Gypsy Day at Bourne Hall

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Epsom, 28 June 2008: A Gypsy Day was held on Saturday, June 28, 2008, at Bourne Hall Museum, Bourne Hall, Spring Street, Ewell, KT17 1UP from 09.30 – 17.30pm, which was Epsom and Ewell's effort of honoring the national Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month.

“Find out the fascinating history, culture, food and music of these people,” said the advert on the EEBC website. “Traditional wagons will be parked on the lawn at Bourne Hall Park, where you will be able to sit around the camp fire and hear stories of the old days while you watch demonstrations of cooking and crafts like peg and flower making, or try your hand at setting up a bender tent.
There will be an exhibition on the national and local history of the Gypsies, who have so many connections with Epsom.
The Romany and Traveller Family History Society will also be present along with other researchers to help people trace their Gypsy roots.”

Well, so much for the advertisement by the Council. The reality was rather a little different, to say the least, although I got there only at about 3.30pm, and many people may have been there much earlier.

There was one small vardo parked on the green in front of Bourne Hall in the Park and an even small flatbed trailer (for a Shetland pony) next to it. Those exhibits were from the South East Romany Museum in Marden, Kent, and brought there by the Brazil Brothers.

There was no campfire proper and had not been one, it would appear but then again, fires in a public park are not a good idea. I saw nothing of a bender tent though there was a bell tent that had been set up not far from the vardo. The Brazil Brothers were not very talkative so as to stories of the old day... well, I don't know. And there was not a sign of peg making or the making of wooden flowers.

I must say that there is one thing that I object to, when I am talking to Gypsy People and I have introduced myself and identified myself as a Gypsy and that is being talked to like as if I was a Gohja, and the attempt being made to bullshit me. Tatchipen was the rule as regards Rom to Rom but, alas, that is something that seems to have gone out of the windows with the Romani in England nowadays, and some of them are about my age who talk like that.

I also wonder why some of ours believe that they have to live the image of the Gyppo; namely wear stained shirts and such to such an event, and really make every effort to look the part, the very sterotype that we should try to get rid off.

In addition to that, if someone want to proselytize people kindly do that at church or at a tent mission; do not try to do that to other Rom, and continue doing so when told that the person talked to follows a different belief, in fact the old belief of our People. Some people do object to being preached at and especially as a Rom being preached at by a Romni several decades younger than oneself.

All in all I have to say that there was more to see of real interest in the small museum in the Canon at Mitcham than there was here at this event in Ewell. While the Canons has a very small museum in the basement of the building there was, in my opinion, more to be seen there than, I am afraid to say, at this event here at Ewell.

I assume Jeremy Harte of Bourne Hall tried to do his very best but, once again, this proves that some proper Gypsy organization, and especially local Romani-Gypsy need to be involved in the organization of such an event.

All we basically had here was an exhibition by the Romany and Traveller Family History Society who, so it would appear, brought in people that they have on their open day events elsewhere.

What was missing altogether was an involvement of the Gypsies resident on sites and in houses in the Epsom and Ewell area. There are two official Gypsy Caravan Sites in the borough of Epsom & Ewell and, as far as I saw, not a single member of those sites, or those Romani that are living in houses in and around the borough were anywhere to be seen. Where were the Sparrowhawks – the scrap yard people? Where were those of that family and others who own, breed and train horses on the Downs? Entirely absent. Where were the young Romani boxers and footballers? Also nowhere to be seen.

Maybe the Epsom & Ewell Council, as well as others, such as Merton, would like to get in touch with this publication and the Gypsy Union for some suggestions as to how we can make this a real event that will really inform outsides, as much as the Gypsy themselves will permit to inform outsiders, of what a Gypsy is. For one, we, the Romani, the Gypsy, are a Race and not JUST an ethnic group and secondly one cannot become a Gypsy by wanting to live the life. Also, I have to say, talking about that one would rather live in a wooden wagon than in a house, etc., while being Romani does not make much in as far as projecting the truth over to people. We must stop pandering to the non-Romani's beliefs of how a Gypsy should look, act, and so on.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

5 July - Romani coercive sterilization survivors speak in Madrid


Roma Health Project awarded a grant to ERRC to support organizing a panel discussion on the issue of coerced sterilization of Romani women in Europe, as part of the 2008 Women's World Congress taking place in Madrid on July 3-9, 2008.
The panel will be led by Romani women who survived this racial and gender violence, and their advocates. The panelists will also produce and distribute a publication on the coerced sterilization of Romani women in Europe to raise awareness within the international women's movement of the extreme violence and harm to personal integrity experienced by Romani women forcibly sterilized, and to garner support for their continuing struggle for justice.

DATE: Saturday 5 July 2008

Who: Romani women survivors of coercive sterilisations in Central Europe and their advocates

What: Presentation on the efforts to seek redress for these human rights violations at the 10th annual Women's Worlds 2008 conference (

When: Saturday 5 July 2008 at 16:30

Where: Universidad Complente de Madrid, Room 8 M25, Edificio Multiusos I, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 – Madrid.

Why: Romani women survivors of coercive sterilisations in Central Europe and their advocates will give a presentation on their efforts to seek redress for these human rights violations at the Women's Worlds 2008 conference. The survivors are reaching out to the larger women's rights movement for solidarity and assistance in their efforts to pressure the Czech, Hungarian and Slovak governments to apologise to these victims and compensate them for these harms.

In view of the upcoming Czech Presidency of the European Union; the repeated calls for remedy from these countries by the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which will review Slovakia at the same time the congress takes place (; and calls by the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Human Rights Committee for these violations to be addressed, it is imperative that Czech, Slovak and Hungarian officials address these unresolved human rights violations and take all the necessary steps to prevent similar infringements in the future.

The presenters are available for interview as follows:

Elena Gorolová (Czech, Romanes) – Ms Gorolová is the spokesperson of the Ostrava-based Group of Women Harmed by Sterilisation and is a civil society member of the Council for Roma Community Affairs, an advisory body to the Czech government. Contact: +420 603 921 255 or

Anita Danka (Hungarian, English) – Ms. Danka is a Staff Attorney at the European Roma Rights Centre ( and has represented Ms. A.S. before the UN CEDAW Committee on behalf of ERRC in her complaint concerning her coercive sterilisation in Hungary. Contact: +36-30-303-6140 or +36-20-398-8303 (July3-10),

Gwendolyn Albert (Czech, English) – Ms. Albert is the Director of the Women's Initiatives Network of the Peacework Development Fund ( and has been assisting the Group with its advocacy efforts both inside the Czech Republic and internationally. Contact: +420 774 895 444,,

Ostalinda Maya Ovalles (Spanish, English) – Ms. Maya is the European Roma Rights Centre's Women's Rights Consultant and has been working for the advancement of the rights of Romani women. Contact: or (from 23 June) +34 627212118

For press accreditation to this event, please complete the form at:

Prosperity and health of Roma women – path towards challenges


Kumanovo, Macedonia, 19 June 2008 – The National Roma Centrum from 1 August 2007 began with implementation of the project “Prosperity and health of Roma women – path towards challenges” with support of the Roma Health Program – Budapest.

The subject of the project and the research is examination of the current condition and priority needs and problems of Roma women in their access to health protection.

