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Archivio Aprile 2007

Czech Rep, roma demonstration increases pressure on pm to sack deputy Jiri Cunek

19 Aprile 2007 Commenti chiusi


Just three months after taking office Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is struggling to keep his centre-right coalition government afloat. A fragile majority in the lower house, a rebel in his own party who is threatening to vote against the government’s proposed tax reforms and worst of all a deputy prime minister accused of corruption who has been rocking the boat for weeks.

On top of all this, around two hundred angry Roma demonstrators gathered outside government headquarters on Wednesday to demand the dismissal of the said deputy prime minister – Jiri Cunek – for offensive remarks he made about them in a newspaper interview. Chants of “shame on Cunek” and “down with the racist” filled the air outside the Czech government headquarters on Wednesday, as Roma demonstrators called for his head.

They were angry at Mr Cunek for telling a tabloid newspaper that ordinary Czechs who were not well off and seeking government assistance would have to get a suntan and cause chaos in their families in order convince others that they were poor. “He has no business being in cabinet. Let him go back to the town of Vsetin where he came from. He is not a statesman – he is a village politician.”

Jiri Cunek, the man who first came to prominence by getting tough on Roma rent defaulters in Vsetin came out and attempted to speak with the protesters, claiming that he was not a racist, but his words were drowned out by calls for him to go. Although the protesters chanted the prime minister’s name, only the minister for minorities Dzamila Stehlikova came out to receive their petition.

“The prime minister is aware of what is going on – he is working to resolve the problem,” his spokesman told the assembled crowd.

Vocal as the Roma demonstration outside the government headquarters was, the prime minister faced far greater pressure within. His coalition allies from the Green Party have threatened to walk out of the government if Mr. Cunek remains. The problem is that with 100 seats in the 200 seat lower house the prime minister cannot afford to lose either the Christian Democrats or the Greens if he wants to keep the coalition government in office.

The Christian Democrats have closed ranks around their embattled leader and, faced with the Greens’ ultimatum, Prime Minister Topolanek may be forced to sack Jiri Cunek himself.

© Radio Prague

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Terry Davis, go beyond prejudice – meet the Roma

19 Aprile 2007 Commenti chiusi


Ignorance breeds fear, and fear breeds prejudice and intolerance. For centuries, Roma have been discriminated against because of their way of life and because they remain faithful to their traditions.

For centuries, Europe has been treating its Roma population unfairly, and has been depriving itself of the opportunity to understand and enjoy the full extent of its cultural richness, heritage and diversity.

Through learning, tolerance and respect for Roma and their culture, we can make Europe a better place for all. International Roma Day is an opportunity for Roma to express their pride in being Roma and for the rest of us to express our pride in having Roma in our midst.

The fight against prejudice and discrimination is a priority for the Council of Europe, which is currently conducting a campaign in South Eastern Europe with the slogan ?Dosta ? Go beyond prejudice, meet the Roma?. Tolerance and mutual respect is also the central message of the Council of Europe Youth campaign ?All Different, All Equal?.

Statement by Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe on International Roma Day. © Council of Europe

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Belarus, april 8 is International Roma Day

19 Aprile 2007 Commenti chiusi


International Roma Day, which is celebrated on the 8th of April, is quite famous in Eastern and Central Europe. However, while we know a lot about Roma situation in Romania or Hungary, little attention is paid to Roma in Belarus, small country situated, as some people believe, in the centre of Europe. To collect some information on Roma community in Belarus we organized an interview with Nicolas Kalinin, Belarusian delegate to European Roma Travelers Forum. By Olia Yatskevich

Talking about Roma issues in Belarus I cannot see a lot of differences from the communist period. The situation of Roma people in Belarus very similar to Roma issues in other parts of Europe. Belarus is not another Earth. All problems, which exist in Europe, can be detected in Belarus as well. But Belarus have specific feature ? in this country government doing everything feasible and unfeasible to ignore Roma minority. As a conclusion, which based on 2 years term observations, I can deduce that all national minorities in Belarus incur the same problems.

Why this problem is so specific?
I think device ?if we can?t understand it ? this does not exist? refers directly to this situation. Belarusian government does not want to recognize that in Belarus Roma people have the same problems as, for example, in Poland. Belarusian government does not want to admit well-known fact. Of course it looks exceedingly strange.

How you can describe multiethnic situation in Belarus?
I can repeat once again that future generations will study history using Belarusian example. Frankly speaking Belarusians are very tolerant people. A lot of people have Jewish, Tatars, Polish roots. I believe Belarusian nationalism is artificially created. At the same time, a lot of clear cases of discrimination against national minorities can be noticed. But this discrimination is not based on inter-national relations. It politically colored. It looks like exception but it existing. The cause of this discrimination rooted in soviet period. Extent last period from collapse of Soviet Union nothing altered in multiethnic relations in Belarus. The government policy is totally same.

What can you say about governmental policy towards Roma?
Belarusian government has done a lot of steps backward and nothing beneficial for Roma. I understand now that official authority is absolutely disable in direction of national minority and religion faith direction. Soviet standards are inappropriate now. Official Committee on national and religious affairs works applying old Soviets methodology which existed 20 years ago. Of course, it is a huge step back. Flexibility has been never encouraged in Belarus.

What are the main problems faced by Belarusian population?
Belarus is in difficult situation. It relats to all parts of the society (economy, multiethnic relations, political environment etc). Modern life goals new aims, new priorities. Lack of flexibility in all branches of modern Belarusian society can play negative but crucial role in the future. World changes. Modern society pursuits equal relations in multiethnic Europe. It concerns all branches. As we see China recognized it. Belarus last country, which blind to new challenges.

