|11-24-2006, 09:19 PM||#1|
Curio & Relic
AKaholic #: 3738
Join Date: Apr 2005
Ostracised Roma still struggle across Balkans
POSTOJNA, Slovenia - Elka Strojan and her 30-strong Roma Gypsy family, forced to swap a house for three rooms in a former army barracks, highlight the precarious existence in the Balkans of Europe's largest minority.
"It's really bad here. This is not ours, this is for refugees and we are not refugees. We are Slovenian citizens with all the documents," the 55-year-old told Reuters in broken Slovenian, sitting on an old bed with two small dogs surrounded by a dozen of her grandchildren.
The Strojans, including Elka's four sons and their families, were asked by the government in late October to leave their house near Ambrus in central Slovenia after angry villagers threatened to expel them by force.
The Council of Europe criticised European Union member Slovenia for the move, but villagers said they had had enough of the Roma's misdemeanours, ranging from petty theft to serious fights.
"Some 600 of us gathered near their house. We wanted to burn and destroy everything but we came too late, the police were already deployed," said Joze Lindic, a pensioner.
"We've had nothing but trouble with them in the past 20 years and we just cannot put up with it any more. Let the state or the European Union take care of them. We don't want them here, ever again," he said, sipping a beer at a cafe.
The government has vowed to provide alternative permanent housing for the Strojans, but that announcement immediately roused protest from residents in potential new resettlements.
A recent report by human rights group Amnesty International on the Roma in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia said they still live in extreme poverty and their children regularly face discrimination in schools.
"The barriers Romani children face in accessing education deprive them of the chance of fulfilling the true potential and perpetuate the marginalisation of Romani communities," it said.
Only two of the Strojans' dozen children went to school while they lived in Ambrus.
Access to education is even worse for Roma in Serbia, home to an estimated 500,000 Romas.
According to the 1991 census, 34.8 percent of Roma in Serbia are illiterate and just 20 percent have completed obligatory elementary education. Those who enrol children in primary schools often do so to qualify for state welfare.
"The society as a whole expresses no interest for their problems and needs," said a report by the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF.
"This could be caused by general indifference, intolerance and dominant stereotypes on the Roma caused by poor knowledge of Roma history, culture and tradition," it said.
In Croatia, which hopes to join the EU by 2010, residents of the prosperous Medjimurje region, which has the largest Roma community, complained against mixed Roma and Croat classes in 2002.
The Croatians said the Romani parents were "frequently alcoholics, their children are prone to stealing, cursing and fighting", often with poor knowledge of Croatian.
The Roma struck back by filing a complaint against segregation with the European Court of Human Rights. The case is still pending.
The situation is little different in Bulgaria and Romania, both due to join the EU next January.
Government data puts the Roma population in Romania at about 535,000, but an estimate from the Minority Rights Group goes as high as 2.5 million, which would make it the largest Roma population in Europe.
Roma rights organisations accuse authorities of continued discrimination, a claim backed by many Western observers.
Bulgaria has also been criticised by the European Commission for doing too little to integrate the Roma, who live on the fringes of society, often in shanty towns lacking running water and electricity.
Good education and permanent employment are rare.
A recent survey by Bulgaria's anti-discrimination commission showed ethnic tensions have risen as a result of Roma's perceptions of discrimination.
"The basis for perception of discrimination lies in the huge gap in the living standards, as well as in the mistrust demonstrated by other ethnic groups against the Roma," the survey said.
Mirko Strojan, one of the four men in the Slovenian Roma family, said the family now planned to take legal measures.
"Something like this, that our neighbours want to take the law into their own hands, has never happened before. We are going to sue the village, to make them pay for the damages, shame and fear," he said.
(Additional reporting by Ljilja Cvekic in Belgrade, Tsvetelia Ilieva in Sofia and Marius Zaharia and Justyna Pawlak in Bucharest)
|11-24-2006, 09:33 PM||#2|
AKaholic #: 5952
Join Date: May 2006
Location: on a lake in the forest
I don't know much about them myself but I did my neurology training with a neurologist who was Czech and had been in the US for a couple of decades. He had nothing good to say about them and told me that everything you have heard about them is true. He went further to say that it would have been better if the Nazis killed them all.
He didn't like the Nazis much either and was really pretty damn liberal. Surprised the hell out me, esp him telling me that at work but I had to give him the benefit of his own experience. He'd lived with them, I hadn't.
The United Socialist States Govt is the enemy, both foreign and domestic
Fight or Die
|11-24-2006, 11:51 PM||#4|
AKaholic #: 4860
Join Date: Nov 2005
Basically everyone in Europe hates the Roma. I heard it constantly in Romania and when I was flying back to the states, I was sitting next to a Ukrainian guy who told me that the best thing Stalin ever did was to persecute them. You're right though, it's not a right versus left thing... they all hate the Roma and they make a convienent scape goat for any problems the country may be having.
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