Within the framework of the activities filing out questioners by Roma women was conducted. The research was realized in 4 cities in R. M.: Kumanovo, Kriva Palanka, Prilep and Bitola, in order to gain a real image about the level of inclusion of the Roma women as the most marginalized entity in this society in the public health’s agenda.

The methodology of the research was through direct communication (talks) and informing of the surveyed women about the importance of going to a doctor, free PAP tests, obligatory vaccination of children, the risk of hepatitis, asthma and other diseases in order to take appropriate measures for protection of their own health.

Part of the activities of the NRC’s informative center were connected to educating of the female Roma population in these cities, lectures were organized twice a month by expert medical persons for groups composed of 15-20 women. The women had the opportunity to get free legal advice mostly for securing their civil status, services for health protection, health insurance, managing family relations.

Health is a condition of complete physical, mental and social welfare and not just absence of illness or weakness. With raising this issue in public for health protection and condition of the women, with exposing the problems in public, further strategic actions can contribute for towards: 1. understanding and acceptance of this issue by the public and 2. promoting of the access of Roma women to public health services.

The National Roma Centrum calls on all relevant institutions and facilities to support the implementation of the following activities:

Decreasing of differences in order to provide quality health protection of various socio-economic groups. In order to provide a sustainable mechanism for quality health protection for socially endangered families on the principles of equal approach and social solidarity.

The health system and the local self government to stimulate securing of availability of public health institutions in enviorments where Roma population is dominative and have difficulties towards accessing health facilities, with which equal approach will be provided to health protection. To improve or build infrastructure in the Roma settlements.

Revidentation of a positive list of essential medication and medical aids included in the elementary package of health services, especially medication which are being used for treatment of asthma

To implement a multi sector approach: education of the Roma female population and preventive protection.

Social mobilization of the local community in promoting of reproductive health of Roma women and support from the Government for financing of preventive programs. To provide means for continuing of the Program for early detection of malignant neoplasms of the women’s reproductive organs, to provide free examinations for all women at the ages from 19-65, including the Roma female population who are under a social risk to make a PAP test for early discovering of a malignant neoplasm of the uterus of the womb.

Strenghtening of the cooperation and communication, on a local and national levels, between the health sector and Roma civil organizations in promoting and conducting of educational health preventive programs through providing of easily accessible, understandable and precise information about preventive protection through direct work for the Roma female population.

Data have been provided to all present medias and also to those who showed interest for the analyze.

National Roma Centrum
Address:”Done Bozinov 11/5,1300 Kumanovo, Macedonia
Phone/fax:+389 31 427 558
email: info[at]nationalromacentrum[dot]org

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It has begun! Compulsory fingerprinting of ALL Gypsy children In Italy!

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While, officially, this is to include all Gypsies living in the camps, whether they are “illegal” immigrants (how pray can they be illegal immigrant when both Romani and Bulgaria are in the EU?) or Roma and Sinti with Italian nationality and citizenship, the primary aim is to fingerprint all Romani children.

While the Italian government proposal to fingerprint all the country's Gypsies, including children, has drawn stern criticism from members of the Catholic Church and from the opposition, this, like always, is nothing but rhetoric.

Gypsy children whose parents keep them out of school and send them to beg on the streets would be taken into care, under plans announced by the Interior Minister Roberto Maroni.

Here we can see the aim of this fingerprinting – and I assume we also will have their photos taken, much like in Nazi Germany in the 1930's – and that is so the children can be manipulated. This means either send you children to government schools or lose them. In the same way as the voluntary integration (for integration read assimilation please) scheme in France which is so voluntary that Gypsy families who do not wish to take part will have their children taken into “care” by the state. And all this in the European Union which claims to be so great for the minorities like the Romani People, the Gypsy, my People.

Maroni said the planned 'census' of Gypsies is not 'ethnic profiling' but aimed ensuring decent living conditions for all individuals who have the right to residency in Italy and expelling those who are here illegally and he added, while addressing the lower house of Parliament's constitutional affairs committee, “does living among rats as Gypsy children do in their camps respect their rights? As Italian citizens , we should be ashamed about this situation, which should not be allowed to continue.”

Therefore we must take those children into state care so that the families conform and go and live in those flats in those high-rise blocks that we will allocated to them. The latter is my sarcastic addition, as you may have noticed, but, methinks, this is the pattern of thought that is in the minds of those fascist politicians in the Italian parliament.

Under Maroni's plans, the fingerprinting of Gypsies would be overseen by special Gypsy commissioners appointed in Italy's major cities since the conservative government took office last month.

Now what a surprise; he has even organized Gypsy capos already. Are those drawn from the Gypsy community; if so then shame on them and outcast they shall be. If they are Gadje, well, then, I am sure, many will know what to do with them as well.

When is Italy going to institute the compulsory wearing of the Brown Triangle for the Romani in that country (again) so as to ensure that everyone knows that that person is a Gypsy and therefore, maybe, should be avoided. Maybe just schools for Gypsy children need to be set up as well, and everything else segregated. Park benches with “Only for Gypsies” or “Not for Gypsies” must also be instituted.

I am sure there are a couple of architects of the South African Apartheid still alive that could assist Berlusconi and his ilk his jackbooted Carabineri thugs.

Of the 150,000 Roma Gypsies who live in Italy, about 70,000 have Italian citizenship. Many Roma Gypsies come from Romania and those are citizen of another EU member state and therefore also have the right to be in the country, theoretically. It would appear, however, as if Duce II is just changing the goal post and may be even prepared to remove citizenship from those Italian Gypsy that currently have it.

Welcome to Italy 2008, a rerun of the 1930's, only with modern methods.

While presently this is confined, to some degree, to Italy though with some refugee Gypsy arriving in Austria already, I doubt that it will remain contained there. In fact I am rather concerned that this is just the beginning of a repeat of the 1930's and the wholesale persecution of the Gypsy People in the European Union by government decree.

One is rather overcome by a sense of deja vu on hearing such happenings, and the EU and its commissioners are full of rhetorics and that is all. A country of the European Union, a founding member of it, in fact, when it began as the European Economic Community, is repeating the 1930's and the rest of Europe and the world remain silent; far more concerned with the happening in Rhodesia than in the EU.

Oh, did I say, Rhodesia? I guess I must have...

Time we, the Romani, woke up to the fact that no one is going to do anything beneficial for the Gypsy. We will have to do it for ourselves, and so we should. First and foremost we must wake up and we must be prepared to stand up to this and fight it.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month at the Canons

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Merton Heritage Center in the Canons at Mitcham Green has been running an exhibition entitles “Celebrating Gypsy Traveller Culture and Traditions” from the 4th to the 28th of June 2008, and unfortunately it was only on June 25 that I was actually able to get there.

Was the trip worth it? The answer to this must be a yes and a no. The no simply because the museum is way too tiny to do justice to an exhibition about the Romani in the Mitcham area of London, let alone of much further afield. Obviously there was a yes in my answer and from that point, considering that it is such a tiny venue the exhibition is well laid out and tries to present a lot of things to the visitor. What it could have done with though is a booklet with some pictures and a good deal of information for visitors to take away with them. Maybe for the next time the Gypsy Union and Tatchipen Media could be asked to get involved and we could indeed produce a small booklet that could go, free, or against a donation, to visitors. In addition to that it would also be nice to be able to let visitors take home say a small clothes peg as used to be made and the making of which was also shown in one of the exhibits. The problem is with the peg that was on show: my grandfather would have killed us had we produced something like that. It looked like basically two “boards” having been clamped together in the tin sleeve and then the “beak” carved out.

