Siamo in contatto da alcuni anni con organizzazioni in tutto il mondo che ogni settimana ci inviano notizie dai rispettivi paesi. Le notizie arrivano in inglese ma la nostra struttura è in difficoltà a tradurre le tante e-mail che giungono ogni settimana. Per questa ragione pubblichiamo queste notizie in inglese. Se qualche nostro lettore, con tanta pazienza, fosse interessato a tradurre ne saremmo felici. Di seguito le ultime dall’Europa
VIOLENCE BETWEEN SKINHEADS, ROMANIES ESCALATING IN ORLOVA
Czech Republic, 8 settembre 2006
Violence has escalated between Romanies and skinhead groups in Orlova, north Moravia, and axes, baseball bats, chains and brass knuckles have been used by both groups in recent incidents, Karvina police spokeswoman told CTK Friday. Police have reinforced their patrols in the town. The attackers from both camps could be accused of hooliganism, the defamation of nation, race, beliefs and bodily harm, she said. The first skirmish occurred at Karvina’s Lutyne housing estate on Wednesday. Two dozen skinheads, including girls, approached a house where Romany families live. They attacked the Romanies and slightly injured four of them.
“A 15-year-old Romany suffered a cut wound in his head and three other young men received slight injuries,” the spokeswoman said. The Romanies undertook a retaliating attack on the following day. They attacked two girls. “Two men aged 29 and 26 shouted racist insults in public, holding a baseball bat and an axe in their hands,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the police detained the two Romanies who now face charges. In fear of continuing violent clashes between Romanies and skinheads that could frustrate a mining festival scheduled in the town for this weekend, the police have strengthened their presence there, the spokeswoman said.
PROMINENT ROMANI LINGUISTS AND ANTHROPOLOGISTS WILL MEET IN PRAGUE
Czech Republic, 8 settembre 2006
The 7th International Conference on Romani Linguistics, which takes place on 14?16 September 2006 at the Charles University of Prague, will bring together prominent linguists and anthropologists from 20 different academic institutions all over the world with native speakers of Romani with a practical interest in developing their language at the community level. The special theme of the conference, which is devoted to the memory of Milena Hübschmannová (1933?2005), the founder of Romani Studies in the Czech Republic, is the investigation of cultural aspects of the Romani language as well as of linguistic aspects of the Romani culture. The ICRL is the only regular international conference on Romani linguistics and the principal forum for discussion of latest research into the structure, history and social functions of the traditional language of the Roma (Gypsies). The conference was first held in 1993 in Hamburg, after the political changes in Central and Eastern Europe brought an unprecedented boom of Romani cultural activities, which also resulted in an increased interest in the Romani language and culture on the part of researchers. In 1996 Prague was the first city of the post-communist Europe to host the conference and, ten years later, Prague will be the first city to host the conference for a second time. The 7th ICRL is organized by the departments of Linguistics and Romani Studies of the Charles University?s Philosophical Faculty. The conference presentations will address issues such as Romani origins, Romani standardization or the secret functions of Romani, and will explore the role of modern technologies in describing and developing the language.
