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
An online protest is available at

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:


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
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