Having said that, the exhibition, as I indicated, was interesting and was dealing, as it should, basically and primarily with the Romani-Gypsy only, as Mitcham Common was an old stopping place for the Romani in England.

A great number of the photos on display were taken by Simon Evans many years who, due to his attitude, was always welcome amongst the Romani, which presented a great insight into Romani life in England.

What must be done though, maybe in the years to come for this month of Gypsy History is – one – for bona-fide Romani organizations to do it, and I mean bona-fide Romani ones, and – two – for the months to be exclusively for the Romani-Gypsy People only, even if that would mean that it is, as it has always been advocated, for years now already by this writer, organized and funded and operated by us, the Romani only. When this is done we must also and especially include information, including pictures, stories, etc., on the Rom in this country who now live settled, which is the great majority, whether they live on permanent sites in trailers or chalets or in bricks and mortar houses.

Also included must be the jobs that are done today, including the “ordinary” jobs in “mainstream” employment, whether those that are Gypsy Liaison Officers, those that are cops, or whatever. The majority of Romani in this country are no longer travelling and many their neighbors would not even know that they are Romani.

Others, while still known to be Romani by others, and especially those that know the names, have build up great businesses for themselves, like the Sparrowhawk family in Surrey, which must the greatest number of scrap metal yards and are deeply in the recycling business.

There are also those that have the great fruit and vegetable empires, so to speak, on the various South London markets, such as the Kent and the Barnes families.

It is a great shame to see that other local authorities whose areas have a long standing connection with the Gypsy People, such as the area of Epsom and Surrey County as a whole, could not be bothered to do anything at all as regards this month.

As far as I am concerned we must do things for ourselves also in this respect. Ourselves Alone!

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

'Gypsy' show by Vivienne Westwood severely criticised

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The British designer Vivienne Westwood has has come under fire and caused lots of controversy by using Roma Gypsies as catwalk models, complete with gold teeth and enormous medallions.

A member of the Milan council criticised the show, saying that she has a "romantic" image of the Roma that "no longer corresponds to reality".

The truth must be said that this “romantic” image never corresponded to reality, whether now or centuries ago. There never was anything romantic in being hounded from village to village and town to town just for being Gypsy.

The models, dressed as "rough, stylish and hardened" Roma, were part of Ms Westwood's show's theme of "tolerance".

Here Ms Westwood must have had a rather bad dream. One cannot but condemn her stupidity in this stunt staging such an event in a misguided attempt to better the image of the Roma in Italy.

The ones that also must be condemned, under Romani Rules, are those Roma that paraded about the catwalk in boxer shorts, that is to say, in underwear, in a way that goes against all true Romanipen.

Council member Tiziano Maiolo said "I think the designer has a romantic notion about Gypsies that is one hundred years out of date.

"If she wants, I will take her on a tour of the nomad camps.

"These people do not want to work, they live by thieving and they have no respect for the law.

"I worked in the gypsy camps around Milan and believe there is no chance for integration while the men play cards and the women and children steal and beg.

It is sad to say that this person is, unfortunately, correct in what he says. The E. European Roma are exactly like that, regardless where they are – whether in Romania or Bulgaria, or such, or in the West. The men sit and drink and play cards while the women and children are out begging or stealing or scavenging.

I have seen this many times myself in regards to the (Eastern European) Roma. All the men do is play cards and drink and smoke while the women and children are sent to beg and to steal and/or scavenge on the rubbish tips.

The behavior of those Roma men, those Rom, that allowed themselves to be used by the designer Vivienne Westwood and were parading about in the kind of attire that they were wearing, shows also, if any more proof would be needed, the difference between the Sinti and others of that group, and the Roma. No one of the Sinti Nations would dare to parade about, in public and in front of women, as those Roma men have done. The picture, I think, speaks for itself.

Over the last couple of weeks Italians have launched a series of xenophobic attacks against immigrants in recent months, who they blame for much of the crime in the country, and a class of Naples primary school children shocked Europe recently by submitting homework backing the burning of gypsy camps.

One child wrote that "the gypsies steal children to transplant their organs," while another stated that "We are not racist, but if they want to stay they have to stop stealing" and yet others entirely agreed with them having had their camps burned down and being driven out of the country. Some primary school children even stated that it did not matter if they would be killed as they are only “parasites”.

If we hear this, yet again, from children, we must get very concerned indeed as to what is going on in Italy, and, for that matter, elsewhere in the European Union.

Considering that no one as much as is willing to lift a finger against the goings on in Italy we, as Romani-Gypsy, can but wonder as to what is being put together there. This all reminds me of Hitler's Germany but then again, we must not forget that Fascism was born in Italy.

Can you not all see the writing on the wall. I have been able to see it for a long time already. The EU is not the next best thing to sliced bread to the Rom; the opposite is the truth rather, it is a danger to us.

Where are the EU based Roma(ni) organizations, such as the ERTF? Their silence, once again, speaks volumes and is rather deafening.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

More travellers sites on the cards

OFFICIAL small scale sites for travellers could be set up in the Suffolk Coastal area.

There have been travellers occupying mainly forestry land for nearly 20 years in the Woodbridge area and now they could be given their own camps.

However, Suffolk Coastal District Council stressed that the provision of sites was not the most urgent requirement of its homelessness strategy and officers have not met with travellers to discuss their needs.

Under the Housing Act 2004 the council has to include gypsies and travellers when assessing housing provision.

The council says there has never been a significant traditional gypsy population, either migratory or fixed. But New Age Travellers have become established since the late 1980s.

They often occupy sites at Hollesley and near the Woodbridge airfield. They are usually hidden away among trees but recently there have been illegal camps set up on Suffolk Coastal land at Sutton Heath, adjacent to popular footpaths, which angered the public.

Suffolk Coastal's cabinet meets on June 17 and will discuss the issue.

Chris Slemmings, cabinet member for housing, said the Government insisted that the homelessness strategy had to address the needs of gypsies and travellers and the council planned to meet three different groups of travellers in the area.

Cllr Slemmings said: ''However, those talks have not yet occurred, nor have we yet looked at possible locations for official camps as it is not a top priority of the homelessness strategy.''

He added the council's main efforts were focused upon the prevention of homelessness.

The population is forecast to rise in Suffolk Coastal by 17.5% in 20 years and the district currently has an above average number of people aged over 45.

More than 75% of the housing stock is owner occupied. The highest percentage of rented homes is in the Felixstowe area.

The rate of unemployment has dropped in 10 years from 5.5% to 1.3% but there has been a trend of people aged 16 to 24 moving away from the area for higher education and to find better paid jobs.


Dale Farm – UK's largest Gypsy Township?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

If you tell a lie often enough people may believe it seems to be the attitude of various people who insist on calling Dale Farm, in Basildon, Essex (UK), the UK's largest Gypsy township. However, thousands of times over saying it will not make this illegal camp of Irish Travellers into a Gypsy settlement or even township.

