Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* ERIO’s training about Roma history in a Brussels primary school
On the 10 May, Marta Pinto, ERIO’s Policy Officer, was invited as a speaker at the debate on Roma, which followed the screening of the documentary Jenica & Perla. This event, which took place in Cinema Aventure, Brussels, was a part of the human rights film festival One World and was organized in cooperation with Festival des Libertés.
Jenica & Perla depicts daily lives of two young Roma women and their relations with their families. Jenica is a Romanian living in France and Perla lives in one of the poor Roma settlements in Slovakia. Both girls try to find the right balance between education and independence on one hand, and family and traditions on the other. The documentary reveals the shortcomings of Slovak education system and housing policies, as well as problems associated with obtaining official documents for migrants in France. Moreover, gender dimension is also illustrated when one of the girls faces the pressure from her family to finally take on the traditional role of mother and housewife. 
The debate that followed focused on Roma policies on national and European level. Marta Pinto and Caroline Intrand from CIRÉ (Coordination et initiatives pour Réfugiés and Étrangers) expressed their views and replied to questions from the audience, which concerned for example integration vs. assimilation dilemma or the lack of visible Roma role models.
* ERIO’s school training on Roma history and culture starts next week
12/05/2015 - Starting next week and running until the end of June, ERIO is organizing a Roma history, culture and language courses in a primary school in central Brussels as part of the SMILE project.
The main goals of this project is to support the primary schools in their effort of involving Roma students, creating a welcoming learning environment for the Roma children and families and developing a sense of community through the foundation of a new spirit of Community feeling, based on the concept of prosociality.
If you wish to find out more about this project go to:
* Booklet “Know your rights! Protection from discrimination”
Want to know your rights? Want to know where to file a complaint of discrimination?
A new booklet with guidelines for victims of discrimination published by the European Commission is now available. It informs victims of discrimination of their rights under EU law, about what they can do and whom they can contact for support.

Download the booklet here.

OTHER news

* Hungary: Life in prison for murdering Romani people
By ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

09/05/2015 - Yesterday the Associated Press reported that a Hungarian appeals court has upheld the sentencing of four men responsible for attacks on Romani people during which six individuals, including a five-year-old boy, died in 2008 and 2009. Three perpetrators were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2013 and the appeals court has now agreed with that verdict.
The court also upheld the original 13-year sentence for the fourth man involved. According to the indictment, the three perpetrators attacked Romani settlements near small villages in central and eastern Hungary from July 2008 to August 2009, setting Romani dwellings on fire and shooting people dead as they fled.
There were reportedly nine such attacks during which the perpetrators used firearms, grenades, and Molotov cocktails. The fourth defendant drove the getaway car during the group's last two attacks.

Read more here
* Slovakia must explain discrimination of Roma in the schools to the European Commission
By ČTK, mik, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

02/05/2015 - Slovakia has two months to answer several questions about its laws and practices leading to the discrimination of Romani children in the schools. The European Commission (EC) launched an infringement proceedings against Bratislava on 30 April that theoretically could end up before the European Court of Justice.

The Czech News Agency reports that Christian Wigand, spokesperson for the EC, has confirmed the move, which has been welcomed by Amnesty International (AI) and other NGOs. "Discrimination in education on the basis of ethnic or racial origin in prohibited by European law," he said.
Slovakia is now facing the same proceeding as the one the EU launched last September against the Czech Republic. According to the European director of AI, Iverna McGowan, it is shocking that Romani children in Slovakia are currently still systematically segregated from the majority population and assigned to "special schools".
"No child should be denied equal access to education, which is a fundamental human right," McGowan said. According to a 2013 study, there are more than 400 000 Romani people living in Slovakia, which has a total population of five million. That number is almost four times higher than the number of those who self-identified as Romani in the 2011 census. Most live in the approximately 800 settlements that are scattered throughout central and eastern Slovakia.

 Read more here
* New voice for Manchester's Roma gypsy community to stop 'dependency on others'
By Charlotte Green

Manchester’s Roma gypsy community are soon to be given a new voice through a project aiming to dispel negative perceptions and stop them ‘being dependent on others’.

13/05/2015 - The Roma community’s long history of poor representation at a national and local level is a problem that ‘MigRom’, a EU-funded project, in partnership with Manchester City Council, aims to tackle.
Led by academics from the University of Manchester, it aims to increase the Roma population’s access to public services, education and employment whilst at the same time trying to change the mainstream prejudices against the community. Project Coordinator Professor Yaron Matras said: “Unlike other immigrant and ethnic minority communities the Roma have so far lacked community representation.

Read more here
* Prague Monitor: Romani officials criticise strikers from inclusion agency
By Czech News Agency (ČTK)

Prague, 11/05/2015 - Members of the Czech government council for the Romany minority yesterday criticised as unacceptable the demands raised by the striking employees of the Government Agency for Social Inclusion and said a solution rests in the departure of the dissatisfied.
The council for the Romany minority has almost 30 members, half of whom are Romanies. Nine of the Romany members criticised the strikers from the inclusion agency in a statement released to CTK. Most of the staff of the agency, whose task is to help towns cope with the problem of ghettos (excluded localities with unadaptable inhabitants, often Romanies), went on strike yesterday.
Read more here
* Hungary heads to the right

Xenophobia, racism, and right-wing radicalism: Hungary's Jobbik party is only three percentage points behind the ruling Fidesz in recent polls. And the killing of Roma is greeted with indifference.

13/05/2015 - Even right-wing media outlets were upset when the leading conservative news platform mandiner.hu ran the headline: "We have never hated foreigners this much."
The impetus for the headline was a new poll on xenophobia and racism published by Tarki, an opinion research institute in Budapest. Both of these issues are more prevalent in Hungary than at any time in its post-communist history. Beyond their dislike of Arabs, Hungarians tend to despise Roma even more. Over 80 percent of respondents had a negative opinion of the them. The end of Hungary's so-called "Roma murders" trial a few days earlier seemed to underline the poll's conclusions. On May 8, the Budapest Court of Appeals upheld the original guilty verdict against the murderers.
Read more here
* Swedish Shanty Towns: Multiculturalism Meets Socialism
By John Gustavsson

14/05/2015 - Let me paint you a picture: Houses made out of plywood, or whatever materials can be found. Some of the better-off inhabitants may have cars to sleep in. No electricity, no shower or laundry facilities, actually no running water or sanitation whatsoever. Food is cooked over open fires, and that’s also the only way to get heating. The inhabitants spend their days begging outside the shops in the city. Any children living there do not attend school.
Where do you think that picture belongs? South Africa? Brazil? Moldova? How about Sweden?

Read more here
* Hungarian city pays Roma to move away, they are emigrating to Canada en masse
By min, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

14/05/2015 - Dozens of Romani families from the Hungarian city of Miskolc are moving to Canada. The Romani settlement there, where approximately 1 000 people used to live, will be replaced by a parking lot for the nearby football stadium, which is undergoing reconstruction.
The destruction of the Romani settlement began last year. "For reasons of public health and safety we can no longer tolerate the existence of urban slums," said Mayor Akos Kriza.
"We cannot ask more than 10 000 fans to walk through a Romani settlement every time they want to get the stadium," he said. In last year's election he was elected for the Fidesz party, and The Budapest Times reports that he co-opted the radical Jobbik party's anti-Romani politics in order to get votes.
Read more here
* Indian example may help Hungary's Roma
By The Budapest Times

Ambassador Mishra moved by plight of under-privileged
15/05/2015 - Indian Ambassador to Hungary Malay Mishra will end his 36-year career with the Indian Foreign Service in July but he plans his retirement to be Hungary’s gain as he continues a personal campaign to improve the lot of the marginalised Roma community.
Ambassador Mishra, who arrived in Budapest in September 2013, has spent the past eight months researching the plight of Roma as part of the Ph.D for which he is registered in the Institute for International Studies at Budapest’s Corvinus University. He is making a comparative study into the empowerment of marginalised groups in India, Hungary, Romania and the UK, with particular reference to Roma communities.
Read more here


* Media: a key tool to fight hate speech and anti-Gypsyism - CONFERENCE INVITATION

Brussels, 26 June 2015
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) invites you to attend the conference “Media: a key tool to fight hate speech and anti-Gypsyism” which will be held on 23 June 2015 at the European Economic Social Committee, room TRE 7701 (7th floor), 74 rue de Treves, 1040 Brussels from 09:00-17:00.

Media represent a strong communication tool in shaping the opinion and behaviour of Europeans on a daily basis. Roma are subject to discriminatory and racist discourses in the media whose reports continues to identify them as ‘outsiders within’ and as a threat to the fabric of the European society. Media tends to reinforce and reproduce existing stereotypes of the Roma and constructs them as useful scapegoats in times of economic crisis. These representations greatly influence individual attitudes and strengthen racist discrimination against this community, prejudice, xenophobia and even incitement to ethnic hatred.
There is an urgent need to address these issues. Due to the significant impact of media on European societies, journalists should take a special approach once informing about vulnerable groups such as Roma, who constitute the largest European ethnic minority. We should invert the role of the media as a tool for anti-Roma sentiment and use it to fight 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.
This conference will focus on finding appropriate and effective ways to sensitise journalists to Roma culture in order to overcome media negative stereotyping while discussing the role of the media in combating anti-Gypsyism. It will provide a platform for participants 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.

This conference will be in English.

You can register by email or phone by giving your name, surname, title and the organisation you are working for. The deadline for registrations is 19 June 2015 at 15:00 (Brussels time).
For registration or any other queries, please contact: office@erionet.eu or Tel: +32 (2) 733 34 62
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