A grassroots campaign to increase Roma registration in Serbia’s official census has made a major contribution to an unprecedented success there. Announcing the official results of the 2011 census, the Serbian Statistical Office reported a 40 percent increase in the official number of Roma in comparison to the last census held in 2002. As of a week ago, 147,604 Roma are officially registered in Serbia, making them the second biggest minority in the country, right after Hungarians.
This increase is expected to affect Serbian public policies concerning Roma. As outlined in Serbia’s minority legislation, census data is directly translated into assigned quotas in employment for public administration and police. A higher, more representative figure for the Roma population in Serbia means the government will be legally obliged to hire more Roma in public enterprises and increase Roma representation in public institutions and public service media. Also, it is expected that more accurate statistics will be factored into the Roma Decade policies promising to provide fair opportunities for Roma children in education and their parents in employment.
Overall, the Serbian census has registered a decrease in the population of minorities. A demographic drop was registered for the Croat minority of 18 percent, Romanian 15.2 percent and Hungarian of 13.3 percent. Besides Roma, only the Bosniak minority has recorded an increase of 6.7 percent. In addition to the overall population decline due to migration and higher mortality rates, experts recognize ethnic mimicry and assimilation as the main reasons for the decrease. (mehr…)
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The position of Roma in Serbia has improved thanks to the Decade of Roma Inclusion, it was said at the opening of a three-day congress in Belgrade.
„The position of the Roma people in Serbia has significantly improved during the Decade of Roma Inclusion, but I am confident that many members of the Roma population have reasons to be dissatisfied,“ said Slavica Denić, the state secretary in the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Self-Government.
The members of the Roma population can be dissatisfied bearing in mind that there are still unhygienic settlements in Serbia, that few children go to kindergartens and that quite few Roma people are employed, Denić stated.
However, Serbia can be proud of the improvement in the field of education. Since 2003 the country got more than 1,000 Roma graduates, she underlined.
Denić qualified the congress as important, since it brought together representatives of 25 countries with the aim to exchange experience and find solutions jointly.
President of the World Roma Organization Jovan Damjanović said that the Decade of Roma Inclusion „has yielded results“ in Serbia.
„We have to get to grips with problems and bring about an intellectual Roma revolution,“ Damjanović said.
He underlined that there are 12 to 15 million Roma people in Europe, but that they do not have any status.
Organizers announced that the congress will be dedicated to the legal status of the organization and the economic empowerment of the Roma people, and added that a declaration of the first congress of the World Roma Organization is expected to be adopted.
Thirty-three Roma families, many of whom had fled the war in Kosovo, could be forcibly evicted from their homes in Belgrade, Serbia. The eviction has been set for the 7th of March.
If evicted, the Roma families from Belgrade are likely to be re-housed in metal containers. Some from Kosovo have been offered places at collective refugee centres which are not only inadequate but have already been slated for closure by the government. Others have been told that they must return to Kosovo, where they may be at risk of discrimination, or be left homeless.
The same families were previously threatened with forced eviction in November 2011. After Amnesty and other human rights groups took up the campaign – and thousands of you took action – the eviction was delayed and a working group comprising of government, city authorities and human rights groups was set up to prepare a resettlement plan for residents. However, at a recent meeting of the working group, the Ministry for Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning announced that evictions would go ahead as soon as the weather allows.
Quelle und weitere Informationen: Amnesty.org.uk
20 years ago a group of Serb paramilitaries destroyed a Roma village in Eastern Bosnia, killing all the residents. A child survived and, today, he is asking for his people justice before the Belgrade’s War Crimes Prosecutor
What happened in Skočić on July 12th, 1992?
We had just come back home. My father worked as a bricklayer and had decided to take us all to Serbia for some days, because the situation in Bosnia was very tense. After a while things appeared to be improving, and everyone was saying that there would be no war. So we returned to Skočić, near Zvornik, where we lived. On July 12th, at approximately 9 in the evening, two trucks full of soldiers came into the village.
Was it the Yugoslav army?
No, they were paramilitaries. It was the band of Sima Bogdanović, Sima “the Chetnik“.
