45 years of International Roma Day: The struggle for rights of Roma people continues
On 5th to 7th April, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) from various political groups, the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) Anti-Gypsyism Working Group (chaired by Soraya Post MEP) and civil society organisations are hosting Roma week to raise awareness about antigypsyism in Europe. There will be a number of debates, exhibitions and movie screenings to consolidate the commitment of the European institutions to fight against anti-Gypsyism in Europe and obtaining EU recognition of a memorial day of the Roma Holocaust during WWII.
The week is being held under the high patronage of Martin Schultz, President of the European Parliament, who said in his letter that the “initiative of Roma week is much appreciated by the European Parliament and that the European Parliament condemns all forms of racism and discrimination faced by Roma people.”
This year’s International Roma Day on 8th April commemorates the 45th anniversary of the first World Romani World Congress that was organised in London in 1971. During this event the Romani flag and the Romani hymn were established. This first congress manifested a need for unity and joined forces to fight against marginalisation and for equal rights of the Roma people.
45 years later, Roma people still face the highest levels of discrimination across the European Union and they suffer from being denied their basic human rights. Therefore the events in Roma week will deal with how anti-Gypsyism is manifested, inter alia with evidence from the ground by young Roma from different European countries, and the events will discuss necessary actions to combat anti-Gypsyism at the European Union level.
The Roma week is also an opportunity to push for a memorial day of the Roma Holocaust in order to remember the Roma people who died and to fighting anti-Gypsyism in Europe. The European Parliament and the European Commission have already endorsed the need to have a memorial day for the 500,000 Roma that were exterminated during World War II by the Nazi and other regimes and now it is time for Member States to follow suit and acknowledge Europe’s past treatment of Roma people.