Happy New Year 2008 to you all

Happy New Year 2008

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers, friends and associates, as well as our enemies, a very happy & prosperous New Year 2008.

Tom Odley – 1929 – 2007 – Obituary by Romano Yekhipe France

Our Tom is gone and we, from Romano Yekhipe France are very sad. We wish to be joined in the international tribute paid to him. He always offered us a brotherly support in our fights. With Vania de Gila-Kochanowski, we often talked to visit him in his Chattam's home. Unfortunately, we couldn't carried it out for various reasons. But with Tom's consent, we translated in french language some of his brilliant poems that we presented next to Leksa Manush's ones. We knew that some in his country had disapproved the ways he had sometimes followed, but above all, we in France we will always remember him as a Rom speaking plainly and a great defender of the Romanipe. So we are proud to met him "by the way" and will never forget him.

Jean-Claude Mégret (Balval)

for Romano Yekhipe France Board

Tom Odley – 1929 – 2007 – Obituary

This is one Obituary that I had hoped I would never have to write, but alas, writing I must it now with deep sadness...

Tom Odley, a tireless fighter for the rights of the Romani People, and recently Press & Media Officer to the Gypsy Union, as well as its Deputy General Secretary; Press & Media Officer to the International Romani Guild and an Elder on the presidium; as well as Deputy Director General of the Romani Institute, passed away on December 9, 2007, having just passed his 78th birthday, after having suffered a heart attack a couple of days prior.

Tom, was born on the Isle Of Sheppey, in Kent, England, during 1929, of ‘Nidi’ (Romanichal) descent. He served close to 12years in the Royal Air Force, as a Physical Training/Parachute Jumping Instructor.

Along with his late Beloved Romni, Rose, Tom helped raised ten children.

During the many years spent ‘Po Drom’ with his Family, and since settling down, following the tragic loss of his much-loved wife, Rose, as a result of a fire in their trailer-home, Tom has struggled for the rights of his People, the Rom.

Having a pleasant singing voice, and being a lover of ‘words’, Tom has employed his talents to promote the Romani Cause.

Angered by “The Gypsy Industry” and its exploitation of his fellow Rom, for personal, academic, and political gain by some within the (so-called) “Support” groups, (both Gohja and Rom), Tom was instrumental in the establishment of The British Rommani Union, and, for many years acted as its General Secretary.

Tom has attended and participated in very many conferences and meetings, throughout Europe, and has been responsible for many communications with British Governmental Departments.

Aware of the truism that; “The pen is mightier than the sword”, Tom has used his poetry in attempts to convey to the Gohja, some of the emotions that rise within the Romani People as a result of their mistreatment within Gohja society.

Tom struggled for the rights of the Romani People right till the last days of his life, basically, having been so-founder and officer of the International Romani Guild, the Gypsy Union and the Romani Institute, and having worked on a number of projects until the day he was taken ill.

Amaro Kako Tom will be sadly missed by us all but I, for one, promise that he shall never be forgotten.

Rest in Peace, Amaro Kako.

Michael Smith (Veshengro), December 2007

American TV Station calls Gypsies Travelling Con-Artists

In a broadcast, and post on their website, entitled “Fraud Alert: Rip Off Pavers In Your Neighborhood” of Thursday, December 6, 2007, the American TV Station WCIV-TV of Mount Pleasant, SC, declared that people should beware of Gypsy pavers. “They are called gypsies because they are a traveling group of con-artists”, writes Katie Newingham of WCIV-TV.

In one single sentence this “journalist” and her TV station have villified an entire ethnic People, namely the Rom, regardless of whether any or none of those pavers the warning was issued about are Romani or not, and have once again in the eyes of the general public made us, the Rom, out to be thieves, fraudsters and con-artists.

The Romani Institute, in a protest letter sent to the station, addressed to its president and chief executive, has demanded a public apology, and requested this to be made on their station and network, as well as in the general media in the USA and Europe. In addition the Romani Institute has demanded that any such statement be emailed to the Romani Institute so that it can be published on the media sites operated on behalf of the Romani Institute.

We shall see what happens though I must say that I certainly am not holding my breath, knowing the attitude that the US media and especially the gutter press and gutter TV has towards the Gypsy People and even the law enforcement community insists on calling Gypsies names.

Here is also the address of the TV Station just in case one or the other reader would like to make his or her feelings known to the president and CEO as well.

888 Allbritton Blvd.
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

Anyone wishing for a copy of the original post, which is, so I believe, a transcript of the station's output, can receive a PDF of this by email upon request – the same too as regards to a copy of the protest letter by the Romani Institute to the TV Station.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), December 2007

O Nevo Drom & Romani First racist?

There are many out there, I am aware of that, who accuse O Nevo Drom and, certainly, I know that for a fact, Romani First - and we have just seen that in a comment on the Romani First Blog - of being racist because we put the Romani People first and foremost, and we say by Romani for Romani, and exempting non-Romani Travellers, such as the Irish Travellers.

Let me state categorically that we do so unashamedly, e.g. putting our Romani People first and foremost, above all others, and this has nothing whatsoever to do with racism. It has, however, everything to do with Pride in our Race. While other races do exactly that, namely excluding others that are NOT of their ethnicity, why are we, the Romani, being accused of racism every time when we attempt to do the same, be that in organizations or in publications? We are Romani and work for Romani and our concern is ONLY for the Romani People.

The Irish Travellers have enough Gohja running around in circles helping them and even some of the Romani groups too who think that that will benefit them, the Romani, if they do. Nothing could be further from the truth. We must adhere to the old adage “Rom Romensa Gadje Gadjensa”, and it is in that spirit that we maintain O Nevo Drom and especially Romani First, magazine and foundation.

I do know that there are some Travellers that are mixed Romani Blood with Irish Traveller or other Traveller blood and it is obvious that those are torn in their loyalty and therefore try to have a foot in both camps, even trying, which just cannot be, to unite Romani and Irish in fighting for the same rights. The Irish and the Romani, I am sorry, are different and as I do have said before when people ask me what the difference is between Gypsy and Traveller, in that “not all Gypsy are Traveller and not all Traveller are Gypsy”. This is something, it would appear that also the general media and many authorities do not seem to understand.

The term Gypsy rightfully belongs to the Romani and to the Romani only and while some Romani, some Gypsy, may still be Travellers, in that they may travel from time to time, Travellers, whether they travel or not are NOT Gypsy, as they are, in the main, not Romani.

But I am aware that this is all very difficult to understand for those politicos in the “Gypsy Industry” who are hellbent to make the Irish Travellers into Gypsy, for instance, and like the European bodies that insist in now calling the (Irish) Travellers the term “Roma”. Dordi! Firstly not even all Romani are Roma and should therefore not be called thus but to add other groups of non-Romani itinerants, such as the Irish Travellers, and others, into the term “Roma”, really tops it.

Another reason why Romani First exists. Namely to educate the rest of the world to the truth as to how things really are as regards the Gypsy, the Romani, and other groups.

The European bodies too need to be educated in that for they now have included the Irish Travellers in the term “Roma”.

I sometimes wonder whether we are fighting a losing battle here and those people have such a well hidden agenda that it is not a case that they do not understand but a case that they do not want to accept this simple because it does not fit their design.

This is becoming visible in Britain now, in many counties, where the local powers that be have decided that only those that travel, regardless whether they are Romani or not, are ethnic Gypsies, and any Romani that have moved permanently onto sites or into houses are, because they have become sedentary, are no longer ethnic Gypsy. So, according to their wisdom (what wisdom, I know...), when is a Gypsy not a Gypsy... when he has become settled. The “funny” part is though that the travelling with trailer permanently is no longer possible due to all the nice laws against Gypsies in Britain. So,, how do you save an ethnic problem. Declare that only Gypsies that travel are ethnic Gypsies, then outlaw the travelling lifestyle and force them into houses, and, voila, no more ethnic Gypsies.

It should therefore by now becoming blatantly obvious to any but the blind what the European institutions are up to with the issue of making everyone “Roma”. We soon will solve that ethnic problem too in Europe. In Germany now the term “members of a mobile ethnic minority” is being used in legalese for “Sinti and Roma”. But what if those members are not mobile, e.g. they live permanently in a house?

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), December 2007

Little Money Street: In Search of Gypsies and Their Music in the South of France – Book Review

Fernanda Eberstadt
256 pages Hardcover
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, Publishers, New York
Published: March 14, 2006
ISBN-10: 0375-41116-X

From the author of four novels comes this remarkable book, both impassioned and humorous, about the Gypsies of southwestern France - their habits, their haunts, and their haunting music.

