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Antiziganism (also known as anti-Romanyism, anti-Romani sentiment or anti-Gypsyism) is hostility, prejudice, discrimination or racism directed at the Romani people as an ethnic group, or people perceived as being of Romani heritage.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History of antiziganism
- 3 Contemporary antiziganism
- 3.1 European Union
- 3.2 Non-EU countries
- 4 Environmental struggles
- 5 In popular culture
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The root Zigan (pronounced [ˈtsiɡaːn]) comes from the term Cingane (alt. Tsinganoi, Zigar, Zigeuner) which probably derives from Athinganoi, the name of a Christian sect with whom the Romani became associated with in the Middle Ages.
History of antiziganism
In the Middle Ages
In the early 13th-century Byzantine records, the Atsínganoi are mentioned as "wizards ... who are inspired satanically and pretend to predict the unknown." By the 16th century, many Romani in Eastern and Central Europe worked as musicians, metal craftsmen, and soldiers. As the Ottoman Empire expanded, they relegated Romani, seen as having "no visible permanent professional affiliation", to the lowest rung of the social ladder. In Royal Hungary in the 16th century at the time of the Turkish occupation, the Crown developed strong anti-Romani policies, as this people were considered suspect as Turkish spies or as a fifth column. In this atmosphere, they were expelled from many locations and increasingly adopted a nomadic way of life.
The first anti-Romani legislation was issued in March of Moravia in 1538, and three years later, Ferdinand I ordered that Romani in his realm be expelled after a series of fires in Prague. Seven years later, the Diet of Augsburg declared that "whosoever kills a Gypsy, will be guilty of no murder". In 1556, the government stepped in to "forbid the drowning of Romani women and children".
In England, the Egyptians Act 1530 banned Romani from entering the country and required those living in the country to leave within 16 days. Failure to do so could result in confiscation of property, imprisonment and deportation. The act was amended with the Egyptians Act 1554, which directed that they abandon their "naughty, idle and ungodly life and company" and adopt a settled lifestyle. For those who failed to adhere to a sedentary existence, the Privy council interpreted the act to permit execution of non-complying Romani "as a warning to others".
In 1710, Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor, issued an edict against the Romani, ordering "that all adult males were to be hanged without trial, whereas women and young males were to be flogged and banished forever." In addition, in the kingdom of Bohemia, Romani men were to have their right ears cut off; in the March of Moravia, the left ear was to be cut off. In other parts of Austria, they would be branded on the back with a branding iron, representing the gallows. These mutilations enabled authorities to identify the individuals as Romani on their second arrest. The edict encouraged local officials to hunt down Romani in their areas by levying a fine of 100 Reichsthaler for those failing to do so. Anyone who helped Romani was to be punished by doing a half-year's forced labor. The result was "mass killings" of Romani. In 1721, Charles VI amended the decree to include the execution of adult female Romani, while children were "to be put in hospitals for education."
In 1774, Maria Theresa of Austria issued an edict forbidding marriages between Romani. When a Romani woman married a non-Romani, she had to produce proof of "industrious household service and familiarity with Catholic tenets", a male Rom "had to prove ability to support a wife and children", and "Gypsy children over the age of five were to be taken away and brought up in non-Romani families."
In 2007 the Romanian government established a panel to study the 18th and 19th-century practice of Romani slavery by Princes, local landowners, and monasteries. Slavery of Romani was outlawed in the Romanian Principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia, around 1856.
Governments regularly cited petty theft committed by Romani as justification for regulating and persecuting them. In 1899, the Nachrichtendienst in Bezug auf die Zigeuner ("Intelligence Service Regarding the Gypsies") was set up in Munich under the direction of Alfred Dillmann, and catalogued data on all Romani individuals throughout the German-speaking lands. It did not officially close down until 1970. The results were published in 1905 in Dillmann's Zigeuner-Buch, which was used in the following years as justification for the Porajmos. It described the Romani people as a "plague" and a "menace", but almost exclusively characterized "Gypsy crime" as trespassing and the theft of food.
