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Posted by admin_zrp on Sunday, December 23 @ 16:06:43 CET (119 reads)
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 5th edition of the grant competition TOGETHER WE CAN MORE!

Polish Roma Union based in Szczecinek has been awarded the 5th edition of the grant competition TOGETHER WE CAN MORE! organized by the Foundation Dbam O Zdrowie.

The project budget of PLN 22,500.00 is intended to the purchase of medicines and medical supplies for the most needy. The project "A healthy future for Holocaust Victims - Part III" will support 80 people. The project will be dedicated to the Roma Holocaust Victims and will last until September 2017.

Our organization was among the 59 winners of the Grant Competition 2017, which prepared and sent the best projects to tackle the barriers to accessing medicines in Poland. The project is being implemented by us for the third time.

Posted by admin_zrp on Thursday, May 11 @ 15:52:43 CEST (278 reads)
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 OSCE Human Dimension meeting

Review meeting on the implementation of the OSCE Human Dimension, Warsaw 19-30 September 2016

From 19 to 30 September this year in Warsaw it was held the annual review meeting devoted to the implementation of the provisions of so-called Human dimension of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The event was located in the capital of Polish Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). This office is an integral part of the OSCE for 25 years (1991), previously the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe), and since its establishment it has its headquarters in Warsaw. ODIHR is an institution dedicated to the issues of human rights, with particular emphasis on the rights of national, ethnic and linguistic minorities, freedom of expression and the rule of law, as well as the fight against racism and discrimination and to promote tolerance and social diversity.

During the three days meeting (26-29 September) there were presented current issues related to the situation of national minorities and ethnic groups and languages to the Member States of the OSCE and the challenges of crime and hate speech on racial and ethnic origin. In addition to discussions on current problems there were additionally analyzed experiences and so far realized results and these planned for the implementation of initiatives for the promotion of cultural diversity, ethnic, racial and linguistic diversity and at the same time combating discrimination and xenophobia within the Information System Member of the OSCE for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-discrimination (TANDIS).

During this year's review meeting on achieving the objectives of the Human Dimension, issues of the Roma community in the area of OSCE were discussed with representatives of the State authorities and civil society organizations on 28 September. The main points of the meeting were issues of access of representatives of Roma and Sinti to the rules-based selection of positions in state institutions, as well as the progress in the implementation of the "Action Plan to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE participating States" and failures in this area, their causes and ways to overcome.

Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe for the Roma - Valeriu Nicolae admitted that unfriendly attitudes towards Roma are still seen and often go unpunished. They are also deeply rooted in the societies of many countries of the OSCE. He added that as long as there is a general consent on racism against Roma and lack of punishment for its initiators and supporters, the participation of Roma will be limited.

Lucie Fuková - Roma activist and member of the Government Council for Roma Community Affairs of the Czech Republic indicated that Roma activists, like her, are not able to change anything from the bottom up, because key decisions are taken at the highest level, and then transferred to local governments. She stressed also that it is obvious that, if Roma want to change anything, they need to participate in politics.

All participants of the session devoted to the affairs of the Roma and Sinti agreed that Roma women and youth play a very important role in promoting social and political integration of the Roma. Lucie Fuková from the Czech Republic also added that the participation of Roma women is even more important as directly involved in matters relating to their community as a whole, they represent an extraordinary potential to be real advocates of change.

One of the many participants of this meeting was also President of Polish Roma Union, being simultaneously a member of the Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities - Roman Chojnacki, who mentioned that the policy towards the Roma minority over the years is apparently changing, and its effects can also be seen in Poland. According to him, the government sees Roma problems and is willing to help, but there is huge need of partners for that help. Chojnacki suggested that this role was taken over by actively working Roma leaders. He also added that Roma want to participate in changes affecting them, they do not want to stand aside and want to decide about themselves. His information on the current situation of the Roma minority in Poland and in selected Member States of the OSCE, being obtained from local activists, met with positive reactions in particular representatives of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Council of Europe, as well as national and international Roma organizations.

