Guilty until Proven Innocent

Guilty until Proven Innocent is the 35th part of the award-winning news documentary series “Mundi Romani - the World through Roma Eyes” and was shot in September 2010 in France. Since July 2010, the French government's policies on the expulsion of Eastern European Roma have fed an unprecedented media frenzy in Europe and beyond. Rarely had the world heard so much about the Roma. Rarely had so many prejudices and oversimplifications been mirrored in public speech about the state of affairs. Mundi Romani uncovers the roots of the issues at stake, brings to light damning evidence of institutionalized racism in Europe and presents one of the biggest media stories of 2010 as seen through the eyes of the Roma.

New film available at:[video][item]=80

Budapest, December 13, 2010.

Source: Romedia

Dosha - Book Review

“Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies”
A novel Sonia Meyer

“Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies”
Sonia Meyer
ISBN: 978-0-9827115-1-4
Published: November 1, 2010
Wilderness House Press
Price: $24.94 (hardcover) 6 x 9
First Edition: 386 pages

“Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies” begins and ends with Nikita s state visit to Helsinki on June 6, 1957. It begins with security and propaganda preparations for the State Visit and the uneasy wait for his arrival. The end unfolds during the arrival of the Soviet delegation and the motorcade that takes them from the train station to the Soviet Embassy. Within this frame the novel tells the story of the Gypsy girl Dosha; from her childhood spent with Russian partisans in Polish forests to her defection during Khrushchev’s visit.

After the wait for Khrushchev in Helsinki in the first chapter we are then led into the story fully and it begins with 1941 when Russian nomadic Gypsies answer Stalin’s call to sabotage areas already occupied by the advancing German army. They move into Poland where they join Russian partisans and fight for the country that for centuries has shown the Gypsy people love and acceptance.

After the war they return to Russia to resume their traditional nomadic life, only to find increased hostility toward traveling Gypsy people. Finally in l956, during the short-lived Cultural Thaw, while releasing millions of innocent victims of purges still languishing in gulags of Siberia and Russia’s High North, Khrushchev secretly clamps down on the freedom of the last Gypsy tribes still roaming free. So, as a reward for having helped the Soviet forces as partisans during the war they were forced to settle down, and that often in the very same gulags from which dissidents had been released.

The book also introduces the readers to the legend and ancient taboos, including the cult of the horse and others, as well as to some parts of the language.

There will, no doubt, be a fair number of those who will condemn this book and its author, as it seems to happen so often with such novels with a Gypsy theme regardless of how positive the authors may present the People.

Others will, in addition or especially, condemn the author for having revealed, as they would have it, secrets of the Rom too the Gadje, such as the notion of the “Cult of the Horse” and other practices of the People, as well as parts of the Romani Language. And that despite the fact that in the latter case some words have, in fact, come out wrong in the book, such as the word for horse, for instance.

I will say, however, that as an ethnic Romani-Gypsy myself, I have found the book extremely good and the history of the Russian Lovara, and that of the Ruska Rom and Ruska Roma per se, and their persecution by the Soviet state after the Great Patriotic War has been presented finally to the world.

The Soviet persecution of the Rom in the USSR is not well known in the West at all where people believe the Rom to have been treated very well by the state due to, more often than not, simply how the Theater Romen was promoted and presented. The picture of the Romani People having had a good life in the USSR having had a fairly good life is nothing but fiction conjured up by the Soviet propaganda machine and “Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies” presents this rather well to the world.

This book is very important and timely right now in the light of the way that the Rom are still be persecuted to this very day – in fact as you are reading this – in many countries of the European Union even, with Italy, France, Germany and Denmark, it would appear, in the very forefront. The persecution of the Romani People has, in fact, never ever stopped.

The author makes makes probably one of the most important points and observations in this book when she has Dosha, the heroine, realize that the fatal danger to all Rom lies not only in the external enemy that they share but in the deep-rooted divisions among themselves. It is this very division that makes too many of the People oblivious to the fate of other Rom and thus they even endanger themselves.

There is one final point that I think that must be mentioned though the fault does not lie with the author but with those that may have advised her and that is the term “Poriamos” for the Romani Holocaust. This very word is an invention of Prof. Ian Hancock and the International Roma(ni) Union and would not have existed and been used that shortly after the war. It also is created in a Romanian Romani dialect, with the ending of “-mos” being the dead giveaway. The older term of Samudaripen, as used by Sinti groups, may already have been in existence and use at that time but even of that we cannot be sure.

The author of “Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies”, Sonia Meyer fled the Nazis with her parents when she was 2 years old to live in the woods of Germany and Poland with partisans and Gypsies. There her father taught her to throw hand grenades using a wooden darning egg.

They lived in the woods, in abandoned houses, in isolated excursion inns, in fields and barns, always dodging the German and later Soviet armies who hunted them relentlessly.

Shortly after the war Sonia and her family returned to Cologne, Germany where she foraged for food with a band of Gypsies camped nearby. She now lives in Wellington, FL, USA.

In conclusion I would just like to say, aside from the fact that I have immensely enjoyed the book, that I am also very happy to recommend it.

© 2010

Paris: Fake Cops “raid” Gypsy Camp

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

France, October 30, 2010: Unknown perpetrators in the night from Friday 10/29/2010 to Saturday 10/30/2010 attacked a Roma camp in the small Parisian suburb of Triel-sur-Seine.

The masked attackers, armed with firearms and batons, entered the camp with a car fitted with a blue light.

The unknown perpetrators who, according to residents of the camp, were “dressed just like police officers” forced entry to the caravans of the Roma who originate from Romania. One woman claimed that she was forced to undress and many residents of the camp claim that those fake cops took their identity documents from them.

The perpetrators said to have discharged several rounds from their guns into the air and after about half an hour finally left the scene.

According to agency reports around thirty Roma families are living on a private piece of land for a number of years already under constant threat of forced removal on the plain of Triel-Chanteloup, an otherwise rather posh suburb of Paris, and have already for a long time requested from the authorities that they be given access to municipal water or alternative accommodation.

This story obviously has two rather sinister connotations. One is that probably right-wingers pretending to be police officers have attacked this camp or, two, that the attackers were, in fact, police officers and not fake cops at all.

Either way, this is a rather worrying state of affairs for any of us, whatever minority or race we may happen to be, other that white, and, probably, not just in France.

Acts such as those could happen anywhere and the reason that I am saying that there could be the possibility that those attackers were, in fact, real cops is that incidents like that have happened in Britain, in a particular South-Eastern county, at a more or less regular basis. On incident that I am aware of was perpetrated by officers on their way home from an exercise. Something that was vehemently denied by the chief of the county's police despite of evidence to the contrary.

Methinks that the Romani People in Europe have to be very much on their guard again, especially those of us that still travel, regardless from where in Europe we may come and where we may be.

© 2010

Dark Clouds Gather over Europe once again!

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The dark clouds of racism and xenophobia and of fascism, once again, gather over Europe and the actions against the Romani People in many countries of the European Union is ample proof of that.

We had hoped, like Viviane Reding of the Council of Europe said in her condemnation of the actions of the French government against Gypsies in its country, that those scenes would be a thing of the past; of the darkest times of the history of Europe.

But, alas, as I have been predicting for years, the past is coming back to haunt us because we never buried it properly.

When it comes to us, the Gypsy, all the legislations and all the talk of equality and all that jazz are nothing but empty words. To the powers that be and the majority of the Gadje per se we are and remain but the dirty Gypsy.

Now, in the economic climate of the Great Recession, the Gypsy is made to be the scapegoat for all of society's ills. The Gypsy takes away jobs, the Gypsy does this and the Gypsy does that. I am waiting when we are being accused, once again, of poisoning wells, carrying the Plague and being spies for the Turks or whoever.

While I am the first to admit that there are bad apples in the barrel of the Romani People that are involved in criminal activities, from low-level to very serious stuff, this does not mean that every Gypsy is a thief or even a child-trafficker.

