ERIO at the EPP session on the Roma Holocaust

by ERIO on January 30th, 2013

On Tuesday the 29th January 2013, the European People’s Party Roma Working Group hosted an open session at the EU Parliament in Brussels: “Establishing a European Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Roma Holocaust”.  The aim of the session was to discuss MEP Lívia Járóka’s proposal for a European Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Roma Holocaust. ERIO was invited to give the closing speech and show a short documentary of the Roma experience in the Holocaust. The other participants included MEPs, academics, Roma activists and NGOs who discussed the importance of establishing an official remembrance day and its potential to act as a catalyst for greater Roma integration in Europe.

The seminar was opened by MEP Augustín Díaz de Mera, Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group Working Group on Legal and Home Affairs. In his speech, he recalled the intensive persecution the Roma minority had to face during the Second World War: "The goal of this meeting is to learn from the past and unite our efforts to ensure that this deliberate ethnic cleansing process with such dramatic consequences will never be repeated in the future. I highly appreciate Ms Járóka's efforts to preserve the memory of the victims, reinforcing peace and stability at the same time and confirming the unity of our continent as free and equal European citizens".

The session continued with addresses from MEPs Lívia Járóka, Cecilia Wikström and Mikael Gustafsson who led the lobby within the European Parliament for a Written Declaration on establishing a European Day for the victims of the Roma Holocaust last year. Lívia Járóka recalled that due to the lack of documentation and the scientific processing of historical events, the Roma Holocaust is still largely unknown to the general public. She also presented the latest developments of the Written Declaration by the European Parliament to recognize the 2nd of August as the European Remembrance Day of the Roma Holocaust and stressed ERIO's active support in the campaigning for collecting signatures.

ERIO’s screening of a short documentary, "The untold story: Roma Holocaust", shone a light on the persecution of Roma in Germany before and during WWII. The self-produced video documented the progressive enactment of anti-Roma legislation over more than a century that culminated in the genocide now known as the Roma Holocaust.

In providing the closing speech, ERIO Executive Director Ivan Ivanov stated that people cannot ignore history and the fact that hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti people have been killed during the Holocaust. There is a need for high level institutional recognition of the Roma victims in order to send a positive message and to challenge strong prejudices the Holocaust created towards the Roma, he said. There is a political fear to recognize Roma as one of the largest exterminated groups during Nazism. Mr Ivanov strongly encouraged different political groups and lobbyists to openly condemn the Roma genocide during the WWII and reject prejudices established by the Nazi regime and still maintained by extreme right politicians.

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