Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* International Students Visit ERIO
A group of international Master students studying social studies and communication from Christelijke Hogeschool Ede (Christian School of Applied Science) in Holland visited ERIO’s office on the 6th of November 2015. ERIO’s staff met with them to discuss ERIO’s work and the current situation of Roma rights in the EU. The students showed great interest in minority rights as they have discussed the obstacles minorities face when exercising their rights during their studies. Our policy officer Marta Pinto described the work ERIO conducts, ranging from acting as a bridge between the Roma NGOs that carry out grassroots work and the European institutions, to training and empowering the Roma. Moreover, she spoke about the history of the advocacy efforts made my ERIO and other Roma organizations. The role of the media was also discussed. Ms. Pinto informed the students about hate speech and explained ERIO’s efforts to create an informal European Roma Media Network scheduled to be launched next year. The aim of the network is to bring journalists together, to monitor national media that uses hate speech against Roma. Also, discussion took place concerning the promotion of youth empowerment and the impact of role models. ERIO is currently developing a booklet for the end of 2015 of Roma role models to help further the Roma youth’s ambition. Moreover, we spoke about ERIO’s collaboration with other minority organizations. Ms. Pinto stressed that the Roma community should be aided to integrate but not assimilate, so that the diversity in the European Union can be further celebrated.

OTHER news

* In pictures: Roma slums in Romania and Slovakia
By BBC, Delia Radu

More than 70% of Europe's Roma (Gypsies) live in dire poverty, often marginalised and victims of discrimination.
Europe is estimated to have 10-12 million Roma, many of them concentrated in eastern, former communist countries.
Back in 2005 the Decade of Roma Inclusion was launched - a global initiative by the EU, UN and World Bank to improve housing, jobs, health and education for the Roma. The BBC's Delia Radu visited Roma in Romania and Slovakia to find out what, if anything, was achieved by that initiative.

Desperately poor, they often skip meals and the family of 11 squeezes into a two-room, crumbling house.
The community lives under steep slopes prone to landslides - so locals call them "People of the Ravines".
"Of course we're scared whenever the earth comes down," said Mr Moldovan, as a hissing noise accompanied a minor shower of sand and clay.
"But what can we do? The local authorities aren't interested in giving us any help," he complained.

Delia Radu's radio documentary was broadcast on BBC World Service.

Read more here
* Pope urges 'fresh start' for Roma, Sinti communities

Vatican City, 27/10/2015 - Pope Francis called Monday for a fresh start for Roma and Sinti communities, telling traveller families from around the world they could break free of prejudice by not falling into crime. "I want your people to have a fresh start, a renewed narrative," the pontiff told some 5,000 Roma and Sinti people attending an audience at the Vatican, after making his way on foot through cheering crowds. But, Francis warned, it is important "not to give the press and public opinion any occasion to speak badly of you".

"You can do it if you are above all good Christians, avoiding everything unworthy of the title: lies, scams, tricks, fights". "The time has come to eradicate centuries-old prejudices, preconceptions and mutual mistrust that are often at the root of discrimination, racism and xenophobia,"
he said to groups largely from Spain, France and Romania.

Read more here
* Four dead in shootout in Roma camp in France
By BBC news

Four people have been killed in a shootout at a Roma camp in north-eastern France, police say. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters those killed "in cold blood" included a six-month-old baby, a man and a woman.
Reports said a police officer died from his wounds shortly after the incident. Another policeman was injured. The violence took place in the northern town of Roye, about 110km (70 miles) north of Paris. It is unclear what provoked the incident. Witnesses told the AFP news agency that a fight broke out in the camp and one of the men involved began shooting when police arrived at the scene.
The gunman was said to be in a serious condition after being shot by police. The local Courrier Picard newspaper reported that security forces had sealed off the area.
President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed shock over the incident. "My thoughts are with the families, with the victims and the policeman killed in the service of France," Mr Valls tweeted (in French). In a statement, Mr Hollande hailed the "courage and commitment" of the police officers who responded to the incident.

Read more here
* Czechs and Slovaks not doing enough on Roma and gay rights
By Eric Maurice

The Czech republic and Slovakia are not still not doing enough to protect the rights of the Roma population, the Council of Europe said on Tuesday (13 October). In two separate reports, the pan-European institution pointed out the continued discrimination of Roma, low access to education and the prevalence of hate speech. In the Czech republic, "the continued discrimination of Roma, in particular of Roma children, is a serious concern," Council of Europe secretary general Thorbjorn Jagland said in a statement.

The report published by the Council's commission against racism and intolerance (ECRI) expresses regret that 'Roma-only' schools continue to exist, providing a reduced curriculum and lower-quality education.
"No specific and measurable targets have been fixed for transfers of Roma children from practical to ordinary education and none appear to have taken place in practice," the report says. It also notes that "discrimination and prejudice are still the key factors hindering labour market integration of Roma. Discrimination in housing has led to Roma having to rent accommodation in private hostels or dormitories at extremely high prices".

Read more here
* Sweden: Activists fight closure of Malmö migrant camp
By The Local

Campaigners are gathered at a controversial camp in Malmö that has been home to hundreds of mostly Roma people, but is set to be cleared by police and local authorities.
The camp has been occupied by around 200 people for months, but following a decision from Malmö city council’s environmental committee, they were asked to leave the camp by 4pm on Sunday or face eviction. However, police failed to show up, with some of the residents remaining there overnight amid rumours that it would be cleared on Monday morning instead.
As the city's rush hour got under way, campaigners arrived at the camp to show their support for the EU migrants, who have been living in caravans, tents, shacks and cars on the land, which is in an industrial area of Sweden's third largest city.

Read more here
* FRA study on Member States' legal framework on surveillance

The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has published a report today looking into the legal arrangements that govern intelligence services and their surveillance practices in the EU Member States. It underlines the challenges of protecting citizens while safeguarding the fundamental rights that underpin European societies.
“Intelligence services play a vital role in a democratic society: They guard against security threats, and in doing so protect fundamental freedoms and the rights of individuals,” says FRA Director a.i. Constantinos Manolopoulos. “In the wake of the barbaric attacks in Paris, we must ensure that surveillance measures maintain national security and fully respect fundamental rights. This will underscore the EU’s firm commitment to democracy, equality and respect for fundamental rights.”

Read more here
* United Kingdom: Woking councillors accuse residents of racism over proposed Gypsy site
By Henry Bodkin

Councilors rejected an application for travellers' pitches. Woking councillors have accused some of the residents opposed to a proposed new traveller site in Byfleet of being "bordering on racist". Objectors sent letters to the council saying theft and burglary in the neighbourhood would increase if permission for the four pitches on green belt land south of Murrays Lane was granted, according to one member of the planning committee. At a meeting on Tuesday, another member accused the more than 1,000 people who have previously signed a petition against the building of pitches as "hating" the Romani Gypsy who want to move in. The committee ultimately rejected the application for the land just to the East of the M25, which was described as "almost identical" to previous recent applications.

Read more here
* Turkey’s first Roma TV to start test broadcasts on November 20, aims to break prejudice against community
By Sinan Öztürk

TV and media have long silenced and stereotyped Turkey's Roma community; however, a new television channel seeks to give Roma a voice by broadcasting in Turkish and Roma languages.

Ahmet Çokyaşar, chairman of the Turkey Roma Confederation, told Anadolu Agency that they applied to register the television channel brand "Roman TV." Roman TV will start by putting content online for viewing and will produce shows in its studio located in Istanbul's Ümraniye district, Çokyaşar said. He added that they will start satellite broadcasts in five to six months to reach the whole world.

Çokyaşar said that Roman TV would be a very important opportunity for the Roma community to express themselves in the right way and underlined that the government's initiative to address the problems facing the Roma has improved the ethnic group's status in Turkey. Disturbed by how the media has mocked the Roma people for entertainment, Çokyaşar said that their broadcasts will include educational programs and shows raising awareness on issues important to the Roma community.

Read more here


* ERIO’s Training “Advocacy for Roma inclusion” INVITATION
Brussels, 10-11 December 2015

The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) invites you to attend a training on advocacy skills which will be held on the 10 and 11 December from 9:30-15:30 at the Maison Notre Dame Du Chant d'Oiseau, Centre de Formation, Avenue des Franciscains 3a, 1150 Brussels.
The training is for Roma activists and it aims to:
- Improve the advocacy skills of Roma to enable them to be involved in the implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) as well as in anti-discrimination and social inclusion policies at European, national and local level;
- Inform Roma organisations and representatives about the different types of EU funds, how to apply and how to effectively use them for the successful integration of Roma;
- Inform about relevant EU developments such as the EU Framework, the NRIS and the Council recommendation in order to be exploited within advocacy activities.

The training will be in English.

Places are limited. Please confirm participation as soon as possible, latest by 08 December 2015.
Register by email/phone by sending your name, surname, title and the organisation you represent to:
Tel: +32 (2) 733 3462
Join the The European Roma Media Network!

The European Roma Media Network was an outcome of ERIO’s conference “Media: a key tool to fight hate speech and anti-Gypsyism” organised on 23 June 2015 in Brussels. The ultimate goal of this informal Network is to join efforts to invert the role of the media as a tool to fight anti-Roma sentiments and anti-Gypsyism. The media has a crucial role in combating racism and stereotypes about the Roma. This can be achieved with an ethical and critical journalism which aims to raise awareness and provide a greater understanding regarding Roma issues.
The role of the Network is to provide an online platform for different stakeholders to exchange information and ideas about good practices and to discuss possible challenges and opportunities in tackling negative stereotypes and hate speech in the media. A parallel objective of the Network is to monitor and react to hate speech and negative portrayal of Roma in the media and address the responsible authorities.Who can join? Members of the Network should be journalists (Roma and non-Roma), media experts or NGOs working on media.

Want to apply for membership?
To apply for membership please fill in this registration form and send it to office@erionet.eu
School Drawing Competition: For Roma, with Roma

You are invited to take part in a drawing competition organised by the European Commission for 7-10 year olds. The aim of the competition is to help children, teachers and parents think about what we share that allows us to live together in an inclusive and mixed society.
To enter, work in a group to create a drawing that represents the theme above. Draw your ideas of five ways we are all the same; whether we are Roma or not.

The deadline for the competition is 16 February 2016.
More information can be found here.
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