The Scavolini Pesaro team invites the Roma people to the “anti-racism basketball game”

The players and managers will then visit the “nomad” families to take them a message of solidarity.

On Sunday December 28th, 2008 an unforgettable basketball game will take place.

The U.S. Victoria Libertas team, which is known throughout the world as the Scavolini Pesaro team, after taking its name from the long-time sponsor and president Valter Scavolini, will play Gmac Fortitudo Bologna at the Adriatic Arena. It is an important championship game for the Peasaro team, but Scavolini has already achieved its greatest triumph thanks to a courageous decision made by both the club and the players who have decided to promote an anti-racist message which our country and the European Union are in serious need of. Scavolini, in line with the project against racial discrimination it is promoting, and in support of the campaign for the rights of the Roma people promoted by EveryOne Group, has officially invited the Roma community of Pesaro (offering free tickets) to watch the game at the Adriatic Arena. The Roma living in Pesaro will cheer on the Scavolini champions and admire the skills of Curry, Hycks, Hurd, Myers Stanic and Zukauskas while displaying banners with the slogan “The Pesaro Roma support Scavolini against racism”.

Before the New Year, the Scavolini champions and some members of the board of directors will visit the abandoned factory in Pesaro where the Roma live, in a gesture of solidarity and fraternity. “The initiative taken by the Scavolini team is a fine example for Italy and the rest of Europe”, say Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, leaders of EveryOne, “because it emphasises one of the most current and tragic aspects of racism in the present day (both in Pesaro and in other Italian cities) and that is the intolerance shown towards people of the Roma ethnic group, the most vulnerable minority exposed to racist propaganda. It is easy to commemorate the persecution and genocides of other historical periods or other countries, but it takes courage to protest against the racial hatred that is poisoning the society and age we live in.” EveryOne Group has informed the European Commission of Scavolini’s initiative, asking for its example to be presented to the Member States as an educational project against racism, in line with the new Europe which places human rights among its priorities.

A short film will be made and photographs taken during the game and the players’ visit to the Roma camp. This dossier will then be presented to the institutions of the European Union early in 2009. “From the president to the man in charge of contacts with the schools, Rodolfo Filippini; from the champions to the younger players, Scavolini is marking out a new path,” continue the activists, “ a path of solidarity and respect for minorities which makes sport a life model for human society itself. “When we met the Scavolini board, we noticed how genuine their desire was to contribute to the elimination of racial hatred, which is one of the most horrendous crimes of human society.

“During the ‘game against racism’ and the meeting between the men from the Scavolini team and the Roma families,” say Malini, Pegoraro and Picciau, “the younger players and students will have the opportunity to understand the value of solidarity as they shake the hands of people (even youngsters their own age) who live surrounded by racial hatred; people who fight every day the “game of survival” - where what matters is keeping families united and teaching the youngest generations to preserve the gift of hope, even in extreme hardship, exclusion and persecution”.

Source: Gruppo EveryOne

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

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

by Michael Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© M Smith (Veshengro), December 2008

German memorial for Gypsy victims of Nazis – building finally starts

by Michael Smith

BERLIN, Germany, December 2008 – Germany has finally begun the building a memorial to in honor of the approximately one to one-and-a-half million Gypsies persecuted by the Nazis.

Construction on the square well in Berlin's central Tiergarten Park follows 16 years of debate among leading groups representing Germany's Gypsies, or Sinti and Roma. It is due to be completed in 2009.

Romani Rose, leader of Germany's Central Council for Sinti and Roma, spoke at Friday's groundbreaking ceremony. Rose praised the government for "recognizing its historical responsibility for those Gypsies who were persecuted under the Nazis."

The German government, someone should tell Mr. Rose, had recognized the historical responsibility for those Gypsies who were persecuted under the Nazis already a number of years ago but it was Mr Rose's bickering as to the terms that caused the delay. While the majority of Romani in Germany had no qualms with the terminology of “als Zigeuner verfolgten” or the simple word “Zigeuner” (that is to say “Gypsy”) it was Rose and the Central Council for Sinti and Roma that fought tooth and nail against the term “Zigeuner”, insisting it had to be Sinti and Roma. In that same breath they also denied the fact that the Jenisch, another groups of Gypsies in Germany who may or may not be related to the Romani, the Sinti in this case, though at times are intermarried with the Sinti. Then again it is not surprising that the Central Council excluded the Sinti seeing that this very organization that is supposed to be representing the Gypsies of Germany is always trying to exclude the Jenisch from everything.

Depending on the estimates and calculations and the numbers game, and depending who one can and should believe, remembering the hidden agendas to diminish the suffering of the Gypsy People in the Holocaust, between 250,000 to 1.5 million – the high number comes from the Frankfurter Fachhochschule in Germany itself – Gypsies were killed during the Holocaust. Berlin already has memorials to Jews and gay victims killed by the Nazis, which shows, yet again, that Gypsies are only considered as “also ran” despite the very fact that it was Gypsies who were targeted for extermination well before Jews and others and that it was 250 Gypsy children on which Zyclon B gas was trialled.

