Susan Kim - WCC: Can you describe a little bit of the history between the IRU and the WCC during the 1970s?
Zoran Dimov - IRU President: The importance of this mutual collaboration between the IRU and the World Council of Churches - Geneva is composed of the fact that many times before they made a huge contribution to the development of the movement and activities when it comes to the Roma as people.
In the previous 500 years, when the Roma were forced to suffer Genocide and slavery in fact by means of the connection between the Christian Romani revival and between the Protestants and the Catholics, they were the initiators of the creation of a new Roma policy.
We are witnesses of the unselfish material and financial support of the World Council of Churches in the realization of the historic First World Congress of the Roma in Great Britain in 1971, and later for the logistical and material support for the Second Roma Congress in Geneva.
S.K.: Are we working together to rekindle and strengthen that relationship now?
Z.D.: In that context, we would like to continue this commitment and mutual cooperation between the IRU and the WCC, because the IRU has also tried in its activities of the Plan and Program to directly include religion as the basic factor and segment for acting both in an humanitarian and in an social aspect as well as the Roma who belong to other religions (for example, there are many Roma in the IRU - Muslims)
S.K.: Regarding the World Romani Congress planned for 2019, can you share your vision for the success of this and reflect a bit on the theme?
Z.D.: With the realization and implementation of the Democratic Transition and the electronic voting, we believe that through this form of expression of the democratic right of every individual Roma, through electronic voting for the proposed candidates will have a wider and invalid mandate. At the same time, the democratic capacity between the electorate all over the world. This way of voting in the future will be a kind of a basis and a roadmap in which way should future future holders of functions be elected to defend the interests of the Roma nation.
S.K.: How important is church support for an “electronic democracy” for this exciting event?
Z.D.: Through jointly undertaken actions and activities IRU and we are of the opinion that it will also be raised to a higher level of action. It means through several points:
Within the two parties’ broad fields of work including social, humanitarian, and economic, aimed at assisting Roma, Sinti and Travelers in the different world regions to enjoy lives of decency, dignity, and justice;
In biannual joint meetings to share expertise and good practice in capacity building and education, with particular focus on developing a more integrated approach to how they collaborate together and to assisting the IRU on setting strategic priorities for its work;
In response to global crises and conflicts that affect and perpetuate Roma people’s suffering, including racial hate and violence, discrimination, genocide, and natural disasters that displace Roma people from their homes and deprive them of basic decent human living conditions through:
a. joint projects that raise awareness and tell the story of Roma history and current realities;
b. inclusion of Roma special days (like 8 April and 2nd August) in the WCC World Prayer Cycle calendar to help raise the profile of IRU and Roma people generally amongst the WCC fellowship of churches and ecumenical partners;
c.joint delegation of solidarity visits to particular regions where Roma populations are victims of atrocities that must be addressed and made known to the international community;