Romani Solidarity

When one of us bleeds we all do!

“When the Union's inspiration through the People's Blood shall run” would be the first line of the rewritten workers' song “Solidarity Forever”, to suit the Romani struggle, the refrain, the chorus, however, remaining the same, e.g. “Solidarity Forever” and it is this solidarity that we will have to learn, methinks, or relearn, to be more precise.

In truth, there was once a time when we seem to have had something of this solidarity, though never, it would appear, for the entire People. If we want to get anywhere in this world as a People, as a Nation proper, then this must change and we must find it in our hearts to have solidarity with our fellow Rom wherever on this planet that may be. If they hurt and are being attacked or discriminated against the n so is and should every one of us feel that hurt and we should fell righteous anger to speak out against such abuses, etc. But most of us, nowadays, just sit on our butts and hands and do nothing. The formula seems to be “I am all right Jack, what do I care”.

Or was this solidarity of the Romani People of old and the community spirit and the helping all Rom in need just something that everyone has imagined and is it but a myth. From what I am seeing in the last 20-30 years or so I must say it could appear to have been just so.

I do know that in fact that this solidarity did exist but that was before envy end jealousy began to rule our hearts and minds. It was, strangely enough, at a time when life was harder and money scarce and in very short supply often that the Rom shared with any Rom in need. Today, however, sadly, we are worse in that respect than the Gadsche.

We must, however, concentrate with this solidarity on our People, the Romani People and not support the wrong causes, such as illegal encampments by Irish Travellers, for instance, who in other instances will not hesitate to use even the force of arms to push Romanichal residents from official council Gypsy sites and then take those over, forcing the Rom to take to the drom again and then illegal encamp. No Irish Traveller has ever, as far as I know, come to the aid of a Romani family that was forced with eviction. Misplaced solidarity will not reciprocated.

Romani are Romani, as I have said before elsewhere, and Irish Travellers are Irish Travellers and while there are some Romani in Ireland, North and South, the majority of Irish Travellers are not Romani and do not share the same Culture and values. While they may lead a similar life to that what the Romani used to, and some still, do live that is about where the similarities end. While the Rom are a Race the Irish Travellers are nothing but Gohja in trailers, and let's not get fooled in believing the stories about them being an ancient pre-Celtic nomadic people of Eire. Those Irish Travellers that are in trailers (and in kennas) in Eire and in the UK (and those that went to the USA and elsewhere from Great Britain and Ireland) are no older as a travelling people than the potato famine and the great majority in the UK especially only came here during the wars and especially after World War II, the men first as laborers on the road build projects who then later brought their families over, having discovered that the British welfare state would give them anything they wanted without much of a question being asked unlike Ireland where no welfare state existed at that time. Am i being unfair? I do not think so.

When it comes to solidarity it is, as said, our race that comes first and must come first and all of us should feel and express a righteous indignation if but one member of our People is being discriminated against. Alas, however, this does not seem to be the case. Rather, it would appear, most are too busy hiding their ethnicity from the Gohja, who know anyway (I shall say again that no one will ever believe that Giovanni Mettbach is an Italian name), rather than standing up for our brothers and sisters so that they may see this solidarity and, should anyone else of us be in trouble, they are inspired to do the same for us.

One for all and all for one, so, apparently, was the motto of the French Musketeers and this is a motto that we, the Rom, in today's world, would do well to adopt.

© M V Smith, June 2007

Anti-Gypsy-ism is alive and well, unfortunately

While one might have hoped that Anti-Gypsy-ism would by now be a thing of the past this is, unfortunately, not so.
Anti-Gypsy-ism is alive and well in the European Union, and here not just in the new member states, as well as in the United States.

A child, for example, vanishes, while on vacation with her parents in Portugal, in May 2007, and immediately everyone, especially the media, and here especially the gutter press, accuses Gypsies of having abducted the little four-year-old blond girl from Britain.
Why? For what reason?
Well, because the Gadje actually do believe the concocted fairy stories that Gypsies steal children, that’s why. And doesn’t everyone – so at least the media presents the case – know that the favorite ones that Gypsies like to steal are little blond boys and girls?