© M Smith (Veshengro), December 2008

Minister pledges more funds for Janov ghetto

by Michael Smith

Czech Republic: Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Džamila Stehlíková visited Litvínov, the north Bohemian town that recently witnessed two riots of right-wing radicals protesting against the local Romani community.

At the meeting with councilors and representatives of Janov inhabitants, Minister Stehlíková promised help in the near future. She said she would propose the cabinet to include Janov in the list of excluded localities that are entitled to get additional funding for crime prevention and social street workers.

"I apologized to the local people because two years ago I promised Janov would be the number one on the list of the excluded localities that are helped by the “Agency for social inclusion of Romany”. I see it has not happened and I admit it is a mistake," said Stehlíková to journalists. "I want to correct that," she added.

The atmosphere in Janov is currently extremely tense. The locals have been long complaining about the Roma community. Their voices of concern being unheard, they joined the ranks of the extremists on the ominous day of November 17.

But the Czechs in general all complain about the Romanies, whether recent arrivals or not. This has been borne out by studies where the majority of Czechs say that they would not want to have Gypsies as neighbors and that they'd rather have vermin (according to what has been said) than Roma living next to them and they would not want their children to go to the same school as Gypsy children.

The latter is not something that is only happening in the Czech Republic, obviously. It also is the same in Britain even where locals often have a problem, in their minds, with their children and children of the Romani community, being in the same school. Parents have known to have taken their children out of schools here when Gypsy children arrived in those schools.

The recent wave of Romany moving in Janov come allegedly from eastern Slovakia.

"The people that have come to Janov in the past few years are extremely socially deprived. They have entirely different values than the Romani that came to Janov four years ago," Miroslav Brož of the People in Need foundation said.

They are often in big debts, added Brož, they are unemployable owing to a low qualification, frustrated, deprived and aggressive.

So what went wrong? A few years ago, the Litvínov town hall sold flats to real estates that used them for moving in people from lucrative areas. These were mostly Romany who were often unemployed and incapable to pay rent.

"We used to live here quite peacefully with the first Roma people who came here a long time ago. But with the new ones, there are constantly some problems," says a former inhabitant of Janov.

Well, here we have it again. It is obviously the Gypsies that are at fault, as always. At least as far as the locals and the majority non-Gypsies, including the governments, are concerned.

Who, one can but wonder is going to get the funds the minister promised and what are those funds are going to be used for.

The way I perceive it is that the Czech Republic is doing its utmost to get the Romani to leave the country and many of those from Janov have already indicated that they may move to the West, to other EU countries.

Call me a cynic but I have a very strange feeling about all of this. Is this all a concerted effort to cause problems for the Rom community all over the EU in order for the authorities then to have a reason to act against the Rom in a manner similar to what has been done and proposed in Italy and elsewhere? One can but wonder, methinks.

© M Smith (Veshengro), November 2008

Builder gets rid of Travellers by digging a moat around their camp

by Michael Smith

Travellers proved no match for a Bedford builder who forced them off his land by digging a moat around their camp.

Francis Shiner resorted to the measures when Travellers set up camp on the disused car park of a building site in Bedford and refused to leave.

The Travellers were asked to leave because they were hindering work on the site owned by SDC Construction, but they refused.

Workers, so it is said, then put 2.5m high metal fencing around the camp and left a 1.5m gap for the Gypsies to leave through.

When the Travellers still refused to leave, and actually hung their washing on the fence, Shiner sent in a digger to create a moat around the camp, telling them they could leave or be trapped.

They left that evening.

Shiner told the media: “We spoke to them and requested them to move on, but they said they could not do that.

“That is when we advised them that a digger would be around later in the day and if they were still there they would be trapped in – they could please themselves.”

A Bedfordshire police spokesman said if the Travellers had been trapped in the moat, the landowners would not have broken the law.

While one cannot and should not condone the actions of those Travellers the actions of the building company also was despicable. First of a 1.5m wide gap would not allow a trailer to get through, in my calculations, not even a standard car and in all honesty the company should have involved the law.

All things considered, and the police is at fault here, the builder Mr. Shiner has himself broken the law, of that I am sure. His actions would fall foul of a number of legislations and the police should really consider charging him with a number of felonies. In addition to this it was the builder more than the Travellers, in this instance that, according to common law, would have caused a “breach of the peace”.

But, no doubt, Mr Francis Shiner is seen as an upstanding member of the community unlike the dirty Gyppos that had the “audacity” to set up camp on that car park.

© M Smith (Veshengro), December 2008