Irish Travellers are not Romani and therefore are not Gypsy, as it is or at least was understood in the ruling of the Law Lords. That is the reason why the “Caravan Sites Act” referred to “Gypsies and other Travellers” and was not calling all Gypsies. The Irish Travellers are Travellers but not Gypsy, as they are not Romani, and they cannot be made into Ro mani how ever hard some people may like to try. Even the fact that the Roma(ni) Union basically made them sign themselves into the IRU as “RoMA2 still does not make them Romani or Roma. I do assume, however, that this is rather difficult to understand by some people.

Why the Gypsy Council wants all Gypsies of the UK to unite and then cities to start with this trash about the Dale Farm illegal Irish Traveller camp can only be a mystery.

Gypsy, according to the real and true understanding, are, also according to the old Oxford dictionary, the Romany, of a travelling Race, originally from (Northern) India. It makes no mention of Irish Travellers and especially not of the kind that is illegally encamped in on that location in the Basildon area of Essex.

Those are but pretenders even as far as Irish Travellers are concerned as they are not thos that are of the real Travellers of Ireland but the offspring of those that came to the UK to make use of the welfare state just after WWII. When are the likes of those that are championing their cause are going to understand and admit that. What political mileage are they getting out of this and what financial mileage?

Some of them were jailed in Eire because of their political work for the Irish travellers and they came over into the UK in pursuance of the continuation of this “work” and also, for that reason, never having any real concern for the “real” Gypsy, set up organizations in Britain supposedly for Gypsies but in truth all that was for was for the Irish that cause the Romani, the Gypsy, so much problems. Were it not for the behavior of the Irish Travellers, of the hinditi-meskere, the Romani in the UK would not have been faced with the problems and hostility that we have been faced with ever since around the 1950's.

We want somewhere to live and settle, say the residents at that illegal Irish Traveller camp called “Dale Farm”. So, no problem with that. Get a house or an apartment, rent or buy, you choice. They have been house dwellers before anyway, the great majority of them. Now they, probably, claim “Gypsy Culture” and such like and therefore they could not go and live in a house. The truth is that all they know is scam jobs blacktopping an such and you are not very welcome in a housing estate with tarmac trucks and such.

When it comes to the problems caused by the Irish Travellers to the Gypsy, the Romani, those are now go even beyond the borders of the UK and have reached the European mainland and their behavior is now making it nigh impossible for Sinti and Manouche to go “ap i reisa” in Germany, France, etc. and even the Romani in Norway and Sweden are having problems because of the way Irish Travellers have behaved in those countries.

I shall keep on pointing out the fact that I am pointing out here whether or not some people would like to threaten me and this publication.

We also know why some people kept attacking the background and former affiliations of the late Tom Odley (of blessed memory); it was because he knew of the background of some people that make themselves so big and important in the Gypsy Industry in the UK and elsewhere.

Obviously, some people do not like the truth and Tatchipen is something that they are more afraid of than anything else, it would seem. One can but wonder why. They then to use character assassination in order to make other people look bad, those people that know who and what they really are.

Dosta penauas me djinau.

Remember! Gypsy equals Romani and not simple “people of a travelling lifestyle”. The Gypsy People are a Race, a Race apart. Our People best remember that too.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Roma Exodus from Italy

Italian Kalderash Roma crossing border into Austria fleeing pogroms

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Reports from Austria, such as from Tirol, suggest that large numbers of Kalderah Roma of Italian nationality are fleeing into Austria. They are being driving from the country of their birth by fascist thugs and by government degree nearly.

The Italian government, so reports suggest, has placed the Roma camps around Naples and Rome (and elsewhere?) under a State of Emergency, giving the security services and the governments, municipal and local complete control over the areas and sweeping powers.

Is this the Europe 2008 and of freedom and democracy or are have we, accidentally, entered a time warp and have ended up in the fascist 1938?

While it is indeed the year 2008 one could well believe that one be back in the times of Hitler and Mussolini. The European Union stands idly by while one of its member states expels citizens from another EU member state wholesale for no other reason than their ethnicity. In Bosnia and Kosovo they called that ethnic cleansing when it was, supposedly, done to the Muslims. Not than anyone even mentioned the displaced Romani-Gypsy on the Balkans, ethnically cleansed from their Mahalas in Kosovo by Kosovo-Albanian Muslim thugs, but then again... it was those that claimed to being ethnically cleansed.

When I basically, some years back, predicted this as going to be happening sooner or later, because I was able, then already, to see the writing on the wall, I was laughed at and this notion was considered by many an impossibility in the free and democratic European Union.

Now we are seeing the true face of the EU and that it is either entirely unable to do anything against this happening, whether in Italy or elsewhere, or, and this is what it really appears to me, a Gypsy, that they are entirely unwilling to do something to help the Romani People, despite their rhetoric to how they want to help the Roma(ni) and all that jazz.

What I can see here as well is now why they want every Gypsy, every Rom, to accept the term Roma, or just simply by them to be called Roma: They can lump all of us then together as “Roma” and do what they like then. Same why everyone in Britain is now called Gypsy, but one is only ethnically a Gypsy now, according to the laws in many areas, if one actually still travels; thereby all those Romani that have settled, either on Gypsy Caravan Sites, official or private, or in houses, are no longer, under those laws, considered “ethnic Gypsy”. Wait till they play a similar joke with the title of “Roma”.

Is there something afoot to ethnically cleanse all “Roma” out of Europe? Things seem to point into that direction for we can see that, when it comes to the Gypsy in the European Union to who this is happening, as we can see now in Italy, and now even Roma of Italian nationality are being hunted down and driven out, nothing is being done against it by neither the EU nor the UN.

The question too awful to contemplate and ask, but asking it one must and this is, whether Italy may in fact be the “stalking horse” for more of this to come for Gypsies throughout the European Union. One can but hope and pray that this is not the case.

However, the way things look this is what it is.

So, therefore, aside from praying that this may not be something that will soon sweep across the European Union, maybe it would be a good idea if we would prepare to fight it as well.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

English Romanies live in fear

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Romani-Gypsy families living in Southend, Essex, are hiding their identity for fear of abuse, according to a Tory councillor.

Blaine Robin, who represents the Kursaal Ward of the this Essex town, spoke out as June is “Roma Gypsy Traveller History Month”. The month which aims to celebrate the culture and history of the Romany people.

Mr Robin said that she has met a few families of Romany Gypsy heritage living in the Kursaal ward and that those she met afforded her rich, deep and meaningful insights into their heritage.

They do, however, so Councillor Robin, conceal their identity for fear of abuse by wider society.

I must say that, as they are in Essex ,I do not blame them seeing the situation in Crays Hill, the illegal Irish Traveller “village” - called dale Farm - that some have, purposely falsely, called “the biggest Gypsy settlement in Europe”, has caused and, unfortunately, the majority of the population, bar the older ones who know the difference, equate Romani with Traveller and that immediately with the problems caused by the Irish house dwellers masquerading as Travellers.

"Education is the key to raising awareness about what contribution this ethnic group has made to our society," said Councillor Blaine Robin.

Such education also must not be afraid to call a spade a spade and once and for all make the true point that Gypsy are Romany (Romani) and that the Irish Travellers are often, especially those “new” ones in places such as Dale Farm, are not even Travellers proper and definitely not Gypsy.