In 1998, Fernanda Eberstadt, her husband, and their two small children moved from New York to an area outside Perpignan, a city set on a series of bluffs overlooking the river Tet, with one of the largest, if not the largest, Gypsy populations in Western Europe. Always fascinated with Gypsy music, Eberstadt became obsessed with the local “Gypsy rumba,” and with a Perpignan band called Tekameli, perhaps the greatest Gypsy band between Barcelona and Budapest. After eighteen futile months of trying to make contact, she was at last invited into the home of Tekameli’s lead singer, Moïse Espinas, and into the closed world of the Gypsies.

Here she found a jealously guarded culture - a society made, in part, of lawlessness and defiance of non-Gypsy norms - that nonetheless made room for her, “a privileged American in a Mediterranean 'underworld'.” As her relationship with the Espinas family changed over the years from mutual bafflement to a deep-rooted friendship, the author found herself a part of Gypsy life, moving about in a large group whose core included Moïse, his wife, her sister, and their children - at cockfights, in storefront churches, at malls, in their homes, and at their rehearsals, discovering lives lived “between biblical laws and strip-mall consumerism” - and always accompanied by the intense and infectious beat of their heart-stopping music.

Little Money Street is a spellbinding story of the Gypsies and the little-known landscape in France they have called home for centuries, and of one woman’s extraordinary journey among them.

Fernanda Eberstadt, who is a critically acclaimed novelist, proves herself a master of nonfiction as well with this book.

What began as an attempt to document the fortunes of a successful Gypsy rumba band quickly turned into something much broader for the author, as we can see.

Little Money Street tells it like it is in the life of the Romani in the Perpignan area of France, warts – and there are lots of them – and all.

It also, even to a Rom myself, showed things in our People that I had not even noticed proper though of which I am personally aware, such as the constant fear that one may have upset someone, especially a friend. I have always thought that to be a particular trait of mine only, a hang-up of some sort, but, apparently, this seems to be something in the genes of all of ours.

This book is very much in the vein of “Proud Outcasts: The Gypsies of Spain” by Merrill F. McLane, about the Cale (Gitanos) of the Quadix region of Spain.

One of the biggest problems that the Gypsies of Perpignan have, and the confusions that are bound up with that, is caused by the fact that they have all, in the main, fallen into the trap of pentecostalist Protestantism.

This book is hilarious to the extreme at times when one reads how the Gypsies, men and women, and children, act and react, and the author has such a lovely warm way of telling it. Knowing our Culture and Behavior I can, obviously, fell with it when it is seen from an outsider, and sometimes even cringe when reading as to the amount of information that is in there about our People. No, not by way of Culture and Traditions and such that should not be seen by outsiders but just in general.

I can but highly recommend this book to anyone, not just those interested in Gypsy music and the band “Tekameli”. Be, however, prepared to laugh and cry, often at the same time, when reading this book.

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro), December 2007

N.B. This book was NOT supplied by the publishers, even though I had wanted to contact them for a long time to get a copy, but was purchased – for very little – at a local Charity Shop.

After the Mourning - Book review

352 pages - Paperback
Published by Headline Publishing Group, 2006
ISBN-10: 0 7553 2138 3
ISBN-13: 978 0 7553 2138 4

After the Mourning is Barbara Nadel’s second novel set during the Blitz in 1940’s London and again features undertaker and rather unlikely amateur sleuth Francis Hancock, but an amateur sleuth he, nevertheless, is, and a rather good one in my view.

This time, Hancock gets a call to go out to Epping Forest to see to the body of a Gypsy girl, Lily Lee, who has been savagely murdered.

The story then jumps back to the uproar that Lily had caused when she was alive because many believed that she had had a vision of the Virgin Mary. In a time of war any glimmer of hope is a magnet and Lily is transformed into an overnight sensation, bringing hundreds of people from the city to the forest.

We will find out in due course, though, that it was something entirely different that she saw and that she conversed with.

All the extra people thwart the military police’s efforts to find, not only the run-of-the-mill deserters, but fugitives too. One in particular, who they believe is being hidden by the Gypsies, and who is a Sinto from Germany.

Hancock, meanwhile, becomes involved because of the respect and trust the Gypsies have for him. As the story progresses, however, it becomes clear that who’s who and what’s what is about as easy to work out as where the next flying bomb’s going to hit.

The author's main character, Francis Hancock, is a charming, flawed individual with a powerfully developed sense of right and wrong and abiding empathy.

This is crime solving before forensics was a science, and Nadel also admirably captures the time, both descriptively and in terms of mindset. The novel is not only a whodunit, but also an insight into the history of the Gypsies and the persecution they suffered under the Nazis, though I am not entirely convinced that this fact would actually have been too well known amongst the Rom in Britain at that time.

Then again it is being said that the English Rom that bought up all those houses in Abbey Wood just around the time before World War II did so because they were supposed to have gotten wind of what would happen to them were they found as travelling Gypsies should Hitler have managed to invade those sceptered Isles.

If you like thrillers and fancy something a little less contemporary then try “After the Mourning.” I can highly recommend it. Beware though that it is a page turner and you may not want to put that book down again till you have finished it.

Michael Smith (Veshengro), December 2007

N.B. This book was NOT supplied by the publishers – I had not even known of its existence - but by a visitor to the Park where I work, who is a former Borough Councillor.

New drive to improve Gypsy and Traveller site provision

More funding for Gypsy and Traveller housing

Communities Minister Iain Wright announced on Tuesday, December 11, 2007 a further £97 million in Government funding to help local councils meet the housing needs of Gypsy and Traveller families in their area. The funding is part of a package of new measures aimed at cutting the number of unauthorised sites in inappropriate locations, such as car parks or lay-bys.

The Gypsy and Traveller site grants will be available for councils to deliver new and refurbished sites for Gypsies and Travellers in their areas. The grants cover 100 per cent of the cost of local council schemes that provide additional pitches through new sites, extensions to existing sites, or bring pitches back into use.

By increasing the supply of authorised sites, the Government aims to improve the current levels of unauthorised encampment and development, which are a result of nearly a quarter of Gypsies and Travellers living in caravans having no authorised place to stay.

This renewed commitment to tackle the problem of unauthorised sites follows publication of a Government-commissioned report from the Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement. The group's report concludes that Government policy on site provision and enforcement is sound, and calls for a consensus around the need for authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites.

Other measures being taken forward following the report's recommendations include:

* New Government guidance for councils on tackling anti-social behaviour - the guidance will support local authorities and the police in dealing with anti-social behaviour where Gypsies and Travellers are either the victims or perpetrators;

* A Gypsy and Traveller 'summit' - Ministers will meet with Gypsy and Traveller representatives to discuss their concerns about the different definitions used for Gypsies and Travellers for housing and planning purposes;

* Improved monitoring - the Government will report annually to Parliament on progress on Gypsy and Traveller issues.

Iain Wright said:

"We are increasing council funding to ensure that local authorities can thoroughly assess and meet the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers, as required by legislation.

"This funding will help councils deliver more and better sites for Gypsies and Travellers, reducing the £18 million annual enforcement bill, and helping improve the health and education prospects of one of the most socially excluded groups in the country.

"It is important that councils ensure there are enough authorised sites for travelling communities. A good supply of legal sites can break the vicious circle of evictions that is costly in terms of both local tensions and taxpayers' cash."

Commenting on publication of the Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement report, he continued:

"It's pleasing to see that the task group finds that our policies on site provision and enforcement are sound, but we recognise there needs to be further progress.

"We are determined to do our bit to help local government provide the extra pitches needed and will work to remove the problem of unauthorised encampments.

"Today we are announcing our intention to publish new guidance for councils on tackling anti-social behaviour and I will also be meeting with representatives from the travelling community to discuss their concerns."

Sir Brian Briscoe, chair of the Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement, said:

"The evidence that the Task Group has collected demonstrates that policy on site provision and enforcement is broadly right. But the challenge, to Government and local Councils, is to get sites on the ground to meet the need for 4000 pitches, so that Gypsies and Travellers can have secure homes and that the £18m spent each year on enforcement is put to better use. This will require resources and political will, but it is a task that can be done.

Our Report is not the end of the matter and we think it is crucial that Government, with the organisations represented on the Task Group and the Gypsy and Traveller community, regularly monitors progress, to ensure that there is no slackening of the pace in securing better lives for the children and young people of this small but important ethnic minority."

Between 2006-08, Communities and Local Government have made £56 million available in site grants, which are on course to deliver at least 450 additional pitches and 128 refurbished sites across the country.