However, the way the governments of many European Union member states behave it will be community punishments for those few that are involved in crimes. This is the same what happened under the Nazis in Germany and elsewhere. And the EU does what? Precisely...

In fact, to all intents and purposes, it is beginning to look as if we are seeing “ethnic cleansing by proxy” here in many of the EU member states on the European mainland. This is worrying and scary at the same time.

In Switzerland anti-Gypsy xenophobia is spreading too, but then again it was in Switzerland where Gypsy children were routinely stolen from their parents and placed in institutions and sold as slaves to farmers well into the second half of the twentieth century.

Is the entire European mainland about to go mentally deranged once again as far as the Gypsy is concerned? It would appear thus. And the world had thought that that was all behind us.

For years I have been saying that I could see the spectre of anti-Gypsyism of the Nazi kind rising in Europe again and that I could see the EU as, more than likely, having a part in such persecutions even and everyone thought me to be out of my mind. Looks like my fears are coming true, unfortunately.

And what do our “leaders? Where are the IRU and where is the ERTF? Conspicuous by their silence and this silence is really deafening and it proves where they really stand and what really counts for them; power and money. The People are but a means to an end for them.

The grassroots let it happen too and are lethargic as always. If we do not make a stand now then we deserve no better than to be seen as a People as scroungers and whatever else.

While we may be Stini or Cale and not Roma we are, nevertheless, all Romani and hence cousins and that alone should make us do something but...

So keren?

© 2010

Has the EU finally has decided to take France to task?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Epsom, UK, 09/29/2010: In follow on to my previous article where Reuters had reported that the EU is dropping any action against France over the expulsions and forced deportations of Roma-Gypsies, it would appear that it is on again.

When the powers that be can work out whether they are in the potato field or out of it it would be nice if they could let us all know.

So, apparently, the European Commission, which to all intents and purposes is the real power behind the European Union, has now decided to start proceedings against France over the issue of deportations of Roma-Gypsies from its territory.

I must say that I am not going to hold my breath as blue does not suit me as a color in the face and I also don't have any intention of dying that way.

That is to say that I do not hold out any hopes that anything will come of all the talk and rhetoric and all the posturing.

France will, I am sure, just like Italy did last year, put two fingers up at the European Union legal bodies and decide to carry on with “business as usual”, especially as it would appear that there are a number of EU countries that, even if not all that publicly, actually have congratulated France on its actions.

There is one thing what they say in public, in the view of the world, and another what they say and do in private. While many of us have a beef with Israel, the Zionist entity in Palestine, at least the Zionists don't seem to say one thing to the world and do another. They just stick the two fingers up at world opinion, period.

I am waiting EU, but not holding my breath. Surprise me and my People.

© 2010

EU backs down on action against France over deportation of Roma

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Brussels, EU, 09/29/2010: An astonishing U-turn in the conflict in the European Union about France's mass deportation of Roma-Gypsies with EU citizenship (and even French citizenship?) has occurred.

The European Union is now, despite all the talk and rhetoric, after all not going to start legal proceedings against France, according to the Reuters news agency, who gives an EU-diplomat who is dealing with this case as source.

The European Commission will, instead, ask the French government in writing for further information on the issue, said the EU insider.

This decision comes as rather a surprise to many – though not me: Only a few days ago everything pointed to the European Commission taking action and bringing – or at least trying to – France before the European court.

I must say that, having been in Gypsy politics long enough and never trusted the European Union, it does come as no surprise to me. I would have been surprised had the EU via the Commission done something that really would give France a rap over the knuckles at least.

All the talk about freedom of movement of EU citizens does not, it would appear, apply to the Romani, the Gypsy, regardless as to whether he is a citizen of France, Italy or Romania.

France, so I understand, has even reinstated the travel pass for the Gypsies in France, the “Carnet de Circulation” (sp?), which supposedly had been abolished in the 1980s.

So much for the “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” of the French Republic. It applies to all as long as you are not Gypsy or immigrant, it would seem.

In Germany things are not much better either; I am well aware of that, and in many of the new EU member states, such as Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the former Czechoslovakia, and Poland. Even in the supposed bastions of freedom such as Denmark and Sweden things do not look rosy for the Gypsy.

Europe of the early 21st century very much looks like Europe 70 years ago, at least as far as the Gypsy is concerned, and a real sense of deja vu comes over me when I see what is happening all over the European Union on the mainland.

It would appear that the only one who can help the Gypsy is the Gypsy.

© 2010

Green Party conference passes Emergency Motion on Roma

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

September 2010: On the heels of French deportations of Roma that have hit international headlines in recent weeks, Green Party autumn conference has passed an emergency motion on the issue.

The emergency motion urged "all Green Party elected representatives in local, national and international governments apply maximum pressure toward improving equality and access to services for Roma people and asserting their human rights."

Keith Taylor, the proposer of the emergency conference motion, and the Green Party's MEP for South East England, said: "The Roma are European citizens, yet some of their most fundamental rights – including freedom of movement within the EU and access to services – have been abused. It's clear that the actions against them are driven by xenophobia, and represent a flouting of national obligations under international law."

The motion expresses "profound concerns over the recent treatment of Roma people in France and Italy. In particular, the mass deportations of Roma people which appear to have been made purely on the grounds of ethnicity." It also points out that similar actions by the governments of Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
There are an estimated 10-12 million Roma people in the EU, making them the EU's largest ethnic minority.

Full text of emergency resolution can be found below:-

This conference:

- that the Roma community is Europe's largest ethnic minority, at 10-12 million people, and trace their roots back to India in the Middle Ages

- profound concerns over the recent treatment of Roma people in France and Italy. In particular, the mass deportations of Roma people which appear to have been made purely on the grounds of ethnicity
- concerns also about similar government actions in Germany, Denmark and Sweden
- support for the calls for legal action against the Member State governments for their deportation of Roma people

- that deportation on ethnicity is wholly wrong and immoral and cannot be tolerated
- that such deportations are illegal, run counter to the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights and infringe the freedom of movement to which all European citizens are entitled
- that travelling Roma people are entitled to suitable health, housing, education and social services in every EU Member State
- that this week's decision by the European Parliament to condemn the French government and demand an immediate halt to deportations is to be welcomed
- that UK national and local government must improve service provision for gypsies and travelling people

& Therefore Requests
- that all Green Party elected representatives in local, national and international governments apply maximum pressure toward improving equality and access to services for Roma people and asserting their human rights
- the European Commission to urgently develop a pan-European Roma integration strategy
- that GPEx communicates' members wishes

It is such a shame that the Green Party and the governments of most countries seem to have no idea as to the fact that not all Romani People, the real and true Gypsy, are Roma. There are in fact two if not three groups and those are the Sinti, the Roma and the Cale (Kale/Kaale), though the later group may, in fact be part of the Sinti People.

In addition there are certain groups that are called Roma, such as the Lovara, but which are honor-bound to the Sinti.

Therefore it is wrong to call all Romani Roma and the term Romani should be used. The Sinti, whatever some misguided people claim, are not part of the the Roma or a sub-tribe of the Roma but are Sinti and while Romani are NOT Roma.

Another thing that must be said is that the Green Party, unfortunately, also has not comprehension of ethnicity and that ethnic people's names, even though they may be terms the people may or may not use, are proper nouns and that Gypsy is written thus and not gypsy.

Some people appear to be educated beyond their capacity. But then again, that is nothing new. Most journalists who have spent years at university studying journalism also do not know that Gypsy is a noun.

© 2010

Romanichal – The Origin of the Word

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The word Romanichal, or Romanichel in the French-speaking areas, has the “experts” in a quandary again and again. They claim the word “chal” to be from this or that, even as far as suggesting it has something to do with the ancient Chaldea, but they just come nowhere near the truth.

Especially as the truth is so much simpler. All one has to understand is how languages are perceived by those that do not know the way of their pronunciation.