SCHOOL OPENS ARMS TO GYPSY PUPILS
Belgium, 8 settembre 2006
A request from the Beveren mayor for three primary schools to refuse enrolments from asylum seeker children has met with heated criticism and point-blank refusals. The public school De Zonnewijzer in Kieldrecht simply said it has enrolled six Roma gypsy children despite the request to exclude them this year. “De Zonnewijzer takes up its responsibility and chooses resolutely for the right to education for every child,” the school said. The school has 105 pupils. It already had two gypsy pupils last year and they are still enrolled this year. “The newly registered students speak little or no Dutch. Enrolling more students at this small school would threaten the quality of education,” it said. The enrolments come despite a request from Beveren Mayor Marc Van de Vijver for the three Kieldrecht primary schools to stop accepting asylum seeker children. The Christian Democrat CD&V mayor was referring to the 35 to 40 children of rejected asylum seeker Roma gypsy families squatting in Doel. He said the children should not be enrolled at school because they don?t speak Dutch. “That would completely disrupt the social basis in Kieldrecht with all the consequences of such,” he said. But Flemish Education Minister Frank Vandenbroucke was extremely surprised by the mayor’s statement and said it was in breach of the law. “Children in Flanders, irrespective of their situation, must be enrolled and a school cannot refuse them,” he said. Vandenbroucke also said the gypsy children were better off in school then on the street and that the Beveren mayor would solved nothing by sending them to other schools. He said agreements should be made instead with other schools and school networks to ensure a better spread of asylum seekers. A school risks disciplinary action if it refuses students. If a complaint is lodged with the Commission for Students Rights and the school continues to refuse students, it stands to lose its public funding. But in response to the criticism, the Beveren municipal council defended itself by saying the sudden enrolment of 40 foreign-speaking children would exceed the capacity of the Kieldrecht schools and lead to an intolerable situation. The council said it was confronted with an unacceptable situation and that it was trying to raise awareness to the problem and to find an acceptable solution for the gypsy families. The families are living in poor conditions in the village of Doel and are threatened with imminent eviction as part of an action plan aimed at clearing all of the squatted houses in Doel. The council is now investigating other possibilities of shelter and guidance for foreign-speaking children.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE ROMA RIGHTS
CONFERENCE TO FEATURE KEY ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
Albania, 12 settembre 2006
Progress to assure Roma rights in Albania will be under the microscope in a conference in Tirana, with wide Albanian government participation ? as part of ?Equal Rights and Treatment for Roma?, a Council of Europe/European Commission project for Roma in South Eastern Europe. Albanian Labour and Social Affairs Minister Koco Barka will open proceedings at the Hotel Mondial in Tirana on September 18, and officials from the education, health, public works and culture ministries are expected to give feedback and assessment reports on measures undertaken so far to promote the human rights of Albania?s Roma ? a target group for racism. The conference, which will last until September 20, will also highlight a first-ever training initiative to improve monitoring and evaluation in actions taken to raise awareness of Roma culture and combat prejudices. The Roma ? estimated as 80,000 to 100,000 out of Albania?s 3.6 million population ? are officially recognized as a linguistic minority. Throughout the conference, Council of Europe personnel will be on hand to explain the intricacies of the joint programme, with a focus on ?Dosta!?, an awareness-raising campaign on Roma to be carried out in Albania in 2006/2007. Dosta is a Romani word meaning ?enough,? and the programme?s broader goal is to end prejudice by bringing non-Roma closer to Roma citizens to achieve equal rights and treatment for Roma in South Eastern Europe. Roma are European citizens. They form a group of about 10 million people and can be found in almost all Council of Europe member states. In some Central and Eastern European countries, they represent over 5% of the population. A press conference is scheduled on Monday, September 18, from 10:30-11:00 a.m. at the Hotel Mondial in Tirana.
ROMANIES ACCUSE JUDGES OF BIAS, CALL FOR EMIGRATION
Czech Republic, 14 settembre 2006
Representatives of five Romany organisations today accused Plzen Regional Court judges of a bias towards Romanies and called for mass emigration of Romanies from the Czech Republic, Romany organisations spokesman Vaclav Miko told CTK. They said they resented the fact that an 38-year-old professional soldier from Jince, central Bohemia, only received a two-year suspended sentence for beating up a 58-year Romany man and that the state attorney who presented the case to the court agreed with the verdict. However, the attacker faced up to 12 years in prison for either extortion or robbery. Romanies said that the verdict confirmed the judges’ bias towards them. The Romany organisations see no other possibility for solving the situation but to call Romanies for mass emigration, Miko, a son of the attacked Romany, said. Plzen Regional Court chairman Zdenek Jaros told CTK today that though he did not know the details of the specific case he supported judge Premysl Spicar and had now doubts about his impartibility. “He is an experienced and quality judge,” Jaros said.