While we can but applaude that finally a History Month for the Romani has been created, something that this writer, as well as the International Romani Guild, the Romani Institute and the Gypsy Union, have been campaigning for – only no one wanted to know – even members of the Romani People did not – the way it has been created to represent more that one of the groups is entirely false and yet again intended to create the impression, at least in the eyes of the outsiders, that all “Travellers” are one Culture, which is not the case. For Britain the use of Roma, meant, I am sure, to replace Romani/Romanichal is also incorrect as the Romanichal are Sinti and NOT Roma. The month should have been the Romani History Month and should have excluded those not of Romani heritage. While that would have included the Roma who have arrived on these shores in the last decades of the last century only, really, it would have, at least excluded, as it should, other “Travellers” and here especially the Irish who are not of the Romani Race.

Period! Dosta!

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Hate Crimes - The Italian way to create security?

The recently redeemed Italian government of Romano Prodi passed earlier this year an emergency decree that
- allows the deportation of migrants from other EU countries
- limiting procedural safeguards of deportations and
- introducing administrative detention for European citizens if they are considered a threat to public safety

The decree was issued after the alleged murder of an Italian woman by a Romanian of Roma origin. Mr. Frattini, ex Commissioner for Justice and Civil Liberties at the European Union declared: "What has to be done is simple. Go into a nomad camp in Rome for example, and ask them: 'Can you tell me where you live?' If they say they do not know, take them and send them home to Romania. This is how the European directive works. It is simple and safe. Romania cannot say they will not take them back, because it is an obligation that is part of being a member state of the EU".

On 13th April 2008 Silvio Berlusconi swept back to power for the third time, after the Italian general election gave him and his centre-right allies an overwhelming lead in the Senate as well as in the Chamber of Deputies. Immediately after his election victory he already warned Italians of tough times ahead and announced more hard-line policies and practices towards immigrants to combat associated crimes.

Yesterday, Thursday 15th May, the Italian police proudly broadcasted that they arrested nearly 400 people in a successful crack down on 'illegal immigration' throughout the whole country. This 'cleaning action' in mostly migrant shantytowns in major urban areas across the country can be seen as consequential result of Italia's backslide into the far right in its government. The main focus of Italian concern about immigrant crime lies with the Roma, general known as "nomads".
Mr. Berlusconi's party, The People of Freedom (Il Popolo della Libertà) party, promotes on their campaign homepage that they would empty illegal camps, and remove nomads who have no legal residence or means of subsistence.

During the 'anti-immigration' operation of the Italian police in 15 regions, from North-Italy to Naples, 383 persons were arrested, 268 of it were foreigners. 177 persons are accused of thievery, 111 are accused of illegal immigration, 92 are accused of drug trafficking and 3 are accused of prostitution. 53 of the arrested persons were deported immediately and 65 of them were transported to detention camps.

"The anti-immigrant sweep was a positive thing because that's what people want," said Umberto Bossi, the minister of institutional reforms and federalism. "People ask us for safety, and we must give it to them."

In Naples Roma camps had to be evacuated, because mobs of local people started to attack the camps after a 16-year-old Roma girl was accused of trying to kidnap a baby. From 14th to 15th May local vigilantes burned a Roma camp near Naples to the ground. It was the sad result of this week's constant assault of Roma camps around Naples, mostly by youths on scooters and motorbikes using iron bars and throwing Molotov cocktails.

These massive assaults against Roma people don't accrue coincidently, but are the devastating result of hate speeches of politicians, xenophobic media coverage and authorities and discriminative laws that are stigmatising an entire ethnic minority. For example Milan introduced a special commissary for the Roma issue creating the basis for a pogrom against the Roma and migrant communities in Italy - Rome and Naples aim to follow up on this policy. These alarming developments even activated the Council of Europe and Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights, came to the conclusion:

"The decision to institutionalise a body like the national commissary to control the Roma emergency is based on prejudices and it propagate these prejudices."

Source: UNITED

British Secretary of State for Justice sacks only Romani magistrate for criticizing Police

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Jack Straw, the Secretary of State for Justice (now there is a joke), has sacked a magistrate, the only (probably) Romani magistrate (judge) in the entire country, for daring to criticize the police for failing to protect her daughter from being physically assaulted at school.

Mr Straw, the Secretary of State for Justice, has written to the magistrate saying that while he understands a mother's desire to help her daughter, her criticism of the police means she can no longer be trusted to be impartial in court.

This while other magistrates and judges do, often publicly, criticize the police without any repercussions. Nor should there ever be any repercussions for doing this for this is the job of the judiciary if and when this is necessary. Dismissing a magistrates just because he or she criticized the police for failing to do their duty in unacceptable, regardless of which ethnicity this judge should be. To further imply that, having criticized the police the magistrate could no longer serve on the bench because she could no longer be trusted to be impartial in court when the police is concerned.

"We have concluded that, although you acted with the best interests of your daughter, your behaviour has led to your impartiality being brought into question,” Jack Straw writes in the letter. “It is clear that by mentioning you were a magistrate and then criticising the police, the two issues became linked and therefore there is doubt whether you would be able to consider matters involving the police impartially.”

This is not just outrages, it smacks of British Justice becoming a mockery and a lackey to the State – once again.

Shay Clipson, 50, a magistrate from Grimsby, Humberside, who is believed to, probably, be the only Romany magistrate on the bench in England and Wales, had asked police to help protect her 13-year-old daughter from a gang that had been bullying her in and out of school.

She claims her daughter had been subjected to beatings, racially abused, spat on, had cigarettes stubbed out in her hair, and had been thrown into the traffic on a very busy road.

Ms Clipson said that on September 20, 2007, her daughter had been told by a key member of this particular gang that she was going to be subject to a beating, possibly during the lunch break, failing that definitely on her way home. Neither the headteacher nor the head of year would make themselves available to speak to to Ms Clipson, the mother. She then told the school that in that case she would have to involve the police."

But, she said, the local police made it clear that they would not intervene. When Ms Clipson complained about the officers' alleged inaction, the police reported her behaviour to the local bench committee and then to Mr Straw, who upheld her dismissal.

Police were later forced to investigate when her daughter was badly assaulted by a family member of the same gang. In a separate incident, recorded on mobile phones and uploaded to YouTube, Ms Clipson's daughter was kicked unconscious on the school playing field.

But Mr Straw, in a joint ruling with the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, found that by raising the fact that she was a member of the local magistracy, Ms Clipson cannot be trusted to do her job any longer with impartiality, especially as far as issues with the police are concerned.

This is absolutely ludicrous, and I am sure that the likes of the police officers in Grimsby, like a certain Detective Chief Superintendent, as well as the Secretary of State of Justice, and the Chief Lord Justice, are well aware of that. Especially in light of the fact that other magistrates and judges freely, as they should be able to, criticize the police as and when necessary and no one had a problem; then, nor should they have a problem with that.

David Howarth, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on justice, said: "Mr Straw's action is shameful and very heavy-handed ... Why can't a magistrate criticise the police? ... The police should not be able to end the career of a magistrate just because they don't like being criticised."

Ms Clipson said she feels let down by the system. "I was acting as a mother who had good reason to be both furious and to question the lack of competence and ethics that were being displayed. Not only was my child terrified for her safety, this campaign of terror was based on racism, mainly her Welsh accent, and possibly her Romany background, yet the police were not doing enough to support her."

