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ERIO press release on the racist attack in Bulgaria
Urgent action needed to stop racial hatred and anti-Gypsyism

Brussels, 22 April 2016

The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) expresses its deep concern over the most recent case of racism and hate crime against Roma in Bulgaria. On 18 April 2016 in the village of Ovchepoltsi, near the southern Bulgarian town of Pazardzhik, a 17-year-old Roma boy was beaten and humiliated after saying he was “equal” to a non-Roma. While beating the Roma teenager, the perpetrator filmed its actions. As soon as ERIO received the video1, we immediately informed the relevant authorities and institutions about the case. The video is a clear example of brutal racism against Roma and of what is happening today in Europe against this group. Superiority feelings of mainstream society towards Roma, minorities and migrants can be destructive and despite this, they are becoming pervasiveness in European societies. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case neither in Bulgaria nor in other countries across the EU. We can observe increasing antiRoma sentiments and anti-Gypsyism as well as persistent patterns of violent attacks and racial hatred that many Roma face in their everyday life. 

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OTHER news

Racist graffiti on Roma tent in Bucharest is criticized
By 12NewsNow

​ A Romanian minister and the World Bank have criticized racist graffiti that appeared on a tent erected to mark International Roma Day in Bucharest.
Justice Minister Raluca Pruna said Saturday "such acts of racism aren't being tackled. A message that says 'death to Gypsies' should oblige the state to punish" the perpetrators. A large white tent was put up in Bucharest on Friday, which was International Roma Day. Racist and obscene slogans appeared on it overnight. The World Bank on Saturday called it "an act of discrimination incompatible with Europe's core values on human rights."
Officially, Romania has more than 600,000 Roma, also known as Gypsies, but there are believed to be more than 1 million. Roma are among the poorest people in Romania and face widespread discrimination.
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* Secretariat of Bulgaria’s council for cooperation on ethnic, integration issues honours memory of Roma who died in WW II
By Focus Information Agency

​April 8 is the International Roma Day. On this day the Roma from all over the world pay respect to the Roma victims during the WWII. The day celebrates Romani culture and raises awareness of the issues facing Romani people.Bulgaria also marks International Roma Day on April 8. Secretariat of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues with Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers honoured Friday the memory of Roma people who died in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War, FOCUS News Agency reported.

A memorial service was held at the St Nedelya Church in the capital Sofia.
The event was attended by Chief of Staff of Deputy Prime Minister for Demographic and Social Policies, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, and Chairperson of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues Ivaylo Kalfin; Rositsa Ivanova, Secretary of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues; experts at the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues; representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science; representatives of the Ministry of Culture; Roma students from the Roma Veritas Association; and members of other institutions and NGOs.

The clergyman who held the memorial service said Bulgarian people had rescued during the Holocaust not only Bulgarian Jews but also the representatives of the Roma community.Due to Bulgarian people and most of all the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, no Bulgarian Roma person died in the so-called death camps, it was said. ​A wreath was later laid at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Sofia on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister for Demographic and Social Policies, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, and Chairperson of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues Ivaylo Kalfin. (source: ​http://www.focus-fen.net)
* US State Department’s report: Corruption and discrimination against Roma still widespread problems in Romania
By Roma Insider

14/04/20016 - Government corruption and systematic discrimination against the Roma minority remain widespread problems in Romania, according to the US State Department’s Annual Report on Human Rights.
“While the law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials, including judges, sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity,” the report reads. “Bribery was common in the public sector. Immunity from criminal prosecution enjoyed by existing and former cabinet members who were also members of parliament sometimes blocked investigations.”
The report also notes that verdicts in corruption trials have often lacked consistency and that enforcement of court procedures lagged due to procedural problems, especially in regards to asset forfeiture.
Discrimination against Roma continues to be a major problem. “Romani groups complained that harassment and police brutality, including beatings, were routine. Both domestic and international media and observers reported societal discrimination against Roma. NGOs reported that Roma were denied access to, or refused service in, many public places. Roma also experienced poor access to government services, a shortage of employment opportunities, high rates of school attrition, inadequate health care, and pervasive discrimination,” the report states.