It is and was exactly the same when the selfsame gutter press screams about hordes of Gypsies coming into the country, as soon as the countries of their residence would be member states of the European Union. Well, that did not actually happen. The gullible Gadje, however, do believe all those stories and many still believe that thousands upon thousands of Rom from Bulgaria, Romania, and such places have come to Britain. Well, there are a few here who, unfortunately, engage in begging and, possibly, pick pocketing, but as for thousands; well, no.

Attacks on Romani in Eastern Europe, even in European Union member states, are common place, with even politicians of such countries being involved in the attacks, on a verbal level at least, and the “crowning glory” must be Volen Siderov of Bulgaria, a presidential candidate apparently even no less, who openly called for Gypsies to me made into soap, in a style that smacked of Nazi extermination policies. One would have hoped that such sentiments and the like had disappeared with the demise of Hitler's Third Reich but, as we can all see, this is not the case, unfortunately, and was rather wishful thinking and no such thing has happened as far as the Gypsy, the Rom, are concerned.

In truth, despite of the very fact that Siderov made such statements, and that the official government of Bulgaria called for the sterilization of all Gypsy women, Bulgaria was still admitted into the folds of the European Union, no questions asked. This shows that the EU has the same disregard for the Rom, as all those other countries that breach the human rights of the Romani People, and pays nothing but lip service to equal rights for the Gypsy.

We, as a People, must stand up now against this trend of Anti-Gypsy-ism and be counted but I also know that I am wasting my breath to call for such a thing and action.

Why? Because most of our People fall into one of two categories: those that wish to hide their ethnicity, their origins, and then those who, while doing the first or not, could care less and could not be bothered as to what is happening to our People as long as it does not affect them and theirs.
Here we will do well to recall the words of the poem by Pastor Dietrich Bonnhoefer and heed the call that if we do not speak out now and stand up and be counted when they come for us there may be no one left to speak out and fight on our behalf.

Think about it...

© M V Smith, June 2007

Hiding our Gypsy Ethnicity – Does that protect us?

The simple answer would be NO.

It has been going on for ages already, but seems to have really only been done since after World War II whether in places such as Germany or Austria or in the UK. While it is understandable for Sinti and Roma in Germany, especially, to have gone more or less into hiding and denying their ethnicity, especially those that have moved into houses and more or less “ordinary” jobs or into trade, such as scrap yards, and claiming to be of Italian extraction or other southern such but it makes no difference. In the UK one nowadays hears the comments from Romanichals when asked whether they be Gypsy, People with names like Brazil (find me a non-Rom by that name), and the answer more often then not will be, “our grandparents were Gypsies but we are not, we live in a house”. Is that, though, a deliberate hiding of their ancestry? In fact in most cases it is not but just a lack of understanding of the fact that being Gypsy is not a lifestyle but that we are a People and a Race.
However, it would appear that here, but especially in places such as Germany, Austria, France, etc. one might find the Sinti and Roma pretending to be somethings else than what they are and are in fact, at least to outsiders, hiding their ethnicity. It is also my belief that for that very reason many give their children Italian, Spanish or Greek sounding names, such as Marco, Sandro, Pedro, Massimo, Giovanni, and such, in order so that they can claim that they are of Italian or other such Mediterranean ancestry; anything but Sinti or Roma.

Methinks we have a problem and unless we all get away from pretending to be something that we are not and be in fact proud, also to the outside, that we are Sinti or Roma, that we are Gypsy, Zigeuner, with basically the attitude “I am Gypsy and proud of it” (“and if you have a problem with that so be it” - as an undertone).

We can never fight racism and discrimination against us as a People when the majority of our People hide and while wishing to have the discriminations and such go away, without in fact doing anything about it, not even joining an organization as a passive supporting member. Well, we all have to work for it; probably visibly, and I know that at times that will not be easy, but...

© M V Smith, June 2007

Italy's final solution for Gypsies

Italy, as the first – but will it be the last – European Union county, has begun setting up what can only be described as Concentration Camps for Gypsies.

This all in a supposed effort to turn Gypsies, who are often foreign Rom from the former Yugoslavia and Romania as well as Bulgaria, and, as it is claimed especially for their wellbeing and that of their children. The Nazis told similar stories to the Rom during their reign, when they forced them to settle, took away their horses and wheels from the wagons and then when they moved them into the once Jewish ghettos.