Editorial Comment:

This will really please the settled, the Gohja, community no end, this investment in council site provision while, at the same time, when Gypsies (and Travellers) want to make their own provisions such applications are, in the great majority of cases, rejected, also at great expense to the tax payer. The locals that always complain about illegal encamped Gypsies (or Travellers) do not seem to realize that (1) some of them are there, illegally encamped as a direct result of some other locals objecting to them setting up a little site somewhere in a way out (often) place on a bit of farm land and (2) that this all costs them their money.

The Gypsy and Traveller 'summit', spoken about by the Minister, will really benefit the Gypsy (and Traveller) – NOT – for the so-called representatives are all those that have their own political axes to grind. Nor can anyone believe that the minister and the government would take notice of the grassroots Romani-Gypsy (and Travellers) anyway. Therefore the political activists, the majority of which, in this country, are NOT Romani but are wannabes, and the non-Gypsy academics will, once again, tell the government what the Gypsy (and Traveller) communities (yes, plural, for it is not ONE community) need, the way they see it.

The Gypsies in the UK need the right to make their own provisions. Many who are willing to do so – and many they are – are being stopped again and again by the authorities (see “UK Gypsy Site Policy & Implementation by Local Authorities”) with the authorities then taking over the Gypsy-provided sites, after evicting the legal owners, declaring them then council sites, and renting the plots back to the people.

The minister tried to appear to be concerned for better lives for the children and young people of this small but important ethnic minority but I would suggest that we do not buy into this too deeply. For suddenly we are a “small but important ethnic minority”. Amazingly no one wants to know when our People want to make their own provisions but in this case... Beware of strangers bearing gifts...

Also we are NOT a small minority if we could get all those out of the woodwork that are of Romani-Gypsy origin and who know this. While the official estimate is some thousands of Romanichal in Britain, if we would but look then we could probably make that about a few hundreds of thousands. We are not such a small minority.

Comments by M V Smith, Editor

The story of Sheep with a message...

Not so long ago and in a pasture too uncomfortably close to here, a flock of sheep lived and grazed. They were protected by a dog, who answered to the master, but despite his best efforts from time to time a nearby pack of wolves would prey upon the flock.

One day a group of sheep, more bold than the rest, met to discuss their dilemma. "Our dog is good, and vigilant, but he is one dog and the wolves are many. The wolves he catches are not always killed, and the master judges and releases many to prey again upon us, for no reason we can understand. What can we do? We are sheep, but we do not wish to be food, too!"

One sheep spoke up, saying "It is his teeth and claws that make the wolf so terrible to us. It is his nature to prey, and he would find any way to do it, but it is the tools he wields that make it possible. If we had such teeth, we could fight back, and stop this savagery." The other sheep clamored in agreement, and they went together to the old bones of the dead wolves heaped in the corner of the pasture, and gathered fang and claw and made them into weapons.

That night, when the wolves came, the newly armed sheep sprang up with their weapons and struck at them and cried "Begone! We are not food!" and drove off the wolves, who were astonished. When did sheep become so bold and so dangerous to wolves? When did sheep grow teeth? It was unthinkable!

The next day, flush with victory and waving their weapons, they approached the flock to pronounce their discovery. But as they drew nigh, the flock huddled together and cried out "Baaaaaaaadddd! Baaaaaddd things! You have bad things! We are afraid! You are not sheep!"

The brave sheep stopped, amazed. "But we are your brethren!" they cried, "We are still sheep, but we do not wish to be food. See, our new teeth and claws protect us and have saved us from slaughter. They do not make us into wolves, they make us equal to the wolves, and safe from their viciousness!"

"Baaaaaaaddd!", cried the flock,"the things are bad and will pervert you, and we fear them. You cannot bring them into the flock. They scare us!". So the armed sheep resolved to conceal their weapons, for although they had no desire to panic the flock, they wished to remain in the fold. But they would not return to those nights of terror, waiting for the wolves to come.

In time, the wolves attacked less often and sought easier prey, for they had no stomach for fighting sheep who possessed tooth and claw even as they did. Not knowing which sheep had fangs and which did not, they came to leave sheep out of their diet almost completely except for the occasional raid, from which more than one wolf did not return. Then came the day when, as the flock grazed beside the stream, one sheep's weapon slipped from the folds of her fleece, and the flock cried out in terror again, "Baaaaaaddddd! You still possess these evil things! We must ban you from our presence!".

And so they did. The great chief sheep and his court and council, encouraged by the words of their moneylenders and advisors, placed signs and totems at the edges of the pasture forbidding the presence of hidden weapons there. The armed sheep protested before the council, saying "It is our pasture, too, and we have never harmed you! When can you say we have caused you hurt? It is the wolves, not we, who prey upon you. We are still sheep, but we are not food!". But the flock would not hear, and drowned them out with cries of "Baaaaaaddd! We will not hear your clever words! You and your things are evil and will harm us!".

Saddened by this rejection, the armed sheep moved off and spent their days on the edges of the flock, trying from time to time to speak with their brethren to convince them of the wisdom of having such teeth, but meeting with little success. They found it hard to talk to those who, upon hearing their words, would roll back their eyes and flee, crying "Baaaaddd! Bad things!".

That night, the wolves happened upon the sheep's totems and signs, and said, "Truly, these sheep are fools! They have told us they have no teeth! Brothers, let us feed!". And they set upon the flock, and horrible was the carnage in the midst of the fold. The dog fought like a demon, and often seemed to be in two places at once, but even he could not halt the slaughter. It was only when the other sheep arrived with their weapons that the wolves fled, vowing to each other to remain on the edge of the pasture and wait for the next time they could prey, for if the sheep were so foolish once, they would be so again. This they did, and do still.

In the morning, the armed sheep spoke to the flock, and said, "See? If the wolves know you have no teeth, they will fall upon you. Why be prey? To be a sheep does not mean to be food for wolves!". But the flock cried out, more feebly for their voices were fewer, though with no less terror, "Baaaaaaaadddd! These things are bad! If they were banished, the wolves would not harm us! Baaaaaaaddd!". The other sheep could only hang their heads and sigh. The flock had forgotten that even they possessed teeth; how else could they graze the grasses of the pasture? It was only those who preyed, like the wolves and jackals, who turned their teeth to evil ends. If you pulled their own fangs those beasts would take another's teeth and claws, perhaps even the broad flat teeth of sheep, and turn them to evil purposes.

The bold sheep knew that the fangs and claws they possessed had not changed them. They still grazed like other sheep, and raised their lambs in the spring, and greeted their friend the dog as he walked among them. But they could not quell the terror of the flock, which rose in them like some ancient dark smoky spirit and could not be damped by reason, nor dispelled by the light of day.

So they resolved to retain their weapons, but to conceal them from the flock; to endure their fear and loathing, and even to protect their brethren if the need arose, until the day the flock learned to understand that as long as there were wolves in the night, sheep would need teeth to repel them.

They would still be sheep, but they would not be food!

Romanian Roma organisations call for Commissioner Frattini to step down

By Valeriu Nicolae

On November 3, Mr Frattini, Italian Commissioner for Justice and Civil Liberties 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. That 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.”

He also urged Italy to pull down the camps to prevent any Romanians from returning.

At best, this declaration is stupid, as the Commissioner implies that Romania should receive anybody who does not know where he or she resides. Coming from a Commissioner charged with fighting for the civil liberties of European citizens, it is simply unacceptable.

Frattini seems to forget that he is not paid by the Italian extreme right or Berlusconi but by the European Commission, an organisation which promotes (at least on paper) “respect for human rights”, “tolerance” and “unity through diversity”.

If the Commissioner can’t do his job better resign or keep quiet as he successfully did it up to this point.

Full article is available at http://www.ergonetwork.org/frattini.htm
An online protest is available at http://www.romanetwork.org/protest2.htm

Valeriu Nicolae ­ Executive Director
European Roma Grassroots Organisation
Strada Rezonantei Nr.1-3 Bl 15-16 Sc A Ap 3 Sector 4 Bucuresti Romania
Tel : (004) 0742379657 or 0727708788

Day to remember

Daughter's Nov. 11 chat with veteran brought tears to our eyes


When my daughter Jillian was eight, we took her to the then-Museum of the Regiments on Remembrance Day.

My wife's dad and uncle fought in the Second World War: Her dad John, on a corvette guarding convoys in the North Atlantic, her uncle Clayton fighting his way up the Italian boot, cheerfully carving up the enemy with his bayonet and sending home souvenirs of his kills (unit patches and Iron Crosses) to his mom, many of which are now on display in the small-town Legion where he grew up.

John's eyes would get misty when he talked about the friends he made who never came back.

Clayt never got misty. Ever.

John joined the Royal Canadian Navy partly because he was a gentle soul and had no desire to kill face to face.

And because he figured he would survive the war intact or die.

