Archiv der Kategorie 'In English'

‚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…)

Czech football club cancels screening of documentary about Romani footballers after fans threaten violence

Because of serious threats made by a group of their fans, the Bohemians Praha 1905 football club has decided to cancel tomorrow’s scheduled premiere of the film „FC Roma“. The documentary by Rozálie Kohoutová and Tomáš Bojar has been nominated for a Czech Lion award and has already won the Pavel Koutecký Prize.

„We understand the decision by the leadership of Bohemians – the safety of visitors comes first. However, it is not possible to back down when people use intimidation and threats to disagree with others or with projects that they define themselves as being against. Neither the producers of this film nor the organizations working with them will let themselves be intimidated. At this moment we are negotiating a new place and time for the premiere,“ the filmmakers posted to their Facebook page.

News server Aktuálně.cz reports that Bohemians and Sparta fans were planning to attend the film screening. „Some fans aren‘t open to the artistry of the film, just the other aspect of it. Hatred against Romani people, which the film touches on, unfortunately exists among the fans,“ Darek Jakubowicz, director of the Bohemians Praha 1905 club, told the news server.

The film familiarizes viewers with the racial issue through the eyes of a football club predominantly comprised of Romani players competing in a district championship. It will be available on general release this autumn.

Bojar said the film was screened at the Karlovy Vary festival in July and will also be shown at other festivals. Viewers in the town of Děčín, the hometown of FC Roma, were allowed to see the film prior to its premiere.

In 2014 several football clubs in the Czech Republic refused to play with the FC Roma club, but today the team is competing normally, not just winning by forfeit. The club from Děčín has also played several matches with diplomats from various embassies to the Czech Republic and played against the Karlovy Vary Film Festival football team this week to promote the documentary.

Source: Romea.cz
Date: 12.09.2016

US Holocaust museum condemns attack on Ukrainian Roma

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum condemned an attack on Roma villagers in southern Ukraine.

Dozens of Roma, also known as Gypsies, fled their homes in the village of Loshchynivka, after a mob of local villagers destroyed their property and set fire to at least one home on Sunday night. The mob attack came after a local man was arrested on Saturday in connection with the rape and killing of a 9-year-old girl.

While villagers believed the arrested man was Roma, Ukraine’s Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group said that he was not Roma, the New York Times reported. Tensions between non-Roma and Roma in the village already were running high before the arrest.

Hundreds of residents reportedly demanded that the Roma be expelled, according to the report. The Roma are now seeking a safe place to live.

“The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum strongly condemns these outrageous acts. It urges the government of Ukraine and local authorities to provide protections for the Roma and other threatened minorities, and to develop educational and community programs that will help build respect for cultural diversity,” the museum said in a statement.

“Between 1933 and 1945, Roma and Sinti suffered greatly as victims of the Nazis and their allies. Ultimately, between 220,000 and 500,000 died in the genocide of the Roma and Sinti peoples,” said Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “Sadly, the recent pogrom in Loshchynivka, Ukraine, is but one of many acts of violence and forced evictions visited upon the Roma in Europe since 1945.”

Source: JTA
Date: 31.08.2016

Czech govt to buy out pig farm on Roma Holocaust site

The Czech government said Tuesday it was in talks to buy out a pig farm built on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp where hundreds of Roma prisoners died during World War II.

Anti-racism activists in May demanded the EU halt subsidies to the farm, part of their long campaign to remove it from the sensitive location. „No other government has been so close to resolving this issue,“ Daniel Herman, culture minister in the left-wing government of Premier Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters Tuesday at the site. Herman, however, refused to reveal the sum under consideration or when to expect a final deal. Built in the 1970s in the southwestern village of Lety by the communist Czechoslovak regime, the pig farm has reaped scorn at home and abroad ever since totalitarianism was toppled in 1989, four years before Czechoslovakia split into two states. „It’s sad that communist authorities built a pig farm on a Roma Holocaust site,“ Jozef Miker, a Roma rights activist said Tuesday in Prague.
„What’s worse, is that it’s still there 27 years after communism’s demise.“ Between 1940 and 1943, Nazi Germany and its Czech collaborators imprisoned close to 1,300 Czech Roma at the camp. Alongside European Jews, the continent’s smaller Roma minority was also a target of Nazi genocide during World War II. Some 327 Roma, including 241 children, died at the camp staffed by an ethnic Czech commander and guards, while more than 500 were sent to Nazi Germany’s infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in occupied southern Poland. Of the 9,500 Czech Roma registered before World War II, fewer than 600 returned home after the Holocaust. The Czech Republic, an EU country of 10.5 million, has a Roma community estimated to number between 250,000 and 300,000. Of the roughly one million Roma who lived in Europe prior to WWII, historians believe that Nazi Germany killed over half.

Source: Yahoo News
Date: 03.08.2016

Ex-Yorkshire mayor in racism storm over anti-Muslim and ‘Romania gypsy’ tweets

A FORMER Yorkshire mayor faces being reported to the police over alleged racism and anti-Muslim comments on social media.

Councillor Heather Venter, who was mayor of Driffield in 2013 and 2014, supported controversial posts on Twitter, but denies harbouring racist views. One tweet she ‘liked’ said: “Shouldn’t employ Muslims. Nothing but trouble.” Another tweeted on April 30, read: “Sadly, looks like Romania’s Gypsy begger/pickpockets will b [sic] soon replaced by African Muslims.” She also tweeted a link to an article by a neo-Nazi website that read: “White South Africans march in London against white genocide.” The controversy comes after a website accused the councillor of racism for her Twitter activity.George McManus of the Beverley and Holderness Labour Party. said the tweets ‘liked’ by Coun Venter were “designed to cause offence”. He added: “There’s no room for remarks like these in a civilised society. I am particularly concerned that this person occupies a position of authority as a councillor and that this impacts badly on the reputation of the good people of Driffield. They are in my opinion designed to cause offence and to cause racial and religious hatred. (mehr…)

A Hungarian newspaper compares the Roma with animal

Because of an offense towards the Romas in an Hungarian daily newspaper „Magyar hirlap„ , paid a fine of 850 Euros. The author of the column, otherwise one of the founders of the Governing Party Fides, in the text uses hate speech, announced the Hungarian council. The journalist and friend of the Hungarian prime minister compared the Roma with animals. The fine of 850 Euros is given because the author of the column Zolt Bajer broke the journalist rules. He wrote an article at a celebration in a bar, where he had a conflict, the individual attackers were identified as Roma, and Bajer wrote „The Roma are like animals and they act as if they were animals„. „A large number of Roma are not able to coexist. They are not able to live among people„ wrote Bajer which is close with conservative Government. Bajer was giving similar comments about the Romani community, and that is why the newspaper Magyar hirlap was criticized many times.

Source: Roma Times
Date: 07.06.2016

Demonstration in Prague calls on EU to stop subsidizing pig farm on Romani Holocaust site

Monday, 16 May was the International Day of Romani Resistance, a day to honor the memory of the Romani victims of the Holocaust and the heroic uprising of Romani people in the Auschwitz concentration camp. On that occasion the Konexe organization held a demonstration in front of the EU House, the headquarters of the representation of the European Commission and European Parliament in the Czech Republic. Representatives of Konexe delivered a message entitled „Europe, Stop Subsidizing the Pig Farm at Lety“ to the EU House. News server Romea.cz broadcast audio and video of the demonstration live online. „We have nothing against the European Union per se, we are criticizing the state of affairs in which the European Structural Funds are subsidizing a specific agricultural enterprise located on places where genocide was perpetrated. In our view, this is absolutely incompatible with European values,“ Miroslav Brož of Konexe told news server Romea.cz prior to the demonstration.

Day of Romani Resistance

The Day of Romani Resistance commemorates the events of 16 May 1944, when Romani and Sinti prisoners in the so-called „Gypsy Camp“ at Auschwitz-Birkenau rose up against their captors. On that day the camp leadership had planned to murder them all, but the Roma rose up and refused to obey the orders of the SS. This event is still absolutely unknown in the Czech Republic. News server Romea.cz published last year a study about the Romani uprising in Auschwitz written by historian Michal Schuster of the Museum of Romani Culture.

The events of 16 May 1944

The murder of everybody in the so-called „Gypsy Camp“ was supposed to be performed during the evening of 16 May 1944, when the sound of the gong announced that everyone in the entire camp was banned from leaving and that it would be closed. A truck drove up before the gates of the camp and 50-60 members of the special SS commando unit jumped out and called on the prisoners to quickly leave the housing blocks. All of the prisoners, however, refused to leave. Reportedly there was total calm in the barracks. The prisoners barricaded the doors and prepared to defend themselves however they could with rocks and work tools. Romani survivor Hugo Höllenreiner (born 1933 in Munich), who was deported to Auschwitz with his family in 1943, recalls the moments of resistance as follows: „Outside about seven or eight men came to the gate. Dad yelled at them. The entire building shook as he shouted: ‚We‘re not coming out! You come in here! We‘re waiting for you! If you want something, you have to come in and get it!‘ “ The SS commando was startled by this refusal to obey. Their commander decided to postpone the action. The camp closure was temporarily called off. While there was never an open clash between the Romani prisoners and the SS members, the incident played a significant role. It was definitely not the custom in the concentration camps for prisoners to resist a planned and prepared action en masse right before it was to be carried out. There is absolutely no doubt that the armed SS commando unit could have suppressed this act of resistance, but they decided not to go into an open confrontation and preferred to achieve their aims another way. This incident unequivocally had the nature of an uprising and deserves a significant place in the tragic history of the Holocaust of the European Roma. There were approximately 6 500 prisoners in the so-called „Gypsy Camp“ of Birkenau at the time. During the night of 2 August and the early morning hours of 3 August 1944, all of the camp prisoners were murdered in the gas chambers. 2 August is therefore commemorated as the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day.