In Rome the Prefect will identify new areas for the nomads' camps (nomads?). Those settlements will be called “villages of solidarity” (dordi, what an interesting term for a ghetto or KZ). The “villages” will be controlled by a special public security police force of a minimum of 100 men; this means that the Romani situation will be managed a a problem of public security. It looks as if Gypsies in some EU countries are now being seen similar to terrorists. What next?

Each of those villages, as the authorities say, will give “hospitality” to 1000 to 1500 Rom and will be additionally controlled by security forces and associations.

All those “villages” will be more than 18 miles (30km) away from the center of Rome and well away from any services.

This makes, and one cannot say it any other way, Italy the first EU member state that is openly creating new concentration camps for Gypsies.

And what is Brussels doing? Well, nothing. It is the controlling center of the EU after all. This proves yet again that it is all but lip service when they talk about equal human rights for Gypsies in the EU and elsewhere. Let us not forget either that Germany is the true power behind the EU and that Anti-Gypsy-ism has been big always and is on the rise more and more again in that country. The rest of the wold also says nothing, nor do the organizations that claim to be representing the Rom, like the ERTF which is claimed to be the government of all Rom in Europe. It is obvious that it cannot attack its own paymaster.

Food for thought to us all, I hope...

Freedom is not free. It is very costly and sometimes has to be paid for in blood. If we do not fight for it now we may all end up rather unfree in such camps.

© M V Smith, June 2007

Let's face the future

Moving forward with the lessons learned from the past

Moving forward with the lessons learned from the past, that is the only way that we can advance. It does not help us one bit to remain buried in nostalgia about the good ol' days of the grai and the wooden vardo. They weren't all that good days really, if we all be honest with one another. Yes, they may have been days of some kind of freedom of being able to move as and when... and the days of when you could pull onto the common without anyone bothering you... but... does anyone now living in a kenna really want to be out in a vardo in winter in real frost (we haven't had frost proper in this country for years now) and deep snow, especially as chavies with bare feet and but rags for clothes? Surely not. Anyone who is trying to claim thus, I am afraid, must think us all dinlos.

Anyone who tells me that he or she is harking back to the time of the vardo and the grai is, I am afraid to say, not be able to convince me.

While we must learn from the past, especially as regards to combating racism against us, and while the lessons of the martyrs of the Holocaust must teach us to beware of the rising tide of Anti-Gypsy-ism and neo-Nazism again, we must move forward for the betterment of the Romani-Gypsy in the world. This is not to say that we should assimilate to the style of life of the Gohja and live like they do, with djuks and matchkas ano kher, and the like, nor should we give up our old beliefs and practices. Nay, in fact the latter we should reinstitute and even add some new cultural celebrations to them, but we must not get stuck in the past. That also means that we must, in some things, adapt. Be this with regards to having (some of) our folks be working “proper” jobs, so to speak, even in law enforcement and medicine. Yes, I am aware that the so-called Rechtssprecher will now scream blue murder. So be it. Those truth-speakers who also keep women downtrodden in a way that was never the way of the People. Truth-speakers indeed. The same “truth-speakers” who will keep women down forever, given the chance, claiming that women must be subject to the men. Dordi! Dordi! What a load of trash that is. Those “leaders” of the People have no knowledge of the way our People used to work, it would appear. We never were patriarchal. Matriarchal rather, we were, though giving outwardly an appearance to the Gohja, in countries where the man ruled, that the men were in charge. That too shows how much those “leaders” know. The women, too, must be allowed to lead the way they always were involved.

Therefore, let us move forward together with the lessons learned from the past to a new future for the Romani Race. Forward to a new dawn of the Romani.

© M Veshengro Smith, June 2007

Gas Bomb Barricade at Dale Farm

With people like that sailing under the false flag of “Gypsy” we, the Romani-Gypsy certainly do not need any enemies.

Royal Mail has suspended delivery to this illegal settlement of Irish Travellers, falsely referred to as “Gypsies”, for fear of an explosion.

Dozens of 4ft-high Calor gas bottles, some wrapped in barbed wire, have been assembled in recent months at the entrance to the Crays Hill site in Essex.

