Great Britain: Roma and Traveller communities still face racism and xenophobia.

Roma and Traveller communities face some of the greatest inequalities in our society. Earlier this year, the Women and Equalities Committee published a damning report pointing to the collective failures of successive governments to tackle these inequalities.

This is paired with repeated failures to invest in site provision for authorised encampments, furthering marginalisation.

We’re alarmed at steps that will not only entrench this position in society, but criminalise it.
A Home Office proposal to ramp up police powers regarding trespass would have a devastating impact.

The police already have ample powers to deal with the issues the Home Office claims to be concerned about, such as property damage, noise and littering. It also neglects to address the main cause of unauthorised encampments – the government’s failure to identify land for sites and stopping. Rather than tackle endemic social inequalities, the government is looking to criminalise activities caused by its own lack of action. 

Just as alarming, the language used by the Home Office at the launch of a consultation on these powers was divisive and dehumanising, and has no place in our society. 


Germany celebrates: Three decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the symbol of division between East and West

Germany marks an important, great day in its new history. One of the European Union's leading countries celebrates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the Cold War's division of the country into a communist east and capitalist west.

The concrete wall, which stretched for 155 kilometers in length and constituted a border between East and West Germany, was built in 1961. Its function, apart from the territorial separation of the two, ideologically opposing blocks, was also to prevent the escape of the labor force and political dissenters.

The wall, besides the physical division of Berlin, also closed the western part of the city. It is estimated that 140 people including border guards were killed while trying to escape through the wall.

Grattan Puxon: Roma – Kosovo offers no safe haven

As a writer and activist with a long association with Kosovo, and former Yugoslavia, I wish to set out here reasons for challenging the conception that this province and state might be consideration a “safe” destination for Roma, especially stateless individuals, whose asylum cases are currently under review. In particular, I will draw attention to the case of Roksana Hajziri, resident in Ottawa, Canada.

Roksana Hajziri was born in a small village in the Mitrovica area. However, her birth went unregistered (as has been common among the Romani community). She does not therefore have citizenship in the state of Kosovo, nor in neighbouring Serbia.

Numbers of Roma were conscripted into Serbian militia formations and as a consequence Roma communities became a target. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 Roma were ethnically cleansed from Kosovo, and hundreds of homes burned or seized.

The IRU has on file the names of several hundred Roma murdered during that period. Many who fled to Serbia and Macedonia remained in limbo due to lack of papers, loss of citizenship and enforced poverty.

Some were successful. Lately, individuals have been returned following, in my opinion, the unsustainable view that Kosovo is “safe” for minorities. I recall that several individuals forcefully returned, founding themselves not only menaced but without homes and employment. In that situation, they promptly fled Kosovo again.

Some of what I have written above is taken from the two reports I wrote for the London-based Minority Rights Group. As to the current atmosphere for Roma in Kosovo today, it is one of fear. Last month, elderly Rom Gani Rama was beaten up in the street in Pristina and died in hospital.

More than the Roman Havashi festival itself, and the Roma in Turkey

The Roman Havashi festival's spread is just one example of how Turkish culture is influenced by Roma culture. Although in Turkey they want to dance to Roma music, yet Turkey pays little attention to the Roma community.
They are a minority that everyone knows, but about which most people in Turkish society hardly know the details. By the way, they identify as Romanlar, not as "Roma".

Roma in Turkey like "Romanlar" have been around for centuries. Their settlement in the Ottoman Empire can be documented from the 17th century. As a result of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, half a million Muslims came from Greece to Turkey - including many in Romania.

According to the Council of Europe's projection, some 2.7 million Romannars live in Turkey today, making it the largest European Roma community. Most of them are officially Sunni, like the rest of the Turkish majority.


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