“Almost all the cases in which a Romany was a plaintiff and a Czech was a defendant ended in the same way. We have not lived to see justice the 15 years and we see no other possibility but emigration. However, we have dedicated so much time and effort to have the society see as as people,” Miko said. He said that he himself was considering emigration outside Europe. The more Romanies will leave the more of them will be safe, he said. Although there is a relative peace between Czech and Romanies the situation can change very quickly, he said. If someone prevented Romanies from emigration as it was during their mass exodus to Britain in the past, the situation could escalate, he said. “I want to avoid inter-ethnic conflict, to prevent a bloodshed and this is a reality,” Miko said. Soldier Pavel Pecha was addressed by an unidentified man in an exchange office in Rokycany who offered him a more advantageous exchange rate to change his 12,000 crowns to euros. However, he gave him priceless pieces of paper instead of banknotes. Pecha started to look for the fraud and he found a 58-year-old Romany in half an hour of whom he was sure that it was the fraud he was looking for, regardless of his different clothes. According to the file, he hit him between the eyes with his fist and when he fell to the ground kicked him in the stomach until the man urinated. Then he tried to put him in his car but the coming people prevented him from doing so. Pecha reported his deed to the police after the attack. However, police failed to prove that the man whom Pecha beat up was the suspect.
The Romany organisations Info Roma Kontakt Plzen, Futurum Roma Beroun, the Romany Civic Association Karlovy Vary, Romani Aliance Rokycany and Roma Realia Dobromerice issued a joint statement saying that they consider the verdict a “ridicule of democracy, a provocation and a racist approach.” According to them, the judges are racially-thinking and implement racism in practice by giving absolutely laughable and often acquittal sentences. “We are witnesses of very many racially-motivated cases in which judges made serious mistakes in their decisions. Romanies have ever diminishing influence on their independence. They deprive Romanies of any instruments to demand that wrongs be put right and to bring those who judge badly to responsibility,” the Romany organisations say. Miko, who is chairman of Info roman Kontakt Plzen, said that his organisation would stop all its multi-cultural activities by which it sought to strengthen and improve mutual relations between Czechs and Romanies. It will dedicate its all activity to inform as many Romanies as possible about the possibilities of emigration and to convince them to emigrate, he said. “They should have a look abroad and not in nearby countries. There are democratic countries in the world where they will have their freedom guaranteed,” he said. Miko said that his brother had been living in Britain for many years and that he envied him the rights that he has there and that Romanies in the Czech Republic do not have. Miko said that he intended to address other Romany organisations around the country so that they inform Romanies in their localities about the decision to leave the country. “We do not seek love or mutual joy among nations but a certain sound respect and there has never been such a respect here,” Miko said.
NEW STUDY SHOWS ALARMING RISE IN CREATION OF ROMA GHETTO
Czech Republic, 14 settembre 2006
A new comprehensive study of life in the Roma community has mapped what seems to be a disturbing trend – the spread of Roma ghettos. The study, carried out by a government ministry, shows that more and more Romanies are finding themselves literally living on the edge of society, with no jobs, few chances of ever finding one, and a grim life ahead of them.
Ivan GabalMore and more Romanies are finding themselves pushed to the very margins of Czech society. The country’s Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has just published the most in-depth study ever into what sociologists call social exclusion – in other words, the creation of ghettos. And the results do not make pleasant reading. The study was overseen by leading sociologist Ivan Gabal:
“Czech society and economy are undergoing a huge transformation, privatisation of housing, restructuring of the labour force. And in all of these advancing process, the Roma minority remains backward. So the relative distance between the Roma minority and Czech majority society has increased.”
Gabriela HrabanovaIvan Gabal says his teams of sociologists found a total of 310 neighbourhoods inhabited almost exclusively by Romanies, usually run-down housing estates or ramshackle buildings on the edge of town. The study put the total population of these areas at 80,000 – that’s around a third of the country’s total Roma population. But the most alarming fact was that the number of ghettos is growing. One person who isn’t surprised at the findings of the study is Gabriela Hrabanova, director of the Roma student organisation Athinganoi:
“It’s terrible but what did people think the analysis would show? Because we are working in this kind of sector, the non-governmental sector dealing with Romani issues, we’re facing this fact every day. In fact I’m happy that this analysis has been produced, because now it’s on paper, and it’s showing facts with graphs. And people can understand than just ‘the situation is really bad’.”
The study say the ghettos exert a powerful gravitational force; they tend to suck in poor families living on their margins. The bigger the ghetto, the more powerful the force. Inside the ghettos researchers found communities blighted by sub-standard housing, poor health and high employment – between 95 and 100 percent of the inhabitants were out of work. It’s a vicious circle – poor, badly-educated kids growing up into poor, badly-educated adults who then have more poor, badly-educated kids. Ivan Gabal says the Czech education system – wittingly or unwittingly – plays a major role in perpetuating the problem:
“Czech schools are simply legitimising the deficit of cultural and educational capital in the background. This is what we have to change. Czech elementary schools have to be able to resupply the insufficient educational background. This is not the current situation and a lot needs to be done in this field.”