The canisters surround a large gantry, recently erected after the council decided to evict the 1,000 mostly-Irish illegally-camped Travellers. Crays Hill Travellers have refused to explain the gas bottles. People living in Billericay, however, are convinced the gas bottles are there as a barricade if police, council officials or bailiffs attempt to enter the site.

A spokesman for Essex Fire Services said the canisters were a “threat and danger”, which if involved in a fire would be “just like a bomb”.

I ask now, as a Romani, what would happen if any Romani camp would do just that? I can tell you what would happen... armed police would already be there and everyone, including kids, would be arrested under the “Prevention of terrorism Act”. What are the police afraid of as regards to the Irish Travellers of Dale Farm, Crays Hill?

With people like this aided and abetted by certain do-gooders the real Gypsy needs no further enemy for those Travellers are being portrayed by said do-gooders as Gypsy, which they are not. The do-gooders know that but the general public does not and therefore the Rom are equated with the ITs and thereby seen by the Gohja as scroungers and whatever else.

How long will the Rom in the UK stand by and let their cause be hijacked by the likes of those that now make the Gypsies look like terrorists in the eyes of the Gohja with what they are doing. The Gohja per se, as can be seen in the comments sent in to the media like the Daily Express and Mail and such in reply to articles about the Crays Hills site, do not see any difference and do not understand any difference between Romani and Irish when the media insist on calling them “Gypsies” and not the media alone but people like their spokesperson and agitator, Mr Puxon.

Irish Travellers are Irish Travellers and Romani alone have the right to be referred to as Gypsy. The media, it would seem, does not understand that or does not want to understand that. The law in the UK has been, for a long time, clear about this by mentioning Gypsies & Travellers. While there maybe amongst the Irish Travellers some that have Romani blood in them the majority, 99% of them, do not and are nothing but, whatever they may claim, Irish Gohja who live in trailers because they find that convenient.

Dosta penauas!

© M V Smith, June 2007

Dale Farm - Britain's biggest Gypsy community

How long will this sham have to go on? Dale Farm is NOT Britain's biggest Gypsy community. It is an illegal Irish Traveller settlement and that's it. It does not matter how many times Grattan Puxon is going to claim it to be otherwise. It is a shame that the Romanichals in the UK do not have enough strength of character to stand up against such claptrap and lies as calling Dale Farm Britain's biggest Gypsy community. However, as someone has to do it I/we shall state again that Dale Farm is NOT Britain's biggest Gypsy community but an illegal Irish Traveller settlement, established against all laws. Irish Travellers are NOT Gypsies and will never be. Gypsy is only applicable to those of Romani origin, as per the Oxford Dictionary that states “Gypsy – one of a wandering (sic) race, originally from Northern India”, and however much the majority of ITTs will try, they are not Romani... Dosta.
Dale Farm is an illegal settlement by Irish Travellers and its development has broken all planning rules and laws, has been dragged, at great expense to the tax payer through the court system, including, I understand, Europe, and still they will not give in and understand that the laws apply equally to them as to the rest of UK society. Not a word is said by the likes of Mr Puxon on behalf of true Romani – with the exception where he can make political capital for himself out of any such issue – who have a planning matter before the courts.
Then again Mr Puxon, regardless of the fact that he got himself into the then World Gypsy Congress never had any other group in mind to help bar the Irish Travellers. Why beats me but that is the case.

Now, while we are at the subject of Gohja in leadership, let me say that it beats me again and again why we, the Romani-Gypsy, are so stupid to always allow such Gohja do-gooders to run things “on our behalf”. They don't do it for us. They only do it for their own interests and benefit, most of this in the field of politics or academia or just for pure vain glory to get their name in the papers all the time. Already allowing them into our ranks, into our organizations, is a mistake that many organizations have come to regret. Their ultimate aim always, it would seem, is to get into leadership positions and then to turn the organizations to suit them and their agendas.

Dosta, Phralale te Pheniale! We must do it for ourselves. We must not have any Gohja in our organizations, bar as supporters without vote.

© M V Smith, June 2007

Decade of Roma Inclusion

Any results? No.