The truth, as I said, to the origin of the word Romani Chal, now written Romanichal, is so much simpler than the experts try to think and make out.

It all originates from a misunderstanding and then a misspelling of what the People originally said.

They did not call themselves Romani Chal, Romanichal – nay – but Romane Chave or Romano Chav for a single male.

As the word “Chav” for “chavo” – boy – is pronounced by the Sinti groups as “chau”, written in the German writing of the Sinti Chib often as “Tschau”, but sounding like “chow”. Thus a misunderstanding occurred and outsiders began calling them Romani Chal, thus “chal” was born, for the untrained ear of the outsiders did now here an “au” ending but a “l” ending.

And yes, it is as simple as that.

Romane Chave was once the collective name for most of the Eastern Sinti, such as nowadays are called Bergtike, Veshtike, Feldtike, and, Fortike, and all which are Sinti, though referred to as Rom Polska – as opposed to Polska Roma.

The Gypsyologists all, whether Gypsy or Gadje, just claim, when suggestions of origin, though like Chaldea rather outlandish, that the word “chal” has an Indian origin. This shows how little they actually know and how little understanding of the language they actually have.

While I no longer speak much of the Chib and many of them are quite fluent in a bookish version of Kalderash Romanes, which would not be my dialect anyway and one that I would never even consider learning, as I am of the Sinti and not of the Kalderash Roma, they have no true understanding, it would appear, of the sounds of the language, especially amongst some groups.

Thus, the origin of the word is that simple as I have outlined and is but a misunderstanding and thus a misspelling of the word “Chavo” or “Chav”.

Mystery solved!

© 2010

Denmark following Italy in Anti-Gypsy measures?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Is Denmark, a country once thought of, alongside of the Netherlands, as a bastion of liberty and liberalism in Europe, following Italy now in anti-Gypsy measures? It would appear so if recent reports are anything to go by.

Danish media reported on July 6, 2010 that 23 ethnic Roma who are citizens of other EU member states were arrested following anti-Roma statements by Mayor Jensen, who called on the Danish government to adopt measures to rid Copenhagen of criminal Roma, blaming them for thefts and asking the police to expel them.

The Mayor’s statements caused Minister of Justice Barfoed to react, condemning the Roma in question to be illegal residents and pledging strong police action against them. Despite the apparent absence of an investigation or conviction for the alleged thefts, Danish authorities are reported to have expelled the detained EU Roma.

It would appear that all over Europe members of the Romani People, aka Gypsies, are, once again, being used as scapegoats for all manner of things.

While I will be the first to admit that there are bad apples in the Gypsy basket there are criminal elements also other, non-Gypsy groups, and none of their ethnicity is being broadcast when some engage in criminal activities.

When a couple of Turks or Albanians commit crimes somewhere does a country round up all of those of that community with view of expelling them? No, they do not. Why then when it comes to members of the Romani People?

Once again the Gypsy People are the scapegoats for all things evil in Europe and Europe is turning into an Anti-Gypsy society as it was in the 19th century and the Nazi era.

Not that I had ever expected anything else from the European Union, at least as far as the treatment of the Romani People is concerned, and have stated so more than once. The worst Anti-Gypsy countries are in charge; Germany, Italy, France and Denmark for starters, and the “new” countries in the East are even worse in their anti-Gypsyism.

© 2010

Mapping the Invisible - EU-ROMA Gypsies – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Mapping the Invisible - EU-ROMA Gypsies
Edited by Lucy Orta
Published by Black Dog Publishing April 2010
Paperback 192 pages 153 b/w and color illustrations 11.5 x 8.5 in
ISBN: 978-1-906155-91-9
UK £24.95 US $29.95

Mapping the Invisible is the first publication dedicated to Gypsies of the European Union.

Gypsies are constantly in the news and Gypsy folk bands are rising up the charts. “Mapping the Invisible” expands on this and takes a more complete look at the culture and lifestyle of the Romani Gypsies, unfortunately though, and this detracts from a great quality book, all under the term Roma, which is incorrect, especially when also Irish Travellers are being incorporated.

Mapping the Invisible: EU-Roma Gypsies takes the reader on a visual journey across Europe with a focus on its fastest-growing ethnic minority: the Romani, the Gypsy People.

It is sad though that the editor and writers of this book fall into the trap created by the academics and people with a vested interest and call all of the Romani People Roma, which is incorrect. The Roma are but one part of the Romani; others are the Sinti, to which the Romanichals belong, and the Cale (Kale). There are Kale in Spain and Kale in Wales (United Kingdom) as well as Kale in Finland.

Then, in the same breath, they have included, as I have indicated already, yet again, more than likely due to bad advice, the Irish Travellers in the whole and while it may be correct that some Irish Travellers have married with Romanichals and Romanichals with Irish Travellers in general there is not much love lost between them and the Romanichals want little if anything to do with them.

Irish Travellers are not Romani and definitely not Roma, though there are some Irish Gypsies that are of Romani origin. In general, however, the Irish Traveller is no more Romani than the ordinary Gadje, the non-Romani. It is not the lifestyle that makes one Romani, that makes one Gypsy but the Blood that courses through one's veins.

This publication is the result of a unique partnership called EU-ROMA, formed by a group of architects, designers and artists wishing to raise awareness of the diversity and richness of the Roma people. The book shows us the EU-ROMA projects conducted together with the Gypsy communities in Romania, Greece, Italy and the UK.

The EU-ROMA partnership was formed as a result of European Community funding, linking the four countries, with the emphasis on an open dialogue on Roma housing issues and public space. The outcomes of EU-ROMA form the heart of this book.

It is also a shame that the writers of this book have not realized that Gypsy and Gypsies is written with a capital first letter, as any ethnic groups and not a lowercase one.

What no one seems to mention when they talk about Gypsy housing in the UK is the fact – unless I have missed it in the book – that residents on Gypsy Caravan Sites provided by the local authorities, whether borough or county level, have no security of tenure, unlike those that rent ordinary council houses.

The Gypsy on a site, even though he will pay rent, council tax, and all the rest has no rights of his plot on which he parks his trailer, his caravan and also the castle doctrine of the inviolability of a home and no search without a warrant and due course does not apply to him.

Should the police raid a Gypsy site all trailers will be searched, and that often in the most demeaning, to a Gypsy, manner.

Britain is seen by many as a bastion of liberty and equal rights and human rights but that does not extend to the Gypsy population who have been here for hundreds of years if not longer even. The Gypsy is a third class citizen, if he is even regarded as a citizen, in Britain.

It is that that must be brought out as well in books. We know how bad it is in the rest of Europe, in Italy, in Hungary, in Romani, Bulgaria, etc. Little is said, however, as to the human rights violations against the indigenous Romani in Britain and also in Germany.

The great European beacons of freedom and justice are not thus when it comes too the Gypsy. Let us not forget that.

“Mapping the Invisible - EU-ROMA Gypsies” is a very interesting book that has, as far as general housing ideas for Gypsies, quite some good food for thought as well, as long as the People would just be allowed to do things for themselves in this department.

A good and interesting book that is being degraded by the fact that the research has not been done in the right places as regards to the understanding of who or what the Romani are and how they are constituted and also as to the fact that at times the noun Gypsy is not written as one.

The book could have gotten a 10 out of 10 were it not for those issues and can therefore only be given a 7 out of 10. Such a shame.

© 2010

Sinti and Roma in Germany protest against “marginalization”

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma (Zentralrat Deutscher Sinti und Roma) demands that the Gypsy victims of the Holocaust shall be represented by a speaker of their own People for the opening of the Documentation Center of the Nazi Time “Topography of the Terror” (Topographie des Terrors).

It cannot be justified that the genocide on the Sinti and Roma should be marginalized at the ceremony in the grounds of the former Nazi Terror control center in Berlin said the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma Tuesday, May 4, 2010, and rightly so.

The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Charlotte Knobloch, will speak on Thursday, May 6, 2010, on behalf of all groups of victims, said a speaker for the “Topography of the Terror” in reply to a media request.