In the United States during Congressional debate in 1866 over the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which would subsequently grant citizenship to all persons born within U.S. territory, an objection raised was that a consequence of enacting the amendment would be to grant citizenship to Gypsies and other undesirable groups.
...I am as liberal as anybody toward the rights of all people, but I am unwilling, on the part of my State, to give up the right that she claims, and that she may exercise, and exercise before very long, of expelling a certain number of people who invade her borders; who owe her no allegiance; who pretend to owe none; who recognize no authority in her government; who have a distinct, independent government of their own—an imperium in imperio; who pay no taxes; who never perform military service; who do nothing, in fact, which becomes a citizen, and perform none of the duties which devolve upon him, but, on the other hand, have no homes, pretend to own no land, live nowhere, settle as trespassers where ever they go, and whose sole merit is a universal swindle; who delight in it, who boast of it, and whose adroitness and cunning is of such a transcendent character that no skill can serve to correct or punish it; I mean the Gypsies. They wander in gangs in my State... These people live in the country and are born in the country. They infest society.
I have lived in the United States now many a year, and really I have heard more about Gypsies within the last two or three months than I have heard before in my life. It cannot be because they have increased so much of late. It cannot be because they have been felt to be particularly oppressive in this or that locality. It must be that the Gypsy element is to be added to our political agitation, so that hereafter the negro alone shall not claim our entire attention.
Persecution of Romani people reached a peak during World War II in the Porajmos (literally, the devouring), a descriptive neologism for the Nazi genocide of Romanis during the Holocaust. Because the Romani communities of Eastern Europe were less organized than the Jewish communities, it is more difficult to assess the actual number of victims though the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Research Institute in Washington puts the number of Romani lives lost by 1945 at between 500,000 and 1.5 million. Ward Churchill (former professor), argued the Romani and the Jewish populations of Europe suffered similar genocides but the plight of the Romani was sidelined by scholars and the media.
According to Nazi ideology, Romani, Jews and blacks were non-Aryan subhumans at the bottom of the racial scale. The German Nuremberg Laws of 1935 stripped Romani (and others at the so-called bottom) of citizenship, confiscated property and criminalized sexual relationship and marriage with Aryans. By the start of WW II, Germany intended the total extermination of the Romani. In the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, the Nazi genocide of the Romani was so thorough, the Bohemian Romani language became an extinct language.
In Denmark, Greece and a small number of other countries, resistance by the native population thwarted the planned Nazi extermination of the Romani. In most conquered countries (e.g., the Baltic states), local cooperation with the Nazis expediated the murder of almost all local Romani. In Croatia, the Croatian collaborators of the Ustaše, were so vicious only a minor remnant of Croatian Romani (and Jews) survived the killings.
A report issued by Amnesty International in 2011 claims that "systematic discrimination is taking place against up to 10 million Roma across Europe. The organization has documented the failures of governments across the continent to live up to their obligations".
Antiziganism has continued well into the 2000s, particularly in Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Kosovo. In Bulgaria, Professor Ognian Saparev has written articles stating that 'Gypsies' are culturally inclined towards theft and use their minority status to 'blackmail' the majority. European Union officials censured both the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2007 for forcibly segregating Romani children from regular schools.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, has been an outspoken critic of antiziganism. In August 2008, Hammarberg noted that "today's rhetoric against the Roma is very similar to the one used by Nazis and fascists before the mass killings started in the thirties and forties. Once more, it is argued that the Roma are a threat to safety and public health. No distinction is made between a few criminals and the overwhelming majority of the Roma population. This is shameful and dangerous".
According to the latest Human Rights First Hate Crime Survey, Romanis routinely suffer assaults in city streets and other public places as they travel to and from homes and markets. In a number of serious cases of violence against them, attackers have also sought out whole families in their homes or whole communities in settlements predominantly housing Romanis. The widespread patterns of violence are sometimes directed both at causing immediate harm to Romanis, without distinction between adults, the elderly, and small children and physically eradicating the presence of Romani people in towns and cities in several European countries.