The main reason, as can be seen from the case proper, is the ethnic background of the family, the child and the magistrate, Ms Shay Clipson. The police is institutionally racist, as was found with reference to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry (though there may have been reasons as to why the inquiry by the Metropolitan Police was in fact conducted the way it was), and they are most racist as far as Romani-Gypsies and Travellers are concerned.

In my very presence, when dealing with police on various matters, despite the fact that they are aware of my ethnicity as a Romani, they will use words like Pikey, Gyppo, and such, though not directed towards me but when they are talking about members of the Romani-Gypsy community and the Traveller community.

Therefore one can but surmise that the reason the police had chips on their shoulders when told by Shay Clipson that, when the police told her that they could do nothing in this case, and she told her that she knew different and that they could act according to the information from the “Bench Book” and she told them that she knew because she is a magistrate, they, the police, did not like being told thus by a mere Gypsy woman.

Where is this country coming to, and, as far as we Gypsy are concerned not this country alone, but the rest of the European Union?

Is this a taste to come for Gypsies in Britain, yet again that, if they are in good positions and they have a run in with the likes of those police officers and they know better than the officers and mention this that they will end up in trouble. We must remember that we once had a fine police force, though they mostly have had a problem with Gypsies, but after the 60's the police in this country, in the main, has become a joke, and has been riddled with corruption, Lodge involvement – their own Lodges even – and other underhand dealings. This was never cleared up and officers who “blew the whistle” found themselves on spurious charged and set up.

I rest my case...

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Pogroms and Expulsions of Rom in Italy

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Italian Premier Berlusconi announces “war” on all those that “frighten the Italian people” - do they frighten easily? He promises to be tough on those who make his people afraid. Poor Italians being afraid of things so easily.

However, all joking aside, it would appear as if, with the fires stoked by Berlusconi via his media outlets, Italy may be succumbing to a wave of racism and xenophobia under its new center-right government determined to stamp out encampments of Roma migrants, better known as Gypsies, and to stop the influx of illegal migrants.

Silvio Berlusconi, who won a sweeping election victory in May 2008, put together a coalition with the anti-immigrant Northern League and the so-called post-Fascist Alleanza Nazionale.

They agree with Berlusconi's slogan: "Italians have the right not to live in fear", which can only be interpreted to mean "targeting those who make Italians afraid."

The Roma, and Gypsies in general, appear to make Italians afraid but afraid of what? Yes, many of the Roma from the former Yugoslavia and now the new Roma arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria, may be illegal immigrants, though in the case of those from Romania and Bulgaria this is, theoretically not true as they are from and EU member state, but the great majority, so it would appear, of them in fact work in rather menial jobs; jobs which, more than likely, most Italians are “afraid” to do.

Berlusconi has announced a crackdown on illegal immigration and street crime.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, deputy leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League, said that the government was responding to the concern of Italians over immigration and personal security. He said that the government condemned vigilante attacks on immigrants, including arson attacks on Gypsy camps. Ands while they condemn the attacks verbally their own security forces were standing idle by while the attacks on the Gypsy camps took place, if they not, in fast, as sources report, were actually actively assisting in the attacks.

EU and UN powerless? Or are they not willing to act, as it is only Gypsies?

I have heard many Romani the world over ask why the European Union and the United Nations are not doing anything to help the Gypsies who have been attacked and to prevent this from happening again. Indeed a very good question. The answer it probably that, as it is only Gypsies they could not be bothered except making a few statements.

When we, the Rom, finally learn that all those bodies only talk, talk, and talk, but will NEVER do anything as far as the Gypsy are concerned then, maybe then, we will actually be able to get somewhere.

How long, however, and especially what, will it take before Sinti, Roma, Cale, will wake up to this fact? Until the first roundups? Oh, wait a minute, they are happening as we speak. Until the first concentration camps for Gypsies on the soil of EU member states? Oops, they also are under construction. Or until the first actual transports to such new concentration camps?

Bar lots of verbal, if that, both the EU and the UN will do absolutely nothing for we are neither Jews nor Kosovo Albanians, nor Muslims per se.

The EU and UN will, as I said, just talk to the likes of Berlusconi, the latter who recently gave the Italian fascist salute on a balcony when addressing a crowd. Duce II seems to have arrived, only this one is of much tougher stuff, as far as Gypsies are concerned, as was Duce I, old Mussolini, like they talk to Mugabe, and they will be ignored. All that talk, in the first place, is not meant to achieve anything; it is but window dressing; it is but make-believe, and illusion, so that the world gets lulled into believing that the EU and the UN actually do something for the poor Gypsies in Italy and elsewhere. The truth is that they have not intention even to do something against an EU member state on this matter. Also, and you can bet your bottom dollar on that one, Italy would claim interference in internal political issues.

On June 6, 2008 in Rome a Roma Gypsy camp that houses 120 people, including 40 children, was being dismantled by Italian authorities.

A resident, a Gypsy woman who migrated from the former Yugoslavia 20 years ago. "Where are we supposed to go?" she asked. "They say we are all thieves, but I work as a cleaner." Her home was described in a news report with reference to the camp and its imminent destruction as equipped with cupboards, a sink and a stove, "neat and well kept, in contrast to the dusty squalor outside."

Her husband said: "This government is stoking up fear. Most people in this camp are refugees from the Balkans. We are used as scapegoats when what we need are jobs, housing, and status."

Gypsies are always used as scapegoats. This is the same in Italy as elsewhere, and especially in times where the Jews cannot – as yet – be added to the scapegoat pile. The Gypsy will, therefore, have to do, and that is why they will hit the Gypsy double hard for the moment.

About 40 caravans and tents were being dismantled near the capital's Tiber river in the neighbourhood of Testaccio despite protests from the residents.

Many of the inhabitants of the camp had reportedly been transferred from a camp in the area of Saxa Rubra, also previously dismantled.

"This eviction is particularly scandalous because the people concerned are Italian citizens. They are Kalderash Roma who used to live in the Campo Boario with the city government's approval," said Isabella Clough-Marinaro, a sociologist and Roma expert from the American University of Rome.

As we, can, therefore, see, this is not just an action against illegal immigrants and some criminal elements amongst the Roma, but the actions have now been widened to include Roma with Italian citizenship.

Tell me again that it is not just anti-Gypsy actions by a fascist government, the government of a European Union member state, targeting all those of Romani origin, a nation-wide ethnic cleansing. Maybe Italy should be suspended from the EU for its scandalous behaviour in the same way as Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth. Or is this the overture to something that is going to happen in other EU member states against Gypsies soon as well?

So, what are we, the Romani People, are going to do about this? Oh, I know what some will suggest... pretend to be Italians or Greece or Spanish, like so many Sinti in Germany pretend to and try to hide under such guises. We are Gypsy and we should be proud of it and fight this. Yes, I do say “fight it”. What is needed is action, maybe, direct action, even.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008



We - individuals and members of various citizen groups all across Europe - condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the recent failure of Italian authorities to protect our fellow citizens and residents of the European Union, and to continue to perpetrate an atmosphere of xenophobia through inflammatory political comments and aggressive police actions targeting migrants. We refer to the shocking violent incidents of the past week in Naples (Ponticelli), in which hundreds of Romanian (European Union) citizens of Romani origin - women and young children amongst them - have been forced to flee for fear of their life as their homes were destroyed, and others deported forcibly by Italian police (see links below for further details). This appears to be part of cyclical pattern whereby one Romani individual is accused of a crime and then the entire community is targeted for violent retribution. For example, in November 2007, a Romanian man allegedly of Romani origin was accused of murder. At around the same time in Italy, a young woman (a British national, Meredith Kercher) was also murdered, and an American woman was implicated in the case. However, Italians did not rise up in violence against all Americans in Italy. They did not burn down the homes of American inhabitants. They viewed the murder suspect as an individual American, and did not view her as representing the whole nation.

