The Romani people have suffered from discrimination, racism and hatred for so long that sometimes it just seems like that is the way things are.
Well, it is not the way things should be.
Did you hear that in Sweden a few weeks ago a secret police register was discovered with the names of 4000 people on it, most all of them Roma. The others were people with close connection to that community. More than 1000 were children. The BBC reported at the time:
The reporter who broke the story, Niklas Orrenius, describes discrimination against the Roma as "the last acceptable racism in Sweden," though the revelations have caused widespread shock and anger across the country.
"I have met many Roma people on the list," he says, "and they said they don't believe the police is preparing ethnic cleansing or something like that, but they're scared because this is a state-controlled register of thousands of Roma, and who knows who'll be in charge of Sweden in 20 years and what they will use it for."
The former leader of Sweden's liberal Folkpartiet, Maria Leissner, says the register represents a "hate crime".
- Gilles Bourdouleix, member of National Assembly, France - July 21, 2013: “Maybe Hitler didn’t kill enough of them.”
- Manuel Valls, minister of the interior and member of the National Assembly, France - Sept. 25, 2013: “The majority [of Roma] should be delivered back to the borders. We are not here to welcome these people. I'd remind you of [former Socialist Premier] Michel Rocard's statement: ‘It's not France's job to deal with the misery of the whole world.’”
- 3. András György Király, secretary of state for minorities, Ministry of Education, Romania - Sept. 20, 2013: “It is a general problem, and in relation to those schools where the number of Roma is significant, if there is indifference, if there is disarray, of course I would not allow my child to attend that school.”
- Jean-Marie Le Pen, member of the European Parliament and president of the Front National Party, France - July 5, 2013: “I'll give you a prognosis: you have some concerns, it appears, with a few hundred Roma who have a stinging, let's say stinking, presence in the city ... that's just the tip of the iceberg. I announce that within 2014 around 50,000 Roma will arrive in Nice. Also, from the 1st of January, the 12 million Roma that live in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary will have the possibility of moving in all the other European countries.”
- Per Sandberg, member of Parliament and deputy leader of the Progressive Party, Norway - May 2, 2013: “At the borders, police can [under existing laws] stop organized groups of Roma, Bulgarians or French because we know from experience that these people disrupt the peace and it has also been proven that many of them engage in criminal activities.”
- Zsolt Bayer, co-founder of the Fidesz Party, Hungary - Jan. 5, 2013: “A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals, and they behave like animals. When they meet with resistance, they commit murder. They are incapable of human communication. Inarticulate sounds pour out of their bestial skulls. At the same time, these Gypsies understand how to exploit the 'achievements' of the idiotic Western world. But one must retaliate rather than tolerate. These animals shouldn't be allowed to exist. In no way. That needs to be solved — immediately and regardless of the method.”
- Ezra Levant, political activist and TV host, Canada - Sept. 5, 2012: “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.”
- Traian Basescu, president, Romania - Nov. 3, 2010: “We have one more problem which must be stated and which makes the integration of nomadic Roma difficult — very few of them want to work. Many of them,traditionally, live off what they steal.”
In October, Irish police kidnapped two young Roma children from separate Roma families. The parents and children were forced to undergo DNA tests, which proved… they were indeed related.
This followed the case of Maria, a Roma child seized by Greek police, whose parents adopted her from another Roma family in Bulgaria, who were too poor to feed her.
In all three cases the police raids were based on the fact that the children “looked different” to their parents – the Greek press dubbed Maria “the blond angel”, with the implication that she must belong to another “race”. This was a revival of the ancient lie that “Gypsies” kidnap children – akin to the infamous “blood libel” against the Jews.
The furor has reignited right wing anti-Roma hatred across Europe, ranging from Serb neo-Nazis trying to abduct a child in Novi Sad who was not “as dark as their parents” to Italy’s Northern League MPs calling for across-the-board inspections in all Italian Roma camps for missing children.In the Ireland case, the garda (police) said they were acting in good faith by taking the children away, an assurance that has been accepted by the taoiseach (prime minister), Enda Kenny, and the minister for justice, Alan Shatter. “I don’t accept at all that there would be any institutionalised racial tendencies within the gardai,” Kenny told the Irish Independent.
What the hell.
Enough of this. I am going to post a couple of pieces about the fight back by the Romani. The first is from the European Roma Rights Centre. The second is from Rabble. Neither of these fight backs are particularly radical. That isn't the point. Rather we all should learn from them, recognize that the struggle of the Romani People should be the struggle of all anti-racists, not something shoved to the back burner, but something pushed to the front. It is decades, centuries in fact, past time for a militant response to this racism. It should not be left to the Roma People to take this on alone. We should all be there shouting at the top of our lungs that enough is enough.
Three Years On, Roma Evicted from Cluj-Napoca Call for Justice
Claudia Linda Greta, 31, Community activist
Alexandru Nova Bela, 65, Bookseller
Fechete Petru Alexandru, 29, Mechanic
Alexandra Greta, 17
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre
Roma refugee families hang 'Roma Are Not Bogus Refugees' banner
"Romas are not bogus refugees, our families deserve immigration status in Canada rather than be deported to places like Hungary where our lives are at risk," says Robert Jano. "The Roma people have faced immense pain and persecution for hundreds of years. This tradition continues to be carried out by the Canadian government when they deport us."
Amnesty International insists that the Romas are "one of the largest and most disadvantaged minorities in Europe" facing "widespread discrimination and racism." The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Right has said that Romas face "racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" of the highest order. Of the 10-12 million Roma in Europe, one in three are unemployed and 90 per cent live below the poverty line.
"Right-wing and neo-nazi parties burned down our homes, every day we heard of Roma children and families being attacked, we were segregated in schools and turned away from jobs," explains Timea Rusznyak. "This is happening in Hungary, in Italy, in the Czech Republic, and in Slovakia. Across Europe, the Romas are being hunted, and Canadian governments are sending us back into those conditions to suffer more."
Attacks on Romas have been escalating in Hungary since 2006 and particularly after the rise of the Hungarian Guard, a paramilitary anti-Roma organization, in 2008 and the rise of the right-wing Jobbik Party in Hungary soon after.
"Canada takes in less refugees, less families every year, the entire immigration system is being broken up," adds Rusznyak. "People in Canada need to wake up and realize what's happening and demand that this be changed. Migrants need full status and support, not racism and deportation."
In 2012, Canada resettled 26 per cent less refugees than in 2010 and 2011. While actual acceptance numbers after the so-called Refugee Exclusion Act (Bill C-31) was passed are not available, Canada received half as many asylum claims in the first half of this year as it did during the same period last year -- 4,558 compared to 10,375. The number of Hungarian asylum seekers in Canada has declined to just 33 between January and March this year, compared with 724 for the same period last year.
In January 2013, Canadian authorities launched a billboard campaign in Miskolc, Hungary, to deter Roma asylum seekers. According to testimony presented by the European Roma Rights Centre at Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, U.S. Helsinki Commission, the bill board campaign has resulted in "aggravation of the hostile atmosphere that Romani people have to face every day."