International Romani Union now International Roma Union – which is it to be?

Now we have the truth in a letter to the Pope – the name has been changed

by Michael Smith

Since the IRU, founded as the International Romani Union, resultant from the International Gypsy Congress in London in the early 1970s, has now chosen to term itself the “International Roma Union” it can, in my opinion, no longer be seen as representing the Sinti groups, which includes the Romanichals, the Cale of Spain, and other such like and it may be the time that those groups did something about this.

It was becoming obvious to me already for a while that apparent changes in name were afoot as regards the IRU with the General-Secretary, one Bajram Haliti stating, which I do not doubt, that he is the General-Secretary of the International Roma Union and not the International Romani Union, and I have made mention of that on occasions before.

Now, with a Christmas message sent from Stanislav Stachiro Stankiewitz to the Pope signing it International Roma Union, with the header now statting the very same, this has become more than obvious that this has become an official policy.

As a Sinto I am not a Roma and hence I cannot see this to be any organization that I could even ask to represent me and nor can anyone claiming to speak for the Sinti rightfully claim that we are part of them, for the Sinti are Sinti and the Romanichals, and some others, such as the Cale, are of the same groups, and we are NOT Roma and hence cannot be accommodated in a Roma organization. Period! Dosta!

Therefore, I believe, it has come the time that the Sinti – including its brother groups such as the Romanichals, etc – get their own representative body which may, or may not, work together with the Roma Union, but which is it own entity. I think that a Sinti Federation is called for and it needs to be done NOW.

I do know that this suggestion of mine will, more than likely, receive a lot of negative comments and publicity, I am sure that there are many Sinti and those from Sinti-related groups, such as the Romanichals, the latter who often also are much more happy to call themselves Gypsy rather than Roma – and Roma they are not anyway – may actually agree with this notion of a Sinti Federation. An organization that will then be able to meet the Roma Union on an equal level. The enemies of such a notion will claim that this is a divisive move and that it will play into the hands of the Gadje and their “divide and rule” tactic but it has nothing to do with that whatsoever. The truth is that the enemies of such a notion have a vested interest as regards to keeping the Roma Union issue and trying to claim that the Sinti are but a tribe, or even a sub-tribe, of the Roma, which is not the case. What part of the word “not” do those people not understand?

Presently, as all of us who are of the Sinti groups, are, mainly, referred to by the Roma as Gadje and even slow explanation still results in the comments from the Roma that we, those that are NOT of the Vlax Roma groups and related ones, are not Romani and hence not even proper Gypsy and hence the regard us and will call us Gadje.

I am as much a Romani as any Roma but I am not Roma. I am a Sinto. I am of the Sinti that refer to themselves often as Rom Polska (not Polska Roma, who are a different kettle of fish) and from another side of the Gitanos of Spain who also are part of the Sinti groups. The same is true for any Romanichal. He is she is also Romani, of a groups of the Sinti, whose probable original name as an entity was “Romane Chave”.

If the Roma have a problem with accepting us I want to ask the Sinti here why we should then b e prepared to be part of an organization that claims us to be a part of the Roma, which the Roma deny?

We can work with them, as, as far as I am concerned, they are fellow Romani, fellow Gypsy, but not by being forced to accept the status of a sub-tribe while the people, the Roma, deny that we are Romani and call us Gadje. Hence it is my firm belief and conviction that we must have something for the Sinti in order to be able to work with the others, even to the extent of being just a brother nation as the Austrians may be to the Germans.

The current situation, in my opinion, cannot be allowed to stand with the Sinti and others that, probably, form part of the original “Romane Chave”, including the Romanichals, being treated as second-class Gypsy, if not, as is more often than not the case, as Gadje, by the Roma in the international organizations. Therefore, the way I see it, the Sinti must do their own thing, apart from the Roma but together with them, as we are all, truly, the Romani People, while not all being the Roma.

The situation is, to a degree similar as to Romanichals in the UK and the Irish Travelers who are, again and again being referred to, the ITs that is, as Gypsies in the same breath as the Romanichals, though with Sinti groups and those of the Roma both, at least, are Romani.

There are significant cultural differences between the Sinti groups and the Roma, aside from the languages, and also significant differences in the DNA. This alone proves that we are NOT one homogeneous entity. But this is not so much the issue here as too the political things though it must be remembered.

The only way to do this in a proper way is for the Sinti groups to have their own confederation in which each group and even each clan and family down to the individual even would be represented. Such a confederation could that engage in dialog with the Roma organization(s), whether the IRU and/or others, to coordinate the work on behalf of all Romani People.

The work for the Sinti People, the Sinti Nation, however, should fall to such a Sinti Confederation.

What I am trying to present here is an idea and some food for thought to those of the Sinti especially that are disappointed and disillusioned by what has been done so far and by the fact that us Sinti are always referred to as Gadje by the Roma and that no amount of educating the Roma makes any difference in that field.

Let your voice be heard, finally, Sinteale and Romanichals, as Sinti and Romanichals, as what we are and not what some experts and those that promote the false agenda of all Romani being Roma claim that we are.

Dosta penauas! Now let's get down and do something proper.

© M Smith (Veshengro), December 2008