It is worth recalling that, in the framework of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE since 1994 operates a Contact Point for Roma and Sinti, whose boss is now Mirjam Karoly from Austria. In the years 2007-2013 Andrzej Mirga held this position.

Posted by admin_zrp on Thursday, October 13 @ 14:57:18 CEST (986 reads)
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 Memorial to the Murdered Roma and Sinti


Commemoration of the Murdered
In Chełmno on the Ner - AUGUST 3, 2016

Commemoration of Roma and Sinti who were murdered in the former German Nazi Extermination Camp Kulmhof in Chelmno on the Ner at the Museum of the former Extermination Camp Kulmhof in Chelmno on the Ner, the Martyrs' Museum in Żabikowo begun at 12.15 PM on 3 August 2016 and it was arranged by Polish Roma Union based in Szczecinek.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen became the Honorary Patronage of the ceremony. Media patronage was provided by Program Drugi TVP S.A, Polskie Radio, Program Pierwszy S.A. and „Rzeczpospolita”. During the ceremony there were also present the German-speaking media representatives of the Austrian television and radio public Österreichischer Rundfunk – ORF and local media.

The ceremony began with the introduction of the flagship and singing national anthems: Roma, Polish, Austrian and EU.

Than the emcees Justyna and Magdalena Matkowskie asked the host of the place Anna Ziółkowska, Director of the Museum of the Martyrs in Żabikowo to speak.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the state authorities (from Chancellery of the President of Poland, the Parliament, the Government), provincial (Poznań, Szczecin, Warszawa and ŁódĽ) and local (kolski district), D±bie on the Ner and Grzegorzew and Catholic Church representatives led by Bishop Damian Bryl - Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Poznań (representatives of Archbishop Stanisław G±decki - Metropolitan of Poznań, the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference) and Bishop Franz Scharl - Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Vienna and sister Alexandra Pander ABMV of the Pontifical Council, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in Vatican.

There were present also representatives of the diplomatic corps from Austria, India, the Czech Republic, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, the French Republic, the Russian Federation, Hungary, the Netherlands, the President and Vice-President of the International Romani Union and many other institutions such as: Chancellery of the Ombudsman, Institute of National Remembrance, the Martyrs' Museum in Żabikowo, the Museum of the former German Extermination Camp Kulmhof in Chelmno on the Ner, Museum of Independence Traditions in ŁódĽ, the Museum of Ceramic Technology, the House of Culture in Koło, Social and Cultural Society of Jews in Poland and many non-governmental organizations.

The ceremony was also attended by the large delegation (45 persons) from the Federal Republic of Austria headed by the Ambassador of the Republic of Austria, representatives of the Länder Burgenland and Styria and the chairman of the Cultural Association of Austrian Roma. In total, the ceremony was attended by over 300 people, Roma and non-Roma with Polish and Austrian nationality, including older people who remember the Holocaust.

At the beginning of the ceremony spoke the president of Polish Roma Union Roman Chojnacki, Member of the Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities.

„We are gathered today in this heart-catching place to mention murdered Roma and Sinti. We meet here to commemorate the tragic history written by the pain and suffering of many innocent lives.

This is where, during World War II, were killed more than 4,300 Roma and Sinti. Here, in one of many such places - death machine of dehumanized, murderous German plan has led to gassing people loaded into the cars - gas chambers. Terror of the past is appearing right now in front of our eyes like a living.

Pope Francis visiting our country talked so clearly of having the memory of good and bad things. Yes! We must remember what was wron, to take care of what is beautiful and human. To not let evil happen again.

The place where we are gathered today is a commitment for all of us. Let this be a commitment to remember and to give testimonials of the Holocaust/Poraimos. Let us dare to speak today about the tragedy from the past. Do not let the world forget about those who died in the name of the terrible German ideology.