So how can the situation be improved? Cestmir Sajda, from the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry, says the study – the first complete map of Roma exclusion – is an important first step:
Roma ghettos”I think every problem is serious. I don’t think the problem of the Roma population is the biggest problem in the country, but of course we have to solve this problem and we would like to solve it. That’s why we started to do a proper analysis to know the situation, and we’ve now fulfilled this target. The next thing is to decide what instruments are effective to diminish social exclusion.”
As for concrete proposals, they vary from reforming the education system to introducing positive discrimination in the labour market. Such ideas are likely to meet with a hostile reaction among politicians and the Czech public, who on the whole have little patience or understanding for the Roma minority. Athinganoi’s Gabriela Hrabanova concedes there are no easy solutions. But change, she says, must start at a grass roots level, and that means the local authorities:
“The responsibility for changing the situation lies with the local governmental representatives. They are the ones responsible for the region, and they are the ones who are actually sending the Roma out of the cities, or even to a different region so they don’t need to deal with it anyone. We can see this from the past two years – it was really happening.”
GYPSY CHILDREN WIN RIGHT TO SCHOOLING
Belgium, 14 settembre 2006
A solution has been found ensuring the gypsy children in Doel will be able to attend one of the three primary schools in Kieldrecht. Flemish Education Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has offered to give each of the schools an extra full-time teacher on a temporary basis, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported. These teachers will be used to assist in the education of non-Dutch speaking children of gypsy families. The extra teachers will be employed for six months only. The council school De Droomwolk has also agreed to enrol the gypsy children after discussions with Minister Vandenbroucke. The school had previously refused to accept the children. The refusal came after Beveren Mayor Marc Van de Vijver urged Kieldrecht schools against enrolling the children of asylum seekers. Kieldrecht is a district of Beveren. He was referring to the 40 children of rejected Roma gypsy asylum seeker families living in squats in Doel, another district of Beveren. The Christian Democrat CD&V mayor was concerned the inflow of gypsy children would negatively impact the quality of education and urged the schools to reject them. Public school De Zonnewijzer and open primary school De Kreek refused to follow the mayor’s request, but the council school had no choice in the matter because the mayor was officially in charge. But the request of the mayor was not only in breach of international principles, he had also asked the council school to breach the principle of equal education opportunities, which states that no student can be refused education unless the school is full. Due to the intervention of Vandenbroucke, the mayor has backed down on his request, and correctly, according to the Socialist SP.A minister because “children belong at school, not on the street”.
CZECH-ROMANI EDUCATION SPECIALIST WITH ONE FOOT IN EACH WORLD
Interview, 18 settembre 2006
Radio Prague reported recently on the alarming rise in the creation of Roma ghettos, where up to a third of the country’s 250,000 or so Romanies end up, with no job and a bleak life ahead of them. One group trying to help Roma out of the ghetto and enter mainstream Czech society is the Romani student organisation Athinganoi. Rob Cameron spoke recently to Gabriela Hrabanova, the group’s 27-year-old director.
I was born into a mixed family. My mother is of Romani origin and my father is a Czech. As to the question – do I consider myself Roma? Well I definitely feel like a Roma. Sometimes it’s very hard because I don’t look like a Roma.”
Exactly. You have blue-green eyes and are not really very dark. You could be mistaken for a ‘white’ Czech.
“Yes. A lot of people actually think that I’m Czech. It takes time for them to really get to know me, and they also see my personal characteristics. Then they start thinking not only that I’m not like a typical Czech, but that I am somehow mixed. I saw this clearly when I was studying at university. I went to the Anglo-American College here in Prague, and there were a lot of students coming from abroad. At first they considered me as a Czech, but then I started talking to them, and they started saying – ‘but you’re different, you’re different than the other Czechs, you’re more friendly’ etc. And I explained to them that this was because I’m half-Romani, and proud to be Roma.”
Was that a conscious decision, to identify more with the Romani side of your character? Or did it come naturally as you were growing up?