The recent actions targeting Romani Europeans remind us of pre-Holocaust policies visible in Europe in the 1930s, activities and actions in which the far-right government of Italy under Mussolini was responsible for systematically singling out Italian citizens of Jewish and Romani/Sinti origin. The same genocidal policies were witnessed in Germany, Austria, Croatia, and other states in which fascistic politics became acceptable to the mass of the populations of these states, many of whom stood by and watched their fellow humans being rounded up and taken to camps. Influenced by the xenophobic comments of the Berlusconi government, close to 70% of Italians surveyed in an informal poll last week wished to expel Roma from the country: once again, the seeds of another Holocaust are being sown in Europe.

We, the citizens and residents of Europe, are outraged at the silence with which our 'humanist' European politicians and intellectuals have responded once again to pogroms in Europe directed at the Romani communities, this time in the 'democratic' state of Italy, ironically one of the original founding members of the European Community.

In this regard, we would like to emphasize the commendable statements of the Spanish deputy premier, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega as a counter example to that of the relative silence on the part of other European governments: "The government [of Spain] rejects violence, racism and xenophobia and does not support what is happening in Italy... [we] do not support the policy of expulsions without respect for the law and rights, or actions which exalt violence, racism and xenophobia."
Europe has come a long way from the Middle Ages to overcome the scourge of its anti-Semitism; similarly, European leadership is needed in this critical hour to overcome centuries of deeply corrosive anti-Gypsyism on this continent.

We therefore call upon the responsible EUROPEAN UNION bodies and the EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT to take immediate and concrete action in the following manner:

A) Political Censure of the current Italian government - an Open and Strong Declaration by the European Parliament and European Union that the violence directed at the Romani communities is unacceptable and that the current administration has failed to provide adequate protection to fellow European Union citizens and residents. The level of protection provided to the Romani communities should be equal to that as currently provided to the Jewish minorities of Italy: both suffered under the fascist regime in the past and both are once again vulnerable today. Romani communities must be ensured that they will not face scapegoating and ethnic cleansing as the Italian authorities have allowed in recent times. Survivors of the Holocaust and their descendants must - like all human beings - never again be subjected to genocidal practices in Europe.

B) Creation of a CRISIS AND MONITORING COMMITTEE for the on-going violence directed at vulnerable immigrant and migrant communities in Italy - in particular, the Romani communities. This committee could be set up under the auspices of the European Parliament, and should consist of representatives entrusted by the Romani community amongst its members. This European Crisis Committee should be tasked not only with the monitoring of developing events on the ground, but also to report back on how the Italian government is conducting its investigations - into the recent crimes by vigilante mobs of burning down the homes of Romani residents - with impartiality and objectivity. Furthermore, the committee should make its recommendations on how to improve the situation in the medium and long-term so that social inclusion of excluded migrant and immigrant groups becomes a top priority of the Italian state at the local (commune) as well as regional and national levels. An objective assessment of the results of these social inclusion policies should be made transparent.

Ultimately, this petition is a global appeal to the European powers to take responsibility for xenophobic actions in member-states such as Italy, and to build bridges of understanding across the continent, so that the twelve million strong Romani Europeans - rather than continuously feeling under siege on this continent as 'pariahs' - would finally be recognized as Europeans who have made long-standing (though unrecognized) contributions to this continent. This is a test for Europe's great 'humanist project'. We trust that European leaders will respond to this challenge swiftly and concretely.

For further information about this appeal, please contact the PROGRESSIVE ROMA ACTION GROUP (PRAG) at: prag_2008[at]hotmail[dot]com

The reader will find a petition online which he or she can sign, nd I would urge everyone to do so, regardless as to whether we may think that this may, or may not have any effect. The petition can be found here...

Italy's Night of the Broken Glass

First they come for the Gypsies... What and who is going to be next? Does Europe 2008 equal Europe 1938? All the signs are beginning to speak for it.

In the last weeks of May 2008 we could see on TV once again the burning garbage in Naples, but we were not actually shown were the images of the burning Gypsy camps.

But this was not the only burning fire, there was much more going on in Italy but unfortunately we haven’t heard or seen much about it in Europe, nor have we seem or heard much of an outcry by the so-called democratic countries.

Several big Gypsy encampments have been destroyed deliberately and set alight so that Gypsies for sure could not and would not return return.

Nightly raids with Molotov cocktails and baseball bats have done the job. Fearing for their lives and rightly so, the Gypsies have gone.

The media, much of it owned by Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's new Prime Criminal – opps, sorry, Prime Minister – has been very helpful creating an anti-Romani atmosphere already for months. Last summer the rape of an Italian women by a Romanian was front-page news for two months and months and the fact that the criminal, supposedly, was an ethnic Roma, a Gypsy, really increased the anti-Gypsy fervor and fever in Italy. In many other European Union countries things as regards anti-Gypsy-ism are not much better either.

Who controls the European media? Who determines what is news and what is not? Nobody wants to touch the topic of media manipulation, not written press or TV.
At the same moment, there were much more sensational images of burning camps, crying children and desperate people but those images we have not been shown in Europe .

We saw exactly the same as to the European media when there was the suggestion, and it was not a suggestion only for the constructions were and probably still are under way, of what could only be described as Concentration Camps for Gypsies, the so-called “Solidarity Villages”. Only three media outlets worldwide ran the story even though it was officially on the wire by either AP or Reuters and those were a small paper in South Africa, O NEVO DROM by Tatchipen, and Romano Vodi from the Czech Republic. The rest of the media world stayed silent. Why? Because, especially in the European Union countries all editors, so this writer has been told by some sources, of media outlets spike the story and it was not allowed to be run.

So, who runs the media and what is going on? What is going on is simple: government controlled and government sponsored anti-Gypsy-ism, that is what is going on. What we are seeing is the concerted effort by the European Union, despite their great words, to ethnically cleanse Europe of its “Gypsy problem”.

This is the democratic Europe of the New Millennium, of 2008. Then give me the old Europe of before the Millennium rather. At least no one tried to pretend and we Gypsy knew where we stood. Now everyone is pc and calls us Sinti and Roma – in one breath, like that person is a Sinti and Roma... what a load of bull – but in reality nothing has changed, definitely not in the heart of Italians, Germans, Austrians, Swiss (I know they are – not as yet – in the EU) and French. Not to forget the Czech, the Slovaks, the Romanians and Bulgarians and if I have forgotten any I apologize. I'd hate to have anyone feel excluded.

The homeless Roma gypsies haven been deported the next day under police “protection” and a great majority of them have now been thrown out of the country and declared “persona non-grata”.

Not that there is much to expect from the “police protection”. The opposite rather. No protection but more problems.