This means once again the Romani People are being denied their voice and representation in this.

At least half a million – a very conservative estimate – of Sinti and Roma were murdered by the Nazis in Germany and in the occupied territories and some studies talk of at least 1.5 million to even 2 million murdered Gypsies.

But, once again, the Jewish-dominated Holocaust memorial machinery will not permit Gypsies their rightful place, for lack of a better word, for the Romani People were persecuted for the same reasons as the Jews, namely for reasons of Race. Time this was understood by the Jews and others.

All too often, however, one finds that Jews will comment that Jews were persecuted for reasons of race but Gypsies were only sent to the gas because of them having been asocial.

It is, in my opinion, rather awful when one group, in this case the Jews, demand, basically, that the Holocaust, as far as Race is concerned, is their sole domain, especially when it is not.

The Gypsy Peoples of Germany, and later in the occupied areas, were in fact and truth the very first victims of the madness of racial purity that was the Nazi laws.

The first victims of Zyklon B gas were Gypsy children in Bohemia, who were being used as guinea pigs to see if the gas worked and how much was needed to kill a person.

It is high time that those facts became common knowledge but I doubt that those that try to keep the Holocaust a unique event for themselves will ever permit that.

© 2010

Romani People in Italy – Milan in 2010, Warsaw in 1940

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In spite of the recent resolution issued by the European Parliament reasserting the illegality of the camp clearances without alternative lodgings; despite the warning from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that Roma settlements must be protected and the forced evictions stopped, the Milanese local authorities, undaunted, are still persecuting the Roma and Sinti communities present on its territory.

On April 9th, a deployment of 30 local police officers cleared the three settlements in Via Siccoli, Via Guglielmo Pepe and Ponte delle Milizie. More than 100 Roma citizens living in conditions of extreme hardship (among them sick and handicapped people, pregnant women and children) were charged with illegally occupying private land and forced to leave their makeshift shelters despite having nowhere else to go, or being offered any social assistance.

The huts the families were living in were bulldozed, while the areas will soon be “secured” to prevent the Roma or homeless returning to the site. While Riccardo De Corato, the deputy-mayor, gives interviews to newspapers and TV channels boasting about the operation that has led to the umpteenth humanitarian crisis, Milan has also adopted repressive measures against the Roma who live in “authorized camps”.

Before next summer, in fact, twenty surveillance cameras are due be installed over the entrances to the settlements in Via Triboniano, Via Idro, Via Chiesa Rossa and Via Martirano.

Those cameras will be linked up to police and Carabinieri stations to control the families living in the camp around the clock; families who have already suffered the humiliation of having to adhere to “a sociality pact”, which are special laws very similar to the rules in force in the ghettoes during the Nazi period. The project, initiated by the local authorities, has been approved by the City Police Chief, Gian Valerio Lombardi.

The cost of installing these cameras amounts to 479,000 Euros - an astronomical sum, 24,000 Euros per camera ! “With this amount, added to the other 12 million Euros that Milan spends every year on clearing Roma settlements,” say EveryOne Group's co-presidents, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, “our organization could have funded thirty factories in the “Romasia Project”, and this would have provided a home and work for all the Roma families present in Milan today. Instead, these policies, which are prompted by racial hatred, have led to a huge waste in public money; offered a terrible image to the world of a city that claims to be a European metropolis - and caused a disastrous situation of hardship and marginalization for more than one thousand human beings”.

Let us not forget that Gypsy children in Italy – those from those special new camps particularly – have to wear badges on their clothing identifying as Gypsies. If that is not a rerun of the Nazi era then I do not know what is.

Britain 2010

In addition to that may I issue a warning to the Romani and Travellers in Britain for many of the local authorities intend to also place CCTV cameras on and near the official Gypsy Caravan Sites that they manage, with the cameras pointing into the sites in order “to monitor for acts of anti-social behavior. This is not part of a Tory manifesto, folks, but one that Labor has on its books.

Recently we were treated here to a publication by the government aimed at local authorities which is a guide on how to tackle anti-social behavior amongst Gypsies and Travellers. Could anyone imagine such a document to read as to tackling anti-social behavior amongst Blacks or Asians or Jews? No, and rightly so. But when it comes to the Gypsy then that all is OK under the British government and in the EU too.

Human rights for all unless they are Gypsy, it would seem to be the case.

© 2010

No Gypsies Served - Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

No Gypsies Served
by Miriam Wakerly
Paperback 262 pages
Published 01/03/2010
by Strongman Publishing
ISBN: 9780955843211
Price: £8.99

“No Gypsies Served” is to all intents and purposes the sequel to “Gypsies Stop tHere”, which was Miriam Wakerly's first novel, published 2008, however, both books can equally stand alone even though they are connected. I would therefore recommend to buy both books. The reader won't regret it, of that I am sure.

The back cover of the book reads: “Two years have passed since Kay successfully campaigned for the Appley Green Gypsy Site,and four years since her husband was murdered. Life in the village was going so well until the phone call and letter. Then comes the disastrous site opening. Worst of all, Dunstan, whom she realises is her best friend and ally, is giving her the cold shoulder for some unknown reason. Dunstan is taking an emotional trip down memory lane, into childhood as a Gypsy on the road, and his eventual break from his people. Why is he so angry with Kay that he keeps away from her? Chances of a longed for reconciliation look slim ...” More I shall not give away of the story, for that would no be fair.

This is another great book by Miriam Wakerly dealing with the subject of Gypsies and Travellers in Britain and this one may possibly be even better than the previous one entitled “Gypsies stop tHere”. In fact I would say that it is a brilliant book and one that will have the reader spellbound. The story is extremely well written and the information regarding the Gypsy persecution at home and abroad is well represented. The story has multiple strands that are all extremely believable and real and which will have the reader riveted. Personally, I can identify with the figure of the Gypsy Dunstan in the story as growing up in a bender was also part of my childhood. Much has changed since and I am now, amongst other things, a journalist and living in a house. In the end the story turns out well for all concerned and it would be so good if this book would lead to such things in real life too."

Some of Dunstan's memories that he is writing down reminded me, as I have said above, of my own childhood around the highways and byways of the English countryside. But would I want to ever return to that life? The answer here is an definite no. And I must say that anyone who claims, after living in bricks and mortar, he wishes to be back po drom cannot be serious. But, I digressed.

This book is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend to the reader and the story will leave the reader spellbound throughout the entire book. Miriam has put so many different angles and plots into this book that boredom just cannot ever rear its head, making this book a real page turner.

I initially read the book, in manuscript form, when I was suffering from the Swine Flu and the side effects of Tamiflu and it was reading the manuscript for this book that kept me sane.

In both her books “Gypsies Stop tHere” and “No Gypsies Served” the author portrays Gypsies (and Travellers) as individual people, just like the rest of the population, making their way in life in the best way that they are able to.

Reading this compelling story allows one to hope for it to become perfectly possible for Gypsies to be accepted successfully into our communities. This will, however, require a deal of give and take, and that on both sides.

Miriam's books, hopefully, will go some distance towards this understanding in that it may make the Gohja, the non-Gypsy, understand that Gypsies do not have cloven hooves and do not steal children, etc., and also, hopefully, for I also recommend that Gypsies and Travellers read this book, for members of the Gypsy and Traveller communities to understand why, possibly, there are those prejudices in the non-Gypsy population towards us.

Miriam Wakerly has many articles and short stories published in magazines. “No Gypsies Served” is her second published novel. She has a BA Degree in Combined Studies (English, French, Sociology and Politics)from Leicester University and is a member of the Society of Authors. a non-Gypsy she has studied the subject and gives talks. She was on BBC Oxford, The Write Lines, in November 2009.

© 2010

Full Disclosure Statement: O NEVO DROM received no compensation for any component of this article.