The experience from over 70 years should be a warning to all people in Poland, Europe and in the world that we never were indifferent to all crimes and persecution of people because of their national, ethnic or religious belongingness. However, remembering the "wrong time” is no longer enough. We are committed to take care of the sense of community. This is important especially today - here and now - when the world is raging wars again, when terrorist acts kill innocent people, while others are forced to flee their country fearing for the safety of themselves and their loved ones.

Do not let the tragic history from years make a full circle. Let us not divide people into better and worse ones. Let us seek a good memory in the community-building achievements - building the "us" - as people, mutual understanding and community-oriented humanistic thinking - to other people and humanity.

Polish Roma Union based in Szczecinek has chosen as its highest goal commemorating places where Roma were dying in the darkness of war and their death was forgotten. Chelmno on the Ner is another place after Treblinka where stays a monument (due to our efforts and the help of many sympathetic people) commemorating the victims of the extermination. Let us honor their memory and bow our heads and let this monument forever be a testimony that we remember. Let ceremonies, such like this, play the role of "living history lesson" through which we are strong in the memory of the Holocaust, so we can take care of a better tomorrow for all of us " - said in his speech Roman Chojnacki.

After a short concert of Gypsy music performed by Siostry Matkowskie and after many speeches that were delivered by invited guests, the monument to the murdered Sinti and Roma was unveiled and devoted. It was unveiled by Roman Chojnacki and Christian Klippel President of the Cultural Association of Austrian Roma (Roma Kulturverein österreichischer Dokumentations und Informationszentrum). It should be mentioned that the monument was donated by Council of Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom, Kulturverein österreichischer Roma Dokumentations- und Informationszentrum from Vienna and Zukunftsfonds der Republik Österreich Zukunftsfonds der Republik Österreich, Der Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opferdes Nationalsozialismus and of Polish Roma Union based in Szczecinek.

After unveiling monument His Excellency Bishop Damian Bryl, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Poznań, said a prayer of blessing, and its consecration was performed by His Excellency Bishop Franz Scharl, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Vienna. Roma pastor Mieczysław Jodłowski said a prayed also in Romani.

The inscription on the monument appears in five languages: Polish, Roma, Sinti, German and English.

Then the youth read Appeal of the Youth to the World in three languages: Polish, Roma and German. They asked in this appeal for peace no tonly for Roma and Sinti but also for the whole world.
Numerous delegations put wreaths and bouquets of flowers at the monument. Ceremony ended leading out the flagship.

The ceremony in Las Rzuchowski could take place due to the support of: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration, Council of the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom, Polish Roma Union based in Szczecinek, Cultural Association of Austrian Roma Centre for Documentation and Information; Future Fund of the Republic of Austria, National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism and the Foundation Rosa Luxemburg.

The organizers also thank for help in preparing the ceremony: Thomas Buchsbaum - Ambassador of Austria, Anna Ziółkowska - host the Museum of the Former Extermination Camp Kulmhof in Chelmno on the Ner, Wieńczysław Oblizajek – Head of Kolski District and members of the board of Kolski County, Tomasz Ludwicki - Mayor of the city and municipalities D±bie nad Nerem, Bożena Dominiak - Mayor of Grzegorzew and Krzysztof Lis – Head of Szczecinek County, police, fire service, medical service, youth, and especially scouts, volunteer firefighters and all those who helped us in any way to prepare this ceremony.

Polish Roma Union based in Szczecinek and The Institute of Romani Heritage and Memory and Holocaust’s Victims since years endeavor to commemorate the Roma and Sinti murdered in many places during the World War II. The result of this activity was the ceremony in 2014 when there was unveiled a monument dedicated to the Roma and Sinti murdered in the former German Nazi Labor Camp and Camp in Treblinka.

Maybe even when we will no longer be in this world, this newly built monument will remind everyone of what happened over 70 years ago. Giving a tribute to Roma, Sinti and other victims of World War II let us also go full of faith and hope to build a large community in peace and love and to work together and create a future free of stereotypes, prejudices, conflicts and wars, free of everything what is evil in this world.