The thought of going through life on crutches or in a wheelchair horrified this talented, semi-pro baseball player.

Clayt, a not-so-gentle-soul, apparently took to war like Rosie O'Donnell to a box of doughnuts.

When he died, on his coffin, there was a picture of him taken in Italy, grinning, sitting on a captured German motorcycle.

What few in the congregation knew was how Clayt acquired it.

Tired of his army issue motorbike breaking down while he delivered dispatches -- and even more tired of his German counterpart on the other side of the front line laughing at him as he motored past -- Clayt solved two problems at once.

He got up real early one morning, snuck across, killed the laughing German and stole his motorcycle.

There were certain members of this generation that you definitely didn't want to mess with.

My wife and I grew up around veterans and we worried that it might be difficult to transmit our sense of gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy to our kids because such veterans were getting scarce.

Jillian never got to know John or Clayt.

She barely remembered the man with the burned face from church, Garnett Trivett.
I used to sing in the men's choir with him, and had noticed the burn scars but never asked.

Only at his funeral did I find out he was burned when a German 88 shell sliced through the turret of his Sherman tank in the Norman bocage and it went up in flames, fully living up to the nickname given to it by its bitter crews, who called it The Ronson, after the cigarette lighter.

That day at the museum, we went inside and moved from exhibit to exhibit.
Ahead was the slightly bent figure of a white-haired man in the blue blazer above gray flannels, Legion crest on one side, an array of service medals heavy on the other.
My daughter marched up to him.

We adopted her from a Romanian orphanage when she was three.

Ethnically, she's a gypsy -- that's right, loud colours, long skirts, tambourines, fortune-telling, the works -- and we used to try to ensure she knew something of her culture until she sat us down and made us stop, explaining that she was a Canadian now.

But she remembered enough to stride confidently up to the veteran to ask, "Did you fight in the war?" He smiled and allowed as he had.

She stuck out her hand, looking solemn.

"Then I have to thank you," she said.

"I'm a gypsy.

"Do you know what Hitler and the Nazis planned for gypsies? He was going to kill all of us.

"The Jews call what happened to them during the war The Holocaust. Gypsies call it The Devouring, she told him.

"So if you hadn't stopped them, I wouldn't be here.

"Thank you beating them so I could be born and, you know, live and stuff."
Turns out we needn't have worried about Jillian being able to relate to acts of remembrance on Nov. 11.

Turns out we should have worried about bringing enough Kleenex.
Between the vet, my wife and me, we went through a bunch.

>Calgary Sun<

Anti-Gypsyism in Italy

Brussels, Tuesday, 08 November 2007

European Roma Information Office (ERIO)

Xenophobic hysteria fueled by irresponsible politicians endangers the very values of open society. Collective reprisals not acceptable in a modern democracy.

The emergency decree adopted last week by the Italian government facilitates expulsion of (Romanians, Roma) aliens without sufficient procedural guarantees. We are concerned that the application of the decree is violating European and international human rights standards and urge the Italian government to revoke the emergency decree.

We are deeply concerned with the xenophobic campaign currently developing in Italy targeting Romanians – and in particular Romanian Roma -and call on the Italian government to act in accordance with its obligations under European and international law.

We condemn those politicians and media outlets that have had a role in fuelling the unprecedented outburst of xenophobic and racist hatred. We caution those of dangers posed by collectively blaming entire communities of people for the crimes perpetrated by some individuals.

As regards the decree adopted by the Italian government we expect no less then full compliance with European and international human rights law. We call on the Italian authorities to show restraint in the application of the decree and avoid practices such as racial profiling and collective reprisals during its implementation.

By singling out Romanian citizens – including Roma - for expulsion, Italian politicians, through their declarations, confirm suspicions about the racist and xenophobic nature of the expulsions campaign initiated by the Italian government. We are appalled by the intolerant nature of such declarations, which do not fit the values of a European Union.

We strongly believe that the so-called “security measures” and “expulsions” are not the answer to the problems the Roma community in Italy faces and that social inclusion and anti discrimination policies are the only viable way for curbing poverty and exclusion.

We would like to remind the European Commission and Council, of our common letter, proposing the development of a Community Framework Strategy for Roma Inclusion.

We herby urge the Italian Government to revoke the decree until sufficient procedural guarantees are made available.

We urge the Italian authorities to remedy any acts of discrimination, particularly in the application of criminal law, acts of collective or arbitrary individual expulsion and eviction from housing.

We urge high-ranking politicians to speak out against the current anti-Romani and anti-Romanian mood developing in Italy.


The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) is an international advocacy organization, which promotes political and public discussion on Roma issues by providing factual and in-dept information on a range of policy issues to the European Union institutions, Roma civil organizations, governmental authorities and intergovernmental bodies.

The ERIO cooperates with a network of a large number of organizations and acts to combat racial discrimination and social exclusion through awareness raising, lobbying and policy development.

Ave. Edouard Lacomble 17
Brussels 1040

Tel: 0032(0)27333462
Fax: 0032(0)27333875

For more information:

E-mail: ivan.ivanov@erionet.org


A Way to overcome the Impasse?

The Sinti Allianz Deutschland e.V. initiates, in a press statement of November 12, 2007, a possible way to, hopefully, overcome the current deadlock as to the Romani Holocaust Memorial to be built in Berlin.

For years now the construction of this memorial in the German capital, the new old capital, has been hampered by what inscription it should bear, as Romani Rose and the Central Council of German Sinti & Roma has objected vehemently to any and all suggestions to use the word “Zigeuner” within the context of the inscription on the monument, for the usual concocted reason that is always given when an objection is made to the use of the word “Zigeuner” (we shall not discuss that wherefores here now) and has insisted on the use only of the “politically correct” term of “Sinti and Roma”, thereby, however, excluding, for instance, the Jenisch. It was as “Zigeuner” that Sinti, Roma, Jenisch, et al, were persecuted and murdered; the group names were never really used or even mentioned in the context.

The Sinti Allianz, in the person of Natascha Winter, now suggests that, as the German federal government would appear to be incapable to resolve the impasse caused by Romani Rose and the Central Council's insistence on the term “Sinti and Roma”, that the memorial itself be built without bearing any inscription whatsoever. May one ask who is actually building this memorial and whose money is used in the construction? This is a rhetorical question, obviously, as I am well aware, as I am sure are all the readers, that it is the German government and German tax payers' money that is being used and therefore it is rather difficult to understand how and why the Central Council and Mr. Rose can block the construction of this monument for the last number of years.

If the Central Council thinks that they have to get their way and their wording then, maybe, the Central Council should raise funds themselves to build their own version. I am sure that one or the other municipality, the capital Berlin even, might oblige with a piece of land as to where to put such a memorial.

This was done in the Netherlands successfully many years ago but it would appear that one does not want to use one's own funds for such a venture, obviously. One also does not look a gift horse in the mui. Period.

In its proposal the Sinti Allianz Deutschland puts forward the idea to have a chronology of events and other information regarding the Nazi persecution of all who were persecuted as Gypsies (Zigeuner) made available within the territory of the memorial for visitors, while the memorial itself would be without an inscription. This would, I am sure, make the most sense. Much more than to, purposely and needlessly, delay the building of the memorial just because of some person's wish (and of that person's organization) to excerpt power. The memorial has become the victim of a power struggle between organizations and differing groups of Gypsies in Germany.

The entire affair, so far, has become childish in the extreme and reminds one of a spoiled brat who, rather than sharing his toys with others breaks them in a tantrum.

Again my question: “why do the organizations not build their own memorial or memorials even, with donations gathered for the People and Gadje well-wishers, in the same way as it was done in Holland? Why demand that the German State do it?

They owe us, you say. But, Sintiale, have you got no pride? You sell the People's victims in this way? Obviously, you have no pride and are happy to accept blood money, even if this is in the form of a memorial.

I rest my case but will say in closing that the suggestion made in the statement by the Sinti Allianz would appear to be the best solution, even though I would rather still like to see a statement mentioning “those that were persecuted as 'Zigeuner'”. I am not taking sides; I am just stating a point.

Mind you, having seen the model of the proposed memorial I cannot, for the life of me, see the relevance that design has to our People. Something more akin to those memorials that can be found in some places in the former Czechoslovak Republic would be and have been more appropriate than this one that is being proposed and be more easily understandable without any need for texts, and such a memorial could have been built a long time ago (even by our People themselves).
That was, however, never the intention; a fight for supremacy, on the other hand, was, and all that using the memory of those that were murdered just for being Gypsy, for being Zigeuner. If those victims could they would turn in their graves, as one says in English.