While the Spanish EU Presidency invites hundreds of politicians and Roma activists for the Second European Roma Summit in Cordoba, more than sixty Roma youngsters from all over Europe organize the first European Roma YOUTH Summit on April 7th-9th2010. In a base camp in a public square in Cordoba there will be a point for discussions, presentations, market of organizations, film screening, music, arts and media conference.

Our activities take place in the framework of the international youth network –“ternYpe’’. We are a network of youth and youth associations which create space for young people to become active citizens through empowerment, mobilization, self-organization and participation. We believe in the common efforts by creating trust, and mutual respect between Roma and non-Roma youth. The actions are organized in cooperation with the campaign “Typical Roma?” of the “ERGO Network”.

Special thematic workshops are organized by and for youngsters to discuss their issues and to share experiences. Although we young people do not participate in the official Summit, we want to show that we are actively engaged in constructive discussions and that we can contribute with our own ideas and visions.

The program of the First European Roma YOUTH Summit under the slogan “Be young, be Roma” includes street actions in Cordoba, and an artistic performance on stage of an international youth group from 12 countries prepared during a 7-day training on creative campaigning.

The Roma youngsters want to raise the awareness for active citizenship of ALL in ONE society. On behalf of “ternYpe” we appeal to politicians and MEP’s to put the youth issue on the agenda and to include young people in the decision making process, to promote a positive image of Roma and to strengthen the voice of Roma youth in order to stand up against discrimination and stigmatization.

The training-course and the European Roma Youth Summit is an independent initiative of ternYpe and is sponsored by the “Youth in Action” program of the European Union, OSCE, ERGO Network, “Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future” and Consell de la Joventut de Barcelona.

Corin Redgrave, British Actor and political activist dies aged 70

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Corin Redgrave, Tony-nominated British actor, has died on April 6, 2010 at St. George's Hospital in London. Redgrave, who was previously treated for heart problems and prostate cancer, was 70 years old.

He was a member of a prominent British acting family, and his siblings Vanessa and Lynn have also led successful careers in theatre, as well as his niece, the late Natasha Richardson.

He made his Broadway début in 1963 in “Chips With Everything”, but is perhaps best known for his role in the 1994 film “Four Weddings and a Funeral”.

Redgrave was nominated in 1999 for a Tony Award for Best Actor in “Not About Nightingales”. He won an Olivier Award for the same role in the Tennessee Williams play in 1998. His other theatre credits include the Off-Broadway production of “The General from America” in which he played Benedict Arnold.

Redgrave also appeared in Shakespearean plays such as “Much Ado About Nothing”, “Henry IV, Part 1”, and “The Tempest”. He gained the approval of critics in the works of Noel Coward, notably a highly successful revival of “A Song At Twilight” co-starring his sister Vanessa Redgrave and wife Kika Markham.

He was also a lifelong activist in left-wing politics and together with his elder sister Vanessa, he was a prominent member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party. More recently, he became a defender of the interests of the Romani people.

Redgrave is survived by his four children, Luke, Harvey, Arden and Jemma.

Once again our People have lost someone, though a Gohja, who was prepared to make a stand for the rights of the Gypsy, the Romani. May he rest in peace.

© 2010

New guidance to help communities tackle anti-social behaviour associated with Gypsies and Travellers

UK Government publishes “Guidance on managing anti-social behaviour related to Gypsies and Travellers”

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The British government department for Communities and Local Government has published at the end of March 2010 a document entitled “Guidance on managing anti-social behaviour related to Gypsies and Travellers” and this once again shows that it seems totally acceptable to, time and again, make reference to “Gypsies and Travellers” when it comes to crime and anti-social behavior but you can all bet we would never see anything like that with Afro-Caribbean, Asian or Jews in the title.

Local councils need to work more closely with other agencies to address anti-social behaviour associated with Gypsies and Travellers, Communities Secretary John Denham said at the launch of the document on March 23, 2010.

As with all communities, he said, only a small minority of Gypsies and Travellers behave anti-socially and their mobile lifestyle can exacerbate this - but perceptions that the community is not dealt with the same as other communities damage public confidence about fair treatment for all.

This guidance for local authorities, the police and other agencies, sets out the strong powers that are available to them in dealing with anti-social behaviour associated with Gypsies and Travellers – whether they are the perpetrators or the victims – and where possible preventing such behaviour before it occurs. Powers include Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) and injunctions.

This guidance makes clear what action can be taken on policing and prevention, fly-tipping, noise, straying livestock and untaxed vehicles. It also stresses the importance of agencies working together to apply the same rules to Gypsies and Travellers when gathering evidence, prosecuting and collecting fines.

He also welcomed new planning rules which will speed up the enforcement process where it may be necessary so that quicker action can be taken against developments without planning permission such as unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller sites.

When it comes to Gypsies and Travellers, however, this seems to be totally acceptable to both government, the race relations industry and the general public alike.

Neither of them would permit any other ethnic group be mentioned in the same context but for the Dirty Gyppy and Traveller that is OK, they seem to think.

Well, it is not OK and it is a disgrace.

Yes, there are bad apples in the barrel of Gypsies and Travellers, but then the same is true with other ethnic communities and with the general population as a whole. Why, then, are Gypsies and Travellers singled out in this way?

And when we are talking Gypsy Sites – although the mention above is of “unauthorized” sites – no one, as yet, has given Gypsies and Travellers right of secure tenancy when they rent plots on official caravan sites.

Unlike the majority of the population if they rent from the local council or housing association who have security of tenure, this does not apply on Gypsy Sites and residents there can be evicted for nigh on no reason at all at a very short notice without any redress.

But then, we are but Dirty Gyppos and we deserve not better. That, at least seems to be the attitude of government, race relations industry, and general public alike.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said that he Gypsy and Traveller community is treated no differently than the rest of the community. Perpetrators of crime and antisocial behaviour will be punished and, where appropriate, taken through the criminal courts and jailed.

It would be nice to know in which parallel universe the minister happens to live, together with the great majority of his colleagues in the House of Commons and the Other Place, as member of the Commons call the House of Lords, for it definitely is not on this planet.

Gypsies (and Travellers) have always been treated differently to the non-Gypsy population, despite what the current Home Secretary and his colleagues seem to believe.

Copy of the guidance is available at:

Copyright © 2010

PCC shuts down journalist's Blog for telling the truth

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Press Complaints Commission shuts down Spectator Blog for saying that the majority of all crimes in London are committed by Afro-Caribbean youth; which is, after all true.

This is, once again, is political correctness gone wrong and, in fact, much more. It is an attempt to rewrite the truth. Had the journalist talked about Gypsies in this way nothing, nothing whatsoever, would have happened, even if he would have been wrong.

The journalist in question is not wrong, however, for it is indeed, and that is fact and can be verified with police statistics, the truth that the majority of all crimes in the capital are committed by young black people, and here young black men in particular.

But, obviously, one cannot say that, as regards to the Afro-Caribbean young people, while at the same time every Gypsy can be painted with the same brush of being a tramp, a con-artists, a thief; in short, a criminal.

Personally, I must say that I am not surprised at all; I am just annoyed of the way we are acting and suppressing the truth, while at the same time the media and others are allowed to malign the Gypsy community.

Let's call a spade a spade and a shovel and shovel...

Copyright © 2010

Ecumenical seminar on Gypsies and Travellers

A day for church leaders, members of congregations, those with pastoral responsibility or with an interest in Gypsies and Travellers takes place in Bury St Edmunds on 26 March.

Jointly organised by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich & the Church Network for Gypsies and Travellers (CNGT), there will be presentations on culture, the local context, and community safety. Speakers will include the County Council, Police, Gypsies and Travellers and those working alongside them. Theological input and examples provided of churches working together with Gypsies and Travellers. Part of the seminar will be to examine actions that local churches might undertake.