One thing this “Decade of Roma Inclusion” has done is excluding the Sinti and other Romani from the process, in word, by referring only to “Roma”, and in deed by only making this “Decade of Roma Inclusion” valid for Eastern European Roma. Regardless of what the EU and others have been saying as to it being all-inclusive; it is not. All funds and help has only been given to Roma groups and mush of the funds have, it would appear, once again disappeared into the pockets of the Roma kings, buli bashas and emperors. The poor Rom have no improvement in their situations and still have to eek a living from scavenging on rubbish tips and such like. We don't even want to mention other activities such as begging and even more unsavoury ones.

© M V Smith, June 2007

Rushdie Knighthood enough reason for suicide bombers - Pakistani minister

A Pakistani minister stated on Monday, June 18, 2007 that the British government’s decision to confer a knighthood on Salman Rushdie, the author of “Satanic Verses” is good enough reason and justification for suicide bombers to attack targets in Britain.

The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, provoked the ire of many Muslims and led to the issuing of a fatwa in 1989 by the then Iranian leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

However, this is neither here nor there, We do have, at least we still had, last time I checked, freedom of speech in the UK and the USA and no one can therefore, though they will try, Muslims and Jews alike, silence a writer. To, however, state that Rushdie's knighthood could justify suicide bombings is tantamount to a declaration of war. If that is so then maybe the British forces need to leave Iraq and have a little word in the ear of the Pakistani forces.

It beats me again and again that the so-called Muslims who espouse such violence and venom and who dare to call for a fatwa on a citizen of a free country and to state that the knighthood given to that author mentioned could be justification get away with such statements and, more often than not, the governments of the free world cave in to their demands.

Are we, as a people of a free country, willing to allow ourselves to be told who can and cannot receive an honor and decoration by other countries that have no freedom in their countries, threatening us with terrorist attacks if we do not take away the honor given to a person those governments disagree with?

I have nothing against Muslims nor any other faith and religion per se as long as they do not wish to impose their rule on others that are not of their beliefs. I have the same problem with the (fundamental) Christians who claim that they must covert everyone to their brand of religion, like those that destroy the Culture of the Romani People and Romani families by their actions. This, however, is another subject.

© M V Smith, June 2007

Gypsies claim site choice is 'illegal'

The Gypsy Council has heavily criticized South Holland District Council's methodology to find suitable sites for Gypsies and Travellers, saying it is discriminatory and illegal.

The council has responded to the district's public consultation on the matter and says the methods proposed will identify sites, which are unhealthy, unsafe, and in places that Gypsies will not want to live.

A letter from Ann Bagehote, the Gypsy Council secretary, says: "We have to object in the strongest possible terms.

"Your criteria deliberately ensures Gypsy caravan sites are treated less favorably than houses for non-Gypsy people.

"In our view that is not only offensive but also illegal. You need to re-write the criteria to say that both Gypsy and non-Gypsy families need decent accommodation.

"There is absolutely no point building a site where no-one wants to live."

The letter is appended to a report by council leader Gary Porter and corporate director Tim Leader due to be discussed by the cabinet on Tuesday, which says that the Gypsy Council's criticisms are not accepted by the district council.

The report will update members on the consultation phase but states there has been limited response.

No councillors made comments, while Weston and Cowbit parish councils replied saying that they were unable to identify suitable sites in their areas.

Two members of the public suggested locations and these will be fed into the formal site selection process and evaluated using the criteria adopted by the cabinet.

The report asks councillors to approve a modification of the site search method to include all land within one mile of a bus route and/or a major arterial road running through the district.

If the criteria is approved the council will then set about constructing a sieve map and creating a long list by the end of July.

The council needs to find land to accommodate two residential gypsy sites and a stopping place for up to ten caravans. It launched a public consultation this year after protests against its three preferred sites.

When one looks at where Gypsy Caravan sites are located one can well understand what the Gypsy Council spokesperson is on about. Anyone wanting to see what the conditions are like where Gypsy sites are generally placed should take a look at some of them, such as like the one in Earlsfield, South London, or the one under the Westway in West London.

In most cases Gypsy Caravan Sites are placed in entirely unsuitable locations, such as next to sewerage works, on former rubbish tips, right slap bang onto industrial estates next to cement works, such as in Earlfield, and so on. No non-Gypsy person would be asked to live there but Rom and Travellers in the UK are forced onto such sites.