The practice of placing Romani students in segregated schools or classes remains widespread in countries across Europe. Many Romani children have been channeled into all-Romani schools that offer inferior quality education and are sometimes in poor physical condition or into segregated all-Romani or predominantly Romani classes within mixed schools. Many Romani children are sent to classes for pupils with learning disabilities. They are also sent to so-called "delinquent schools", with a variety of human rights abuses.
Romani in European cities are often accused of crimes such as pickpocketing. In 2009, a documentary by the BBC called Gypsy Child Thieves showed Romani children being kidnapped and abused by Romani gangs from Romania. The children were often held locked in sheds during the nights and sent to steal during the days. However, Chachipe, a charity which works for the human rights of Romani people, has claimed that this programme promoted "popular stereotypes against Roma which contribute to their marginalisation and provide legitimacy to racist attacks against them" and that in suggesting that begging and child exploitation was "intrinsic to the Romany culture", the programme was "highly damaging" for the Romani people. However, the charity accepted that some of the incidents that were detailed in the programme in fact took place.
In Milan, Italy, it is estimated that a single Romani child was able to steal as much as €12,000 in a month; there were as many as 50 of such abused Romani children operating in the city. Meanwhile, the Romani bosses of these gangs were building glossy villas back in Romania. The film went on to describe the link between poverty, discrimination, crime and exploitation.
A United Nations study found that Romani people living in European countries are arrested for robbery much more often than other groups. Amnesty International and Romani rights groups such as the Union Romani blame widespread institutionalised racism and persecution. In July 2008, a Business Week feature found the region's Romani population to be a "missed economic opportunity". Hundreds of people from Ostravice, in the Beskydy mountains in Czech Republic, signed a petition against a plan to move Romani families from Ostrava city to their home town, fearing the Romani invasion as well as their schools not being able to cope with the influx of Romani children.
In 2009, the UN's anti-racism panel charged that "Gypsies suffer widespread racism in European Union". The EU has launched a program entitled Decade of Roma Inclusion to combat this and other problems.
In 2011 in Bulgaria, the widespread antiziganism culminated in anti-Roma protests in response to the murder of Angel Petrov on the orders of Kiril Rashkov, a Roma leader in the village of Katunitsa. In the subsequent trial, the killer, Simeon Yosifov, was sentenced to 17 years in jail. As of May 2012, an appeal was under way.
Protests continued on 1 October in Sofia, with 2000 Bulgarians marching against the Romani and what they viewed to be the "impunity and the corruption" of the political elite in the country.
Volen Siderov, leader of the far-right Ataka party and presidential candidate, spoke to a crowd at the Presidential Palace in Sofia, calling for the death penalty to be reinstated as well as Romani ghettos to be dismantled.
Many of the organized protests were accompanied by ethnic clashes and racist violence against Romani. The protesters shouted racist slogans like "Gypsies into soap" and "Slaughter the Turks!" Many protesters were arrested for public order offenses. The news media labelled the protests as anti-Romani Pogroms.
Furthermore, in 2009, Bulgarian prime minister Borissov referred to Roma as "bad human material". The vice-president of the Party of European Socialists, Jan Marinus Wiersma claimed that he "has already crossed the invisible line between right wing populism and extremism".
Roma make up 2–3% of population in the Czech Republic. According to Říčan (1998), Roma make up more than 60% of Czech prisoners and about 20–30% earn their livelihood in illegal ways, such as procuring prostitution, trafficking and other property crimes. Roma are thus more than 20 times overrepresented in Czech prisons than their population share would suggest.
