Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* ERIO’s conference “Are Roma People European Citizens like any others?”
On 22 April ERIO held a conference titled “European Year of Citizens: Are Roma People European Citizens like any others?” at the EESC in Brussels. The conference aimed to address the extent Roma are able to exercise their rights as EU citizens and the barriers they face in accessing them.
Some of the speakers included representatives of the European Commission (Alexander Vajda, DG Justice and Joachim Ott, DG Communication) and various civil society representatives and Roma activists from Europe.
As underlined by Alexander Vajda, the daily discrimination and social exclusion that many Roma suffer, is a barrier for Roma to enjoy their full citizenship. For Joachim Ott the main task of the European Commission in times of crisis is to provide hope, not only for Roma, but Europeans in general.
It has been highlighted that the question of belonging to Europe is an underestimated dimension of citizenship. The direct discrimination and violation of rights against Roma is a strong barrier in creating this sense of belonging to a European community. As ERIO’s director noted “When people are lacking access to basic services, are being kicked out of their houses, are treated so badly and in some countries are attacked by mob violence, they don’t know if they belong to that country. According to the laws they belong, but they don’t feel this belonging because of this violence and anti-Roma sentiment.” There was a consensus that what is needed is strong, consistent and numerous legal evidence that discrimination and rights abuses are occurring in order to hold the violators responsible.   
The afternoon session focussed on the challenges and solutions to ensure equal citizenship to Roma. Some of the challenges mentioned included: lack of sufficient funding and equality of opportunity for Roma, how to preserve and disseminate Romani culture, when integration policies often implies assimilation. Anti-Gypsyism, anti-Roma rhetoric and rights abuses were highlighted as main obstacles to full and equal citizenship of Roma and as impeding Roma’s sense of belonging.
* ERIO meeting with the Swedish Integration Minister in Brussels
On 24 April, ERIO director met with the Swedish Minister for integration Erik Ullenhag. The meeting took place in the Swedish Permanent Representation in Brussels. Minister Ullenhag met with civil society organizations to consult on issues related to Anti-Gypsyism. Following the round-table meeting on Anti-Gypsyims in Stockholm on April 10 this year, this is one of the meetings of Minister Ullenhag planning to have with Roma organizations at national level. Under his initiative the Swedish Ministry on Integration is planning to launch a White Paper on Anti-Gypsysim in Sweden. ERIO’s director Ivan Ivanov presented the actions his organization has initiated recently in this regard and the ones planed in the following year.  He also made some recommendations of how to fight Anti-Gypsyism with taking a number of urgent steps to eliminate past, current and future discrimination. Civil society representatives asked Minister Ullenhag if he can continue promoting Anti-Gypsyism not only at national but also at European level.

OTHER news

* Hungary's rawest nerve: Learning to love the Roma
by Nick Thorpe BBC News, Hungary
The relationship between the Roma minority and the non-Roma majority is a difficult one in many central European countries. There are frequently problems in Hungary, but could there also be examples of good practice?
"I am not asking you to love the Gypsies, but we all have to live together," the police colonel told the hall packed with police cadets. "And for that, the police must show tolerance and trust, not hatred and exclusion."
The hall falls very quiet. We are touching the rawest, most exposed nerve of Hungarian society. And it twitches. More often than not, it hurts. A few moments before, I had sounded out the opinions of the young policemen and women. "In my experience, 70 or 80% of crimes are committed by Roma," said one. "So what do I say if I stop a man, in my routine police work, and he accuses me of picking on him because of his ethnic origin?"

Read more here
* European Commission Round-table meeting on Roma inclusion
by László ANDOR , European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
International Conference on Roma inclusion; Bucharest, 22 April 2013

Ladies and gentlemen,
May I congratulate the organisers for their initiative to hold this conference and thank them for their kind invitation?
This conference is indeed very timely. It is an opportunity to take stock of policies aimed at improving the living conditions of Roma people across Europe at a moment when the crisis has in fact led to a worsening of their social situation. The recent Fundamental Rights Agency’s Roma pilot survey paints a black  picture of life for Roma in the European Union of today. One in three Roma in Europe is unemployed, one in five has no health insurance, and nine out of ten are below the national poverty line. Almost half Roma people live in substandard overcrowded housing with no access to sanitation or electricity. And what is worst, in recent years the negative effects of multiple forms of discrimination, particularly against Romani children, migrants the elderly, have strengthened. It is clear that the main road out of poverty is to have job.