On the 20th of May paramilitary police raids have been carried out on every gypsy camp in Sardinia. Intimidations and raids of this kind are daily occurrences now and it is obvious who is Italy's national (and may be even the European Union's) enemy., namely the Gypsy.

For the moment at least…

Where is His Holiness Pope Benedict? In other cases he is very vociferous and I am sure his predecessor, the late Pope John-Paul II, the beloved Cardinal Karel Woitila, would have spoken out and had the Church act in spite of possible accusation of interference in Italian internal politics. I must say that the current Pope just does not cut it but then, maybe there is more to his inferred past in Nazi Germany than meets the eye and something is being covered up rather. It looks that this Pope, while having said, to pretend to follow in the footsteps of the venerated John-Paul II, that Gypsies should be looked after by the Church, does not really mean this. Personally I must say that I never expected much from a German Pope with a history in the Nazi movement. We must also remember that we saw exactly the same reaction and later collaboration by the Church with the authorities of Hitler's Germany when they sent Gypsies and Jews to the labor camps and extermination camps. Only a few real men in the Church, like Mathias Kolbe and such, were prepared to stand up. The rest just kept quiet and collaborated.

I also must say that I do not expect anything in this case from the United Nations, even though many people have asked why the UN is not saying and doping anything, and I definitely do not expect anything from that hypocritical body called the European Union. As this is happening in one of their member states nothing is being done and nothing will be done, bar a little rhetoric here and there.

Unfortunately some Piedmontese Sinti too have been heard saying that they believe that Sinti are safe and that this is only going to affect the Romanian Roma. After all, they say, the Sinti have been in Italy for ages. Therefore those self-same Sinti also see no need to protest against the treatment of the Roma, fellow Romanies, (in fear, I presume, that they might draw attention thus upon themselves) and also no need to prepare to protect themselves.

Romani People awake! Neither the European Union, nor the United Nations will ever help us, the Gypsy. Only one can do that, we ourselves alone. Dosta! While the Roma, I am afraid to say, often have absolutely no regard for the Sinti and while, as many Sinti, I am sure, will be able to attest to, refer to us as “Gadje”, we, of the Sinti groups should nevertheless take heed and also show solidarity to those persecuted Roma, as they are, so at least I see it, fellow Romanies. While I, like many Sinti, do not wish to be called Roma, I still regards the Roma as part of the Romani People, of which I also regard the Sinti to be.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Another case of Anti-Gypsy-ism in Action

Roma Ghetto in Sofia's Studentski Grad Quarter Demolished

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Roma shantytown located close to block of flats No. 55 in Sofia's Studentski Grad Quarter has been demolished Wednesday under strict security measures.

About a dozen of shacks were destroyed and the remains of them were transported by three trucks, authorities said.

At the time of demolition, there was only one eight-member family as all other Roma citizens left the spot voluntarily following the official order issued by the district Mayor Dimitar Dilchev.

The some ninety Roma residing in the ghetto were scheduled to be transported to their places of origin the same way the Roma living illegally in the Mladost Quarter were sent to their home towns two weeks ago, the Demographic Policy Committee of the Sofia City Council decided.

However, as the shacks and other belongings are the private property of the people concerned some will be filing claims to the Prosecutor's office.

The makeshift ghettos around Sofia appear because the Roma squatters are unable to make living at their provincial hometowns and came to Sofia in search for work.

Now, once again, the Roma have been deported to the very place where they are unable to find any work, whether in employment or as self-employed and once again they are back in the cycle of poverty and dependence.

What, actually, is happening to all the monies that are going into the countries such as Romania and, in this instance, Bulgaria, via the EU and the Open Society Institute and Papa Soros? Where are the projects that those millions of Euro are supposedly funding, those projects that are, supposedly, hauling Gypsies out of poverty and into work?

As it would appear they do not exist, but then again, I for one did not expect them to. This was just a rhetorical question and one that was meant to give the reader, yet again, a little food for thought as regards the “Decade of Roma Inclusion”.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Three Cheers for the Inspector General

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Inspector General wants social security for all Colombian minorities

According to information received the Inspector General of Colombia, Edgardo Maya Villazón, has asked the Colombia's Constitutional Court to grant social security for all people of African and Gypsy descent and to give them the same rights as all of Colombia's indigenous groups.

The exclusion of Afro-Colombians and Gypsies from the country's minority rights laws "endangers the health and the existence of members of these minorities," Maya wrote in a petition.

He states that these particular minorities "also have the right to practice the medical procedures in line with their backgrounds and cultures".

Their inclusion in the General System of Social Security also is necessary "to maintain and protect their knowledge and traditional medical practices", he added.

The Inspector General noted that under the rights of equality, pluralism and participation under the Constitution, the legal benefits should reach all ethnic minorities.

The Constitutional Court will review the legality of the law, favoring the country's minority groups.

I do know that some of the text sounds rather weird and can only put that down to a translation problem. As I do not speak Spanish nor have the original text of the Inspector General's message we will, I am afraid to say, have to live with this.

What it would appear that Maya might have been saying is that he wants minority rights for also the Gypsies in Columbia in the same way as the indigenous people of the country. This is something that can but be applauded and maybe, just maybe, other countries in the Americas, and elsewhere, take a leaf out of Columbia's book and go the same route.

Once again: three cheers for Columbia's Inspector General.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Anti-Gypsy-ism in Action

The town council of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer bans the playing of Gypsy music during the Kali Sara pilgrimage

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

France: In May 2008, just in time for the annual Romani pilgrimage to Saintes Maries de la Mer to honor Kali Sara, often perceived as a Saint, and thus venerated but never, as far as we can ascertain, ever canonized, the local authorities banned the playing of Romani music in the streets during this festival.

Gypsies from throughout Europe travel each and every May to the town of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer in the Camargue region of France on a religious pilgrimage to honour their Saint Sarah in prayer and music. The festival takes place every 24-25 May.

Over the years this gathering at the end of the road in France has developed into a crossroads of Romany music, inspiring and pollinating other types of Gypsy music from flamenco to Django Reinhardt's Gypsy Jazz, traditional Hungarian and Balkan brass to the Gipsy Kings' Rhumba.

Now, however, the city council has banned the Romani people from performing music in the streets during the festival. According to Canut Reyes from Gipsy Kings, and many others, this new music ban is going to ruin the festival, and they fear for its future.

While the music, obviously, is and was always part of the celebrations to honor Kali Sara and while this ban may affect the Gypsy music festival that has sprung up, basically, around the Kali Sara celebration, it may not affect the religious part of the pilgrimage.

On the other hand the city may have also cut its nose off in spite of its face for they must understand that the festival, both the pilgrimage and the Gypsy music festival, bring tourists to their town.

Along with an appeal to allow the Romani People to continue to play music in the streets in May 2009, an online petition has been started which is to be sent to the Mayor of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, Mr Roland Chassain.

“Music plays a huge part in the tradition and culture of the Gypsy people. Please, Mr Chassain, help to resolve any problems, but let the music play on!,” the appealers say.

The petition can be signed online here:

While I support this petition and have, myself, as the General Secretary of the Gypsy Union, signed it, I would like to make any who go to the website aware of the fact that after signing you may be asked for a donation to make via Pay-Pal so, do not, unless you wish to donate, click the “next” button when presented with the screen after you have added your voice to the petition.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008