Source: Romea.cz
Date: 17.05.2016

16 May 1944: Romani Resistance Day

It seems that the denial of genocide and the denial of racism are communicating vessels. An ethnic group whose genocide is denied continues to be targeted with racism. Conversely, the recognition of genocide can start a healing process in society that can help it overcome racism. The Romani Holocaust, called the „porajmos“ (destruction) in Romanes, is a part of history that is not only forgotten today, it is even denied. We do not know much about this aspect of the Holocaust. There are just a few books about it, and very little historical research. Be that as it may, some forgotten parts of the Romani Holocaust really deserve commemoration. Romani people did not always play the role of passive victims during that era. What happened on 16 May 1944? In the extermination camp of Auschwitz II – Birkenau, section BIIe was called the „Gypsy Camp“ (Zigeuner Lager). Some of the Romani people transported into the hell of Auschwitz by the Nazis were not gassed immediately upon arrival, but were placed in the Zigeuner Lager. BIIe was a „mixed“ camp, which meant children, men and women were imprisoned there together. The Romani prisoners were forced into slave labor, observed and subjected to medical tests, and tortured. Dr Josef Mengele of the SS, a sadistic psychopath known as the „Angel of Death“, chose Romani individuals, most of them children, to subject to perverse experiments. During the night of 2 August and the early morning of 3 August 1944, all of the prisoners of the camp, without exception, were murdered in the gas chambers. Because of this known, official history, 2 August has been commemorated as Romani Holocaust Day. (mehr…)

Clashes at Anti-Roma Rally in Radnevo, Bulgaria

Several policemen and protesters have been injured during clashes at an anti-Roma rally in the southern town of Radnevo that was held after an alleged assault by Roma men on ethnic Bulgarians

Three policemen and four protesters suffered injuries after violent clashes broke out the rally in Radnevo, the Bulgarian interior ministry said on Thursday. Around 2,000 people joined the protest on Wednesday evening, following an incident in which four men of Roma origin assaulted three Bulgarians in a street row on Monday. The violence erupted when the crowd, shouting “Bulgaria for the Bulgarians”, “Bulgarians – heroes”, “Bulgaria above all” and various anti-Roma slogans, reached the Roma neighbourhood of Kantona, which was cordoned off by interior ministry special forces. Some of the protesters tried to break through the barricades and enter the Roma neighbourhood, throwing stones and fireworks at the policemen, who responded by dispersing the crowd with batons. According to Radnevo’s mayor Tenyo Tenev, the people who tried to break through the barricades were football hooligans from the nearby city of Stara Zagora. Speaking to public broadcaster BNT on Thursday, Tenev called on the people of Radnevo, a town of around 13,000 inhabitants, to protest peacefully. Tenev alleged that the incident that sparked the tensions was caused by one Roma family. “The people are fed up with the wrongdoings of this family, of their shameless, aggressive and arrogant behaviour,” he told media on Wednesday. The family has so far made no public response to the mayor’s allegations. Four people – a Roma man called Kalcho Ivanov and three of his relatives – were arrested and charged with attempted murder after they allegedly beat up three young men from Radnevo on Monday. One of the victims was admitted to hospital with a life-threatening knife-stab wound. The suspects‘ lawyer claimed however that one of the Roma men, Stefan Ivanov, was severely beaten up by the Bulgarians. People in Radnevo are now organising another rally, scheduled for Thursday evening.Meanwhile, people from the Roma neighbourhood told media that they are afraid for their lives and most of its inhabitants have temporarily left, moving in with friends and relatives outside Radnevo. Wednesday’s clashes were not unprecedented in Bulgaria, where in recent years tensions between people from Roma and ethnic Bulgarian backgrounds have erupted several times, usually over crime-related issues. The most violent clashes took place in 2011, when anti-Roma protests were held all over the country following tragic accidents in the southern Bulgarian village of Katunitsa which led to the deaths of two young Bulgarian boys. In 2015, protesters also occupied Roma ghettos in the southern Bulgarian village of Garmen, as well as in Sofa’s Orlandovtsi neighbourhood, but police prevented any violence from breaking out.

Source: Balkan Insight
Date: 05.50.2016