but has an impossible time staying still. She is filthy with glassy eyes and fluffy reddish hair, telltale signs of malnutrition, which makes children restless and fidgety. Darting through traffic in the heart of Turkey’s biggest city, the rest of the gang try to act a bit more together. Drug addicts, prostitutes and Turkish police lurk nearby so the gang members often huddle together for security. For fun they sometimes sing and dance.

More than three years into the Syrian war nearly half the country’s population has been displaced, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). More than six million Syrians are internally on the move and more than three million have fled. Nisreem and the other Dom street kids face a more complicated fate than other Syrians who are more organised in their search for a safe haven. Scholars from the Budapest, Hungary-based European Roma Rights Centre, say the Dom, who are known as the Middle East Gypsies and speak a language traced back to the Indian subcontinent, are seen as “mysterious, tragic and despised”. The gang feels this. On their corner of Taksim Square they have worn down the grass by hanging out there and worn out their welcome by begging. Many who pass see their grubby fingers and slap them away.

Tonight the gang includes Zayneb, 6, and Little Ali, 5, who is as dirty and wild as Nisreem. Dunya is 11 and Amel, who tries her best to keep everyone in line, is 15. “Not everybody is mean to us but most people are. Some people give us food, but it is always junky food,” said Nisreem. In July, they escaped Aleppo, in northern Syria, before sneaking into Turkey with no paperwork. All year Aleppo has been the target of barrel bombs dropped by the Assad regime in a war that has already killed almost 200,000 people. Turkey is home to an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees and officials are scrambling to address the crisis. To say resources are strained is an understatement. Turkey has spent US$2.5 billion (Dh9.2bn) housing 200,000 refugees in 22 camps. But it has received only $175 million (Dh643m) in international support.

During the first two years of the war, Turks were seen as generous and supportive of Syrians. But as the war has dragged on, Turks have become increasingly angered at their presence. The Dom have always lived on the edge of society, says Kemal Vural Tarlan, a researcher of Dom populations in Gaziantep, Turkey, about 50 kilometres from the Syrian border. “They face universal discrimination. Other Syrians refugees in the official camps have demanded the Dom actually stay in different camps.” According to the Dom Research Centre, before the Syrian conflict an estimated 30,000 lived in Turkey, and as many as 300,000 lived in Syria, the largest Dom population of any Middle Eastern country. Researchers admit these population estimates are sketchy. Fearing discrimination, many Dom describe themselves as Arab, Kurdish or Turkmen and also very often use fake names. They also keep on the move.

After sunset, the gang went on the move as Nisreem dragged Little Ali from their Taksim corner to check on friends selling cold water nearby. Everyone else tumbled along in a tight knot of children. None of the refugees attend school, so the best thing to talk about is money. On a good night of begging, they can earn a total of about 40 Turkish Lira (Dh65). Most nights they only make 20 lira. Divided among the five of them, they each get 4 lira. When Amel and Nisreen find their pal Hamza, who is 11, they learn he has done better selling bottled water than begging. At night they return to a decrepit squatters apartment overflowing with other refugees. “The situation is very tragic for all refugees but for Domari refugees it is alarming,” said Sinan Gokcen of the European Roma Rights Centre. “They live in miserable conditions in informal camps or in abandoned buildings without access to water and proper sewage. Collecting paper and scrap metal are the main sources of income.”

The UNHCR recently said women and children make up 75 per cent of all Syrian war refugees, with 50 per cent of those under 18. The gang is mostly orphaned girls and daughters of war widows. There are few male Dom relatives around to protect them. Life for the Dom gang on the Istanbul streets can also be dangerous. On September 22, a windstorm caused six storeys of scaffolding to collapse where they always beg. Ten people were seriously injured, including one street kid.