Did they come from Bosnia or Serbia?
From Serbia. (mehr…)
Twenty seven Roma families in Serbia’s capital Belgrade face imminent forced eviction from their homes to make way for new commercial housing built by a government owned company, Amnesty International said today.
On Tuesday, at the request of the Building Directorate of Serbia, families living in the informal settlement Block 61 in the New Belgrade area were informed that the eviction of the settlement is planned.
The families of Block 61 were not consulted about the eviction or offered any alternative accommodation ahead of the approaching harsh Serbian winter. Many of those facing eviction are children.
„Roma families in Belgrade are continuing to be pushed out on to the streets without providing adequate alternative housing. The authorities must end this unacceptable practice,“ said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
„Of particular concern here is that 20 of the families were internally displaced from Kosovo after the 1999 war, and the government is obliged to give them protection and assistance. Instead they have been left in informal settlements without access to basic services.
„The government should be providing social housing for these displaced families who have lived in Serbia without adequate housing for 12 years.“
The planned eviction would be the first of Roma in Belgrade to be carried out on behalf of the government rather than the city authorities.
„Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Serbian government to introduce a law prohibiting forced evictions,“ said John Dalhuisen. „We are very concerned that the government, instead of preventing evictions, now appears to be complicit in their conduct.“
According to an Amnesty International report published in April, the Serbian government has repeatedly failed to prevent the forced eviction by the Belgrade authorities, of Roma families who often lose their livelihoods and their only possessions in addition their homes.
In 2009, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons told the Serbian government to address the human rights situation of internally displaced people and to ensure that forced evictions were carried out in accordance with international standards.
The Roma population in Belgrade has been subject to forced evictions since at least 2000, after Roma displaced from Kosovo sought assistance and shelter but often had no choice but to live in informal settlements.
Forced evictions in Belgrade have increased rapidly since May 2009 when the City of Belgrade introduced its „Action Plan for the Resettlement of Shanty [Unhygienic] Settlements“.
Serbia is required under international human rights law to refrain from and protect people from forced evictions.
Quelle: Amnesty International
Two human rights defenders were today arrested for trying to stop the forced eviction of a Roma family in Belgrade.
The activists from the Regional Centre for Minorities were arrested for obstruction of justice after they peacefully attempted to prevent police evicting Mevljude Kurteshi and her six children from their apartment.
„These activists were merely trying to defend the human rights of the family being forcibly evicted – an unlawful and inhumane act by the Serbian authorities,“ said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.
„Mevljude Kurteshi and her children must be given adequate alternative housing immediately.“
Witnesses say the two activists were arrested after politely refusing to move from the door of Mevljude Kurteshi’s basement apartment. They were released and may face charges of obstruction of justice, which could lead to a custodial sentence.
Mevljude Kurteshi was given no reason for the eviction and the authorities have not provided her with anywhere else to live.
After the eviction, her possessions were loaded onto a truck and taken to the informal Roma settlement at Belvil, where the family have no option but to move in with relatives. Evictions are also scheduled at Belvil.
Neighbours reportedly stood around jeering and applauding as she waited for a bus to take her and her children, some of them barefoot, to her new “home” at Belvil.
“Over the last month we have seen several forced evictions carried out with complete disregard for the rights of vulnerable people,” said Nicola Duckworth.
“To forcibly evict a single mother and her children without any adequate alternative housing is a complete violation of Serbia’s international obligations.”
Mevljude Kurteshi and her family were forcibly displaced from Kosovo after the 1999 war. Like other internally displaced Roma, she is unable to return home.
She was provided with the apartment in 2006 after she had been relocated from a housing estate, known as the “asbestos settlement”, which was demolished for health and safety reasons.
The eviction, which was carried out by police and the Čukarica authorities had previously been postponed on 11 October after human rights activists and local NGOs protested at the site.
Serbian authorities have failed to adopt a law prohibiting forced evictions, which would ensure that the processes and safeguards set out in relevant UN Guidelines and Principles are in place before any evictions are carried out.
According to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
Quelle: Amnesty International