tisdag 2 augusti 2016

Till minne av Zigenarnattens offer

Natten mellan den 2 och 3 augusti är känd som den så kallade "Zigenarnatten". För 72 år sedan beordrade SS chefen Heinrich Himmler att de sista kvarvarande romerna i dödslägret Auschwitz-Birkenau skulle dödas. Den 2 augusti är numera en officiell minnesdag över förintelsens romska offer.

Fram till den natten hade romernas område i förintelselägret varit fylld med sång och dans. Trots alla umbärande valde romerna att låta sången och musiken föra med sig glädje i sorgen och hopp i hopplösheten. Men natten mellan den 2 och 3 augusti tystnade musiken i dödslägret och 3000 romer forslades bort och fick möta döden i nazisternas gaskammare. Man vet inte exakt hur många romer som mördades under andra världskriget. Nazisterna förde inte noggrann bok på hur många romer som dödades och därför kan man bara uppskatta antalet offer. Man tror att någonstans mellan 500 000 - 800.000 romer mördades av nazisterna och deras kollaboratörer under kriget.

Förföljelsen, hatet och våldet mot romer borde ha begravts i Europa i samband med nazitysklands fall 1945. 
Men det begravdes inte. Det låg och pyrde ett par år innan det blossade upp igen. Idag får romer utstå kollektiva bestraffningar och se sina mänskliga rättigheter bli kränkta runt om i Europa bara för att de är romer. Värst är situationen i Ungern och på Balkan där romer behandlas som andra klassens medborgare och utsätts för den övriga befolkningens fördomar, hån och förakt. Antiromismen har ökat i Sverige, romer från Bulgarien och Rumänien som kommit hit i en desperat jakt på försörjning har fått utstå både hot och våld. Enligt polisen har hatbrotten mot romer ökat markant de senaste åren.

Med detta i åtanke är det mer än dags att vi gör upp med vår mörka europeiska historia och inkluderar romerna i vår europeiska gemenskap.

Text och illustration: Mikael Good

torsdag 9 juni 2016

Roses in my Garden

Roses have a reputation of being difficult to care for, but with the correct amount of tempered water you will get this wonderful result.


Text and Photo: Mikael Good

onsdag 8 juni 2016

A cold wind is blowing over Europe

There are many different rumors that surrounds the Romas from Bulgaria and Romania who leaves unemployment and exclusion and travels to countries in Northern Europe in a desperate attempt to get a job and a income in order to provide for their families back home. The rumors about them are unfounded and plays on people's prejudices.

Like the Jewish people, the Roma people have almost always been exposed to prejudice and hostility against them because of their ethnicity. This antigypsyism takes different forms and vary in strength, it can be anything from small everyday prejudices to a furious hatred that culminates in bloodshed and even cold blooded murder. There's an increase of both antisemitism and antigypsyism in Europe. Death to the Jews and death to the Romas echoes on the streets in cities all over Europe. Jews are hated by islamists and Romas are hated by right-wing extremists who judges and punishes them because of their ethnicity.

There are only about 4,000 Romas from Romania and Bulgaria who begs, sell handicraft, doing odd jobs, or looking for returnable bottles in Sweden. Even if they are not so many, they have stirred up many emotions among the Swedish people. Some people want to help them to a better future, but in some groups (mainly right-wing) antigypsyism has increased and in some cases has their hatred against Romas led to vandalism, ‪incendiarism‬, fire raising, assault and bloodshed.

False rumours that are spread by right-wing extremists state that Roma-people live a life of luxury back home, that they have expensive cars, houses that are filled with luxury items and expensive electronics. The rumors are often spread by people who want to get rid of the poor Roma migrants who comes to Sweden. As usual right-wing extremists base their facts on statements that are built on rumours and even outright lies and they have never been to the villages where the migrants come from. 

Right-wing extremists know that their half-truths and lies works because many of their followers are ahistorical and has no knowledge of the situation in the Romas migrants home countries and therefore they are easy prey for the antigypsy propaganda. We who know our history do not buy their lies. We know that right-wing populist parties looks for scapegoats that they can use to whip up the atmosphere among their supporters so that they eventually will take the law into their own hands and do something about the problem that the party want them to solve.

I have been in some of the villages in Romania where some of the Roma migrants that you can meet on the streets of Sweden come from. With my own eyes I have seen that many of the migrants live in deep poverty. I didn't believe that kind of poverty existed in Europe anymore. The harsh living conditions that they lived under didn't in any way match the right-wing extremists propaganda. Nowadays I can even understand why some Romas leave their families and travel to countries in northern Europe in order to get a job and a income. If I was unemployed and didn't have any other possibility to get an income I would probably swallow my pride and sit down and beg for money as a last desperate way to get some money to provide for my children.

