Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* ERIO at the Greens and European Free Alliance conference "Can Europe afford not to sanction against discrimination and racism?"
On the 19 November, ERIO was invited to speak at the conference "Can Europe afford not to sanction against discrimination and racism?" organised by the Roma Working Group of the Greens and the European Free Alliance at the European Parliament in Brussels. Several good examples from national level to combat the discrimination against Roma were presented.
ERIO’s policy officer, Marta Pinto, explained the situation of the Roma in Bulgaria, noting the increase of anti-Gypsyism and anti-Roma sentiments by the media, general society, companies and by state institutions. She said that, despite this negative trend, "there are signs of an emerging period of new opportunities". Ms Pinto highlighted that, according to some experts, Bulgaria adopted one of the most comprehensive National Roma Integration Strategy (NRIS) but there are no funds to develop the specific measures for Roma inclusion. However, she gave examples of good practices on Roma integration and in addressing discrimination against Roma. Centre AMALIPE, a Bulgarian NGO and ERIO’s member, organised a successful training program to assist Roma women in their job search. Moreover, organisations such as the Equal Opportunities Initiative Association, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and the so-called Commission For Protection Against Discrimination, the Bulgarian Equality Body were also given as good examples. In concluding her speech, Ms Pinto urged the European Commission to continue to safeguard European law and values and take action against those member states that breach anti-discrimination law. She stressed that a stronger political commitment is needed to effectively fight discrimination against the Roma community.
Overall, throughout the debate it was clear that for participants there is no room for impunity of member states that continue to discriminate and segregate Roma. That is the reason why this fruitful conference paved the way for a continuing cooperation to tackle discrimination, for a Europe of equality, solidarity and justice.

OTHER news

* For Roma with Roma: a new initiative by the European Commission
The European Commission is bringing the fight against Roma discrimination to local level with the new initiative for Roma, with Roma. This initiative is working with municipalities, local media and civil society to challenge stereotypes and discrimination against Roma.
Over the next year, various local initiatives will be organised across Europe. These activities include twinnings between local authorities, a School Drawing Competition, cultural and athletic events and media briefings.

Read more here
* Orchestra helps create harmony for Roma children in east London
By Rhodri Davies, The Guardian

About 30 young musicians are blowing and plucking, making music in a school hall in Newham, east London. But this orchestra is playing nothing but Roma music from Romania, Slovakia and Poland. The Roma Bridging Sounds Youth Orchestra was set up in 2014 with Arts Council money by the Roma Support Group and Newham Music charities. The orchestra aims to break down cultural barriers and combat the prejudice affecting Roma people. Tania Gessi, arts and culture coordinator at the Roma Support Group, says that, alongside teaching music, the aim is to take the players (Roma and non-Roma alike) out of their comfort zone, “because they have to mix with other kids and other professional musicians”.

Read more here
* Gypsy police officers band together to beat prejudice in the force
By Duncan Campbell, The Guardian

In October, the prime minister declared his aim to end all discrimination in the UK. But campaigners dispute how committed the government is to end anti-Roma discrimination, pointing out that the UK refused to implement the 2011 European Union framework to improve the situation of the Roma, offering 28 commitments instead. Rustem says, unlike the EU framework, the commitments “failed to present any explicit measures” to advance the Roma’s position.

To end this prejudice, the cycle of poor education, ostracism from public life and poverty, the government needs to give the support to Roma that other minority ethnic groups have received, Rustem says. Of the prejudice dealt out by society to Roma people, he says, “Sooner or later we will need to recognise it as a specific form of discrimination.”

Read more here
* The Guardian view on Sweden and immigration: breaking point
By The Guardian

Swedish democracy works very well providing the voters don’t disagree. But ever since the last general election handed the nationalist Sweden Democrat party the balance of power, Swedish politics have been riven by substantive disagreement.

