Intolerance against Romani-Gypsies in Europe is on the rise

by Michael Smith

The Council of Europe Secretary General said with regards to recent happenings: “70 years almost to the day after the Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the Holocaust, a stone throwing mob tried to attack a Roma suburb in the Czech city of Litvinov. The analogy only goes so far. In 1938 the attacks by the storm troopers were orchestrated by the Nazi regime, and it would be totally wrong to draw any parallels with the Czech Republic where the authorities are doing everything they can to prevent these attacks against the Roma.

“I congratulate the Czech authorities on their determination in stopping the violence and also express my solidarity with the policemen who were wounded by the mob. At the same time we must recognise that this incident took place against the background of increasing intolerance and violence against Roma people in Europe. All Governments across Europe also need to look urgently at the situation of the Roma communities in their countries and act decisively to protect them against discrimination, intolerance and violence.”

While the Council of Europe Secretary General may decide to congratulate the Czech authorities on their determination of stopping the violence we also know how often the authorities, in the Czech Republic, as well as in other EU member states, are complicit with the perpetrators of racially motivated crimes against the Romani-Gypsy. Italy is but one example when not only the authorities stood by and let burning happen. Nay, they criminalized the entire Gypsy population and forced them to give DNA samples and fingerprints, even small children.

The Council of Europe, who after all is the real EU command and control, is doing very little in practical term as to protect the Romani minority in the member countries of the European Union. There is lots of talk, like this address by the Council of Europe Secretary General but very little else and the authorities in member countries get away with murder, literally, on Gypsy citizens.

But, as someone from the Gypsy community in Germany said: “It has happened before, it is happening and will happen again – we must fight against it and defend ourselves”. He is right, you know. Ourselves Alone! We must do it. We cannot depend on others to do it for us. The problem is, though, that if we do it the authorities will claim that we are in the wrong.

Where does that leave us, yet again?

© M Smith (Veshengro), November 2008