published in Libération, (France) 2/09/2011
One year ago, numerous Romanian and Bulgarian citizens were brutally deported from France because they were Roma.
These acts of violence happened live on TV and yet under the complete indifference, not only of the European politicians, but also of the European civil societies.
For many, they appeared as the latest act of a tragedy that has been going on throughout Europe for several centuries and from which Roma people should inevitably suffer, with the persecutions by the Nazis and their collaborators being the paroxysm, but not the end.
Many have resigned themselves to indifference, because of weariness, because of a lack of political or institutional protection, because they convinced themselves that Roma people accepted or even desired to be dominated.
The evocation of these violent acts is yet unbearable : in Hungary, far right militia have demonstrated in villages, like Gyöngyöspata, where many Roma people lived and were forced to flee. In Czech Republic and in Hungary, murders and racist crimes are taking place. In many villages, Roma people are separated from the rest of the community because the local authorities have built walls on that purpose like in Tarlungeni or Baia Mare in Romania, Michalovce, Košice, Prešov, or Svinia in Slovakia, Sliven in Bulgaria,… In Serbia, Croatia, Moldova, France and Turkey, violent racial discriminations permeate all sectors of daily life. Forced deportations are taking place to Kosovo and from Germany, Denmark, Sweden, etc.
This disastrous list could endlessly go on to the point that sometimes the feelings of fatality, incapacity and even normality of violence prevail even among us.
These feelings are similar to those that the members of the American gay community felt until the late sixties. They were used to demeaning representations, to marginality, to being denied the same rights as other citizens, to frequently suffer from individual or police violence, only because they were gays.
On June 29th, 1969, like every day, the police raided a small gay bar named Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City. On that day, a handful of regulars joined by locals decided to say “Enough !”. After four days of confrontation with the police, around 2,000 people organized a march in the streets of New York City : the Gay Pride was born.
One year after the proclamation of an official anti-Roma policy in France, few days, months and years after the unbearable racist violences the Roma people have been victims of all over the continent, October 1st will be the “European Roma Stonewall”. On this day, we, leaders of the Roma and antiracist European civil society, will take our responsibilities and shout with strength and determination : “Dosta !”, “Enough !”. With pride and hope in a Europe cleared off racism, antisemitism and all racial discriminations, we will march for the first Roma Pride.
We have had enough of racist stereotypes, enough of permanent racial discriminations, enough of forced marginalization, enough of daily life violences, enough of the scapegoat status, enough of racist murders which have been affecting Roma people and communities at the heart of our continent for too long now, Enough !
Together with numerous civil society organizations, committed citizens, famous or anonymous, powerful or weak, we will march at the heart of the main European cities to raise awareness about and to denounce the racism and the racial discriminations Roma people are today victim of all over Europe.
Thanks to cultural events, we will go and meet these who want to know better the diversity of Roma cultures, identities, stories and memories, far from old-fashioned stereotypes and clichés.
Through our joint action, we will give life to the European dream and his founding value of equality. Our claim will be simple and clear : the equality of rights and the equal enjoyment of rights for all individuals living in Europe. In one word : dignity.
Thus, we will lead a European coalition of solidarity and ideal, from Norway to Turkey, from France to Latvia and through Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and many other European countries in order to proudly and loudly proclaim : Roma Pride !
Benjamin Abtan, Secretary General of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement – EGAM and, per country :
Abania : Aldo Merkoci, President de MJAFT ! Movement and Adriatik Hasantari, President of Roma Active
Austria : Barbara Liegl, CEO of ZARA, Alexander Pollak, Executive Director of SOS Mitmensch and Andrea Härle, Executive Director of of Romano Centro
Belgium : Patrick N’Siala Kiese, Member of the Board of Kif Kif
Bulgaria : Krassimir Kanev, Chairman of the Helsinki Committee and Deyan Kolev, President of the Amalipe Center for interethnic dialogue and tolerance
Croatia : Mario Mazic, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Croatia
Denmark : Thomas V. Lytken Larsen, President of the Center for Positive Integration – CePI, Anne Nielsen, Chairwoman of SOS mod racism and Sofie Amalie Andersen, Chairwoman of Nyt Dansk Romanetværk
Finland : Janette Grönfors, Coordinator of Rasmus, Network Against Racism and Xenophobia and Founding Member of Nevo Roma
France : Dominique Sopo, President of SOS Racisme et Eugène Daumas, President of the French Union of Gypsy Associations – UFAT
Great-Britain : Samuel Tarry, ‘Hope not hate’ Campaign Director
Germany: Serdar Yazar, Board Member of the Turckish Union in Berlin-Brandenburg (TBB)
Hungary : Janos Farkas, President of the Minority Roma Government in Gyöngyöspata and Erika Muhi, Director of NEKI
Italy : Angela Scalzo, President de SOS Razzismo and Olga Bala, Presidente of Partita Romilor
Kosovo : Raba Gjoshi, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo and Osman Osmani, Director of Initiative 6
Latvia : Anhelita Kamenska, Acting Director of the Latvian Centre for Human Rights
Moldova : Nicolae Radita, Chairman of the Roma National Center
Montenegro : Boris Raonic, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Montenegro
Norway : Kari Helene Partapuoli, Director of the Norwegian Center Against Racism
Romania : Margareta Matache, Executive Director of Romani Criss
Serbia : Jovana Vukovic, Coordinator of the Regional Centre for Minorities and Maja Micic, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia
Slovakia : Irena Bihariova, Chairwoman of Ludia proti rasizmu (People against racism)
Turkey : Selda Bilcer, President of Roma Youth Association and Cengiz Algan, spokesperson of Durde !porte-parole de Durde !