Source: The National
Date: 03.12.2018

Gedenken an ermordete Sinti und Roma ist bleibende Verpflichtung

Anlässlich der Einweihung des Mahnmals für die im Nationalsozialismus ermordeten Sinti und Roma Europas am 24. Oktober in Berlin erklärt der Präsident des Zentralrats der Juden in Deutschland, Dr. Dieter Graumann: „Ich freue mich für die Gemeinschaft der Sinti und Roma in Deutschland, dass das vor Jahren geplante Mahnmal endlich fertiggestellt ist und eingeweiht wird”…

“Es war auch höchste Zeit dafür. Mehrere Hunderttausend Sinti und Roma sind Opfer des nationalsozialistischen Rassenwahns und Vernichtungswillens geworden. Ihrer zu gedenken, ist für die gesamte Gesellschaft in Deutschland eine bleibende Verpflichtung, besonders aber für uns Juden. Haben wir doch nicht vergessen, dass Sinti und Roma in der Zeit des nationalsozialistischen Mordens unsere Schicksalsgenossen waren, für die wir immer Nähe und tiefe Freundschaft empfinden werden.

An diesem Tag sollten wir aber auch den Blick auf die Gegenwart lenken. Bis heute werden Sinti und Roma diffamiert, ausgegrenzt und angegriffen. Noch immer grassieren furchtbare Vorurteile über Sinti und Roma. Sie leben seit Hunderten von Jahren in Europa und sind dennoch europaweit noch immer so stark von Diskriminierung betroffen.

Rassismus und Diskriminierung von Minderheiten sind und bleiben immer inakzeptabel. Die Europäische Union, gerade frisch ausgezeichnet mit dem Friedensnobelpreis, wird sich nun auch daran messen lassen müssen, wie energisch sie sich für die Rechte der Sinti und Roma einsetzt. Auch in Deutschland bleibt noch viel zu tun. Mehr Aufklärung, vor allem in der Schule, über die Geschichte und Kultur der Sinti und Roma ist dringend erforderlich. Dass Tausende von Menschen allein wegen ihrer Herkunft beleidigt, benachteiligt oder gar körperlich angegriffen werden, werden wir niemals hinnehmen.”

Quelle: Hagalil
Stand: 24.10.2012

Hate crime investigation launched surrounding Ezra Levant’s Roma broadcast

The Roma Community Centre in Toronto wants police to investigate comments made by Ezra Levant in a recent broadcast on Sun News Network as a hate crime.

The centre says it has “officially reported a hate crime” about Ezra Levant’s broadcast, “The Jew vs. the Gypsies” that aired on his show The Source on September 5. The Toronto Police Service confirmed to J-Source that they are investigating a complaint from the centre.

“The hate crime unit is investigating,” said Toronto Police constable Wendy Drummond. “The complaint is new, and the investigation is ongoing.”

No charges have been laid.

In the broadcast, Levant accused the Roma of cheating the Canadian refugee system, and stereotyped them as criminals. He said:
“These are gypsies, a culture synonymous with swindlers. The phrase gypsy and cheater have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb: he gypped me. Well the gypsies have gypped us. Too many have come here as false refugees. And they come here to gyp us again and rob us blind as they have done in Europe for centuries … They’re gypsies. And one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging.” (mehr…)

Delegation of Romani to visit Israel on Holocaust memorial day

Half of European ‘Gypsy’ population murdered by the Nazis during WWII

A delegation of Romani people will take part in annual Holocaust memorial day ceremonies for the first time, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.

At least half of the European Romani population — commonly known in the English-speaking world as Gypsies — was murdered by the Nazis during WWII. Leaders of the community say that they share a similar fate to Jews.

The delegation will be led by Roman Kwiatkowski, Chairman of the Association of the Roma in Poland. Representatives will travel to Israel from Holland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

Israel’s annual Holocaust memorial day will be marked next Thursday, on the anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Quelle: The Times of Israel
Stand: 12.04.2012

Jerusalem’s gypsies struggle for recognition

Jerusalem’s Domari (also known as Romani or Gypsy) have lived in historic Palestine for over 500 years. Many fled during the 1967 War, ending up in refugee camps, and the community now numbers 60 to 70 families. Palestinian Romanis face a slew of social issues, including poverty, high illiteracy rates, and racism from both Israelis and Palestinians.