Is the some specific authority who dealing with national minorities in Belarus?
Yes, we have special committee, in all local authority we have people, who dealing with this issue. As from Soviet Union period we have a lot of different committees, so complicated system, when nobody responsible but everyone is boss. We knew from Soviet period when quality doesn?t mean quantity. You cannot restore broken flint- glass cap using hammer. Of course, you will destroy beautiful and useful thing. At the same time delicate relations between minorities cannot be solved using police forces, pressure, intimidations or violence. Fear is not so pleasant feeling for long-term relations.

Do you think this situation can be changes?
My attempts to establish dialog with other minorities was a significant step forward. We all face the same problems. I think unity of national minorities is big step forward. Regarding Roma issues I think Roma political participation deserves more attention. I can the difference of Roma political parties in other countries Eastern and Central Europe. Roma political participation has big future. Very interesting fact, but when specialist decided to explore who votes for Roma candidates, they found that not-Roma voters vote in favor of Roma candidates. I think unity of national minorities and national minority political participation are two main essential points.

Do you think political party in Belarus will be willing to support Roma candidates? I am really disappointed in all political parties in Belarus. I think all opposition political movement is a bad organized show to spend grants. I am really disappointed. It seems to me that time when USA and EU will change they strategy towards Belarus is not so far. Last 13 years it was knocking in locked door. Changes are need. In Belarus we have good relation with Belarusian ?greens?. Our point of views coincides with Belarusian Greens party.

Do you believe the situation will change soon?
I think democracy is inevitable. Together we are strong.

© Transitions Online Blogs

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International Roma Day, press release to ENAR

11 Aprile 2007 Commenti chiusi


On the occasion on International Roma Day on 8 April1, the European Network Against Racism recalls the words of Vladimir ?pidla, the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities that ?the situation of the Roma is a European issue that calls for an EU solution?.

In recent years the EU has done much to promote the inclusion of Roma, Sinti and Traveller communities, including the establishment of a comprehensive anti-discrimination legal framework and the implementation of substantial funding measures. However deep-seated problems remain for Europe?s largest minority.

A recent Eurobarometer survey, conducted in January 2007 for the launch of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, found that 77% of Europeans believe that being a Roma is a disadvantage in their society. ENAR members and other NGOs across Europe continue to document widespread abuse and disadvantage experienced by Roma, Sinti and Traveller communities.

In its 2005 Shadow Report on Racism in Europe ENAR concluded that: ?Roma, Sinti and Travellers represent a particular group that have consistently experienced discrimination in Europe.?

The European Union must effectively mainstream its response to the situation of Roma across the whole range of tools available to it. In particular ENAR calls for the strategic and targeted use of the Open Method of Coordination on Social Inclusion and Social Protection, and of the Lisbon Process on Growth and Jobs. Both strategies and their national reports have not to date adequately addressed the urgent need to respond to the situation of Roma communities.

?Roma are the largest and one of the most excluded minorities in Europe?, said Bashy Quraishy, ENAR President, adding that ?the European Union has achieved much in terms of Roma inclusion, but clearly the picture remains serious; the EU must now maintain its energy and reinvigorate its efforts to find solutions to the problems facing these communities?.

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) is a network of European NGOs working to combat racism in all EU member states and represents more than 600 NGOs spread around the European Union.

Its establishment was a major outcome of the 1997 European Year Against Racism. ENAR aims to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, to promote equality of treatment between EU citizens and third country nationals, and to link local/regional/national initiatives with European initiatives.

For further information, contact:
Georgina Siklossy, Communication and Press Officer
Phone: 32-2-229.35.70 – Fax: 32-2-229.35.75
E-mail: georgina@enar-eu.org – Website: http://www.enar-eu.org/en

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Germany, International Day on the Roma

5 Aprile 2007 Commenti chiusi


On the occasion of the International Day on the Roma on April 8, Volker Beck, human rights policy spokesperson declares:

The living conditions of many Roma in Europe are catastrophic. It is scandalous that slums exist in the heart of the European Union.

The European Union must act now. The situation of the Roma must not be defined as the minimal standard in the EU. A coherent and efficient strategy of integration of disadvantaged and discriminated minorities into society, education systems and into the labour market must be developed. The German European Council Presidency is to act on this!

Since the first World congress of the Roma in 1971, April 8 is being commemorated in more than forty countries. This day is a symbol for the solidarity with the Roma people and the civil rights movement of the Roma.

This day is also used as a reminder to point to the continuous discrimination and marginalization of the Roma in Europe. Even though the Roma have been living in European countries for hundreds of years, they, like no other group, are subject to multiple forms of discrimination in Education systems, the labour market, housing, in the health system and in other areas. Many Roma have to live in Ghettos, with no infrastructure.

Their children are being sent to special education schools or other special education facilities. In some countries, female Roma were sterilized without their knowledge or consent. In addition, Roma are remarkably often subjected to violence ? even from official sides.

The current development is a scandal and is incompatible with the human rights standards and social standards of the European Union.

The EU has declared 2007 as the year of equal opportunities. The declaration explicitly refers to the ?increase of hostility against Roma and the resulting discrimination in the areas of employment, education and social services for the most disadvantaged ethnic minority in the European Union?. Up to now, this has not resulted in concrete initiatives.

The German Federal Government is now required to increase the priority for the combat against discrimination of the Roma during the International year and beyond. Concrete activities must be undertaken now.

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