When, on the other hand, Gypsies and Travellers purchase land themselves where they wish to live and even if the go through the planning process properly they are denied permission to set up their own site or settlements, often with the comments that the location, even if this is an old farm, is too far away from the local schools, amenities, etc.

When official sites, however, are established on sites next to sewerage works, cement works, etc., they are also far away from the local amenities but then that does not seem to matter.

M V Smith, June 17, 2007


Tom Odley
Kent, England, June 10, 2007

Today's news, in England, highlights the report from the Farmers' Union, that very many thousands of pounds worth of soft fruits, mainly strawberries, may well be left to rot, due to the shortage of available fruit-pickers, despite the fact that very many pickers are coming from foreign countries to do this work?

As most of us will be aware, the Romany, the Gypsy-people of this country, were once deeply involved in this fruit-picking and other harvest work.

For very many Gypsy families the harvesting of fruit, hops, etc., occupied an important place in the Familial calendar, even affecting the setting of our annual horse-fairs and the like.

Fruit picking, apart from providing the means for many Gypsy families to earn an honest crust of bread, with the chance to put a little lova by for dealing or for harder times, afforded opportunities for Nidi Fohki to meet friends and relations that would arrive from other parts of the country to join in the harvesting of fruit.

Among the most important considerations for any Gypsy family contemplating the fruit and hop-picking seasons, was the availability and suitability of atchen-tans/stopping places during the picking.

Most fruit and hop farmers, especially during World War 2 and the early post-wars years, relying/depending so heavily on the speed, skills and hard work of the Gypsy fruit-pickers, for whom this was a way of life, would willingly set aside a small area for the tents, wagons and trailers of the Romani Fohki. At no major expense to themselves, the farmers would organize the provision of water along with the wood for the fires of this transient but reliable work-force of Romani.

Practically all of this work would be done on a "Piece-work" basis rather than on an hourly basis, with the result that; "If you didn't work hard, you earned little or no money!".

However.... subsequent to the arrival of "Peace-time" Britain and the gradual absorption of England and the other countries of the UK into Europe, along with the mass immigration of ex-colonial peoples, the early initiators of the Big-Brother system recognized the perceived threat, to them, of the Nidi Fohki as a result of the Romani tradition of "Independence", as the Gohja saw it, all though, in reality, there has always been a considerable inter-dependence between Rom and Gohja for practical purposes.

The arrival of the early Big Brother movement saw a gradual deterioration in civil freedoms, particular in the enforcement of land-planning controls. Many of these restrictions were aimed directly at the perceived, Gypsy "Freedom of movement", by both local and central government, with variable support from 'ordinary' citizens. Some among us can easily understand the emotions rising within some Gohja mush or housewife, locked in a hum-drum lifestyle and frustrated by their circumstances, happening to witness the passing of some "Gypsy" family lot, the Romani transients apparently "Laughing at Life"?

The envy, the jealousy that arose, therefrom, within many a Gohja onlooker, must have been nigh on explosive? "Bloody Gyppos!", why should THEY be allowed to live like that?

The overall tightening of planning laws along with the covert aim of "Big Brother" (via The Powers that Be.), to remove or severely restrict the individuality of the Gypsy, resulted in considerable pressures being put on farmers to deny or curtail the availability of stopping places to the Gypsy work-force that would have, in the past, played an important part in the harvesting of fruit and other crops, as well as availing labour for other farm-work such as beet-hoeing, hop-dressing, hop-training, hop-stringing, ditch-clearing and hedge-brishing, etc. Though a fair number of farmers, being almost totally dependant on their own Gypsy-work-force families, did their best to evade or ignore the "Anti-Gypsy planning laws", the end result was, eventually, a serious shortage of available harvest labour.

Farmers did their best to make up for this labour-shortage by way of mechanization, this proved fairly successful with some crops, such as hops, but entirely unsatisfactory with delicate crops, such as strawberries, apples, pears and the like.

With the opening up of the vast labour-force of Europe, the potential was there to satisfy fruit-farming requirements, but, as has been demonstrated and now acknowledged by the National Farmers Union on today's TV., the potential has NOT been fulfilled?

As I've said:

"What goes around, comes around?"

Amare Devel amensa!

Tom O

The Lord Ramh said:

"And the greatest of these, my gifts, is Understanding!"

© O Tom Odley, June 2007