All those that have been involved in this affair of blocking this monument to the memory of the Gypsy victims of the Racial Purity Obsession of the Nazis should go and hang their heads in shame and leave the field to those people that have the interest of the People at heart.


© M V Smith, November 2007

Media Release - International Day Against Fascism and Antisemitism


The largest pan-European network against intolerance commemorates the night of Broken Crystals to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and speak up about the danger of hatred in the European present days, where according to several reports, new and old forms of Antisemitism and related intolerance are growing.

The 9th of November 1938 marked the first step of the extermination of European Jewish citizens. More than 2500 deaths are attributable to this pogrom. Hundreds of Jewish citizens were beaten to death and 30 000 were deported to concentration camps.

Right-wing extremism is an increasing force in the entire continent, hate crimes against vulnerable people are turning into a permanent and invisible Night of Broken Crystals. Official and unofficial reports show that the number of hate crimes has been growing enormously during the last years. According to the European Crime and Safety Survey of the Fundamental Rights Agency, 9 million people have experienced some form of hate crimes in 18 European countries in 2004. Extreme right political parties gain influence and are elected into democratic institutions.

According to reports of the Anti-Defamation League, a large number of Europeans express anti-Jewish attitudes and refer to the classical conspiracy theories that Jewish had to endure through the centuries. It seems that lessons of the past are not painful enough to avoid intolerance in the present.

Activists from all around Europe, from Russia to Spain and from Italy to Finland, will prepare hundred of activities to warn about the danger of repeating the darkest hours of European history.

Additional Information:
UNITED for Intercultural Action is a network of 560 organisations all over Europe working against racism and fascism. Activities at the local level in the framework of the campaign around 9 November are carried out by organisations from more than 35 countries. The campaign is coordinated and stimulated by the UNITED International Secretariat in Amsterdam.

A full list of activities is available under http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/pages/act07n9.htm
We will be happy to supply you with contact information of organisations in your country/city/workingfield that are involved in this year's campaign.

Please contact the UNITED secretariat for further information:
phone: 0031 20 683 47 78

The Rom have no Lobby

We, the Rom, have one major problem – aside from the profound lethargy of our own People as regards to politics and auto-emancipation – and that is the fact that we are not Jews. Maybe that is the reason why some misguided individuals amongst the Rom would like to make us thus, namely part of the Jewish Diaspora.
We have no lobby and no homeland and we are, in fact – why, beats me – more hared, feared and despised (as competition?) than the Jews are and probably ever have been.

Read on...

Many Gypsy Children taken into “Care”

It would appear that, once again, efforts are under way to take Gypsy children away from their parents.

In recent months we have begun to witness what appears to be a concerted effort by the powers-that-be in places such as Germany (and apparently also Austria and France) to remove Romani children, Sinti, Cale, Roma and also Jenisch, from their families and place them into state “care”.

Mostly this is being done under the excuse of the children having failed to attend school, attendance to which, unlike in Britain and the USA, is compulsory and non-attendance a felony, with homeschooling being against the law in all German federal states, for instance.

It seems that we are getting back to the time and actions of “Pro Juventute” and its Hilfswerk “Kinder der Landstrasse” (Project “Children of the open Road”) who routinely together with and on behalf of the Swiss authorities, local and federal, snatched Jenisch (Traveller) and Sinti (Gypsy) children from their families, often by use of force, placing then said children into “care” (the kind of “care” those children received we could write books about – in fact there are books that have been written about this) to cure them of the disease of “Vagabondage” - not that such an illness even exists nor ever has existed.

While it is no longer some so openly as it was until the 1970's in Switzerland by Pro Juventute – the authorities have learned a thing or two about subtlety – it is being done still nonetheless, only with extreme stealth and the use of the Education Act and others.

In France, so it has been reported, the threat of removal of chavies into care is being used to coerce Sinti and Roma participation in a “voluntary” integration project – for integration please read assimilation, for that is what the project actually aims to do. As far as it has been reported the affected Romani families are basically being told “participate (successfully) in the program and integrate (as we deem right) or we will take your kids away into care”.

And, while all that is going on around us Nero fiddles. For Nero read here the self-proclaimed European government of all Rom in Europe, namely the ERFT (and others). They, as per usual, are ever so vocal saying nothing. Then again, we cannot really expect them to upset their paymasters.

Unfortunately it is not only the “leaders” that are silent. Our Brethren all over the place are too. Again, as always, the attitude of the great majority of Rom of all tribes appears to be that, as long as it does not affect them and theirs, why should they care. They'd all do well to read the words of Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

© M V Smith, November 2007

Letter to Slovenian Prime Minister by Members of European Parliament

On 15th October 2007 a group of more then fifty Members of the European Parliament sent a letter to Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša in addition to the 27 EU Prime Minister including the other four Prime Ministers of countries which implement the Decade of Roma inclusion.

The letter calls for increased EU political responsibility regarding the Roma situation in Europe and asks Prime Minister Janez Janša to introduce an EU annual conference to be organized during the Sloven Presidency.

"The Roma in the EU are victims of target racism (Anti-Gypsyism) and intolerance which translates into large-scale structural and institutional discrimination," say the Members of the European Parliament.

We believe with close political analyses, we will come to the conclusion that Roma are a kind of Invisible EU Member State. The Prime Minister of the EU Member States together with the EU institutions should start join initiatives that aim to stop the growing Anti-Gypsyism and develop tools to accelerate the social inclusion process of Roma in the European Union.

We would like to emphasize once more the necessity of introducing and organizing an EU conference on Roma during the Slovene Presidency. This initial step should be followed up with regular (annual) conferences organized by the European Union.

The question that we must ask, from the Romani Media and the Romani organizations is: do we really need yet another gabfest on the Romani People, or as, yet again, the European Union and Parliament erroneously state “Roma” (when will it be understood by those “idiots” - for lack of a better word – that we are NOT all Roma)? The answer is NO, we certainly do not need yet another conference. What we need is some real action but, when EU countries are in the process of developing concentration camps for Rom, as in Italy, or ghettos with eight foot walls topped with razor wire and a gate guarded by police (oh, but I forgot – this is to protect the Rom from fascist attacks), can we really expect more than just lip service from that combined EU body, including the Council of Europe and the Europeal Parliament? I guess not. What we, the Rom, must do is take matters into our own hands and force a change, by various means. However, as per usual, our so-called leaders do not manage to rally the troops for neither they, the leaders nor the troops want to actually do anything and what to have everything done for them.

M V Smith, October 2007

Gypsy encampments forcibly evicted because of Rugby World Cup

Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) highlighted this fact and complained to the authorities about this but to no avail.

A feeling of deja vu overcomes me every time when big sports events are taking place for, each and every time now, Gypsies are going to be the victims, it would seem as their shantytowns, settlements and encampments seem to need to be sanitized away to make the areas acceptable to the visitors and competing teams. It seems that so far it has occurred at every Olympic Games in the last couple of decades and also other such events and now this is happening at the Rugby World Cup in France.

In the area of Saint-Dennis, north of Paris, some 400 Romani persons were evicted and removed from encampments there and some 80 others from a camp is Venissieux, near the city of Lyon.

In London with view to the 2012 Olympic Games the same is happening and a large number of Romanichals and Travellers are loosing their plots that they have occupied for decades and do not adequate new facilities. Those that have had their own places in the London area of the Olympic Park, such as businesses and residents, as in the case of Gypsy-owned transport companies, scrap metal yards, and the like, they have been told that the plots of land to compensate them are well out of London, around Barking and such in Essex.

It would appear that, as previously stated, our People will be the victims and targets now on every occasion of any such sporting event (and other events, no doubt, such as large trade fairs, etc.).

And where are the outcries of the great Gypsy “leaders”, such as the self-proclaimed government of the Romani in Europe, the ERTF? Their silence, yet again, speaks volumes. When will the People realize that none of them will ever work on their behalf and will only take the money that is intended to do things for them and put it into their pockets?

Awake, Romanies, Awake!

© M V Smith, September 7, 2007

The Ostrich Syndrome

Every time, so it would see, that anywhere and any time Anti-Gypsy-ism by the State is mentioned, our People, especially those Romani not directly affected, instead of standing up in righteous indignation turn into ostriches and bury their heads in the sand. That way they hope that no one notices what they are, e.g. Gypsies, so it would appear.

Pastor Niemoeller of Germany put it ever so well in his poem which starts, if I recall properly, “First they came for the communists but I did not speak out because I was not a communist” and ends with, “When they came for me there was no one left to speak out”.

So, presently they come, maybe, for the Machwaya and other Roma in the East and many of ours here in the West seem to think that it has nothing to do with them because, for one, they are not Machwaya, and often not even Roma, and two, because it does not actually affect them and their families. We have indeed become that narrow minded in our “solidarity”.