Posted by admin_zrp on Monday, August 08 @ 14:55:05 CEST (1540 reads)
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 UNVEILING CEREMONY Memorial to the Murdered Roma and Sinti


UNVEILING CEREMONY Memorial to the Murdered

In Chełmno on the Ner - AUGUST 3, 2016
Polish Roma Union based in Szczecinek for the first time in its history plans to arrange on 3 August 2016 the commemoration of Roma and Sinti, who were murdered in the former German Nazi Extermination Camp Kulmhof in Chelmno on the Ner at the Museum of the former Extermination Camp Kulmhof in Chelmno on the Ner, the Martyrs' Museum in Żabikowo. The highlight of the celebrations will be the unveiling of the monument funded by the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom and Kulturverein Österreichischer Roma from Vienna.
The ceremony of unveiling this monument will take place in Las Rzuchowski at the Museum of the former Extermination Camp Kulmhof in Chelmno on the Ner. Martyrs' Museum in Żabikowo, Cultural Institution of the Wielkopolska Region.

Polish President Andrzej Duda became the Honorary Patronage of aforementioned celebration.

The ceremony will begin on Aug. 3, 2016 at 12: 00 at the monument commemorating the Roma and Sinti murdered during World War II.
After the celebration in Chelmno on the Ner its members will travel to Poznan to participate in the intergenerational meeting of Roma (4-6 August 2016). During the meeting all participants will be able to listen to lectures and take part in artistic workshops that will be devoted to culture, tradition and identity of the Roma. During these meetings the participants will deepen their knowledge about Roma identity, tolerance, multicultural society and how to combat racism, discrimination, hate speech and xenophobia.

You all are welcome!
Polish Roma Union

Posted by admin_zrp on Friday, July 08 @ 15:22:39 CEST (561 reads)
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 Devastated monument in Borzęcin

Rebuilding is planned

On the night of 22 on April 23 was vandalized the statue of Remembrance of the Holocaust of the Roma murdered in 1943 in Borzęcin. The monument created by Roma artist Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, a graduate of the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts, has been knocked down and hacked with a sharp tool, possibly an ax. The plaque informing about the murdered Roma in Borzęcin was broken. The destruction of this monument was noticed in the morning of April 23 by forestry management team who came to work in Borzęcin forest.

The monument was created in 2011 and it commemorated the massacre of about 30 Roma who were killed in July 1943 by the German army. Back then the German police and Polish police detained around Wał-Ruda a group of Gypsies. They were transported by wagons of local peasants to the forest, ordered to lie face down and shot. At the place of execution moved local men, they were told to dig a hole and bury all bodies. Among the victims there were 3 men, 5 women and 21 children. At the end of the 1950s bones of the victims were exhumed and buried in a mass grave at the cemetery of Dolny Borzęcin.

A monument commemorating the victims was unveiled on July 23 in 2011 during the XII International Roma Memory Camp. The moving line of the Roma poet Papusza was placed on the monument: “There was no life for Gypsies in towns and villages, they were killing us. What to do? Gypsy women went with children to the forest, far away in the forest, to hide themselves from the German dogs.”

Originator and creator of the monument are convinced that the devastation was made by an organized group of people. To make such destruction there were needed a few people. The monument was embedded on four metal rods. “I think that we have to deal with the heirs of the barbarians who had made this murder before 70 years ago” - says Adam Bartosz, the initiator of the monument. The perpetrators have not been caught until today. The police are still searching them.

Polish Roma Union sent letters to the President of Poland Andrzej Duda, Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration Mariusz Błaszczak and the Governor of Malopolska Józef Pilch asking for involvement in this case and to do everything what is needed to catch and punish the perpetrators in accordance with applicable law.

Chancellery of the Polish President announced that the case has been taken into account very seriously and appropriate steps to solve this problem have been taken immediately. Minister Małgorzata Sadurska, Chief of the Presidential Chancellery, referred the matter to the Minister of Justice - General Attorney Zbigniew Ziobro.