According to 2010 survey, 83% of Czechs consider Roma asocial and 45% of Czechs would like to expel them from the Czech Republic. A 2011 poll, which followed after a number of brutal attacks by Romani perpetrators against majority population victims, revealed that 44% of Czechs are afraid of Roma people. The majority of the Czech people do not want to have Romanis as neighbours (almost 90%, more than any other group) seeing them as thieves and social parasites. In spite of long waiting time for a child adoption, Romani children from orphanages are almost never adopted by Czech couples. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 the jobs traditionally employing Romanis either disappeared or were taken over by immigrant workers.
The Romanis are at the centre of the agenda of far-right groups in the Czech Republic, which spread antiziganism. Among highly publicized cases was the Vítkov arson attack of 2009, in which four right-wing extremists seriously injured a three-year-old Romani girl. The public responded by donating money as well as presents to the family, who were able to buy a new house from the donations, while the perpetrators were sentenced to 18 and 22 years in prison.
In January 2010, Amnesty International launched a report titled Injustice Renamed: Discrimination in Education of Roma persists in the Czech Republic. According to the BBC, it was Amnesty's view that while cosmetic changes had been introduced by the authorities, little genuine improvement in addressing discrimination against Romani children has occurred over recent years.
In Denmark, there was much controversy when the city of Helsingør decided to put all Romani students in special classes in its public schools. The classes were later abandoned after it was determined that they were discriminatory, and the Romanis were put back in regular classes.
France has come under criticism for its treatment of Roma. In the summer of 2010, French authorities demolished at least 51 illegal Roma camps and began the process of repatriating their residents to their countries of origin. The French government has been accused of perpetrating these actions to pursue its political agenda. In July 2013, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a very controversial far-right politician and founder of the Front national, had a lawsuit filed against him by the European Roma and Travellers Forum, SOS Racisme and the French Union of Travellers Association after he publicly called France's Roma population "smelly" and "rash-inducing", claiming his comments violated French law on inciting racial hatred.
After 2005 Germany deported some 50,000 people, mainly Romanis, to Kosovo. They were asylum seekers who fled the country during the Kosovo War. The people were deported after living more than 10 years in Germany. The deportations were highly controversial: many were children and obtained education in Germany, spoke German as their primary language and considered themselves to be Germans.
Hungary has seen escalating violence against the Romani people. On 23 February 2009, a Romani man and his five-year-old son were shot dead in Tatárszentgyörgy village southeast of Budapest as they were fleeing their burning house which was set alight by a petrol bomb. The dead man's two other children suffered serious burns. Suspects were arrested and are currently on trial.
In 2012, Viktória Mohácsi, 2004–2009 Hungarian Member of European Parliament of Romani ethnicity, asked for asylum in Canada after previously requesting police protection at home from serious threats she was receiving from hate groups.
In 2007 and 2008, following the brutal rape and subsequent murder of a woman in Rome at the hands of a young man from a local Romani encampment, the Italian government started a crackdown on illegal Roma and Sinti campsites in the country.
In May 2008 Romani camps in Naples were attacked and set on fire by local residents. In July 2008, a high court in Italy overthrew the conviction of defendants who had publicly demanded the expulsion of Romanis from Verona in 2001 and reportedly ruled that "it is acceptable to discriminate against Roma on the grounds that they are thieves". One of those freed was Flavio Tosi, Verona's mayor and an official of the anti-immigrant Lega Nord. The decision came during a "nationwide clampdown" on Romanis by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The previous week, Berlusconi's interior minister Roberto Maroni had declared that all Romanis in Italy, including children, would be fingerprinted.
Opposition party member Gianclaudio Bressa responded by insisting that these measures "increasingly resemble those of an authoritarian regime". In response to the fingerprinting plan, three United Nations experts testified that "by exclusively targeting the Roma minority, this proposal can be unambiguously classified as discriminatory". The European Parliament denounced the plan as "a clear act of racial discrimination" and asked the Italian government not to continue.
Roma make up 3.3% of population in Romania. Prejudice against Romanis is common amongst the Romanians, who characterize them as thieves, dirty and lazy. A 2000 EU report about Romani said that in Romania… the continued high levels of discrimination are a serious concern...and progress has been limited to programmes aimed at improving access to education. A survey of the Pro Democraţia association in Romania revealed that 94% of the questioned persons believe that the Romanian citizenship should be revoked to the ethnic Romani who commit crimes abroad.
