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ERIO news and activities

* Conference “Anti-Gypsyism and the Holocaust: Remembering the past and shaping the future”

As the coordinating partner of the MemoROM project which aims to raise awareness about the Roma and Sinti Holocaust, ERIO organised a conference “Anti-Gypsyism and the Holocaust: Remembering the past and shaping the future” which took place on 30 January 2015 at the European Economic Social Committee in Brussels. The conference gathered different stakeholders such as representatives of the European institutions, EU Permanent Representations, Roma and non-Roma civil society organisations, history teachers, students, Equality Bodies, diplomats and media.   
The opening session included interventions by Henri Malosse (EESC President), Salla Saastamoinen (European Commission, DG Justice, Director for Equality) and Soraya Post (MEP). Panel 1 included testimonies of Rita Prigmore (Sinti survivor) and Lydia Chagoll (Jewish survivor). The conference also explored what institutions, experts and civil society can do to fight anti-Gypsyism and anti-Roma sentiments.
Find out more here
* Joint statement on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, ERIO joins forces with civil society organisations working on anti-racism and anti-discrimination issues to raise awareness about this dark period of history and commemorate the victims of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazi regime against Jews, Roma, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people and other groups that have been persecuted and deprived of their rights and dignity because they did not fit the Nazi ideology.
Read our joint press release here

OTHER news

* The Hopes and Fears in Shadow of the Holocaust
By Bob Dawson, The Guardian

Blackwell, Derbyshire - The Gypsy Holocaust is so often forgotten (Editorial, 27 January) and the numbers of murdered Romany groups frequently underestimated, not least because so many were killed in small numbers at the roadside or in the woods, often providing a dress rehearsal for the murder of Jews. My Romany gallery – www.robertdawsongallery.co.uk – has almost 700 images, including graphic pictures of the Gypsy Holocaust. I have given many of the originals to the Holocaust Centre in Laxton, Nottinghamshire, for safe keeping. Please don’t forget the Romany peoples, who continue to face huge prejudice and misunderstanding, sometimes with the same vocabulary that the Nazis used about Gypsies and Jews.

Read more here
* European Commission not satisfied with Czech response to discrimination of Romani children
By Michal Komárek, translated by Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA

According to new information reported by Czech Television, the European Commission is not satisfied with the response of the Czech Government regarding the issue of the discrimination of Romani children in the schools. An official response to the Government will be sent by Brussels within the next few weeks.
It seems certain now that politicians in Brussels consider the Czech response insufficient in two respects: In the first place, the Government claims the Commission has no authority with respect to the schools. In the second place, the Government denies that discrimination is occurring.
The Commission turned to the Czech Republic with a request for an explanation of the alleged discrimination of Romani children in the schools last September. In its November response, the Government rejected allegations of a problem and claimed the Commission does not have precise data regarding the situation in the Czech schools.

Read more here
* The Story Of The Roma, Europe’s Most Discriminated Group
By William O'Connor

For centuries, the Romani Gypsies have been misunderstood and persecuted in Europe. Now, a new book shines a light on the group’s unique history and culture.
Throughout history, fascination with the Romani Gypsies has ranged from obsessing over their supposed sexual permissiveness to speculating about their dealings with the occult and their alleged criminal behavior. Today, it’s all about them and their children - whether it’s kids they are accused of stealing, or children deported from Western European nations, or Roma teens attacked in hate crimes.

Just in time for the latest controversy - involving a French mayor accused of blocking the burial of a Roma baby - is a much needed book on Europe’s most misunderstood population; The Romani Gypsies by Yaron Matras. The book aims to take stock of the Romani Gypsies today - where they might come from, their history as a people, their culture and customs, and the issues they face today. It is important to note, as Matras does, that the group under discussion are specifically the Romani Gypsies, not other traditionally itinerant groups such as Travellers.

Read more here
* Human rights report sees dangers
By The Budapest Times

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks has recommended further changes to Hungarian media regulations and warned of the rise of intolerance. He also urges improvements for asylum-seekers. ...
The commissioner’s report on Hungary also puts forward concerns about the deterioration of the situation regarding racism and intolerance in the country, with “anti-Gypsyism” being the most blatant form of intolerance, including violence targeting Roma people and paramilitary marches and patrolling in Roma-populated villages. Muiznieks urges the Hungarian authorities “to step up efforts to improve Roma access to education by addressing all forms of school segregation of Roma children. The dire housing situation of many Roma living in substandard and segregated settlements and the discriminatory impact on Roma of some measures taken at local level should also be addressed as a matter of priority.”

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* Eric Pickles discriminated against Romany Gypsies in green belt – judge
By The Guardian

The communities secretary, Eric Pickles, has “unlawfully discriminated” against Romany Gypsies wanting pitches in the green belt, the high court has ruled.
In a ruling likely to affect many other Travellers, a judge said both human rights and equality laws were breached by Pickles and his department “calling in” cases which would normally be considered by his planning inspectors. The judge said Pickles was operating a legally flawed policy of “recovering” for his own consideration appeals by Travellers who claim there are exceptional circumstances for allowing them green belt sites. Mr Justice Gilbart, sitting in London, said an inspectors’ decision was normally received within eight weeks of the end of an inquiry – but it could take six months or more for a decision letter for a called-in case.

No attempt had been made by Pickles and his ministers to follow steps required by the 2010 Equality Act to avoid indirect discrimination, and “substantial delays” had occurred in dealing with the appeals in violation of article 6 of the European convention on human rights, said the judge.
His test-case ruling was a victory for two Romany Gypsies - Charmaine Moore, a single mother with three children who is under threat of eviction from a site at North Cudham in the London borough of Bromley, and Sarah Coates, a disabled woman also with three children fighting to live temporarily on green belt land at Sutton-at-Hone near Dartford, Kent.

Read more here
* Human Rights Watch report mentions Czech Republic for discrimination of Roma in education
By ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

The organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued its annual report today which found that European Union countries overall have made some progress in advancing human rights. The report also mentions the European Commission's move to initiate infringement proceedings against the Czech Republic over its discrimination of Romani children in the education system.

According to the European Union section of the report, the Commission has introduced a "rule of law mechanism for crisis situations". The Council of the European Union, comprised of the ministers of EU Member States, also "endorsed the idea of an EU internal human rights strategy" last year. In this context, the report mentions the Commission initiating proceedings against the Czech Republic last September over the discrimination of Romani children in the Czech education system. The document makes no other mention of the Czech Republic.
The HRW report also mentions coexistence with the Romani minority in other European countries. "Roma continue to experience discrimination, social exclusion, and deprivation across the EU,"
the report says.

Read more here


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