Tuesday, 8 April 2008

International Roma Day, April 8

It is estimated that between 200.000 and 800.000 Roma were killed in Nazi concentration camps.

“On the occasion of International Roma Day, April 8, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) recalls that, to date, Roma remain the most deprived ethnic group of Europe. Across Europe, the fundamental rights of Roma are still being violated on a regular basis. Repetitious cases of racist violence and hate speech targeting Roma are reported frequently. Roma are also subject to discrimination in accessing employment, education, health care, and public and social services.”
Read the full article

Portrait of a Roma prisoner at Auschwitz, drawn by Czech-Jewish painter Dinah Gottliebova. Before being killed, Gottliebova was ordered by Dr Josef Mengele to paint portraits of Roma in order to define their “specific genetic characteristics”. A Forgotten People, a Terrible Ordeal, by Tom Gross, The Wall Street Journal

Memory needs a place, by Sefedin Jonuz (Sefedin Jonuz is a Romani activist and poet working with the Cologne-based Roma NGO Rom e.V.)

“Skopje, Macedonia: 1942-1944: I experienced the Second World War as a small child and I remember it as if it were yesterday. In 1942, the Bulgarian and German fascists came to out city and began to round up all the Jews and the Roma. Many Germans marched behind a Bulgarian fascist, who was hanging on a drum and shouting that all Jews and all Roma should come out on the street and announce themselves to the German commander. Whoever didn’t come out of their house and have themselves registered would be shot.

So all the Jews and Roma came out on the street and were led off to the commander’s office, where they were registered. They all stood in a line and had their names inscribed in a book, and among them were my father and my uncle, the brother of my mother and all the Roma from out street. We children and out mother and grandmother shrieked and cried as they were led away: why were they taking out father away? He had never done anything to anyone. Where did they want to bring him?

My grandmother and I stand after the column of people to find out where they were taking them. My grandmother understood Bulgarian and she kept asking one soldier “Where are you taking my sons?” but he wouldn’t answer her. So she pulled three gold pieces out of the little package she carried at her breast and showed one to the soldier. His eyes became huge and then he looked quickly around to see if anyone was looking. Then he stuck his hand out and said, “Don’t worry, granny, nothing will happen to your sons. They won’t be killed. All of the Roma are going to Bulgaria to work and the Jews will be brought to another place, I don’t know where exactly.”

We tan after the column until we had reached the trucks and then everybody got into the trucks and they drove away. We watched the trucks go and we cried, because we didn’t know whether we would ever see out father and out uncle alive again.

All the men were taken away. Only children and women were left behind. German and Bulgarian fascists raped and shamed Romani women. We children were always on the street. We knew everything that happened on out street and in out neighbourhood.”
Read the full testimony

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