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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

Romani Child Shot Dead in Bulgaria

A Romani child was shot and killed at approximately 13:00 on Tuesday October 9th 2018, in Montana, Bulgaria. The 17-year-old boy named Goszko was collecting hay with his grandfather when a man fired his weapon multiple times at the boy. The boy died shortly afterwards from his wounds.

“I heard a shot, and the child fell into the cart,” recounted his grandfather. “The horse became frightened and started to run, but I held him back…I saw the shooter, he was targeting me as well. I had seen him before in the woods and he had threatened us then. Some time ago, he also threatened to kill another [person] with a pipe.”

A 38-year-old man has been arrested and is being detained by law enforcement. The suspect is the owner of the property where the boy and his grandfather were gathering firewood. (The police also found dozens of cannabis plants nearby. An unlicensed, illegal firearm was found in the man’s car. Other unlawful weapons and ammunition were also found in later searches.)

This is not the first time that Roma have been shot or killed while collecting firewood or hay. Just last year, a 24-year-old Romani man was shot dead in Breaza, Romania by police officers whilst collecting firewood in the forest. In Bulgaria, this has become all too common an occurrence in recent years.

Last year, a Romani father from Bohot was beaten to death by police while he and his son were out collecting firewood. Officers claimed the action was a result of the Romani men resisting arrest and being in possession of stolen pesticides. Although many areas of Bulgaria have agreements that firewood can be collected from the forests providing tools are not used to harvest it, this often has little bearing on the decision to open fire on Roma ‚caught‘ harvesting wood. An inordinate number of Roma seem to die in Bulgaria’s forests, usually at the hands of police, forest rangers, or local landowners taking violent action against Roma collecting wood, whether it is being harvested legally or illegally.

In 2003, a spate of shootings left many Roma who had been trying to collect wood from the forests either dead or wounded around the country. In February 2003, Severin Sabev Aleksandrov, a 25-year-old Romani man, was shot for collecting firewood in a forest near Vetovo in northern Bulgaria. Forest rangers also shot Emil Tinkov, a 17-year-old Romani boy, in the shoulder as he was leaving the Kumanitsa forest near Krivodol in northwestern Bulgaria. The next month, 28-year-old Angel Simeonov was killed in March 2003 near the town of Samokov with no charges being brought against the perpetrator. The same month, around 10 police officers and forest rangers brutally beat and shot three Romani men in the forest near Lukovit in northern Bulgaria. A day later, a private security guard shot Ivan Anastasiev Ralev, an 8-year-old Romani boy, who was collecting scrap wood to burn in the town of Burgas. He survived but his family refused to press the investigation further for fear of repercussions from the security company who they were neighbours with.

The forests in Bulgaria have become a place where people seem to take the law into their own hands and frontier justice decides whether Roma live or die. This most recent murder of a Romani boy must be investigated properly by law enforcement, and the potential for racial motivation to the killing must be considered. The ERRC and its Bulgarian partners are further investigating the killing and are in contact with the boy’s family.

Source: ERRC
Date: 26.10.2018

Czech politicians respond to President’s antigypsyism: He divides us so we won‘t unite against him

Some other Czech politicians have begun to respond to Czech President Miloš Zeman’s remarks about Romani people avoiding work – remarks which prompted Romani people all over Europe to post photographs of themselves at work to Facebook. „When my son Nick was born, my Romani friends came to visit all the way from Ostrava to give him a medallion of the Madonna. They call me frequently to see whether I might have a job or work for them, to ask how I am, to tell me how they are. They‘re business people. Miloš, what the hell have you ever done for them and who gave you the right to insult them like this? former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek (Civic Democratic Party – ODS) tweeted. Czech Senator Jiří Dienstbier (Czech Social Democratic Party – ČSSD) tweeted the following: „You can choke on hatred, but you can‘t eat it. Mr Zeman is playing a transparent game. He offers one group grudges against the Roma, another his grudges against journalists, and somebody else some grudges against Praguers – you can see for yourself what else he is dishing up. He divides us so we won‘t unite against him.“

