& current status: Part 2
Roma are also known as Gypsies, Rom, Rroma, Romani, etc.
This essay is a continuation from Part 1
Discrimination against Roma in various countries (Cont'd):
Kosovo: Their Roma population may be the most oppressed
in Europe. They appear to
be hated by both the Albanian/Muslim majority and the
Serbian/Christian minority. A series of articles about the Roma in
Kosovo has been published by an anti-cult site. 1,2This
web site claims that the Roma totaled at least 10% of the population
of Kosovo. Yet they have been essentially invisible and have not been
included in the government's population figures.
The U.S. Department of State issued an annual report on 2009-FEB-25 that deals
with the state of human rights in the world. It states that in Kosovo:
"... the Roma were subject to pervasive social and economic discrimination;
often lacked access to basic hygiene, medical care, and education; and were
heavily dependent on humanitarian aid for survival." 3
Poland: The Polish government approved a
25,000 euro grant to fund a commemoration at Auschwitz by the Sinti and Roma
peoples on 2009-AUG-04. This was the 65th anniversary of the day in which
Nazis executed 2,800 Sinti and Roma detainees -- children, men, women, and the
elderly -- who had been transported from the Birkenau concentration camp.
As the anniversary approached, the Polish government withdrew their financial
grant, and the commemoration was almost cancelled. Piotr Kadlcik, chair of
Poland's Jewish community, said:
"When I heard that the Polish government had withdrawn its financial support
for the Sinti and Roma commemoration, I immediately picked up the telephone.
We cannot allow a moment such as the commemoration of August 2 to fall into
He called friends and organizations, persuaded them to donate money, and
the ceremony was held.
Roman Kwiatkowski, chair of the Polish Union of Sinti and Roma, said:
"For us Sinti and Roma, both concentration camps constitute a symbol of the
affliction and death of hundreds of thousands of our relatives. We, Sinti and
Roma from all Europe, are united by the memories of the crimes committed by
the Nazi dictatorship against our people."
At the Auschwitz ceremony, Romani Rose, chair of the German Central
Council of Roma and Sinti said:
"All political forces in Europe must proscribe racism against this group as
they have anti-Semitism. Even centrist parties misuse racist clich? and
distorted images of our people to chase votes." 4
Romania: About two million Roma live here; many suffer prejudice, poverty and
One bright note occurred in 2003 when the government
-- an ally of Germany during World War II -- finally acknowledged
that the Romanian government had taken part in the mass killing of Jews and Roma
during the Holocaust.
In the fall of 2007, President Traian Basescu formally apologized for
his country's role sending Roma to Nazi extermination camps. After
presenting state medals to three Roman concentration camp survivors, he said:
"Forgive us brothers and sisters. We must tell our children that six decades
ago, children like them had been sent by Romania to die of hunger and cold. We
must tell Romanian mothers that the Romanian state killed Roma mothers through
slavery and misery."
Florin Moisa, head of the independent Research Centre for Roma Communities
responded to Basescu's comments, saying:
"Basescu's address is a badly needed
reparation. No-one before him has ever apologized for the atrocities. However, the government should make further efforts to put into practice a
national strategy for Roma and eradicate discrimination."
Ciprian Necula, a human rights campaigner in Romania said:
"The plight of the Roma during the Holocaust should be written about in
Romanian school history books. ... The Roma people are generally ignored.
Authorities should do more to combat discrimination." 6
Serbia: The situation was particularly critical
during the 1990's. Many Serbian Orthodox,
Roman Catholic, and Muslim religious groups and political leaders fueled racial and religious hatred as a
means of promoting their own group. The Gypsies have no affinity with any of the
political-religious groups. They were attacked by all.
Starting in mid-1997,
neo-Nazi skinhead street gangs became active in the cities. Random beatings and killing of Roma
men, women and children have became common. Dragan Stankovic, head of the Roma community
in Belgrade said:
"The discrimination begins as soon as our children enter school. Gypsy kids are
made to sit in the back rows or sent to special-education classes. Many are tossed out of
school. They are frequently ostracized and insulted by other children and teachers. Our
young people cannot find jobs and our complaints to the police are ignored. We have always
lived as second-class citizens, but we are not willing now to die because we are
second-class citizens." 7
More data on the above and other countries:
The above listings are merely a sample of the hardships that the Roma
experience. Similar oppression appears to be found wherever Roma form a
significant minority in Europe.
Amnesty International's "The State of the World's Human Rights" report
for 2009 is online at:
http://report2009.amnesty.org/ A search for "Roma" gives three pages of
On a positive note, The Decade of Roma Inclusion began in 2005. It is
aimed at improving the social and economic status of Roma. It was organized by
many countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including: Bulgaria,
Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and
Slovakia. Some financial support is provided by the international community. 3
Alan S, Rosenbaum has written:
"In every single public opinion poll, including one conducted in the
United States (and reported in the 1992-JAN-08 issue of the New York Times),
Romas are listed as the most discriminated-against minority, the most despised
ethnic population." 8
In 1997, President Clinton appointed Ian Hancock as the only Romani
representative to the 65-person
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Hancock was only the second Romani
representative in the 17-year history of the Council. 9
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Collateral lives: The exile of the Kosovo Roma," at
"No third country: Roma - people are fleeing from Kosovo who were
never mentioned before," at:
"Europe: Discrimination against Roma," Amnesty International,"
"Roma People Face Discrimination, Attacks Across Europe," Huffington
Post, 2009-AUG-02, at:
Diane Huie Balay of the United Methodist Committee on Relief describes the
plight of the Roma in Romania at: http://www.umr.org/
This essay appears to be offline.
"Roma urge Romania to end discrimination," Reuters, 2007-OCT-25, at:
Chris Hedges, "Gypsies in Serbia targst of pervasive racism,
assaults", New York Times Service, 1997-OCT-22.
Alan S. Rosenbaum, "Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives on comparative
"Timeline of Romani History," Patrin Web Journal, at:
Copyright © 1998 to 2009 by
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1998-JUL
Latest update: 2009-AUG-29
Author: B.A. Robinson