In 2009-2010, a media campaign followed by a parliamentarian initiative asked the Romanian Parliament to accept a proposal to change back the official name of country's Roma (adopted in 2000) to Țigan (Gypsy), the traditional and colloquial Romanian name for Romani, in order to avoid the possible confusion among the international community between the words Roma, which refers to the Romani ethnic minority, and Romania. The Romanian government supported the move on the grounds that many countries in the European Union use a variation of the word Țigan to refer to their Gypsy populations. The Romanian upper house, the Senate, rejected the proposal.
Several anti-Romani riots occurred in recent decades, notable of which being the Hădăreni riots of 1993, in which a mob of Romanians and Hungarians, in response to the killing of a Romanian by a Gypsy, burnt down 13 houses belonging to the Gypsies, lynched three Gypsies and forced 130 people to flee the village.
In Baia Mare, Mayor Cătălin Cherecheș announced the building of a 3 metre high, 100 metre long concrete wall to divide the buildings in which the Gypsy community lives from the rest of the city and bring "order and discipline" into the area.
The manele, their modern music style, was prohibited in some cities of Romania in public transport and taxis, that action being justified by bus and taxi companies as being for passengers' comfort and a neutral ambience, acceptable for all passengers. However, those actions had been characterised by Speranta Radulescu, a professor of ethno-musicology at the Bucharest Conservatory, as "a defect of Romanian society". There were also a few criticisms of Professor Dr. Ioan Bradu Iamandescu's experimental study, which linked the listening of "manele" to an increased level of aggressiveness and low self-control and suggested a correlation between preference for that music style and low cognitive skills.
Three Slovakian Romani women have come before the European Court of Human Rights on grounds of having been forcefully sterilised in Slovakian hospitals. The sterilisations were performed by tubal ligation after the women gave birth by Caesarean section. The court awarded two of the women costs and damages while the third case was dismissed because of the woman's death. A report by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Centre for Civil and Human Rights has compiled more than 100 cases of Roma women in Slovakia who have been sterilised without their informed consent.
In August 2012, Slovakian television network TV JOJ ran a report about cases of Romani immigrant families with Slovakian or Czech citizenship, whose children were forcibly taken away by the British authorities. It has sparked Romani protests in towns such as Nottingham. The authorities refused to explain the reasons for their actions to the Slovak reporters. One of the mothers alleged that she was allowed visitation with her newborn baby only in an empty room; as there was no furniture, she was forced to change her baby's diapers on the floor, which was reflected negatively in a social workers' report. Then, when she would not change the diapers on a subsequent occasion following this experience, failure to change them was reflected negatively in the report as well. TV JOJ also alleged that in another case, a biological mother suffered a nervous breakdown because her children were being taken away, which was seen as proof that she was not able to take care for them and they were then put up for adoption. The problem was further escalated after reports that some Slovak children would be put up for adoption either in the UK or elsewhere, especially after a British court rejected the request of a grandmother, living in Slovakia, for legal custody of her grandchildren. This dispute has sparked protests in front of the British embassy in Bratislava, with protesters holding signs such as "Britain – Thief of Children" and "Stop Legal Kidnappers". According to Slovak media, over 30 Romani children were taken from their parents in Britain. The Slovak government voiced its "serious concern" over the readiness of British authorities to remove children from their "biological parents" for "no sound reason" and further stated its readiness to challenge the policy in front of the European Court of Human Rights.
According to the LGB rights organisation and charity Stonewall, antiziganism is prevalent in the UK, with a distinction made between Romani people and Irish Travellers (both of whom are commonly known by the exonym "gypsies" in the UK), and the so-called "travellers [and] modern Gypsies." In 2008, the media reported that Gypsies experience a higher degree of racism than any other group in the UK, including asylum-seekers. A Mori poll indicated that a third of UK residents admitted openly to being prejudiced against Gypsies.