There are what amounts to basically nothing else but concentration camps for Rom being planned and constructed under the guise of “solidarity villages” in Italy which is meant to house up to 1500 Rom each and where they are to be placed under the watchful eye of armed – obviously, we are talking about Italy – Ministry of the Interior Anti-Terrorist Police, and the media everywhere, but especially in the EU, is silent – bar one little voice like “O Nevo Drom” – and our People, in general and especially our so-called “leaders” are silent; the ordinary Gypsy goes into hiding and the “leaders” are too much in the pockets of the paymasters of the EU in order to be able to complain against such actions as this might lose their funding.

In the Czech Republic, we hear, the authorities propose to surround Gypsy quarters in towns and Gypsy villages and enclaves with up to eight foot high brick walls topped with razor wire and one entry-exit gate that will be guarded by police “in order to protect the Gypsies from attacks by skinheads and other fascist elements”. Yes, sure! And on an airfield nearby a squadron of pigs is preparing for take-off”. It was the same kind of lies that were believed by Sinti and Roma under Nazi occupation when they were forced into fixed camps and then ghettos.
Also here, in those instances as to yet another EU state, the media is silent as the so-called “leaders” of the People and the People bury their heads still deeper in the sand.

No good doing that, folks! Everyone can see your Gypsy behinds sticking up and that way it is so much easier to kick you.

We should have a definite “No Ostriches Allowed!” policy.

While there may not be much that we can do in practice in way of something practical. We hardly have an army or police force that can intervene there nor do we, as yet, have the political clout – not even as an entire People – to have some serious words with the countries that are (proposing) to do all those things but... In any such case we, as a People, can at least make the world take note that we, the People, are aware of what is going on and are watching them and that way they may just take notice of us as a “force2 to be reckoned with. We have millions of People worldwide and I am sure that we could achieve something together.

But nothing will ever be achieved if the “I am all right, Jack” attitude persists in which others of our People and their situation and plight remains ignored.

I must say that I am not about to help any of ours who have no wish to make any efforts of helping themselves. Like so many of the poor Rom in Eastern Europe who would not need to be thus if they would but be prepared to get the finger out. But we must stand with those, even if we cannot physically do that, that are under those threats as mentioned and others.

Anti-Gypsy-ism is on the rise again and in Bulgaria right-wing parties, are, again, calling for organized Gypsy Hunts. In Hungary a successor organization of the Arrow Cross has been set up and it is using, so it is said, that old insignia.

All this, in this writer's view, is becoming more significant ever since the new EU Constitution is being played with.

What place is there for the Rom in this New Europe? The way things are looking they do not want there to be a place for the Rom in this new entity whatever lip service they are paying to Roma(ni) Rights and all that.

And all our People do – the great majority – is to pretend that it is not happening, to pretend that they are not Rom – like the Sinti in Germany, and simply hide like ostriches hoping that it will all just pass them and their families by.

Get you heads out of the sand and let's do something together for the future of the Romani People as a People. The time is NOW, not next week or next year.

Forwards together for the People.

© M V Smith, August 2007

Slavery Museum opens in Liverpool, England

UNESCO’s designated International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade has been marked by the opening of the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool - the first museum of its type to open in the UK.

The museum features dynamic, powerful and moving displays about the story of the transatlantic slave trade, uncovering the largely hidden account of the exploitation of Africa and Africans.

Displays address the legacy of transatlantic slavery, both contemporary as well as historic, reflecting issues that are relevant to Britain today, as well as Western Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean and Africa.

One can, however, safely assume, though this writer has not seen the museum as yet, safely from press releases and such, that not a single word will be mentioned in the entire museum about the first slaves that were sent to the Caribbeans and the Colonies, well, before any African Blacks, namely the Romani, the Gypsy, the the British Isles.

Well before any African Blacks were ever sent as slaves to the sugar estates of Barbados or elsewhere in the English-occupied Caribbean Islands, Romani, Gypsy, were sent there as slaves; men, women and children, snatched from the streets and byways of the British Isles. Many a British trading house became rich from this Gypsy slave trade because the government of the day paid them for hunting down and rounding up the Gypsies, they also paid them to ship them out to the colonies and then the traders were paid yet again by the planters for the slaves that were bought by them. Nice little earner, for sure. But this is not a story ever mentioned.

Slavery can obviously only be a Black thing, with all the political correct pressure groups, in the same way as the Holocaust can only be a Jewish thing. No place for the Gypsy in either despite the fact that in both cases Gypsies were the first to suffer.
But in each case the fate of the Gypsy is suppressed and those that wish to mention it are ridiculed or silenced in that there material will not be published; definitely not when it comes to the slavery of Romanichals from England, Manush from France and Gitanos and Ciganos from Spain and Portugal respectively. There is a lobby out there, mush as with regards to the Romani Holocaust, that want to keep slavery a uniquely Black African thing in the same way as another lobby pushes all the time in keeping the Holocaust and Pogroms a uniquely Jewish thing.

Well, I am sorry to upset the applecart here but neither even is uniquely to those groups; the Gypsy has a part in it.

What was the reason for Romanichals from the British Isles being sold into slavery? The same reason why the Rom went to the Nazi concentration camps; it was ethnic cleansing and ultimately it was intended to destroy the Romani People.

Maybe some people would like to think about that but, alas, I doubt it; we are only dirty Gyppos in their eyes.

© M V Smith, August 2007

One Roma killed in bloody racial clashes in Sofia

Sofia, 15.08.2007 10:59

At least one man was killed late on Tuesday night when a huge mob of Roma people gathered in the Sofia district of Krasna Polyana for a revenge of Monday night's mass brawl in the district between Roma and skinheads.

The mob, consisting of around 400 Roma, armed with axes, cudgels and stones, gathered in the Sofia's district where a Vietnamese community lives, demolishing everything that crossed their path.

The police are still investigating the circumstances of the Monday's brawl, but Roma witnesses claimed it was retaliation for an assault the previous night, when 30 skinheads reportedly attacked three Roma teenagers, one of whom was badly beaten.

Between 20 and 30 people were involved in the brawl, although witnesses' reports are contradictory, the police said.

The racial dimension of the clashes is somewhat fueled up by some local media by attaching the derogatory terms "Gypsies" for the Roma involved and claiming that they had chanted "Death for Bulgarians".

Editorial Comment:

If it should indeed be true that the Roma involved had chanted "Death for Bulgarians" then they are no better than those who have been perpetrating the acts against them. We cannot and must not allow ourselves to get down to the same level as those Nazis. While we must fight them we must do this in a different and measured way. It is us who will be made out to look the criminals when such slogans are being chanted. This is like the Rom going and chanting “death to the Gadje”. We cannot and must not stoop that low.

M V Smith, August 18, 2007

Romani Hip Hop singer receives threats from Czech Roma

Czech Romani Hip Hop singer Radek Banga from the famous Gipsy.cz group received threatening phone calls and SMS messages from Czech Rom after his strong statements about people who do not work.

"Kick the bucket if you don't want to do anything," Banga said in an interview on the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) website iDnes.cz, referring to people who do not try to get from a bad social situation by their own effort.

Police are not investigating the threats and Banga has not asked for any protection. "This would be no solution. Nothing would be revealed anyway. And first of all, I don't want to act against my own people," Banga told the media.

Many Romany activists understand Banga's views, but they resent his vocabulary, it is said.

However, all one can say to that is that the truth sometimes hurts and at times it is only harsh words and a good kick up the backside that will get people off their butts.

It would appear as if what Banga said hit a raw nerve with some people and got under the skin of those Roma that are simply too lazy and do not like the idea of working for a living, which, I am afraid to say, seem to be a great number of them in the East. They threaten rather being prepared to change their ways. This is what gives our People a bad name as well.

Opportunities are provided in a great number of Czech municipalities for Roma to work and to better their situation, often in service of the municipality itself, but in one case recently only five, I believe, came forward to a program that had many more places for paid employment and training available. Proof, if any were needed, that too many Eastern European Roma brethren of ours are too lazy and too “proud” to help themselves.

Such attitudes must change and to threaten the messenger of such truths is not the way to go about things.

When one sees the state of the settlements of the Roma in Eastern Europe, with the men doing nothing but sitting idly about smoking and drinking and talking while the women and children are either out begging (or worse) or scavenging for resalable items and food even on the refuse tips, then it proves what Banga said. A strange pride those people have. Too proud to go out to work and earn a living but not too proud to take stuff from the rubbish dumps, even food.

