Romania: Drone Footage Shows Roma Community Living on Chemical Waste Site
Senior religious figures from across the UK are calling on the mayor of a Transylvanian town to change his policy towards the Roma – after they were driven from his town and forced to live on a chemical waste dump.
Seventy six families were evicted from their homes in the centre of Romania’s dynamic second city Cluj and relocated to one-room structures on the Pata Rat dump.
There are no roads to the waste site, so the mud is pervasive, there is only one communal shower block, and initially no toilets in the homes.
Children complain of breathing problems; arriving at school, they are forced to stand outside and wash the mud off their clothes, leading to inevitable taunts. (via Telegraph)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is inaugurating a memorial to thousands of victims of the Holocaust who were ethnic Roma.
Merkel opened the memorial in Berlin, the German capital. The circular pool is located across the street from the German parliament building.
The Nazis deemed the Roma, like the Jews, to be genetically inferior. It is unclear how many Roma were rounded up and killed in the death camps during World War II, but estimates reach as high as half a million. (via Deutsche Welle)
Blaming Roma for everything from petty crime to trash on the streets, thousands of supporters of the far-right opposition Jobbik party rallied in Hungary on Wednesday in the eastern city of Miskolc.
Local Roma in Hungary’s second largest city simultaneously held a counter-rally rejecting what they said were typical right-wing slurs while police kept the two sides apart, preventing serious clashes.
"Jobbik will help those who build Hungary, no matter their color," party chairman Gabor Vona told about 3,000 supporters. "But we will go after those who destroy and won’t let them be!"
The protests underscored increasing tensions in recession-hit Hungary, which had asked for a financing deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union and whose conservative government has announced unpopular austerity measures to cut the budget deficit. (via Reuters)
UK: Big Fat Gypsy Weddings ‘has increased bullying of Gypsies and Travellers’
Channel 4’s Big Fat Gypsy Weddings series has been blamed for an increase in bullying and negative stereotyping of the Gypsy and Traveller communities.
Educational consultant Brian Foster said there was “no question” in his mind that the Channel 4 series and its controversial poster campaign – featuring the strapline “Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier” – had caused “real, measurable and long-term harm”.
Foster, who chairs the advisory council for the education of Romanies and other Travellers, is also a trustee of the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain (ITMB).
He was commissioned by law firm Howe and Co, which represented the ITMB’s complaint against the Channel 4 ad campaign, to consider the impact of the show in its evidence to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Foster said in his report: “That harm is on a number of levels, including physical and sexual assault, racist abuse and bullying, misinformation and hostile questioning, resulting in damage to the self-esteem of children and withdrawal from school.
"Evidence drawn from practitioners across the country presents a consistent picture that the Big Fat Gypsy Weddings programmes have significantly contributed to racist bullying and abuse of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children in schools." (via guardian.co.uk)
Roma is a term for various groups who have migrated across Europe for centuries and are now the biggest ethnic minority in the European Union, most of them from countries like Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. There are an estimated 10 million across Europe and one in five lives in Romania. The vast majority live on the margins of society in abject poverty, which makes them easy targets in troubled times, and pro-democracy groups say post-communist governments in the region have not done enough to improve their plight. (via Reuters.com)
Bulgaria: I Cannot Ban Chalga Music in Schools, says Education Minister
Asked to comment on a video showing uniformed junior students dancing to a song of the scandalous Roma pop-folk singer Azis, Education Minister Sergey Ignatov has said that it is beyond his power to ban chalga in schools.
The video, which shortly went viral thanks to youtube and social networks, is part of a reportage of Radio Vidin, the local program of the Bulgarian National Radio, on March 8 celebrations in Vidin.
To congratulate the women working at the municipal administration and the regional education inspectorate, the children from the “Zvanche” (“Bell”) kindergarten and the “Sofronii Vrachanski” elementary school in the northwestern city of Vidin performed a dance show.
Part of the dance routines were played to a song of Azis, chalga singer and an eminent cross-dresser.
"Is this singer banned by some authority? By the Council for Electronic Media (SEM), for instance? If I introduce a ban on playing his songs in schools in my capacity as an Education Minister, we shall be held liable for discrimination. If I don’t, I shall also face accusations. This is why other institutions need to come up with a pronouncement. That said, my opinion is that appropriate pieces of music should be chosen considering the age of the children," Ignatov told journalists on Wednesday. (via Novinite.com)