A cold wind is blowing over Europe and it gets more and more people in it's nationalistic grip. The hate is rising and there's a imminent risk of pogroms against Romas in many European countries. Many Jews and Romas can not move freely without risking being harassed or assaulted by extremists. It's time that we learn the lessons of history so that the mistakes of the 1930s will not be repeated. Back then was the hate against Jews and Romas fueled by rumors and outright lies which eventually put Europe on fire.

The best way to overcome prejudice and negative stereotypes is to learn to know people and build up mutual understandings and create bonds between people from different countries and ethnicities. It's time that we put our dark European history behind us and include Romas and Jews in our European Community. Roma is Romani for human. Regardless of nationality, ethnicity, religious belief and gender, we are all Roma and God loves us just as we are.

Text and Photo: Mikael Good

tisdag 7 juni 2016

My friend Mitu from Pauleasca

This is Mitu he belongs to the Rudari minority and comes from the village Pauleasca in Romania. I met him in Linköping in the summer of 2014 and I used to sit down and have a chat with him at the railwaystation. Some people believe that Rudaris are Roma people who have lost their traditions and their language. But if you ask them most of them say that they are Romanians. I asked Mitu if he is Roma? He just shook his head and said: I'm a Romanian man!

Some researchers and historians believe that Rudaris are descendants to the Dacians who lived in the country before the Romanians came. There are also some researchers who believe that Rudaris are descendants to one of the lost tribes of Israel because of their Semitic appearance and the fact that they have some traditions that are similar to older Jewish traditions and customs.

More than 80% of the working population in Pauleasca are unemployed. Some of them has never had a proper job. Mitu is a little over 60 years and no one want to employ him because they think that he is to old and weak to work. During the communist times when Mitu was younger there was labor conscription in the country and people who refused to work could be sentenced to hard work in labor camps. Everybody in Mitus village want to work and get a decent payment, the problem is that it's hard to find any jobs in the country especially for those who can't read or write.

In the early 1990s lost Mitu and many of the other villagers their jobs when Romania became a democracy and imposed a free market economy. With the result that unprofitable state factories closed down or went bankrupt. The first who lost their jobs belonged to the Roma and Rudari minority and many of them hasn't had a proper job since the early 1990s. They have survived on odd jobs for forestry companies and by making traditional spoons, brooms and baskets that they have sold on the market in the town.

Nearly 25% of the Romanian population live in poverty. Millions of jobs with salaries that it's possible to survive on has to be created in the country to be able to tackle the high unemployment among ethnic Romanians as well as the Rudari and Roma minorities. Many of those latter groups also need to learn to read and write and go to vocational schools in order to learn a profession to get a job to be able to break the chains of poverty.

As so many other villagers from Pauleasca travelled Mitu to Sweden with the hope to get some odd jobs and beg for some extra money in order to provide for his family back home. Mitu stayed in Linköping over the summer and he travelled back to Romania in august 2014 and he hasn't been back to Sweden since then. He was in Salzburg in Austria when I visited Pauleasca. But I met his son, his daughter in law and some of his grandchildren during my visit. I hope that I shall be able to meet my friend Mitu again and have a chat with him.

Text and Photo: Mikael Good

måndag 6 juni 2016

A book about the recession in Latvia

I have spent much time in Latvia and I have met many interesting persons that I have interviewed. My pictures and articles describes a tough economical time in Latvia's history. A time that the country hopefully will never experience again. My plan is to put together a book with photos and articles about the persons that I have met in Latvia. I have slowly started to work on the book and I'm planning to release it within ten years.

Text and Photo: Mikael Good

söndag 5 juni 2016

Ole Børud band in concert

Ole Børud is a Norwegian musician who his known from his time in extreme Christian metal band Extol as well from his solo recordings. In Extol he played guitar and provided background vocal. As a solo artist he plays guitar and handles the lead vocals. Ole has also moved back to his musical roots which is soul and funk.

I saw Ole Børud band when they played at Gullbranna outside Halmstad in Sweden on the 7th of Mai. The band consisted of a horn section, keyboards, drums, base and two guitars. They took the definition tight sound to a new level, and delivered a concert that was filled with a smart combination of Soul, Funk and West Coast Rock with a touch of Jazz to the excited audience.

The band who played at Gullbranna consisted of Ole Børud - vocals and guitar, Markus Lillehaug Johnsen - Guitars, Frode Mangen - keyboard, Ruben Dalen - drums, Lars Erik Dahle - base guitar, Jens Petter Antonsen - trumpet, Even Skatrud - trombon, Børge Are Halvorsen - saxophone,

Click the following link if you want to see more photos from the concert: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chasid68/albums/72157668866198146

Text and Photo: Mikael Good

lördag 4 juni 2016

Street Photography

I'm a documentary photographer who like to include people in my photos. Since I'm not consider myself to be a street photographer I don't really care about the sometimes infected debate about what street photography is and what it's not.

But if I was a street photographer I would say that the photos in the following link is what street photography is all about! Check out the awesome street photographs by Gabi Ben Avraham here: 

Text and Photo: Mikael Good