Banga may have used some harsh language but, I assume, he, like many other Rom who do try to make it in this world while still remaining true to their roots, has gotten fed up to the back teeth with such attitudes of those lazy bums who need someone to do everything for them while their settlements drown in litter and they just sit about.

Earlier this year, Gipsy.cz's CD Romano Hip Hop advanced to the European world music top ten. The band is very popular in the Czech Republic among young people.

M V Smith, August 2007

Online Conferencing for Romani Organizations

Every year thousands upon thousands of Euros are being wasted and squandered on gabfests by Romani organizations or other such events on Romani matters, such as the Romani Chib, and others, with no benefit whatsoever for the Rom at a grassroots level.

Much could be achieved with the money in the right hands that is thus wasted on those so-called conferences, congresses and gatherings that are often held in obscure locations. Sometimes one has to wonder as to whether the reason to hold those events in such locations or making them that costly for participants is so that only certain privileged ones are able to attend and the cronies of those who are organizing the events in the particular countries and locations.

Aside from the costs of actually holding such events, such congresses, such as hiring locations and venues, etc. there are all the other costs to the “delegates” and others have to pay in order to attend – one of the reasons why Rom from other countries and from less well-endowed organizations cannot attend – as well as the environmental impact and cost, such as the cost of printing all the various things, the security, the travel, etc.

There is a much better alternative, but will the “baros” ever accept it?

The alternative is the Internet and Online Conference Services. Those cost very little money compared to conferences and congresses held in the real world.

Those services can be small ones like the various Instant Messenger services and programs, such as MSN, Yahoo, AOL, etc. (or others), which permit type, voice and video conferencing with a number of people, or they can be other services, some free, some – most in fact – to be paid for hosted services.

It is possible to hire such services from a variety of hosts and providers, such as WebEx Communications Inc. and many others.

Online collaboration and online meeting and conference services can bring people together from anywhere in the world; dissolve geographical boundaries by enabling people to work together in real-time on the Web – as if they were sitting next to each other.

By using online conferencing services much money can be saved on all sides and a virtual carbon neutral congress can be organized and held for little in the way of monetary outlay. The costs are minimal, especially for the participants as all they need it a PC, whether desktop or notebook, and the environmental impact – something we must consider nowadays as well – is very low. Documents can be sent from one PC to all the others as PDF files with no need for printing and producing. Event security – not cheap either – is not required as there is not physical location where the event takes place.

So, all in favor of online meetings and congresses say “aye”...


© M V Smith, August 2007

Police call for return of Internment

One of Britain's most senior police officers has, so it is reported, demanded a return to a form of internment; with a power for police to lock up suspected terrorist indefinitely without charge while investigations are going on.

Police officers on the ground, so are we told, are asking for this, to enable them to investigate everything properly and without a rush. Right, sure they are. And on an airfield nearby a squadron of pigs is preparing for take off.

It is NOT the police services, I am sure, that are asking for this per se but it is the leaders of those police services being stooges for the powers that be who want a means of detaining anyone who they deem to be a danger to society – for that read also a danger to them and their agenda – without charge, trial and evidence.

Most British MPs would never go along with this if the demand would come from government directly whether from the Home Secretary or the Secretary responsible for Homeland Security. However, if they can be made to believe that the police, and especially the investigating officers, are asking for this then it will be much easier for the MPs to be swayed towards such a move.

Once those powers are granted to police (and other agencies) to detain suspected terrorists indefinitely in interment what is to say that those are not applied also to anyone else the powers that be deem to be a danger; a danger more to them and their shenanigans than to any member of the public. Who after all decides who is a terrorist and who not? What is the determination of a terrorist? They say that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Internment could also, I am sure, in the end be applied to all those that simply speak out against the doings of the government and its agencies. Free speech, we have been told only some months back by a minister of the Home Office is NOT an unalienable right but just a privilege granted to the British subjects and that it could be suspended or withdrawn at any time. We must remember that the UK does not have a written constitution where such rights are enshrined and that the often cited Magna Carta and the Bill of Right does not, actually, have any bearing on the rights of the ordinary subjects of Her Britannic Majesty; none whatsoever. Those rights were and still are, in truth, for the aristocracy and the King's and Queen's liege lords only.

Things are afoot in the European Union and the UK here especially that can only be seen as worrying and when viewed through the eyes of a Rom, a Gypsy, like myself then all those things are very reminiscent of the times of the Nazis and National-Socialism and the era of Stalinism. Both were and are but opposite sides of the same coin. The West is heading currently very much down the slippery slope of fascism yet again, fuelled by the fear of Muslim terrorists and also, for some reason the Gypsy is in the firing line.

All I am seeing is that the EU and not just the EU alone in headed down into dangerous waters that will entirely undermine all personal freedoms to the extent of turning all of its “citizens” into numbers.
I assume the reason they now are therefore also going after the Gypsy is because the Gypsy lives still outside the control of the state to some degree.

We, those of the Rom, and others that may be concerned, must keep a watchful eye on all those developments, especially those that are not paraded that openly. The freedom of all of us is under threat and it is not threatened by a handful of militants and such like but by our very governments.

© M V Smith, July 2007

Brutal Police Raid on Sinti Camp in Brabant

Although informations on this incident are rather sketchy the gist of is that sometime at the end of June 2007 the Dutch Police carried out a raid on a Sinti Camp, a residential trailer park for Sinti, in the province of Branbant, with such heavy handedness, force and brutality that catapulted some of the old folk on that site back in time causing them to believe that the SS and the Gestapo had arrived again.

Every home and every resident on that site was searched; men, women and children, and every person was given a number, written upon their forearm or the hand, reminiscent to the tattoos of the Nazi era.

A great number of the residents of this Gypsy Site are indeed survivors of the Romani Holocaust and were left rather traumatized by this.

No apparent reason seems to have been given for this raid and obviously no apologies offered for the behavior of the police officers involved either.

Should we be surprised that this has been happening now, at the same time while other EU member states also seem to act like the SS towards our People? Probably not, though it does come as somewhat a surprise that such a thing has happened in the Netherlands, a country that has a fairly good record as far as the treatment of the Romani People is concerned, perpetrated by Dutch police officers during an official action. This, in fact, should make us all rather concerned.

Can you all hear the Nazi Jackboots marching under the banner of the EU? I certainly can.

Time for us Rom to stand up and be counted and to prepare to fight for our freedom. The time to hide is gone. It is time to be highly visible and ready to act.

© M V Smith, July 2007

“If I had Dynamite I would just blow them all up”

Czech Senator Liana Janackova advocates blowing up Gypsies or would like them locked up in ghettos behind high walls, barbed wire and gates.

It would appear that nothing is new in the EU as to how Romani-Gypsies are going to be treated despite all the good talk which is nothing but hot air.

There are already concentration camps being contemplated or even being set up as we speak in on EU country – under the guise of so-called “solidarity villages”, actual ghettos proposed that will be settlements with high walls, barbed wire and gates (to protect the Rom from attacks by Nazis they claim – now don't make me laugh) in another, forced integration – for that read “assimilation” - in yet another, and the wholesale sterilization of Gypsy girls and women in some other EU member states; and still they dare to talk about how good the EU is for us, the Rom.

Yes, sure, I guess, in the same was a work made our People free in places such as Auschwitz.

The organization that claims to be the representative of all Rom (and Travellers) in Europe also is rather conspicuous by its silence. When will the People wake up to the fact that the Gadje governments and organizations cannot be trusted when it comes to the affairs of the Romani People, our People, and that neither can Rom organizations that have Gadje amongst their leadership, that are funded by Gadje government bodies, such as the Council of Europe. Any organization that has any of them basically as paymasters bankrolling its operations is hardly going to speak out against what they do. They do not bite the hand that feeds them.

While the claims are always made that the Council of Europe does not equal European Union, in reality, things do look rather different and somehow, so it seems to me at least, the Council of Europe is a or even the major string puller and controlling body of the EU and the Euro-Parliament. Why, if it be not so, are the Commissioners of the Council of Europe/the European Commission so powerful? It is all one entity, divided into little bits so as to appear different to the outsiders.

In order to live as a People the Rom have only one chance and that is to stop letting groups funded by such sources speak for us and we must fund our own organizations – only in this way can we ever hope to achieve independence from the Gadje.

I do know that the likes of RK and others try to claim that the Gadje owe us funding and all that for the mistreatment we have received as a People at their hands over the centuries. Be that as it may and they may indeed owe us, but not in the way of lova. Or can you be bought? Me and my Gypsy Pride are not for sale.
The fact is, in all honesty, that no one owes us anything – we have to fight for it. Freedom is NOT given, it has to be fought for, and often paid for with the highest price. We can, however, never ever hope to achieve freedom as long as our organizations and the “leaders” are in the pockets of Gadje paymasters.

