fredag 8 april 2016
The International Romani Day
On April 8th, Romas from 40 countries celebrated their national day in memory of the first Roma Congress that was held in London on April 8th 1971. The Romani flag ((O styago le romengo) was introduced at the congress. The blue field in the flag symbolizes the sky, the green field ground and the red wheel symbolizes progress. The Roma national anthem Djelem, Djelem (I traveled, I traveled) was also introduced during the Roma Congress.
In 2000, proclaimed the International Romani Union (IRU) Romani Stan as Roma's own country without imposing any requirements on a territory. That the IRU choosed not to make demands on any territory is not surprising because one can say that the whole world is Roma's home country.
Much of the Roma culture, customs and their way of life have been shattered by discrimination, persecution and extermination throughout history. Up to 1 million Roma and Sinti might have been murdered by the nazis and their collaborators during the Second World War, nobody knows the exact number because the nazis didn't keep record of how many Romas that they killed.
The persecution of Romani people should have ended in Europe when the evil nazi empire was finally defeated in May 1945. But instead Romas in Eastern Europe ended up behind the communist Iron Curtain and was deprived the few structures that had survived the nazi attempt to exterminate both the Romas and their culture.
The discrimination in western Europe continued after the war and it was not until the late 1970s that Roma rights began to be discussed seriously. It took until 1982 before the West German government recognized that the Romani people beside the Jewish people were subjected for the Holocaust.
Romani people in Eastern Europe had hopes that they would get better life after the end of communism in 1989/1990. The hope was never fulfilled and instead the discrimination and persecution increased in many countries. Mainly because they were blamed for many of the bad things that the communist dictatorships had caused. There were even outright pogroms in some countries in Eastern Europe, houses were burned down and Romani men and even women were severely beaten and some were even killed because of their ethnicity.
Romani People are still treated as second-class citizens and are discriminated and persecuted in many countries where they have lived for nearly 1,000 years because of their ethnicity. There's a long way to go before the Romani People have been truly included into the European Community where they belong.
Romani people are happy people as you can see in the pictures. Despite all the difficulties they have been through they are always close to a good laugh. Joy and music welds them together and it has become a way for them to escape from all the hatred and oppression that they are often subjected to from the majority population. It's more than time that we put the history behind us and include the Romas in our society. It's also important to break down barriers between people and combat all the prejudices and stereotypes that hinder us from getting to know each other.
Roma is Romani for human and regardless of nationality, ethnicity or religious belief we are all Roma. Jesus is love and he steps right over all the things that we humans like to sort into right and wrong and goes straight into our hearts and loves us just as the Romas (humans) that we are. Opre Roma!
Text and Photo: Mikael Good