Thousands of retrospective planning permissions are granted in Britain in cases involving non-Romani applicants each year, and that statistics showed that 90% of planning applications by Romanis and travellers were initially refused by local councils compared with a national average of 20% for other applicants, disproving claims of preferential treatment favouring Romanis. Travellers argued that the root of the problem was that many traditional stopping places had been barricaded off and that legislation passed by the previous Conservative government had effectively criminalised their community. For example, removing local authorities' responsibility to provide sites leaves the travellers with no option but to purchase unregistered new sites themselves.
In 2002 Conservative Party politician, and Member of Parliament (MP) for Bracknell Andrew MacKay stated in a House of Commons debate on unauthorised encampments of Gypsies and other Travelling groups in the UK, "They [Gypsies and Travellers] are scum, and I use the word advisedly. People who do what these people have done do not deserve the same human rights as my decent constituents going about their ordinary lives". MacKay subsequently left politics in 2010.
In 2005, Doncaster Borough Council discussed in chamber a Review of Gypsy and Traveller Needs and concluded that Gypsies and Irish Travellers are among the most vulnerable and marginalised ethnic minority groups in Britain.
A Gypsy and Traveller support centre in Leeds, West Yorkshire, was vandalised in April 2011 in what the police suspect was a hate-crime. The fire caused substantial damage to a centre that is used as a base for the support and education of gypsies and travellers in the community.
The Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament in 2001 and in 2009 confirmed that widespread marginalisation and discrimination persists in Scottish society against gypsy and traveller groups. A 2009 survey conducted by the Scottish Government also concludes that Scottish gypsy and travellers had been largely ignored in official policies. A similar survey in 2006 found discriminatory attitudes in Scotland towards gypsies and travellers, and showed 37 percent of those questioned would be unhappy if a relative married a gypsy or traveller while 48 percent found it unacceptable if a member of the gypsy or traveller minorities became primary school teachers.
A report by the University of the West of Scotland found that both Scottish and UK governments had failed to safeguard the rights of the Roma as a recognized ethnic group and did not raise awareness of Roma rights within the UK. Additionally, an Amnesty International report published in 2012 stated that Gypsy Traveller groups in Scotland routinely suffer widespread discrimination in society, as well as a disproportionate level of scrutiny in the media. Over a four-month period as a sample 48 per cent of articles showed Gypsy Travellers in a negative light, while 25–28 per cent of articles were favourable, or of a neutral viewpoint. Amnesty recommended journalists adhere to ethical codes of conduct when reporting on Gypsy Traveller populations in Scotland, as they face fundamental human rights concerns, particularly with regard to health, education, housing, family life and culture.
To tackle the widespread prejudices and needs of Gypsy/Traveller minorities, in 2011, the Scottish Government set up a working party to consider how best to improve community relations between Gypsies/Travellers and Scottish society. Including young Gypsies/Travellers to engage in an on-line positive messages campaign, contain factually correct information on their communities.
In 2007 a study by the newly formed Equality for Human Rights Commission found that negative attitudes and prejudice persists against Gypsy/Traveller communities in Wales. Results showed that 38 percent of those questioned would not accept a long-term relationship with, or would be unhappy if a close relative married or formed a relationship with, a Gypsy Traveller. Furthermore, only 37 percent found it acceptable if a member of the Gypsy Traveller minorities became primary school teachers, the lowest score of any group. An advertising campaign to tackle prejudice in Wales was launched by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in 2008.
In June 2009, having had their windows broken and deaths threats made against them, 20 Romanian Romani families were forced from their homes in Lisburn Road, Belfast, in Northern Ireland. Up to 115 people, including women and children, were forced to seek refuge in a local church hall after being attacked. They were later moved by the authorities to a safer location. An anti-racist rally in the city on 15 June to support Romani rights was attacked by youths chanting neo-Nazi slogans. The attacks were condemned by Amnesty International and political leaders from both the Unionist and Nationalist traditions in Northern Ireland.