Speakers will include: Fr Joe Browne from the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain; Rev Roger Redding Anglican Chaplain to Gypsies, Travellers and Showmen in the South West; Rev Martin Burrell; Anglican Minister of Christchurch, Bushmead, Luton; Revd Peter Thomas, Baptist Minister, and The Rt Rev Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich; Gloria Buckley, Shirley Barrett and Sonny Gibbard from Traveller and Gypsy organisations, as well as academics, and representatives from the police and county councils.

The seminar is on Friday 26 March from 10am-4pm at Friends Meeting House, St John’s St, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1SJ

For further details- please email Alice Nicholls at the Diocesan Office, as soon as possible or ring on 01473 298551. Bookings need to be received by 16 March.

Romany Johnny Joe – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Romany Johnny Joe
by Hilda Brazil
Published by Athena Press Ltd (8 Jun 2009)
ISBN: 978-1-84748-556-4
Price: £5.99/$9.95
56 paperback, 24.2 x 18.4 x 0.8 cm

While Gypsies may have often featured in children’s books, and all too often either as romanticized characters or as villains, such books are seldom ever written by them.

Hilda Brazil, however, a Romany woman, has put her pen to paper, or better fingers to the keyboard, and the result is a very lovely story and book indeed.

Her book “Romany Johnny Joe” tells how the resident toads and frogs of Toadville are preparing themselves for a showdown as current conker Romany Johnny Joe defends his title. But this year he must face the mayor of Toadville and very large toad indeed, Sir Burty Marshland.

A very cute story written by a Romany woman, Hilda Brazil, suitable for children from age five having it read to to older children reading it for themselves. And I am sure parents will fall in live with it too. I certainly have.

It will soon be obvious who everyone it; the toads are the Gohja and the frogs are the Gypsy People and the proud high and mighty Gohja mayor gets his comeuppance being beaten by the little frog in the form of Romany Johnny Joe, the bare knuckle conker champion.

This is a charming story where the underdog wins against all the odds. Designed for children from about six to ten, it will definitely appeal to all those who feel that sometimes the dice is loaded against them, and not just children, of that I am sure.

“Romany Johnny Joe” is a book that has been written by a real Romany Gypsy in the ancient Gypsy art of storytelling, with references to a passing rural life and traditions. It gently points to the errors of prejudice and discrimination. It would be valuable in primary schools that have Gypsy and Traveler children as well as those that do not.

The book is perfect for reading out loud, and I am sure that “Romany Johnny Joe” will soon become a bedtime favorite, with each reading bringing something new. “Romany Johnny Joe” is a nice story with a real feel good factor and a great moral.

Hilda works for Surrey County Council’s youth justice service and is dedicated to challenging the prejudice young Gypsies and Travelers face. Speaking to Traveller's Times Hilda said: “I didn’t have a great education myself,” she says, “but that doesn’t mean I haven’t got a great imagination. With the help of a computer and spell checker I’ve proven that anybody can produce a book.”

Published by Athena Press, the book is a wise tale of how an underdog can take on a more powerful opponent. Packed with illustrations that children can color in, it’s proving a hit with parents from Britain to Australia on internet book site

You can buy it here:

This book will also lay prejudices to rest, I hope, that Gypsies do not work – especially not for an employer and in government service – and that they cannot write books and such.

Copyright © 2010

The International Contest of Romani Poetry in Memory of Papusza

Dear Roma and non-Roma poets!

The Ethnographical Museum in Tarnow would like to invite you to participate in the second edition of the International Contest of Romani Poetry in Memory of Papusza on the title “For the Golden Pen of Papusza”.

The Contest is dedicated to Romani poetess, Bronisława Wajs called Papusza, who died in 1987 – to commemorate her 100th birthday. The aim of the Contest is to support and exhibit the integration and mutual contacts of Romani and Polish culture and looking for the young talents in the field of poetry.

The organizer of the Contest is The District Museum in Tarnow (Poland), partners are: Centre of the Roma Culture in Tarnow (Tarnow, Poland), Romani Baxt (Warsaw-Tirana-Paris), INALCO - Institut National des Languages et Civilisations Orientales (France).

The character of the Contest is open and is addressed to adults, students and pupils of secondary schools in Poland and abroad. The topics are the inspirations in culture, tradition and history of Roma, also knows as Gypsy.

The Contest has two categories of competition: poems in Romani and poems in Polish.

The participants of the contest should submit no more than three poems in the chosen category. Deadline for sending poems is 31st of March 2010.

For downloading the participation card and familiarising yourself with the contest rules please view the Tarnów Regional Museum website A knowledge of Polish would be advantageous, from what I have seen.

Source: Natalia Gancarz
The Ethnographical Museum in Tarnow
"Studia Romologica"

The Forgotten Genocide event reminds about the Romani Holocaust

Finnish association for creative Roma culture, ”Drom”, organizes an international event in Helsinki this spring, dedicated to the Romani Holocaust.

The main part of the event is an international two-day seminar ”The Roma and the Holocaust”, held in Helsinki, in the House of Science and Letters, which will start on an International Romani Day, April 8. The seminar will discuss the history and faith of the Roma in the Second World War in the different parts of Europe , including Nordic countries. The present European Roma question and future challenges will also be addressed. The seminar is accompanied by a rich cultural program.

Veijo Baltzar, a Finnish Romani writer, published a novel In Love and War in 2008, which unfolds the story about the Romani genocide. The book and its subject aroused a lot of interest in Finland which created a need to tell about the sufferings of the Romani People in the National Socialist genocide to the wide audience and to discuss present Roma politics through the prism of history.

The Forgotten Genocide is a significant step for the Nordic countries and all of Europe in the Roma question. Project aims at concrete and far-reaching actions for the benefit of European Roma. The aim of the creative parts of the event is to indicate the vitality of the Romani culture and to uphold its richness.

The events of the Forgotten Genocide project:

· Barvalo Drom - the thriving Roma culture exhibition,
International Cultural Centre Caisa 26.3 - 29.4

· The Roma and the Holocaust - International Seminar 8.4 - 9.4

· Barvalo Drom - Romani Music Concerts, Tammisaari 26.3 and Savoy theatre, Helsinki 9.4

· Die Zigeuner von W, Photograph exhibition by Espen Eichhöfer, Goethe Institut, Helsinki 9.4 -12.5

Barvalo Drom (“The Rich Way” in English) is a touching collection exhibiting Romani history, art and culture. The international music concert, bearing the same name, in Savoy Theatre on 9.4 presents outstanding Roma musical artists from Finland, Sweden and Czech Republic – the latter having represented their country in the last year’s Eurovision song contest.

President of the Republic of Finland Ms Tarja Halonen is a patron for The Forgotten Genocide project. The main co-partners of the project are Helsinki City Cultural Office, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Finnish Historical Society and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also the former Prime Minister of Finland Paavo Lipponen and a deputy and the chairman of the Roma advisory council Pekka Haavisto have both actively taken part in the rearrangements and the realization of the event.

The event is meant for everyone interested in Romani history and culture, researchers, officials and decision-makers. The Forgotten Genocide project will continue also after the Spring 2010 in the form of new projects related to the topic.

For more information log on at:


Dazzled by titles, blinded by bling

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Too many people, Gadje and Rom alike, are dazzled by the Gypsyologists and their titles, regardless of whether they are Gadje or Rom.

They have grand titles of Professor, or Doctor, in “Romani Studies”, “Romani Language”, etc. but what does that mean and prove. Who tested them on their skills and knowledge? Were those that awarded them the titles Romani Elders? No, it was Gadje academics that gave them title and position.

So, how much can we really depend on what those people then say?

What those people created is a complete industry revolving around the Roma and the language of the Roma, for few other Romani groups would ever share information with them, whether on Culture and Tradition or Language; the Sinti most certainly not.

That is the very reason that the entire thing revolves around the Roma and hence the reason why the academics are trying to elevate the Roma as the mother group of all the Romani People, which is not so.

But all their studies are based upon the material from the Roma and hence, in order to make themselves into more than what they are, they must try too make the Roma groups the leading lights, so to speak.