“As I was growing up it came naturally, because I had a very strong connection to the Romani part of my family. My mother is one of six children, so we had a really big family, a lot of family meetings, and I always felt very good with my family members. Of course I feel the same with my Czech family, but it’s something warmer with my Romani family.”
Do the two families get on well with each other?
“Since my mother and father are already divorced, they don’t communicate very much. But it wasn’t so easy at the beginning.”
And I suppose having one foot in each of those two communities – Romani and white – put you in an ideal position to become the director of Athinganoi.
“Yes, sometimes I say that’s a kind of added value I have, because I can understand both worlds. I can easily communicate with Roma, because I feel I can talk with them without any borders, and especially without prejudice and stereotypes which is very important. Sometimes they have prejudices against me.”
Because you’re not 100% Romani.
“Exactly. Sometimes I see it at the beginning of negotiations.”
They don’t really take you seriously you think.
“Yes, it really takes time, and I have to prove my qualities. But I’ve got used to it. And the other thing is to know the non-Roma world is a great added value. Because then I can communicate easily with the politicians, with the public representatives. The here there’s an advantage that they don’t see me as a Roma on the first place, because sometimes they say things they wouldn’t say otherwise.”
You mean you sometimes catch them out making racist remarks or something?
How do you respond?
“Well, I say – ‘excuse me but I’m also Roma, and I feel offended. Are you serious about the things you were saying’? It also happens very often. But then these people have to change. Sometimes they say – ‘yes, but you’re an exception.’ And I say – ‘I’m not an exception. I have an organisation and there are 100 or 200 more people like me, and we don’t know about the others. So I’m not an exception.’ So this gives me a chance to talk with people and show them the other view, and the other perspective of looking at Roma. Not being stuck with anti-gypsism or anti-Roma feelings, but really to try to talk with them even it’s just explaining that we would like to be called Roma and not gypsies.”
This difference between ‘Roma’ and ‘gypsy’ – I’ve heard some people say ‘gypsy’ is a more accurate term because ‘Roma’ refers to a specific tribe. Is that correct?
“There is a kind of truth in what you were saying. First of all, Roma is a name for a nation, but we can also consider it a tribe. It’s coming from the language. When I say in the Romani language ‘me som Rom’ it means ‘I am a human’. When it says ‘me som Romni’ it means ‘I am a Romani woman.’ Or ‘me vakerav Romanes’ – I speak Romani. And everywhere you hear the word ‘Romani’. So that’s why we’re asking to be called Roma, because that the word coming from our language. The fact is that there were different tribes, and that the one Roma tribe divided during history into different tribes, and not all Roma want to be called Roma. We have Sinti, we have travellers, we have Bajas in Hungary, they want to be called ‘Tsigane’. So we have to consider the diversity within this group. But the word ‘gypsy’ comes from the word ‘Egypt’, because when the Roma came to English-speaking countries, they were saying ‘we are from Egypt, we’re Egyptians’ and the word ‘gypsy’ came from that. So first of all it’s not accurate and not reflecting the history, as such, and second it was given to us from the outside.”
You’ve spent many years trying to help your community, and improve relations between your community and majority society. Have you noticed any improvement?
“There’s a kind of contradiction. We see more marginalised communities, we see increased unemployment, we see people not having enough money to buy basic commodities. This is very bad. On the other hand, we have people who are becoming integrated with society. So there’s some development on both sides, negative and positive.”
So it’s getting better and it’s getting worse.
“Exactly. It’s so hard to catch it and do something with it. So for example my organisation, Athinganoi, we’re trying to show positive examples. We’re showing Roma students at high schools and universities, so we can really show the public that there are people who are able to finish high school or university and who can become teachers, doctors, lawyers, whatever.”
Do you ever despair of the situation? Do you ever get sick of it and think – I’ve had enough. I’ve devoted all the energy I can devote to it. I’m going to get myself a well-paid job and forget about my community and its problems?
“I have an advantage because I was working in an advertisement agency for three years after my high school study. And I really got into the business world. I was working in advertising for three years and I got sick of this commercial world. Of course I sometimes think it’s too much, I give too much energy and receive nothing back. But I’ve learnt to be happy about the simple things in which I succeed, like another student accepted at high school, another student receiving a scholarship, the one who receives a scholarship for his or her studies, the one who graduates and becomes a doctor. And this is what gives me the energy, because even if I don’t see the system changing, I do see the change within people. And one by one that gives me the energy to continue my work.”