Türkei ändert diskriminierende Paragraphen

Während in Rumänien derzeit die Bezeichnung „Zigeuner“ statt „Roma“ per Gesetz durchgesetzt werden soll wird in der Türkei die analoge Bezeichnung „Cingene“ aus den Gesetzestexten entfernt. Laut Vizepremier Bülent Arinç komme dieser Änderung eine symbolische und psychologische Bedeutung im Kampf gegen Diskriminierung zu. Anlässlich eines Treffens mit über zwanzig türkischen Roma-Organisationen kündigte Staatsminister Faruk Çelik die Änderung einer ursprünglich aus den 1930er Jahren stammenden Gesetzespassage an, die es dem Innenministerium gestattet, „Zigeuner“ nach eigenem Ermessen aus der Türkei auszuweisen. Er verwies darauf, dass die AK-Partei bereits einen ähnlichen Paragraphen aus einem 1934 verabschiedeten Gesetz entfernt hat, in dem es heißt: „All jene, die keine Verbundenheit und Treue mit der türkischen Kultur gezeigt haben, Anarchisten, nomadische Zigeuner, Spione, (…) können nicht als Immigranten in die Türkei nicht akzeptiert.“ „Ich weiß, dass die Roma stolz sind, Bürger der Türkei – und in der Türkei unter diese Flagge – zu sein. Sie sind Leute, die dieses Land, diese Flagge und die Einheit des Landes lieben. Deshalb wurden Ausdrücke, die die Roma erniedrigen, 2006 aus den betreffenden Gesetzestexten entfernt“, so Faruk Çelik.

2009 startete die Regierung ihre „Roma-Initiative“ zur Verbesserung der Lage (hier mehr) der über drei Millionen Roma in der Türkei. Im Dezember 2009 trafen sich rund 120 Roma-Vertreter zu einem „Workshop“, in dem die Anliegen und Probleme der Roma-Communities in der Türkei behandelt wurden. Ein gemeinsamer Abschlussbericht fasste die Forderungen der Volksgruppe an die Politik zusammen. Im Rahmen der „Roma-Initiative“ lud Regierungschef Recep Tayyip Erdoğan im März 2010 zu einer Großveranstaltung mit fast 10.000 Roma.

Quelle: dROMa
Stand: 07.01.2011

Das Wort „Cingene“ wurde aus dem Gesetzestext entfernt

Die Bezeichnung „Cingene-Zigeuner“, die in der türkischen Sprache für die Roma Bevölkerung verwendet wird, wurde aus dem Gesetzestext als solches entfernt. Vize-Premier Bülent Arinç sagte, dass diese Änderung eine symbolische und psychologische Bedeutung im Kampf gegen Diskriminierung hat. (Cumhuriyet)

Quelle: Migazin
Stand: 06.01.2011

Türkische Presseschau – Angelehnt an Presseberichte des öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkgesellschaft der Türkei (TRT)

Die Tageszeitung HABERTÜRK berichtet über Staatspräsident Abdullah Gül, der die Teilnehmer der 3. Botschafter Konferenz im Palais Çankaya empfangen hat. Gül habe in seiner Rede vor den Botschaftern mehr Aufmerksamkeit gegenüber dem ansteigenden Rassismus und der Ausländerfeindlichkeit in Europa gefordert. Ausserdem rief Gül die Botschafter dazu auf, dieses Thema mit Besonnenheit anzugehen und zur Lösung des Problems einen Beitrag zu leisten.

VATAN berichtet über einen Artikel der US-Tageszeitung New York Times, die über die Türkei handelt. Demnach soll die Türkei im Irak bedeutenden Einfluss ausüben. Zum selben Thema schreibt die Tageszeitung HÜRRIYET, im Norden des Irak würden 15 Tausend Türken arbeiten und 700 türkische Unternehmen Zweidrittel der im Irak tätigen ausländischen Unternehmen ausmachen.

Die Tageszeitung ZAMAN berichtet über die strategischen Ziele der Türkei, wonach zwischen 2011 bis 2014 angestrebt wird, die Entwicklung zum Produktionsstandort in Eurasien für mittel- und hochtechnologische Produkte auszuweiten. In diesen Rahmen seien Fahrzeuge, Maschinen, Hausgeräte, Elektronik, Textilien, Lebensmittel und Stahl-Eisen Produkte als Hauptsektoren ausgewählt. (mehr…)