It is being claimed that this is done in order to bring about unity amongst the Gypsy People but that is a load of, as the Australians would say, bull dust. Dust thrown up in order to blind people so they do not see the real truth behind what is being done.

Many Romani “leaders” also work hand-in-glove with the self-acclaimed Romani academics, whether Gadje or Rom, as they seem to think that they get something out of it for themselves. The concern of most of those leaders anyway is not for the poor Gypsy who has to eek out a living by scavenging and such.

Let's stop being dazzled and blinded and learn to look behind the scenes. It is not that difficult when we learn to wear the shades of discernment. In the field of “Romani Studies” titles mean absolutely nothing; that is what we must remember, and the academic, whether Gypsy of Gadjo, only know what he or she does know because someone from the People gave him or her that information.

Wake up everyone and see the light.

© 2010

What is being done for the protection of the Romani refugees from Kosovo?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Thomas Hammarberg (High Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe) held a working lunch with the representatives of the EU's main institutions. Representing the European Parliament's largest political group, the European People's Party (EPP), MEP Lívia Járóka discussed the issue of Kosovar Roma repatriated from EU Member States with the High Commissioner.

Thomas Hammarberg came to Brussels to present his issue paper on “Criminalisation of Migration in Europe" and to meet with representatives of the European Union's three main institutions in order to discuss the human rights implications of immigration.

At the working lunch, Lívia Járóka (Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Union, EPP) asked the High Commissioner about the implementation of the bilateral readmission agreement between Kosovo and Germany.

During the war in 1999 and the following years, over 14,000 Roma fled from Kosovo to Germany, who due to the process, have lost their status of "toleration" providing the right to stay in the country and since staying in Kosovo at least officially "does not represent a direct threat to life and limb" they must leave Germany.

Járóka reminded that 25 % of Roma threatened by the forced deportation had been born in Germany having no ties to Kosovo at all and Kosovar authorities had proven to be unable to resettle not more than 480 internally displaced persons from the scandalous lead contaminated camps of Cesmin Lug and Leposavić.

"The security situation is also unsatisfactory and ethnically motivated violence is still wide-spread – Lívia Járóka added.

Hammarberg replied that regarding the serious malfunctions of Kosovar economy and the contradictory will of the refugees, he was also concerned about repatriation and that he wrote an open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel in which he asked to consider suspending the repatriations, prolong the status of toleration and implement the readmission agreement only on voluntary basis.

Regarding NGOs, Hammarberg said that most civil organizations left a great deal to be desired both in terms of their professional capacity and their independence from politics. However, the contribution of strong, professional and independent NGOs would be essential in bringing up and discussing most issues related to human rights - added the High Commissioner. Hammarberg agreed with Járóka upon the necessity of empowering stakeholder NGOs in terms of both financial and human resources. Further participants of the negotiation included Hans Nilsson, Head of Unit of the Secretariat General of the EU, Thierry Bechet, Adviser of the European Commission's Directorate General for External Relations, as well as members of the European Parliament Ulrika Lunacek and Cecilia Wikström.

It is, however, well known and documented that most of the Roma, Egyptians and Ashkali, in short Gypsy, who return to Kosovo are not welcome there and are being hounded and even murdered by the ethnic Albanians in that province who want to have Kosovo as a part of a Greater Albania.

And while countries such as Germany, Switzerland, and others, must be made to stop any attempt of forcible repatriation of Gypsies from Kosovo the UN also must be held to account, and also by the likes of Lívia Járóka, MEP, as to the UN's role in ethnic cleansing of Gypsies from Kosovo who they have part in killing through forcing them to live in lead contaminated camps.

Germany has an obligation to the Gypsy People, and not just the Sinti and Roma in its midst but, in a way, to all of them. While Germany sees such an obligation towards the Jews and the illegal state of Israel, even, it tries to vest itself of anything to do with the Gypsy, the Romani, People. Not that that surprises me, seeing also the attitude that still prevails against the Romani Gypsy in Germany, and, it would appear, basically, the rest of the entire European Union, and Europe as a whole.

© 2010

Czech Television reveals Gypsy children barred from enrolling in elementary school

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

An elementary school in Brno is telling some students enrollment is closed while simultaneously keeping its doors open for others.

Czech Television recently performed a hidden camera investigation and discovered exactly how elementary schools approach the enrollment of Gypsy children.

In general, it is important that all children attend school together. For Romani children, it is important they do their best to achieve academically, while for non-Romani children it is important to learn tolerance of those who are different. “We’re full, go ask somewhere else,” is what Romani People often hear when trying to enroll their children in elementary school in the Czech Republic.

Czech Television tested how the Antoninska Elementary School in Brno, which specializes in offering foreign language instruction, responds to Romani parents and children. Two women, one of Gypsy origin, visited the school after the enrollment period had expired. The Romani parent was told there was no more room at the school for her child, but the other woman was much more successful – her child was added to a waiting list.

“I already have 70 people registered, which is three classes. I’m full, but I don’t know how many of these children will attend,” the director told the Romani mother. He recommended she try another school, which in his view is not as demanding, and warned her that at his school the pupils have to start foreign language instruction from the first grade.

In contrast, his meeting with the non-Romani mother was a completely different story. This mother visited the school the day after the Romani mother made her attempt. The director handed her over to the deputy director. “You are the third mother today who missed the deadline, but the registration must be done formally, you can’t just come here without bringing the child along. Next Wednesday I will not be teaching, and I am already agreed with some other mothers that they will come register, so you can too,” the deputy director said. The information about the school being full was never expressed to this mother. School officials did draw her attention to the foreign language instruction in the first grade, but in a completely different way, mentioning it as valuable for the child.

The result of the test has angered the Czech Education, Youth and Sport Ministry, but the Brno Regional Authority, who has established that school, responded calmly and downplayed its significance. “This is sensationalism. As far as I know, just because a mother has not yet enrolled her child does not mean it’s all over. If it should come to pass that they genuinely refuse to enroll a child because the child is Roma, then we would naturally address that and say it’s bad,” said Daniel Rychnovsky, Deputy Mayor of Brno.

According to the ministry, such an approach is not only unethical, it is illegal. “Basically every teacher, every director should proceed fairly and in the same way towards all pupils and their parents,” claims Deputy Education Minister Klara Laurencikova. Even though the school did not tell the Romani mother directly that it does not accept Romani children, the problem is still serious. “These days no one would permit themselves to state directly that they do not accept Roma. What makes it worse is that these various hidden methods are sought for refusing them,” explains Veronika Vankova of IQ Roma Servis in Brno.

The school management rejects the claim that it makes such distinctions, even though the report shows the mothers were handled differently. Government research has admitted that Romani children are 27 times more likely to end up in schools for lightly mentally disabled children than non-Romani children, irrespective of their actual state of mental health and intellectual capacity.

All-Roma classrooms are another problem. In Brno there are a minimum of three schools in which 90 % of the pupils are Romani children. City leaders see nothing wrong with this. “If we have it under control this way, if the parents agree with it, and if it works, I do not see a problem,” Rychnovsky said.

While it would appear that the Czech Television sees a problem with all-Romani classrooms, I personally, and I know of many Gypsy People who think similarly, can see nothing wrong with all-Romani classes. In fact, why not have real Romani Schools, entirely separate from those of the non-Romani so that Romani Culture and Traditions can be observed there, such as the Romani Cleanliness Code and such like.

However, to send Gypsy children away under the pretense that one school is full while at the same time the school is happy to take Gadje kids then that is discrimination and wrong, and there are no two ways about that.

But why are we actually surprised? It is happening still, has happened for ages, and whatever we may say or do and however much we may scream against it; changes will come but slowly as far as Anti-Gypsyism is concerned.

Instead of screaming that we want our children to go to Gadje brainwashing institutions having Gypsy owned and operated schools would be a much better bet as, firstly the younger children can gently be pulled over into the vernacular of the country and foreign languages while at the same time everyone still being taught in the Romani Language, and also being taught the Romani Language. Secondly it would be an education in the way the Romani work, which would be much better for the children.

