Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* ERIO at the EESC public hearing on Roma inclusion
On 12 May, the European Economic Social Committee (EESC) organised a public hearing “Better Roma inclusion through civil society initiatives” in Brussels. ERIO was invited to speak about Roma and anti-discrimination.

ERIO’s policy officer, Marta Pinto, raised the alarm over the increasing anti-Roma sentiments and anti-Gypsyism, and persistent patterns of violent attacks and actions against this group. Of particular concern, she noted, is the increase of paramilitary and militia groups and extreme right-wing organisations targeting and terrorising Roma and using anti-Roma rhetoric. She called on both the European Commission and member states to take a strong position against right-wing extremism and incitement to hatred in order to protect Roma’s right to security and life.

She stressed the need for all actors to work together to overcome challenges in the implementation of the Race Equality Directive (RED) which has not been fully enforced by some countries. Partners such as Equality Bodies can play a key role in tackling anti-Roma discrimination, she concluded.

For the full presentation, click here.
* ART4ROM 5th Partners meeting in Napels
ERIO participated in the partnership meeting and conference of the Art4Rom project which was held on 11-12 May 2014 in the Napels.
The Art4Rom project (www.art4rom.eu) is a project financed by the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme promoting intercultural dialogue within Roma and non-Roma children through the practice of arts in school and non-school environments. This two-year project is a partnership of eight partners of which ERIO is part of covering five European countries: Belgium, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia and Spain.

OTHER news

* A Fragile Rebound for EU Image on Eve of European Parliament Elections

Many people in the seven European Union nations surveyed express negative views about minority groups in their country. In particular, negative attitudes toward Roma (sometimes also known as Gypsies) are common, while many also give Muslims unfavorable ratings. Negative attitudes toward Jews are less pervasive, although substantial minorities express an unfavorable opinion about Jews as well, especially in Greece where nearly half the public hold this view. Negative sentiments about all three groups are consistently more common among people on the ideological right.

Anti-Roma Sentiments Common

In Italy and France – countries where policies toward Roma communities have generated tremendous controversy in recent years – large majorities have unfavorable opinions of the Roma who live in their country. Fully 85% of Italians and 66% of French express this view.

Read more here

* Roma in the Czech Republic need not apply
By Jitka Votavová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert, Roma

An advertisement offering to rent an apartment "only to Czechs".
The ban against discrimination is based on a principle fundamental to every democratic state, that of the equality of all people, which is a basic condition for the existence of justice. Even today, in the 21st century, many Romani people in the Czech Republic encounter explicit violations of this principle when seeking employment, access to services, and when looking for housing that is not a residential hotel. If you have ever encountered advertisements or behavior of this nature, do not ignore them - these are forms of direct discrimination that are illegal.

One week ago, a Romea.cz reader drew our attention to an advertisement offering an apartment for rent near the Palmovka metro station in Prague on the Bazoš.cz website, including the clearly formulated condition that only Czechs should apply. The advertisement literally read "only Czechs, Roma please do not call!". The person placing this ad did more than violate a key article of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. She also violated the Anti-Discrimination Act now in effect which defines the right to equal treatment and the ban on discrimination in matters of access to housing (and others).

Read more here
* Greek, Roma and Muslim: An ill-fated foray into politics
By Menelaos Tzafalias

Why Sabiha Suleiman, a minority within a minority, never stood a chance.

Athens, 05 May 2014 - A few weeks before the much-touted European parliamentary elections, there were reports in the Greek press that a Muslim Roma activist by the name of Sabiha Suleiman would be a candidate, running with the left-of-centre main opposition party Syriza. Shockingly, Suleiman's candidacy was over almost as soon as it was announced.