Read more here
* Canadian Roma Community Center Held Demonstration
Roma Community Centre held a demonstration at the Toronto office of Canadian Radio and Television Commission, who are about to make a decision on racist Sun News' request that they provide mandatory cable TV to Canadians. We loudly said "No" to Sun News and its hate propaganda. Sun News has a petition with over 50,000 signatures supporting their demand for cross-Canada cable. Please sign the petition below, to show CRTC that Sun TV's hate propaganda and racism are not welcome on the public airwaves.
Sun News airs the show of the most well-known racist broadcaster in Canada. His name is Ezra Levant. On September 5th 2012, he said this on air:
"But these are Gypsies! A culture synonymous with swindlers. The phrase 'Gypsy' and 'cheater' have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb: 'He gypped me.' Well, the Gypsies have gypped us! Too many have come here as false refugees. And they come here to gyp us again, to rob us blind, as they have done in Europe for centuries.....
Gypsies aren't a race, they aren't a religion, they aren't a linguistic group. They're the medieval prototype of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a shiftless group of hobos that doesn't believe in property rights for themselves - they're nomads - or for others, they rob people blind!
Now the scourge has come to Canada through fake refugee claims, over 5,000 of them in the past five years, all from Hungary."

Read more here
Please support us and sign this petition: here
* Canadian Roma Community Center Held Demonstration
My name is Yvonne Slee and I'm a member of the Romani community in Coffs Harbour. I came to Australia from Europe and migrated here in 2005. I've been spending time as a writer, activist and educator since coming to Australia.
This picture of a Romani woman and her family was taken in 1907, just after their arrival in Brisbane from Europe on a boat that had sailed from Greece.
It's a great example of a photo that can be used for the ABC Open project Now and Then to show the history of an Australian community.Romanies have a 1000 year old history dating back to the time of our exodus from India, where the Islamic invaders, led by Mahmoud of Ghazni forcibly removed our forefathers from our homeland.

Read more here


* Preparatory meeting for the European Platform for Roma Inclusion
On May 3rd the Roma Coordination unit of the DG Justice of the European Commission is organizing a preparatory meeting for the  annual meeting of the European Platform for Roma inclusion,  which is foreseen to take place in Brussels at the end of June this year. The Commission invites Roma advocacy organizations and other stakeholders to discuss the concept and structure of the upcoming annual meeting in June
OSCE – ODHIR Consultation meeting in Warsaw
ODIHR CPRSI is organising consultation meeting on 23rd of May at the OSCE ODHIR premises in Warsaw. The purpose of the consultation is to get feedback and suggestions regarding draft text of the second assessment report by ODIHR on the status of implementation of the OSCE commitments towards Roma and Sinti.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE Area, adopted at the Maastricht Ministerial Council in 2003. Five years ago, ODIHR issued its first Status Report assessing efforts undertaken by OSCE participating States to implement the Action Plan. The anniversary is an ideal occasion for coming up with a new assessment that ODIHR intent to conclude and release at the Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting in November in Vienna this year.
ODIHR CPRSI will share with participants the first draft of the report for their review and comments in advance of the date of the meeting. Participants’ critical reviews and input will be much appreciated as both should help with improving the content and quality of the assessment.
* Call for Applications: CEU's Roma Graduate Preparation Program 2013-2014
The Roma Access Programs (RAP) unit at Central European University is pleased to announce its call for Roma Graduate Preparation Program (RGPP) applications for the academic year 2013-2014.
The Roma Graduate Preparation Program, funded by VELUX Foundations and other external donors, is a 9-month preparatory program for promising Roma students from the countries of Southeastern & Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, designed to prepare promising young Roma for international post-graduate studies in English language programs. The program focuses on English language and academic development, so that students become competitive candidates for placement in post-graduate programs at CEU, North American, or Western European universities. Full financial aid will be awarded, covering travel to and from Budapest, tuition and fees, accommodation in the CEU Residence Center, health insurance, study materials, and living expenses.
The application deadline is 2nd of May, 2013.

More information here
*  European Commission Internship for Young Roma University Graduates
The Roma Initiatives Office is offering 5 five-month internships with the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, for young Roma university graduates from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Spain. The internships begin on October 1, 2013.

More info here
*  ERIO is currently looking for interns
We are looking for interns to start their internship from September 2013. If you are interested in an unpaid internship, please send your CV and a motivation letter stating your interest for this internship as well as your availability to:  office@erionet.eu.
You can find out more here:  http://www.erionet.eu/internship.htm
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