Strasbourg, 8 April 2009 – In his message on International Roma Day, the European Roma and Travellers Forum’s President, Mr. Rudko Kawczynski, called for “collective responsibility to end anti-Gypsyism in Europe’.

Unfortunately, we still see racial profiling in law, public officials and politicians able to make prejudiced remarks without risk of rebuke, the victimisation of Roma women through harassment, para-military attacks against members of the Roma community, strong anti-Roma feelings spreading throughout EU countries… These situations are not coincidental.
Mr. Kawczynski recalled that the struggle to eliminate these situations must confront the current economic and social policies that perpetuate the systematic barriers and racial injustice in our workplaces, educational and social institutions.

This means that we must redouble our efforts in eliminating the anti-Gypsyism and discrimination that are so deeply embedded in the roots of many conflicts and pose risks to international peace and security and in pushing for greater equality and justice for all.
Roma need to be able to find jobs and housing and to receive health, education and other services without discrimination and harassment, and they need to feel welcome in our communities. These are very much human rights concerns.

We take this opportunity to pay tribute to those who have fought, and continue to fight – despite the hardship and sacrifice involved – for equality and the right of all people to live with respect and dignity. The struggle to break down prejudice towards Roma and Travellers and to eliminate discrimination is integral to the struggle for social justice and a better world, which is the responsibility of us all.

There are enormous challenges ahead in the quest for equal opportunities for all - from achieving more effective coordination and mobilisation of resources at international level, to building better capacity at national and local levels. All of us can play a part in raising awareness of these challenges; all of us can play our part in overcoming them.

The European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF), which has a partnership agreement with the Council of Europe and a special status with this institution, is Europe’s largest and most inclusive Roma organisation. It brings together Europe’s main international Roma-NGOs and more than 1,500 national Roma organisations from most of the Council of Europe’s member states.