• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Persecution of the Roma

The European Union must be held accountable if European states continue to expel Roma from member countries. The expulsions are taking place because Roma have created settlements not only in designated campgrounds but also within urban boundaries. This is not new. However, the scale and density of such settlements disturbs the sensibilities of Europeans. This is not only a West European phenomenon. Events of intolerable discrimination are also taking place in East Central Europe and the Balkans from which many of these Roma originate. The history of anti-Roma sentiments in both East and West Europe is torturous and long-standing.

A rather unusual situation emerged in Romania where Roma have lived for hundreds of years, where to this day they appear in abundant variation, from people who have resumed migratory lives to people who have been settled at the margins of villages, towns, and cities for as long as anyone can remember. In Romania, Roma were enslaved and indentured for centuries. They played important roles as musicians, miners, and in producing objects necessary for an agrarian society, crafting metals and wood objects. Today, those that we call Roma, were involved in all sorts of labor, agricultural workers and house servants.

Some may no longer speak their Sanskrit based language, or if they do they speak it with lexical-items borrowed from Turkish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Russian, and so on. In Romania, many no longer speak Romani. In Romania, Roma may identify themselves with this “national” identity, or they may identify as “tsigani,” how others have named them. This is a term of derision. Some Roma have integrated themselves into the mainstream of Romanian society and melted into the Romanian ethnic identity. Some Roma sustain their identity and have experienced upward mobility in many different fields.

Roma were persecuted in the Nazi era, large numbers of whom lost their lives; their population decimated in great proportions to their total numbers, referred to as Prajmos. Oddly enough, when mentioned at all as a persecuted population in Germany’s ethnic cleansing effort they are lumped in with Jews, rather than being mentioned outright as a population. No museums exist for them and if there are memorials for them, I do not know of them. They have no homeland with which they can identify. There is no Israel that was created for them as it was for Jews. Their identities are claimed as citizens of their countries of origin.

Since the 1990s, the people who are being displaced and resettled are the ones who are poor. These are not the migratory Roma. Much like low-income migrants from all over the world, Roma are looking to gain a better life for themselves and their children. While Roma are increasingly being organized into a mass movement within their respective countries of origins and in the European Union, local events cause them to be persecuted as a maligned, racialized, and stereotyped minority if they are lucky or as unwanted outsiders and criminals. Roma from Eastern Europe and the Balkans are leaving their countries as a result of the persecution that is so virulent there that it has caused death and destruction of settlements not unlike pogroms of centuries past. For example, in Cluj, a university city in Romania’s multi- ethnic Transylvania region, a large Roma settlement is being displaced and moved into a more remote and environmentally marginal area. The Roma have not been given any recourse. They appear not to have any civil rights. Roma have been attacked in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Slovak Republic. These attacks include fire bombings, shootings, stabbings, beatings and murders.

The world over, the stigma associated with migratory populations ranges from the relationship between nomadic and transhumant pastoralists and sedentary agriculturalists to immigrants of various sorts displaying religions and customs not present and appreciated in the host country or region. Tax collecting and census taking States are normally uncomfortable with highly mobile populations. Moreover fear of the “stranger” has a long history in European countries. Roma are often considered “internal foreigners.” In the past they had the reputation of stealing children because it explained why Gypsies had blond children, while Jews were said to steal children to eat them in cannibalistic rituals. Fears of the stranger persist in Europe.

National identities embedded in the idea of racial purity linger in modern Europe, a Europe whose nations have seen their diversity swell well beyond what the populace believes to be acceptable levels. Switzerland had to curtail the height of mosque minarets to retain their built environment identity as Swiss. France passed laws to prevent Muslim female school children from wearing clothes that covered their heads and faces believing that this was an attack on France’s “secular” system that has a Roman Catholic overlay.

Very much like blacks in the United States, the Roma still receive improper and poor education, have limited access to resources for development, whose cultures are disrespected and even loathed. They find it difficult to gain access to housing acceptable to the authorities and often enough do not know how to live in such housing when obtained. This situation is recognizable enough to anyone who is familiar with how difficult it is for long-term US homeless to adequately care for themselves in housing provided to them. People have to be taught how to live in apartments, if what you are used to is living in homes made up of found objects. It is not as if people like to live in filth and misery. They do not! Roma are either pushed into the most misery infested areas of a city or find themselves having to choose these, because they are denied access to anything better.

The European Union must do a much better job at caring for this population and seek out realistic strategies for integrating them into their national societies and the EU in general. It is ironic that a Europe, facing a population decline of large proportions that potential contributors to its economy would be cast out. European countries are facing demographic downturns that will have massive effects on their economies. Roma could be a helpful infusion into the labor force should respective countries assume the responsibilities they have for the rest of their population.

The total population number for Roma remains unclear; perhaps as many as 10 million Roma exist in Europe. Deportations of Roma, mostly from Eastern Europe and the Balkans have taken place since the 1990s. France deported over 10,000 since 2009. Germany deported 60,000 Roma in the 1990s as illegal immigrants. Holland, Sweden, and Italy have also deported Roma. Italy’s Prime Minister Berlusconi wanted to fingerprint Roma men women and children, declaring them a national security issue.

In the United States, discriminatory attention is now placed on Muslims. In present-day Europe, the economic downturn of events has placed the Roma in jeopardy. Lessons that should have been learned from the events of the 1920s-1945 seem to have been forgotten. Government sponsored discrimination inevitably leads to right wing led racism and xenophobia, bestowing the populace permission to scapegoat the Roma and doing some God-awful things to them.

SAM BECK was a child in post-World War II Vienna. He studied in Yugoslavia as an undergraduate, carried out research in Iran among nomadic pastoralists, and completed doctoral and post-doctoral research in Romania before and after the execution of the Ceausescus. Throughout this time, he had contact with Roma in Vienna, Yugoslavia, Romania, Turkey, and Iran. During a post-doctoral research project funded by IREX, Beck collaborated with Nicolae Gheorghe, a Roma Sociologist political activist and found himself covering a wide range of Roma groups, especially in Transylvania. Most of his publications on his Roma research can be found in the first iteration of Dialectical Anthropology. He now carries out research in New York City and is publishing work on Public Anthropology.

This article was originally published by AnthropologyWorks.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
Jonathan Cook
Israel Prepares to Turn Bedouin Citizens into Refugees in Their Own Country
Stan Cox
Healing the Rift Between Political Reality and Ecological Reality
Jeff Klein
Syria, the Kurds, Turkey and the U.S.: Why Progressives Should Not Support a New Imperial Partition in the Middle East
George Ochenski
The Governor, the Mining Company and the Future of a Montana Wilderness
Charles Pierson
Bret Stephens’ American Fantasy
Ted Rall
The First Thing We Do, Let’s Fire All the Cops
Jon Rynn
Saving the Green New Deal
Ajamu Baraka
Syria: Exposing Western Radical Collaboration with Imperialism
Binoy Kampmark
A Coalition of Support: Parliamentarians for Julian Assange
Thomas Knapp
The Down Side of Impeachment
Harvey Wasserman
What Really Happened to American Socialism?
Tom Engelhardt
American Brexit
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail