On Friday 2 August, Romani rights activists and supporters commemorated the Roma Holocaust and protested at Europe’s continued mistreatment of the Roma.
In 1944, on 2 August, Nazi guards at Auschwitz murdered almost 3,000 Roma at its ‘Gypsy family camp’. This is now the memorial day of the Roma Holocaust – or Porajmos (the ‘devouring’) – in which an estimated half a million Roma people were put to death. Romani rights activists gathered in Hyde Park to learn the lessons of this history, and to take heed of an anti-Roma racism that is reaching fever pitch across Europe.
The day began with a protest outside the Czech embassy, against the rise of neo-Nazi attacks against the Roma in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Delegates from the Halifax Roma Group, Europe Roma, the Roma Virtual Network, the European Roma Rights Centre and Derby’s Roma Community Care were among those who gathered to hand a letter of protest to the Czech Ambassador.
The group then journeyed to Hyde Park’s Holocaust Memorial to meet others who had come to commemorate the Porajmos. Grattan Puxon, a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller rights activist, told IRR News that the same Nazi feeling of the 1940s was gathering pace today:
‘We see the racism against Roma turning into ever more acts of violence and murder almost everywhere in Europe … The problem is even mainstrem governments are failing to curb the threatening revival of fascism and are themselves adopting anti-Roma policies – which include mass evictions and deportations.’
The next stop was the French embassy, for a protest against the enforced evictions of Romani people from camps on the outskirts of Paris, before protestors made their way to Marble Arch, where, earlier this year, the process was mirrored – homeless Romani people were rounded up by the Metropolitan Police, with the aid of Romanian police officers and UKBA immigration enforcement officers, in a ‘voluntary’ deportation programme bizarrely dubbed Operation Chefornak.
The protests of 2 August were a timely rebuke to a mainstream media that blames Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people for their own persecution, misdiagnosing the rise of violent anti-Roma fascism as a response to the inherent criminality of the persecuted, rather than the result of a pan-European policy of criminalisation, pauperisation and deportation.
Read an IRR Briefing Paper: From Pillar to Post: pan-European racism and the Roma
Read an IRR News story: ‘It’s like a war‘
Read an IRR News story: ‘One stunt too many‘
Read an IRR News story: ‘Clearing Roma off the streets‘
To contact Europe Roma, email firstname.lastname@example.org