German Sinti Alliance against use of Sinti and Roma in the same breath

by Michael Smith

German Sinti Alliance (Sinti Allianz Deutschland), under Mrs. Natascha Winter, has called for an end to use the term “Sinti und Roma” (Sinti and Roma) as the single term for all Gypsies.

Mrs. Winter expressly asks that the term “Sinti”, which is, so she says, the exclusive name for the German Gypsies, not to be used together with the term “Roma”, the latter who are basically immigrants from the East.

The Sinti Alliance made this request in a press statement in which they condemned the attempt of censorship by the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, under Romani Rose, of a German TV program that made mention of criminal activities and criminals amongst the Gypsies. We have to admit, and Mrs. Winter and the SAD does just that, that there are criminals amongst our People, the Gypsies, in the same way as there are criminals amongst Jews and other peoples and while we may wish to condemn the idea of using the ethnic term in the same breath when mentioning the criminality amongst Gypsies – something that would not be done when it comes to Jews, for instance – this is neither here not there.

We had similar attempts of keeping things out of the public eye when the media, some years ago, made mention, and also films were made on this subject, as to the selling of children by the Roma, predominately the Kalderash and others from the former Yugoslavia to Italy for the sole purpose of being uses as beggars and thieves (and worse even). In this case misguided “leading” figures of the Romani organizations and academics tried to claim that this was not the truth and just something invented to discredit the Romani. The unfortunate truth is, however, that that was and still is the truth.

There are operations that are going on the United Kingdom presently where children are being brought in by criminal elements amongst the Roma communities and if the children are used just for begging and pickpocketing then that is the most benign activities they are being used in. In fact in Glasgow what is happening is worse and as a Rom I loath to even to mention it.

For this very reason one can also understand the call of the Sinti Alliance as to the separation of the two terms, namely “Sinti” and “Roma”, and one can but support it.

While we are all of the Romani People, also known as the Gypsy People (and I have not problem with that term and neither have many Rom that I know), we are not all Roma, for instance. The Roma are a part of the Romani in the same way as the Sinti are but the Sinti are not part of the Roma.

© M Smith (Veshengro) - (World) Gypsy Union - October 2008