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* 11th CAHROM Meeting 
By Council of Europe

​On 26 April 2016, the 11th Meeting of the Ad-Hoc Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issues (CAHROM) will start in Sofia under the auspices of the Bulgarian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE). Over 90 participants have confirmed attendance, including national experts from 37 member States, various CoE bodies, and representatives from European Union (EU) Institutions, International Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations.
Sofia, Bulgaria 26 to 29 April 2016
On this occasion, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for Roma Issues (SRSG) will inform the CAHROM participants about  the CoE Thematic Action Plan on the Inclusion of Roma and Travellers, recent developments concerning the setting-up of a European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) and the first meeting of the new dialogue mechanism with Roma and Traveller civil society held in Strasbourg on 1-2 December 2015.

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* Three new Gypsy sites proposed for Anglesey by council
By BBC News

The island's council has launched a consultation in a bid to cut down on illegal camps.
The proposals include opening a permanent residential site in the Menai Bridge area as well as two temporary stopping places in the centre of the island and in the Holyhead area.
Residents and businesses are being asked for their views. All councils in Wales are legally required to provide accommodation for Gypsy and traveller communities. The shortlist of potential sites includes locating a permanent camp at the existing illegal site in a lay-by off the A5025 between Menai Bridge and Pentraeth. Other possible sites for the camp would be at a smallholding in Gaerwen or on land at Penhesgyn, near Penmynydd.

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EU Christian Church leaders: Welcome the Roma people
By Catholicnews.ie

​European Church leaders have called for greater integration of the EU’s 10-12 million  Roma, saying “their inclusion is a necessary indication of our commitment for a shared European identity and the free movement of people, commerce and ideas.”
A joint statement issued 8 April by the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and the multidenominational Conference of European Churches (CEC) to mark International Roma Day describes the gypsy or traveler community as “among the most deprived and marginalized people of the continent.”
Daily discrimination, persecution of 600 year old community continue
Though the Roma have been present in Europe for more than 600 years, the statement says it is “a disgrace to all European countries” that they face “daily discrimination” and “even persecution.”  It also charges that Roma are “often denied access to basic schooling, housing and healthcare.”

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Calling for dignity for the EU’s Roma population

​On the occasion of International Roma Day, German MEP, Cornelia Ernst, spoke int he European Parliament calling for dignity for the EU's Roma population. "We must understand that Roma people have lived in Europe for over 600 years. That should be long enough for us to see them as colleagues, neighbours, and above all, people who belong in Europe," remarked Ernst.
"I have personally met with Roma people and their representative organisations many times and discussed their needs. From these conversations I can say that they do not want their own state, they don't want anything special or extra, they simply want to be able to live like everyone else. They want to live, work, have children, grow old and die – with dignity. They want equal treatment and equal opportunities. They want to be unafraid to say that they are Roma."  
"Roma are citizens of the world. They have never triggered a war. They really enrich the culture and economies of many countries in the world.
Ernst referred to the achievements of well-known Roma musicians and sportspeople including many guitarists, and boxer, Johann Wilhelm Trollmann...

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* Vilnius City Council approves Roma integration programme
By The Baltic Times

​19/04/2016 - Vilnius Municipality on Tuesday approved an integration plan for the Lithuanian capital’s Roma residents.
The plan aims to relocate residents from the city’s Roma settlement to homes in other parts of the city over a long-term period.
The main aim of the program is to fight drug dealing, plus integrate Roma families into the local community by helping them finding employment and have their children attend schools.
A rehabilitation program is planned for the Roma settlement’s drug addicts.
Vice-Mayor Gintautas Paluckas said that Vilnius municipality aims to move 40 families and all 94 pre-school children out of the settlement within three years.

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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
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