Romanian President: Roma must be considered as Holocaust victims

26. 10. 2005

Romanian President Traian Basescu has sent a bill back to parliment requesting that the definition of the Holocaust include Roma. The request follows an open letter Mr Basescu received from rights activists and European lawmakers, which asked him change the wording of the Holocaust in the bill. The bill will ban Holocaust denial and aims to make racism illegal.

The previous legislation excluded Roma by defining the Holocaust as "state-sponsored systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its allies and collaborators between 1933 and 1945." The signatories of the open letter declared that it is "outrageous that the draft law makes no mention of the Roma as victims of the Holocaust."

According to the letter, not including Roma in the definition of the Holocaust can lead to serious consequences with regard to Romania's efforts to adhere to the European principles of reaching reconciliation with its own history. Furthermore, the absence of Roma from the text of the law means that the Roma minority will be excluded from any discussions about the Holocaust. This will make it impossible for the citizens of Romania to receive proper education on the Holocaust. Moreover, this law will fail to apply in the case of the denial of the persecutions of the Roma.

The letter is based on the report of the International Committee for the Study of the Holocaust, which states that both Jewish and Roma people were victims of the Holocaust and of the deportations to Transnistria during the wartime regime of Marshal Ion Antonescu. The regime was responsible for the deaths of more than 11,000 Roma and between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews.

Over 600, 000 Roma died during World War II due to the Holocaust. Additionally, thousands of Roma were killed during active fighting against Nazis as members of various national armies. Many others were murdered without any record.

In the Czech Republic, it is becoming increasingly apparent that only 10% of Roma survived Holocaust fury. Even more disconcerting is the fact that in the place of a former concentration camp in Lety u Pisku-where more than a thousand Roma and Sinti were sent to die during the Second World War-now stands a pig farm.
(Dzeno Association)