Furthermore, the Minister Wojciech Kotlarski appealed to the Governor of Malopolska Józef Pilch and to the Secretary of the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Andrzej Krzysztof Kunert for support to rebuild the monument. He also talked to Andrzej Szpunar, the director of the Regional Museum in Tarnów who initiated the construction of the monument. Currently, Chancellery of the President of Poland is waiting for information on the outcome of taken actions.

The monument of Remembrance of the Holocaust of the Roma went to the Regional Museum in Tarnów after testing services. “Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom offered the financial support” - told the media Andrzej Szpunar. The cost of the renovation will be approx. 24 thousands złotych. The monument has been refurbished by the designer Małgorzata Mirga-Tas. According to speculation of Museum the monument will be placed once again even in July this year. Re-unveiling would be associated with the International Roma Memory Camp organized for years by the Museum of Tarnów. There is a discussion held on how to put a monument that it cannot be so easily refuted again. Mayor of Borzęcin Janusz Kwa¶niak offers to install cameras there. Police are still looking for the perpetrators.

Posted by admin_zrp on Monday, June 13 @ 14:49:58 CEST (636 reads)
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 Roma Triumph & Reality of Assimilation in America, Europe and India

Dr. Sachi G. Dastidar
Distinguished Professor, State University of New York at Old Westbury; and Chair, ISPaD: Indian Subcontinent Partition Docmentation Project, New York

During a trip to Poland in the summer of 2015 my wife Shefali and I took a trip to the infamous Treblinka Nazi Death Camp, a 2+ hours’ drive northwest of the capital Warsaw. In the midst of the sorrowful atrocity we witnessed several examples of hope and generosity. Busloads of Jews – young and old – from faraway places were walking miles after miles though the remains of the sprawling Camp. They were placing flowers and stones at memorials to the families with whom they share only their faith. Gauging the suffering in Treblinka is impossible now. Yet it is praiseworthy for their sincere effort. One visiting Jewish couple who was spending three weeks going from villages to villages where large number of Jews lived before Holocaust. Seeing us in our Indian outfit that couple asked, “Are you Indian?” “Hindu.” We replied yes to both. Then they asked, “What are you doing here?” We replied, “Like you we too have come to pay respect to the fallen and ask Mother Goddess for nirvana of their soul. Now we are also praying for return of Mother Kali, the demon killer, on Earth to destroy the demons forever.” We added “weren’t there Indians called Roma or Gipsy who were murdered here too?” They replied, “Of course. Please go that area for more memorials.”

We walked for hours through the camp, which in size is like a small town, in that 100F hot summer day, finally entering the Museum. We were inspired by the museum as we are trying to establish a Partition Docmentation Museum on the effects of British-inspired, Muslim League Party-proposed and Congress Party-agreed Indian partition of 1947 resulting in the creation of Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Subcontinent was further partitioned in 1971 when the majority of Muslim Pakistan, the Bengalis, who revolted against oppression by the minority Punjabis of then West Pakistan. Three million Bengalis – mostly from the minority Hindu community and the rest secular Muslims – were killed in nine months by the Army of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its Bengali Islamist allies giving birth to Bangladesh. As we were going through the Roma items at the Treblinka Museum one lady handed us a copy of the “Romano Atmo” journal. Hesitatingly we picked up a journal of which the pictures attracted our eyes as we didn’t understand Polish language. Soon we picked up a second and a third issue. We were exceedingly impressed by the small, oppressed, poor, minority Roma in its effort to preserve their Indian heritage. It was reveling to us, even the Roma flag had symbolism of the tricolor Indian National Flag, with the wheel of Buddhist King Asoka.