Following the arrest of three local youths in relation to the attacks, the church where the Romanis had been given shelter was badly vandalised. Using 'emergency funds', Northern Ireland authorities assisted most of the victims to return to Romania.
When Romani refugees were allowed into Canada in 1997, a protest was staged by 25 people, including neo-Nazis, in front of the motel where the refugees were staying. The protesters held signs that included, "Honk if you hate Gypsies," "Canada is not a Trash Can," and "G.S.T. – Gypsies Suck Tax." (The last is a reference to Canada's unpopular Goods and Services Tax, also known as GST.) The protesters were charged with promoting hatred, and the case, called R. v. Krymowski, reached the Supreme Court of Canada in 2005.
On 5 September 2012, prominent Canadian conservative commentator Ezra Levant broadcast a commentary "The Jew vs. the Gypsies" on The Source in which he accused the Romani people of being a group of criminals: "These are gypsies, a culture synonymous with swindlers. The phrase gypsy and cheater have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb: he gypped me. Well the gypsies have gypped us. Too many have come here as false refugees. And they come here to gyp us again and rob us blind as they have done in Europe for centuries.… They’re gypsies. And one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging."
From the end of the Kosovo War in June 1999, about 80% of Kosovo's Romanis were expelled, amounting to approximately 100,000 expellees.:82 For the 1999–2006 period, the European Roma Rights Centre documented numerous crimes perpetrated by Kosovo's ethnic Albanians with the purpose to purge the region of its Romani population along with other non-Albanian ethnic communities. These crimes included murder, abduction and illegal detention, torture, rape, arson, confiscation of houses and other property and forced labour. Whole Romani settlements were burned to the ground by Albanians.:82 Romanis remaining in Kosovo are reported to be systematically denied fundamental human rights. They "live in a state of pervasive fear":83 and are routinely intimidated, verbally harassed and periodically attacked on racist grounds by Albanians.:83 The Romani community of Kosovo is regarded to be, for the most part, annihilated.:93
At UN internally displaced persons' camps in Kosovo for Romanis, the refugees were exposed to lead poisoning.
Antiziganism in Norway flared up in July 2012, when roughly 200 Romani people settled outside Sofienberg church in Oslo and were later relocated to a building site at Årvoll, in northern Oslo. The group was subjected to hate crimes in the form of stone throwing and fireworks being aimed at and fired into their camp. They, and Norwegians trying to assist them in their situation, also received death threats. Siv Jensen, the leader of the right-wing Progress Party, also advocated the expulsion of the Romani people resident in Oslo.
A Swiss right-wing magazine, Weltwoche, published a photograph of a gun-wielding Roma child on its cover in 2012, with the title "The Roma are coming: Plundering in Switzerland". They claimed in a series of articles of a growing trend in the country of "criminal tourism for which eastern European Roma clans are responsible", with professional gangs specializing in burglary, thefts, organized begging and street prostitution. The magazine immediately came under criticism for its links to the right-wing populist People's Party (SVP), as being deliberately provocative and encouraged racist stereotyping by linking ethnic origin and criminality. Switzerland's Federal Commission against Racism is considering legal action after complaints in Switzerland, Austria and Germany that the cover breached antiracism laws.
The Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel investigated the origins of the photograph taken in the slums of Gjakova, Kosovo, where Roma communities were displaced during the Kosovo War to hovels built on a toxic landfill. The Italian photographer, Livio Mancini, denounced the abuse of his photograph, which was originally taken to demonstrate the plight of Roma families in Europe.
Because the Roma population in the United States has assimilated quickly and Roma people are not often portrayed in US popular culture, the term "Gypsy" is typically associated with a trade or lifestyle instead of the Romani ethnic group. While many Americans regard ethnic costume offensive (such as blackface), many Americans continue to dress as gypsy characters for Halloween or other events. Additionally, some small businesses, particularly those in the fortune-telling and psychic reading industry, use the term "Gypsy" to describe themselves or their enterprise, even if they have no ties to the Roma people. Some do, however, as perhaps up to a million Americans have Romani ancestry (see Romani American), but they are usually of only partial descent.