What was intriguing was that a fellow Syriza candidate, who happens to be a vice president of the esteemed International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) advocacy group, went on record to say that he personally had made every effort to ensure Sabiha Suleiman was struck off the ballot.Dimitris Christopoulos, the candidate in question, on paper, has an impeccable record in the field of progressive politics and human rights. Apart from his role in the FIDH, Christopoulos is a noted academic, specialising in minority rights. Moreover, he recently edited and co-authored a report examining the rise of ultra-right extremism, xenophobia and racism within the Greek state apparatus, on behalf of a think-tank directly linked to Germany's leftist party Die Linke.

Read more here

* Who Defines Roma?
By Mihai Surdu, Roma Initiatives Office

Roma identity as we know it today wouldn’t exist without the discourse created by numerous experts. The World Bank, for example, has published widely on Roma poverty, others have written on the genetics of Roma. The production of knowledge about Roma presents a curious consensus on who the Roma are and typically reinforces stereotypes. Consequently, Roma identity tends to be recognized by the strength of the stereotypes related to it.

Roma have been subjected to a variety of scientific practices such as counting, classifying, demographic predictions, mapping, photographing, and DNA profiling. All these practices are part and parcel of a trained vision that itself needs to be observed.

Many stereotypes are created by outsiders, of which the academic establishment is just a part, and then internalized and reproduced by Roma themselves. Policy analysis chiefly produces and circulates a standard image of Roma as a group of marginal and vulnerable people, if not at-risk or welfare-dependent. In doing so, policy analysts and policy makers—as well as academics and journalists—create and maintain negative definitions of Roma.

Read more here


* Tapovan concert Music4Rom 29 May 2014
Presentation of the Music4rom masterclass by Jorge Chaminé
Concert performance of the Artists members of the Music4Rom artistic committee

19h at Tapovan Center
* A People Uncounted: The Untold Story of the Roma (Documentary)
The Roma history is a tragedy of epic proportions and until this day enough has not been shown of what Romani people have gone through, and are still going through today. This documentary takes a big step forward in redressing this situation. It brings the Romani history to life through the rich interplay of their stories, poetry and music. The compelling and horrific first-hand accounts of Roma holocaust survivors from different places in Europe left me feeling numb with shock.
The film looks at Romani discrimination and labelling and how Romani rights are being eroded away in countries the world over. In Slovakia, up to 13 Romanies share two bedroom, one bathroom flats in a highrise block and have access to drinking water for only 4 hours a day. In Kosovo, the government has put Roma families on lead poisoned land where their children are falling sick and dying. Governments are lacking badly in protecting the vulnerable Roma communities. It portrays a cross-section of Romani people talking about life, Romani history and how the media and entertainment industry has misrepresented and stereotyped Roma in film and TV.
A People Uncounted: The Untold Story of the Roma is a profoundly moving documentary about a people who have endured too much pain, grief and suffering for far too long.

Yvonne Slee, President Sinti Romani Community of Qld. Australia
Go to this page to find out more information about the film. http://www.sintiromanicommunity.org
* Summer School: Roma and Travellers: Mobility, Persecution and Memory
Organizer: The University of Helsinki , Department of World Cultures
Dates: August 5 to 21, 2014

Recent migrations from Eastern Europe have brought renewed attention to the situation of Roma and other groups commonly stigmatised as "Gypsies ". The problems faced by these groups today are sustained by a culture of silence about present and past persecutions, often also within Roma and Traveller communities themselves. The course introduces interdisciplinary perspectives to this European-wide topic, connecting it with minority, migration and memory politics, and the field of Holocaust and Genocide Studies. This Summer School course provides a timely opportunity for advanced students and junior researchers to explore complex issues with prominent experts in the field.

Learning objectives
After taking the course, the students will have a thorough understanding of European-wide Roma and Traveller issues and the connection between present-day problems and long-term discrimination. They will be familiar with the key concepts, theories and research approaches in the field as well as with the professional dilemmas and needs of practitioners and policy makers.

More information? Please direct any questions concerning the content of this course to the Coordinator, Mr. Malte Gasche, malte.gasche@helsinki.fi
Contact us