Tolerance in America, Europe and India:

One can argue that the struggle for ethnic identity – especially of linguistic, cultural, religious identity – was lost in Europe especially after the two World Wars. Even before that for almost 800 years European kings, monarchs, nobilities and popes had waged war on each other till the area they ruled became almost linguistically and/or religiously homogeneous areas. Realizing this one often wonders if monotheism and institutional religion is able to coexist with diversity. Till Reformation and Enlightenment Europe too was not welcoming to diversity. For centuries Roma suffered for that reason as well as the Jews, often considered “outsiders” even after speaking the same language or adopting Christianity, yet not someone who migrated long distance within a national area.

In the history of mankind the experiment called America is new. It is the first time in history a group of people would be considered equal, respect each other’s culture and religion, be secular, and above all, governed by themselves. That is experiment is still continuing. Yet theory and practice would prove many contradictions even today. One can argue the fate of our original inhabitants, the Native Americans, have not been much different from the Roma and the Jews of Europe. In America one group after another faced difficulty either in assimilation or keeping alive their identity, starting with Native Americans. Then there were African-Americans, Catholics, Irish, Jews, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanics, Indians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and more. Nevertheless, because of the Constitutional framework and secular ideals all the once-oppressed groups always felt that there is hope in the future. It seems democracy has not succeeded perfectly as it wants to as peoples’ rule has foundered with arrival of new groups, at times hard to assimilate. May be it is the weakness of democracy that at election time people identify with individuals running for office with one’s own ethnicity, religion or bias. In the U.S. Native American culture is practically finished and remains alive almost as objects in museums as they have dwindled to a very small number. Still there is efforts to save their culture and religion. But the struggle for preserving identity and economic equality for blacks or African-Americans is far from being realized. They have become a permanent underclass like Roma in many European countries. Yet the hope is democracy and what I call “the idea of tolerance” remains a strong faith in people’s mind. Democracy cannot survive without tolerance. Thus I can argue that democracy didn’t flourish in Europe as long as religion – in that case fundamentalist Christianity – was unchallenged or the rules of kings or monarchs or dictators were the final word. It only took roots after WWI and WW II when all the nations went through total destruction. Even in that part of Europe where democracy took hold before WW II were monarchies like the U.K. or North Europe which otherwise is contrary to the ideas of democracy. Onslaught on linguistic and religious minorities continued for centuries with the dreadful culmination of Nazism with attempts of complete annihilation of Roma and Jewish identities.

India, the largest democracy in the world, survives with democratic principles because of its deep roots of tolerance embedded through pluralistic Hindu faith, long before the idea of democracy appeared in political science literature. India is the only post-WW II decolonized large country that maintained its democratic polity from the very beginning in spite of being partitioned in 1947 and dismemberment of its Muslim-majority areas (Pakistan and Bangladesh), and subsequent ethnic cleansing of practically all non-Muslim minority Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian population from Muslim-majority Pakistan and Bangladesh, formerly parts of India. On the contrary, very small number of Muslims left Hindu-majority India to go to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Bangladesh, although those areas were promoted before 1947 partition as “homeland for Muslims.” This tolerant tradition is not new. India and Hinduism have absorbed Greek, Persian, Hun (Chinese), Central Asian cultures as their own through absorption and assimilation. They became part of India and parts of pluralistic Hinduism. Many of their deities were eventually adopted as part of Hindu’s own. After Arab Muslims invaded non-Muslim Persia (Iran) 1300 years ago and started destroying their temples, shrines and culture, Persians fled to India’s western Gujarat coast to save their religion and culture. And now everyone thinks Zoroastrianism is a religion of India not Persia. They – the Parsees – havebeen able to assimilate in India yet maintain their identity through name, religion and language for 1300 years. They learned and adopted Gujarati language but created a distinctiveness Persian strain of Gujarati culture.Parsees became one more diversity in incredibly diverse India and Hinduism. The same is true with the Christians. It is believed that Saint Thomas came to preach in India in 52 AD. Thus old Southern Indian Christians follow a ritual distinguished by her Christian faith overlapped with Hindu customs. India is the place where Jews lived for centuries and was never oppressed. They were able to maintain their identity of religion, language and tradition.