So far the ERTF has made no statement with regards to the concentration camps for Rom well outside Rome, away from schools, etc. but apparently so Gypsy kids can get an education (how please?) but had lots to say in response to a report that claimed that the majority of child beggars in Italy are Eastern European Roma. It would appear that it is more important to the ERTF to counter such a report than to speak out and do something about those camps, those so-called “solidarity villages”. Solidarity, my a**!

Awake Romani People, Arise! Throw of the fetters of slavery!

© M V Smith, July 17, 2007

Czech state to start collecting statistical data on Romanies

The Czech state will start gathering exact and precise statistical data on Romanies in the Czech Republic, such as the number of unemployed Rom and their level of education, Minister Dzamila Stechlikova said.

She said that the state needs such statistics on the Romani People to efficiently solve the problems related to the Romani community.

Also collected will be the data of which schools which Romani children attend, and other data.

This data, so the government of the Czech Republic states, will be done in order to prevent the people's exclusion and discrimination. According to the minster the European Commission shares her government's opinion.

Considering that the EU also says nothing about other actions against Romani-Gypsies in other EU member states it is hardly surprising that it agrees with the Czech government on the need to collect such “statistical data” on the Romani People in the Czech Republic.

People, you can bet your life that this this kind of exercise is not just going to be conducted in the former Czechoslovakia but other EU member states will follow suit with this.

And, once again, the reason given for the need to get all such data is humanitarian, in the same way as the planned concentration camps for Rom outside the city of Rome, Italy, are also humanitarian and are, therefore, called “Solidarity Villages”. What, with armed troops of the interior security police guarding the gates?

Apparently, another EU member state is working on a compulsory program of “Romani integration” - read for that “forced assimilation” - and, it would appear from what has come to my attention, that similar camps may be envisaged to those in Italy.

Furthermore it seems that, even though they vehemently deny this, the Czech and the Slovak governments are both working on the implementation of Gypsy Ghettos outside some of the towns and cities; and yes, they will have walls around them. Oh, and yes, it is for their protection against racist elements.

We saw all those acts before, and all of those were then for our own good, so our People were told, such as to get them into work, into school, to give them health care (some health care that was and some kind of employment). Will our People once again sit there and allow this to happen? Where are the supposed representatives – not that I voted for any of them (I was not asked not were the other millions of grassroots Rom) – such as the ERTF and the IRU? They are very silent as to this matter. Well, not surprising really; they can hardly attack their paymasters.

Romale, Sintiale, don't just sit there and let it happen again. If the “big boys” won't do it join people who are willing to speak out. It must not be allowed to happen again but I certainly can hear the jackboots marching again. Can you?

© M V Smith, July 2007

Romani Solidarity

When one of us bleeds we all do!

“When the Union's inspiration through the People's Blood shall run” would be the first line of the rewritten workers' song “Solidarity Forever”, to suit the Romani struggle, the refrain, the chorus, however, remaining the same, e.g. “Solidarity Forever” and it is this solidarity that we will have to learn, methinks, or relearn, to be more precise.

In truth, there was once a time when we seem to have had something of this solidarity, though never, it would appear, for the entire People. If we want to get anywhere in this world as a People, as a Nation proper, then this must change and we must find it in our hearts to have solidarity with our fellow Rom wherever on this planet that may be. If they hurt and are being attacked or discriminated against the n so is and should every one of us feel that hurt and we should fell righteous anger to speak out against such abuses, etc. But most of us, nowadays, just sit on our butts and hands and do nothing. The formula seems to be “I am all right Jack, what do I care”.

Or was this solidarity of the Romani People of old and the community spirit and the helping all Rom in need just something that everyone has imagined and is it but a myth. From what I am seeing in the last 20-30 years or so I must say it could appear to have been just so.

I do know that in fact that this solidarity did exist but that was before envy end jealousy began to rule our hearts and minds. It was, strangely enough, at a time when life was harder and money scarce and in very short supply often that the Rom shared with any Rom in need. Today, however, sadly, we are worse in that respect than the Gadsche.

We must, however, concentrate with this solidarity on our People, the Romani People and not support the wrong causes, such as illegal encampments by Irish Travellers, for instance, who in other instances will not hesitate to use even the force of arms to push Romanichal residents from official council Gypsy sites and then take those over, forcing the Rom to take to the drom again and then illegal encamp. No Irish Traveller has ever, as far as I know, come to the aid of a Romani family that was forced with eviction. Misplaced solidarity will not reciprocated.

Romani are Romani, as I have said before elsewhere, and Irish Travellers are Irish Travellers and while there are some Romani in Ireland, North and South, the majority of Irish Travellers are not Romani and do not share the same Culture and values. While they may lead a similar life to that what the Romani used to, and some still, do live that is about where the similarities end. While the Rom are a Race the Irish Travellers are nothing but Gohja in trailers, and let's not get fooled in believing the stories about them being an ancient pre-Celtic nomadic people of Eire. Those Irish Travellers that are in trailers (and in kennas) in Eire and in the UK (and those that went to the USA and elsewhere from Great Britain and Ireland) are no older as a travelling people than the potato famine and the great majority in the UK especially only came here during the wars and especially after World War II, the men first as laborers on the road build projects who then later brought their families over, having discovered that the British welfare state would give them anything they wanted without much of a question being asked unlike Ireland where no welfare state existed at that time. Am i being unfair? I do not think so.

When it comes to solidarity it is, as said, our race that comes first and must come first and all of us should feel and express a righteous indignation if but one member of our People is being discriminated against. Alas, however, this does not seem to be the case. Rather, it would appear, most are too busy hiding their ethnicity from the Gohja, who know anyway (I shall say again that no one will ever believe that Giovanni Mettbach is an Italian name), rather than standing up for our brothers and sisters so that they may see this solidarity and, should anyone else of us be in trouble, they are inspired to do the same for us.

One for all and all for one, so, apparently, was the motto of the French Musketeers and this is a motto that we, the Rom, in today's world, would do well to adopt.

© M V Smith, June 2007

Anti-Gypsy-ism is alive and well, unfortunately

While one might have hoped that Anti-Gypsy-ism would by now be a thing of the past this is, unfortunately, not so.
Anti-Gypsy-ism is alive and well in the European Union, and here not just in the new member states, as well as in the United States.

A child, for example, vanishes, while on vacation with her parents in Portugal, in May 2007, and immediately everyone, especially the media, and here especially the gutter press, accuses Gypsies of having abducted the little four-year-old blond girl from Britain.
Why? For what reason?
Well, because the Gadje actually do believe the concocted fairy stories that Gypsies steal children, that’s why. And doesn’t everyone – so at least the media presents the case – know that the favorite ones that Gypsies like to steal are little blond boys and girls?

It is and was exactly the same when the selfsame gutter press screams about hordes of Gypsies coming into the country, as soon as the countries of their residence would be member states of the European Union. Well, that did not actually happen. The gullible Gadje, however, do believe all those stories and many still believe that thousands upon thousands of Rom from Bulgaria, Romania, and such places have come to Britain. Well, there are a few here who, unfortunately, engage in begging and, possibly, pick pocketing, but as for thousands; well, no.

Attacks on Romani in Eastern Europe, even in European Union member states, are common place, with even politicians of such countries being involved in the attacks, on a verbal level at least, and the “crowning glory” must be Volen Siderov of Bulgaria, a presidential candidate apparently even no less, who openly called for Gypsies to me made into soap, in a style that smacked of Nazi extermination policies. One would have hoped that such sentiments and the like had disappeared with the demise of Hitler's Third Reich but, as we can all see, this is not the case, unfortunately, and was rather wishful thinking and no such thing has happened as far as the Gypsy, the Rom, are concerned.

In truth, despite of the very fact that Siderov made such statements, and that the official government of Bulgaria called for the sterilization of all Gypsy women, Bulgaria was still admitted into the folds of the European Union, no questions asked. This shows that the EU has the same disregard for the Rom, as all those other countries that breach the human rights of the Romani People, and pays nothing but lip service to equal rights for the Gypsy.

We, as a People, must stand up now against this trend of Anti-Gypsy-ism and be counted but I also know that I am wasting my breath to call for such a thing and action.

Why? Because most of our People fall into one of two categories: those that wish to hide their ethnicity, their origins, and then those who, while doing the first or not, could care less and could not be bothered as to what is happening to our People as long as it does not affect them and theirs.
Here we will do well to recall the words of the poem by Pastor Dietrich Bonnhoefer and heed the call that if we do not speak out now and stand up and be counted when they come for us there may be no one left to speak out and fight on our behalf.

Think about it...

© M V Smith, June 2007