Miroslav Kalousek, the chair of the TOP 09 party, called the President’s remarks „absolutely hideous and unacceptable“. „That would have been hideous even if it had been said by somebody in a fourth-class pub. When the President of the republic, who is meant to be a President for all citizens, says it, then it is hideous and unacceptable,“ he told news server iDNES.cz. Czech MP Petr Gazdík (STAN) also disagrees with Zeman’s remarks, as do Czech MP Marian Jurečka (Christian Democrats – KDU-ČSL) and Czech MP Miroslava Němcová (ODS). „A President is meant to unite people, not divide them. His remarks divide society,“ Gazdík told iDNES.cz. „As has been demonstrated, there is a big part of the Romani community here who do honest work. A politician should do his best to be a person who integrates these people in a positive way. He should do his best to make sure these people get a high-quality education and work,“ Gazdík said. „I do not like how the head of state is speaking about some of the citizens of this country. I comprehend that some people here have had bad experiences with some Romani people, but I decidedly reject tarring all of them with the same brush,“ Němcová said.

Czech MP Jiří Dolejš (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia – KSČM) tweeted statistics about Romani employment captioned as follows: „Not only is he insulting them, it’s drivel.“ Pavel Fischer, a recent Senate candidate, said of Zeman that „He is dredging up the mud from the very bottom of our society! The President of the republic has made his remarks about journalists and Romani people – the autumn season has begun. There is nothing left to do but to put on our boots and rubber gloves and get our our brushes and buckets. The 100th anniversary of the republic deserves a more elegant style.“ Zeman’s first remarks in this latest series were a nostalgic reminiscence about the communist era and insinuated that without external compulsion, Romani people do not „want to work“. After casting his own ballot in this weekend’s elections, he reiterated the false allegation that „90 %“ of Romani people are unemployed in the country while speaking to Czech Television’s Richard Samko, who is a Romani community member. Monika Mihaličková of the ROMEA organization refuted the President’s claims by demonstrating that according to official statistics, not only do 70 % of Romani people in the country work, but 80 % of the people who collect unemployment benefits are not Romani. Czech sociologist Daniel Prokop then confirmed to the media that Zeman’s claims were completely inaccurate.

Source: Romea.cz
Date: 17.10.18

Romany Woman ‚Found With Throat Slashed‘ In Ukraine

Media reports in western Ukraine’s Zakarpattya region say that a 30-year Romany woman was killed in the city of Berehove amid tensions over a series of attacks on Romany community members. The reports quote members of the local Romany community as saying that unidentified attackers slashed the woman’s throat. Ukraine’s National Police said in a statement on July 2 that a woman „with injuries to her throat“ was found on a street in Berehove and that medical personnel were unable to save her life. It did not name the victim or include any information about her ethnicity. Police said they are treating the woman’s death as a „premeditated murder“ but so far have found no evidence that it was a hate crime. „At this point“ police have found nothing to suggest a motive involving „racial or any other type of discrimination,“ the statement said. The woman’s death occurred eight days after police arrested seven people in an adjacent region of Lviv in connection with a deadly June 23 attack on a Romany camp. Police said at the time that a 24-year-old Romany man was killed in the attack in a forest near the city of Lviv, which was carried out by a group of masked men. According to police, four other people were hospitalized with knife wounds as a result of the attack — including a 10-year-old boy, two 19-year-old men, and a 30-year-old woman. That violence was the fifth attack on a Romany camp in western Ukraine in the past two months. In a joint letter to Kyiv authorities on June 14, four groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemned what they said was a growing number of attacks by radicals in Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities have „failed“ to respond to most incidents, leading to „an atmosphere of near total impunity that cannot but embolden these groups to commit more attacks,“ the groups said. The letter said that several neo-Nazi and far-right ultranationalist groups, including C14 and Right Sector, were behind at least two dozen attacks or harassment cases against Roma across Ukraine so far during 2018. The Council of Europe rights group estimates there are some 260,000 Roma in Ukraine, whose population is about 48.5 million.

Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Date: 05.07.2018

In Gedenken an Dávid Papp

Dávid war erst 24 Jahre alt, als eine Neonazi-Gruppe am 23.06.2018 eine Roma-Siedlung bei Lviv (Lemberg) stürmte und ihn dort ermordete. Andere dort anwesende Mitglieder der Roma-Minderheit wurden schwer verletzt, unter ihnen auch ein 10-jähriges Kind.