While some scholars argue that appropriation of the Roma identity in the United States is explained by misperception and ignorance rather than antiziganism, Romani advocacy groups themselves decry the practice.
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Environmental issues caused by Cold War-era industrial development have disproportionately impacted upon the Roma, particularly in Eastern Europe. The traditional nomadic lifestyle of the Roma make the people most often settle on the outskirts of towns and cities, where amenities, employment and educational opportunities are often inaccessible. As of 1993, Hungary has been identified as one country where this issue exists: "While the economic restructuring of a command economy into a western style market economy created hardships for most Hungarians, with the national unemployment rate heading toward 14 percent and per capita real income falling, the burdens imposed on Romanis are disproportionately great."
Panel buildings (panelák) in Chanov ghetto near Most, Czech Republic were built in the 1970s for a high-income clientele, authorities introduced a model plan, whereby Roma were relocated to these buildings, from poorer areas, to live among Czech neighbours. However, with the rising proportion of Roma moving in, the Czech clients gradually moved out in a kind of white flight, eventually leaving a district in which the vast majority of residents were Roma. A poll in 2007 marked the district as the worst place in the Ústí nad Labem Region. Buildings were eventually stripped of any valuable materials and torn down. The removal of materials was blamed on the Roma who had last inhabited the building. Despite a total rental debt in excess of €3.5 million, all of the tenants in the remaining buildings continue to be provided with water and electricity, unlike the situation in many other European countries.
When newly built in the 1980s, some flats in this settlement were assigned to Roma who had relocated from poverty-stricken locations in a government effort to integrate the Roma population. Other flats were assigned to families of military and law-enforcement personnel. However, the military and police families gradually moved out of the residences and the living conditions for the Roma population deteriorated. Ongoing failures to pay bills led to the disconnection of the water supply and an emergency plan was eventually created to provide running water for two hours per day to mitigate against the bill payment issue. Similarly to Chanov, some of these buildings were stripped of their materials and were eventually torn down; again, the Roma residents were identified as the culprits of the material theft.
The various legal hindrances to their traditional nomadic lifestyle have forced many travelling Roma into unsafe areas, such as ex-industrial areas, former landfills or other waste areas where pollutants have affected rivers, streams or groundwater. Consequently, Roma are often unable to access clean water or sanitation facilities, rendering the Roma people more vulnerable to health problems, such as diseases. Based in Belgium, the Health & Environment Alliance has included a statement in relation to the Roma on one of its pamphlets: "Denied environmental benefits such as water, sewage treatment facilities, sanitation and access to natural resources, and suffer from exposure to environmental hazards due to their proximity to hazardous waste sites, incinerators, factories, and other sources of pollution." Since the fall of communism and privatisation of the formerly state owned water-supply companies in many areas of central and eastern Europe, the provision of decent running water to illegal buildings Roma that often occupy became a particular issue, as the new international owners of the water-supply companies are unwilling to make contracts with Roma population and "water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea and dysentery" became "an almost constant feature of daily life, especially for children".
According to a study by the United Nations Development Program, the percentage of Roma with access to running water and sewage treatment within Romania and the Czech Republic is well below the average in those countries. Consequently, a proliferation of skin diseases among these populations, due to the low quality of housing standards, including scabies, pediculosis, pyoderma, mycosis and ascariasis, has occurred; respiratory health problems also affect the majority of the inhabitants of these areas, in addition to increasing rates of hepatitis and tuberculosis.
Additionally, the permanent settlement of Roma in residential areas is often met with either hostility by non-Roma or the exodus of non-Roma, similar to white flight in the United States. Moreover, local councils have issued bans against Roma, who are frequently evicted.
In popular culture
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- Human Rights
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