But this is not something the do-gooders even want to hear and consider.

© 2010

Leading Scottish Romany figure sadly taken from us

Elic Kennedy – Obituary

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Alexander (Elic) Kennedy
Scottish Romanichal Gypsy
Born: 22 August, 1949, in Lanark.
Died: 24 December, 2009, in East Kilbride, aged 60.

On Christmas Eve 2009 the Gypsy community saw, with great sadness, one of our finest men travel on from us into the great eternal journey. Following a short and sudden illness, Elic passed away at Hairmyres Hospital in South Lanarkshire.

Alexander Kennedy was born 60 years ago last August in Lanark, but it wouldn't have mattered where, as he loved every part of this country. He was a proud Romany Gypsy man whose family roots lay in and around the Lanark, Borders and Edinburgh areas. He was a direct descendant of one of the foremost Romany Gypsy families in Scotland and could trace his bloodline back to the “Queen” of the Yetholm Gypsies, Esther Faa Blyth.

He loved his culture, its traditions, its way of life, history and language, and was an artist of some considerable talent. He could make anything out of wood and created many paintings (none of which he would sell for profit) depicting scenes of Gypsy life including the caravans and wagons of yesteryear.

In a short film on YouTube Elic can be seen dancing and talking great sense, such as, when he says, that we are Romanichals and not Roma... Good onya Kako!

Another great one of ours has gone; gone but not forgotten, leading the way to a new future for the Romani-Gypsy.

Sovea mishto Kako!

© 2010

Forced evictions in Milan: EveryOne Group sends a report to the International Criminal Court of the Hague

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

“The people who authorized these evictions in the freezing cold weather without the offer of alternative lodgings will come under investigation for crimes against humanity”.

On January 21st eighty makeshift shelters were bulldozed by the Milanese authorities. The huts were razed to the ground along with their contents: blankets, winter clothes, stoves for heating and essential medicines. The forced eviction took place in Via Sant'Arialdo, near the Chiaravalle Abbey, where about 150 Roma citizens, including children, pregnant women and sick people (many of them with cancer, heart problems, and handicaps) were thrown out onto the street and forced to set off on a tragic march to nowhere.

On the morning of January 28th, 2010, the co-presidents of EveryOne Group, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau delivered this report to the magistrates of the International Criminal Court of the Hague.

“Fortunately – after noticing the municipal police patrols driving up and down – many of the families left the settlement before the clearance began in order to avoid being charged for squatting and suffering the humiliation of the ethnic profiling that other families have been subjected to.

However, their homes, makeshift shelters made from wood, plastic and cardboard, no longer exist”. Ninety-five Romanian Roma were charged with illegally occupying a plot of land and are undergoing mass expulsion as the authorities have ordered them to leave the city: a reminder of the way the Roma were forced to leave centuries ago and during the pre-Holocaust years.

According to EveryOne Group, we are talking about intolerable violations of a person's fundamental rights and only a serious legal action can prevent the continuation of these clearance operations.

“For this reason” say Malini, Pegoraro and Picciau”, as a organization working in defence of minority groups, we have taken our complaint to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court of the Hague. Our report claims that the actions being carried out by Milan's local authorities are crimes against humanity consisting of forced evictions, failure to offer assistance, bodily harm, and mass expulsions”.

In the report EveryOne Group sent to the Hague, we read “the Court defines crimes against humanity any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the
attack. In particular the Statute that regulates the Court's decisions identifies crimes against humanity: extermination, which according to article 7 of the Rome Statute includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine; deportation or forcible transfer of population; persecution - the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity; the crime of apartheid.”

“We sincerely hope” conclude the co-presidents of EveryOne Group, “that actions of this kind, that are undermining the integrity and the dignity of vulnerable human beings are severely punished by the judges and condemned by all the international legal organs.

A copy of this report has also been sent to the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the President of the European Commission and the EU Commissioner for Human Rights.

Hoping, even sincerely hoping, is not going to get us anywhere and the problem is that there are even European Parliament resolutions passed against Italy to have its authorities refrain from such actions and what has happened? Italy and its municipalities have thumbed their noses at the Parliament and the Council. It is a farce and no one has the slightest inclination to do anything for and on behalf of the Gypsy. We should have noticed that by now.

While the idea of sending a report to the ICC may be a good idea the fact is that in all truth and honesty it is a waste of time and things other than this might be much more appropriate.

I hate to be a cynic but I doubt that the ICC judges will even look at the report. If it does not get filed under “G” for “garbage” then it will be shelved somewhere to gather dust. Let no one hold his breath and expect something to happen. Blue in face is not good color unless you happen to be in Avatar.

© 2010

Gabfests, Gabfests, Gabfest

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While the Romani People suffer persecution and deprivation all over the globe, basically, the epidemics – pardon, I meant academics – Gadje and Rom alike, keep wasting time and money on one gabfest after they other. Much like the majority of politicians they are. They fiddle while Rome and the Rom, and the latter in some cases quite literally, burn. Academic and political aggrandizement is the aim of those conferences and gabfests and not the poor Gypsy, wherever they may be.

But dare anyone attack those “grand” men and women, whether of Gadje or Rom origin, and their actions, regardless whether it is the academics, the Gypsyologists, or the politicos. Then immediately legal threats are uttered and slander is forthcoming against those who disagree with them and with what they do and how they behave.

We have seen this by now more than once. Much like in the field of “climate science”. There too dissent results in such actions from those conspiring together to get themselves a nice living via research and what-have-you, funded by grants from universities and taxpayers' money.

The Gypsy “leaders”, by whatever title they may go, also, in the main, work along the same lines and like we have seen in Britain not so long ago when Romani journalist Jake Bowers was invited to, and then did, speak at a conference and one had “forgotten” to invite someone who thinks of himself as the only real Gypsy leader in the whole of the UK, if not even all of Europe. The ranting and raving against Mr. Bowers was just unbelievable, even to the point of stating that, according to the “great leader” Mr. Bowers was not Gypsy, etc.

The academics and the “leaders” alike seem to be the ones that think that they can decide and declare who is and who is not Gypsy, or, as they want to have it all nowadays, Roma.

The only reasons they beleaguer the point of “Roma” and trying to make all Romani into tribes and sub-tribes of the Roma is because only the Roma are willing to teach them the Language and aspects of the Culture. No Sinto would ever do that.

Most of the academics, even the Romani ones, have never grown up in the Language and the Culture and are about as far removed from it often as are the often despised Romungrie and such who do not speak the Language and/or have lost much of the Culture. As soon, however, as they have learned a little of the Language and Culture from the Roma they set themselves up as judges over what is the real version of the Language, etc. and that despite the fact that there are around sixty plus different dialects of the Romani Language and that there are cultural differences between many of the Romani groups, such as between Sinti and Roma, for instance.

But the academics (and “leaders”) do not want this even discussed as it interferes with their status as the great experts and leaders of the People (oh dear!); in the eyes of the Gadje world, at least.

Every time that a Rom is talking to some folks, especially in authority, about this or that aspect of the live and Culture of the Gypsy People it is being compared to what the academics have said in books and lectures and if what the ordinary Rom says is not in line what Prof this or that has said then the Rom must be lying; so the conclusion of the others.

Tell someone in government that Sinti and Roma are different they will retort with that “according to Prof this or that” this is not so and that all are Roma.

In the EU, because of what those academics have created, all Gypsy and Travelers are heaped together under Roma, including the Irish Travelers, and others, who have no link whatsoever, culturally and ethnically, to the Romani-Gypsy.

That is also why all those gabfests. Namely in order to keep perpetuating the myth that they are the experts and others are nothing.

Those experts would be nothing, none of them, without some Rom here and there having been stupid enough to share various bits of information with them and their careers have been built upon the backs of the poor Rom,, to who they give no credit.

© 2010