Ich lernte Dávid im Jahr 2000 kennen, als er sechs Jahre alt war. Er ging damals in den Kindergarten in Szernye, einem Dorf im Westen der Ukraine, in dem ich für ein Jahr unterrichtete. David war immer ein sehr ruhiger, lieber und zurückhaltender Junge, inzwischen junger Mann. Ich bin immer noch mit sehr vielen seiner Freunde und Familienmitglieder befreundet. Es ist schwer sie in Trauer und Schock zu sehen.

Auch ich bin geschockt und tief traurig, wenn auch nicht überrascht. Faschismus und Neonazis sind auf dem Vormarsch, nicht nur in der Ukraine. Es liegt an uns allen dagegen etwas zu tun.

Aber erstmal ist es genauso wichtig seine Familie in dieser schweren Zeit zu unterstützen. Ich werde alle hier gesammelten Spenden direkt an seine Schwester übergeben.

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Dávid was only 24 years old when a group of neo-Nazis stormed a Roma settlement outside of Lviv, wounded several, and killed him.

I‘ve known Dávid since he was six years old, he went to a kindergarten in Szernye, a village in the west of Ukraine, that I was teaching at at the time. Dávid was always a very quiet, friendly and a bit shy boy, now a young man. I‘m still friends with so many of his friends and family members, who are devastated.

I‘m so sad, even though I can‘t say that I‘m surprised. Fascism and neo-Nazis are on the rise, not only in Ukraine and it is up to us to do something against that.

But for now it is equally important to support his family in these hard times. I will give all donations to his sister directly.

Quelle/Source: gofundme
Stand/Date: 05.07.2018

Anti-Roma pogroms in Ukraine: C14 and tolerating terror

Three anti-Roma pogroms within a month mark a worrying escalation of racist violence by neo-fascist militias in Ukraine, and evidence of official collusion is a deeply sinister added element. The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) has expressed its deep concern at the lax response from law enforcement agencies to racially motivated violence, which renders minorities even more vulnerable, and besmirches the image political leaders in Kyiv strive to cultivate of a tolerant, forward-looking nation.

The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine called on law enforcement officers to investigate the recent attacks on Roma and tweeted the following: “No one in Ukraine should live in fear because of who they are. We urge law enforcement to investigate recent attacks on Roma. Justice and Tolerance for minority communities are key in the new Ukraine.” (mehr…)

‚A place to call our own‘: Europe’s first Roma cultural centre opens in Berlin

Groundbreaking institute to showcase and promote artistic and cultural contribution of Europe’s 12 million Roma people

As a boy facing bullying and discrimination for his Roma identity in his native Albania, Sead Kazanxhiu said he had harboured a simple dream: “To be considered equal to those around me. It was the same dream as our forefathers,” he said. “To not have to hide our identity in order to survive.”

The 30-year-old visual artist, who trained as a painter at the University of Arts in Tirana, is at the forefront of a groundbreaking institute launched in Berlin on Thursday to showcase and promote the largely invisible artistic and cultural existence of Europe’s estimated 12 million Roma people.

“We’ve been living in Europe for 600 years,” Kazanxhiu said, speaking in Romanes. “Now for the first time we have a place we can call our own and the chance to present the image of who we are, rather than others doing it for us.” (mehr…)

In Ukraine, Jews witness historic echoes in pogroms against the Roma

Over 80 residents of Loshchynivka, Ukraine, fled their homes last month as villagers took the law into their own hands after the murder of a local child

Pogroms have returned to Ukraine, but this time the violence is not directed at the Jews. At the end of August, about 10 Roma families numbering approximately 80 people were forced to flee from the village of Loshchynivka, about 250 kilometers from Odessa, in an incident which was described in the Ukrainian media as a “Gypsy pogrom.” An amateur video captured the August 27 incident in which a crowd of men threw rocks at windows and broke doors, as police watched but did nothing. The next day, about eight homes were destroyed — the walls knocked down with tractors, one home burned, another was left without a roof. Inside, television screens were smashed, mattresses ripped, a kitchen stove was thrown on its side. “We got a phone call, they said, ‘Leave now or we will kill you.’ We didn’t have time to take our things or our documents. We just grabbed the children and ran,“ said Nikolay Churali, a Roma man who fled from his home with his wife, two children, his elderly mother and 10 relatives. “We were outside. We cried; the mosquitoes bit us. A half hour later, they started to break down the houses. I can’t describe it with words.” The family lost everything they had and is temporarily staying with “some people” in the nearby town. “We don’t know where we will go tomorrow,” Churali said. (mehr…)