The Sweden Democrats are a genuinely reactionary party. They want their country, and indeed the world, to be the way it seemed in the 1980s, before globalisation swept much of the social democratic state away, and washed in hundreds of thousands of dark-skinned foreigners. Their social and economic policies are an incoherent mess but their one political demand is clear: a massive and permanent cut in refugee immigration, to levels almost as low as British policy allows under this government. The Sweden Democrats want a cut of 95% in humanitarian immigration. This one policy demand has propelled them over the last 10 years from being an obscure groupuscule with clear neo-Nazi roots to a party with 13% of the seats in parliament, and over 20% in the latest opinion polls.

Read more here
* Spain’s oldest dictionary under fire for equating ‘gypsy’ with ‘cheat’
By The Guardian

The Gypsy people’s state council said on Friday it welcomed the move but will continue to push for the removal of the swindler reference altogether.
The council launched a campaign against the reference last year as part of efforts to raise awareness of discrimination against Gypsies, or Roma.
The reference appeared in the dictionary’s 23rd edition following complaints that the previous edition included a reference to “gypsy” “gitano” in Spanish – as one “who deceives or manoeuvres to cheat”.

For the moment, the modification is only in the dictionary’s online edition. It is not known when a new printed edition will come out.
Sara Gimenez, a Gypsy council spokeswoman, described the new version as “the lesser of two evils” but was puzzled as to why the opportunity was not taken to completely remove the reference. The academy said it had no immediate plans to do so.
It initially argued that dictionary definitions reflect actual use and are not intended to be derogatory. Spain has about 750,000 people of Roma heritage in a total population of about 47 million.

Read more here
* With Roma Migrants, Poverty Returns to Sweden
By The New York Times

Stockholm, 06/11/2015 - The evacuation of a squalid Roma camp this week has forced Sweden to come to terms with a troubling new reality: For the first time in generations, the egalitarian welfare nation is witnessing people living in abject poverty, without basic amenities such as electricity and running water. They sleep on sidewalks, wrapped in blankets on cardboard boxes or in makeshift homes made of plywood, metal and sheets of plastic. They eke out a living by panhandling and recycling bottles and cans.

Until recently, Swedes had only seen such misery up close on foreign travels or in black-and-white photos from the 19th century, before the country became a semi-socialist society with a famously small gap between rich and poor. Now there are beggars on street corners in major cities and small towns alike. Many are Roma, also known as Gypsies, from Eastern Europe who previously lived in Mediterranean countries but moved north as the financial situation there got worse.

Read more here


* ERIO’s Training “Advocacy for Roma inclusion”
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.

Read more here

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
Music4ROM closing concert 11 January 2016 in Brussels
A concert will be the closing event of Music4ROM project on the 11 January 2016. Gilles Apap and his musicians will take us on a musical journey through the pieces of those classical composers inspired by Gypsy music. Also, Roberto de Brasov and his musicians will help us discover the colourful richness of the Romani repertoire from their country, Romania, with Jorge Chaminé's voice building a bridge between these two groups of unrivalled virtuosos.

Music4ROM, a very symbolic project Promoting Roma Integration Through Music
Music4ROM, a project funded by the European Commission, has successfully developed its activities for the past two years thanks to the involvement of all its partners from seven EU countries. This project aims to promote Romani values to build intercultural bridges, social inclusion and educate children through music. The values advocated by this project are recognition, understanding of others, creativity, tolerance and admiration. Great achievements have emerged since the beginning of Music4ROM, including the superb Masterclass proposed by Sons Croisés and brilliantly promoted by Jorge Chaminé, which inspired the young Romani and non-Romani musicians that took part in it. In each country, this inspiration gave rise to notable achievements involving Romani communities, children and young musicians through a series of participatory workshops.

Press contact person: Sophie Lupcin – IYMF Mobile: +32 (0) 473198560 sophie.lupcin@menuhin-foundation.com or
ERIO: +32 (2) 733 34 62 office@erionet.eu
Project website: www.music4rom.eu
Project Facebook: https://fr-fr.facebook.com/Music4Rom-1536583583225358
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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