CZECH REPUBLIC PURSUES POLICY OF APARTHEID TOWARDS ROMANIES
Czech Republic, 19 settembre 2006
Vaclav Miko, chairman of the Roma Realia Romany association, said Tuesday that the Czech Republic has started to pursue a policy of apartheid towards Romanies. Miko said that as the result of modern Czech apartheid, Romanies are being moved to houses without any appliances on the outskirts of town and villages and separated from other residents. Discrimination against Romanies and the hatred of society towards them is the result of the policy of apartheid, he said. Roman Realia is part of the alliance of five Romany associations which last week called on Romanies to emigrate from the Czech Republic in reaction to a Plzen court’s lenient verdict given to a career soldier for beating a Romany. Miko, who is a son of the Romany who was the victim of the attack, says he intends to appeal the verdict. On Monday, the alliance announced that it had stopped any activities that could lead to the integration of Romanies. “If you want to name racism, discrimination and separation of Romanies in the Czech Republic with one word, this word is apartheid,” Miko said. He added that Romanies in the Czech Republic were banned against entering certain disco clubs, restaurants and swimming pools and there were racially-motivated attacks on Romanies. “The separation of the Romany population through ghettos is the main parallel with apartheid,” Miko said. According to a recent analysis, there are more than 300 houses and quarters for poor Romanies in the Czech Republic. According to expert estimates, up to 80,000 people could live there. In certain localities, 90 to 100 percent of adult residents are jobless. According to sociologist Ivan Gabal, whose institute drafted the analysis in poor Romany localities, segregation of Romanies starts at schools already. Schools usually convince Romany children that their environment is living on the verge of society. Romany boys and girls repeat the fates of their parents. Like their parents, they enter the adulthood with a lower qualification and end up without jobs and dependent on social security benefits.
INTERIOR MINISTER SENDS LETTER TO MEPS IN POLICE-ROMA CONFLICT
Romania, 20 settembre 2006
Interior minister Vasile Blaga yesterday sent a letter to two European Parliament members who expressed concerns about an incident between police agents and the Roma community in the northern city of Reghin. Blaga told MEPs Viktoria Mohacsi and Katalin Levai that the police agents did their job and acted according to the legislation and that “the incident, although regrettable, cannot be blamed on the police, as they had to defend themselves from a violent crowd of more than 150 people,” according to the letter. Two agents of the police special interventions department (DIAS) and 15 Romas were injured in Reghin’s neighborhood Apalina on the evening of September 7. The conflict began after a police officer was assaulted by two Roma men with a previous criminal record on a terrace in Reghin. The police officer said the two men threatened him and his family because he had previously investigated them. Thus, a team of police agents immediately went to Reghin to identify the assailants. In Apalina, the agents were attacked by several Romas with rocks, metal bars and pitchforks, police said. The agents fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the attackers injuring dozens of people. An investigation in the case established that the agents acted correctly, the chief of the Mures County Police Inspectorate said. Mohacsi and Levai visited the area and said that until the police come with proof they acted in self defense, they will consider the incident an act of racism. According to the invitations sent to the media, Mohacsi and Levai think that the September 7 events “represented a collective punishment of the local Roma community by state authorities” and that law enforcement agents used their guns at random, firing without a warning and injuring civilians. “The members of the European Parliament are horrified by such actions that are against legal and ethical European standards, at the most sensitive time of the accession process,” the press invitation states. The two European lawmakers also underlined that the Reghin incident was preceded by three similar cases in the last six months. Besides Mohacsi and Levai, the press conference was also to be attended by the executive director of the Romani Criss human rights organization, the head of the Human Rights Bureau inside the Pro Europe League, Haller Istvan and a representative for the Roma Inclusion Decade in the Institute for an Open Society, Iulius Rostas. The two European lawmakers’ comments have already triggered criticism from the Targu-Mures Association for Human Rights – APDO-LIDER, which qualified their statements as “irresponsible.” The head of the association, Cornel Briscaru, said the comments included in the press invitation are designed to put pressure on Romania before its European Union accession, scheduled to take place on January 1.