The arrival of Roma centuries ago in Europe is unique in many ways. What Roma brought was an oral tradition from India, yet in unwelcoming monotheistic Christian tradition. Without a common written language, religion or ritual it is extremely difficult to maintain one’s faith and identity beyond a few generations. Monotheism by nature is unable to accept diversity and deviance from religious-political dogma. (This is true of monotheistic Islam, Communism or dictatorship.) Oral traditions and rituals are hard to maintain in the absence of written instructions. In successive generations traditions change as instructed by the elders. And unlike jet-age of today for Roma of centuries ago it was difficult to maintain connection to the motherland allowing people to maintain their traditions. The Roma has a great tradition of culture, music and dance. However, centuries after centuries of persecution in almost everywhere in Europe including the Final Extermination Campaign of the Nazis it is a tribute to their struggle that they have persevered. I am impressed by Roma groups who are now trying to connect with each other in diverse nations, in many cases teaching Hindi and Indian culture to their children. This is remarkable. With the migration of Indians in Europe many Roma will be able to connect with newly arriving Indians enriching Indian and Roma cultures in Europe just as Hindus and Guyanese, Trinidadian of South America and the Caribbean and Fijian Indians of the Pacific Islands have been able to enrich Indian cultures in the U.S. and vice versa. There is a lot to learn from the Roma experience in Europe.

Posted by admin_zrp on Wednesday, April 06 @ 11:21:32 CEST (1213 reads)
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Despite the raging public debate on pedophilia, it is still a taboo in Poland.The police statistics show that the scale of this social problem is growing. Campaign PEDOPHILIA - OUT seeks to combat the pedophilia and sexual abuse of children, regardless of nationality. The project aims to interrupt conspiracy of silence and to develop a common front to counter pedophilia, also among the Roma.

Children often do not realize what is allowed and what is not allowed in relation to their body and personal space. It is necessary to reach them with proper information so that they are aware that something like sexual abuse may hurt them and where to seek help. It is important that the child knows what the offenderis doing is against the law andthe entire fault lies on his side.

Roma are not willing to ask for any help from public institutions, particularly in such delicate issues as sexual abuse. The best solution is to create a place where they will be able to report any abuse without fear of stereotypes, with guaranteed discretion and respect for Roma culture.

Pedophilia is not a rare phenomenon. It is estimated that one in seven children is a victim of pedophilia by the age of 15! This is a problem affecting all groups of society - not just the "marginalized one".  Abusers are not only adults but also their friends, often people from the same environment - an older brother,a colleague, or a family friend. It happens that women are committers of sexual abuse as well and they are approx. 1-10 % of the perpetrators. Pedophilia always leaves deep scars and psychological effect on the victim. Fast reaction on it gives a chance to return to a normal and safe life.

We want to change public awareness of children sexual abuse. No reaction to children harm means the consent to it!

Aims of the project:
- to collect data on pedophilia among Roma;
- comprehensive assistance to victims of pedophilia in the Roma community;
- to share information of pedophilia and the ways to fight it;
- to create effective tools to combat pedophilia.

You can contact us by the phone hotline 94 37 96 250 and the website or e-mail We provide comprehensive assistance to victims, e.g. directing victims to relevant institutions and providing legal assistance and psychological support.
Remember! We guarantee total anonymity of the reporting person.


Posted by admin_zrp on Friday, March 04 @ 09:54:54 CET (1109 reads)
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 Ambiguity of The Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 Initiative


“The Decade has done more than any otherintergovernmental process to make sure that Roma civilsociety has a seat at the table. But there needs to bemuch more engagement of Roma in all stages of inclusion:from policy and program development to implementation.Unfortunately, Roma are still woefully underrepresentedin international organizations, national governments, andmunicipalities. This must change in order for that motto [note: “nothing for Roma withoutRoma”] to have real meaning.”
(George Soros)[1]  


The Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015 was an unprecedented political commitment initiated by the World Bank and the Open Society Foundations, started in 2005 in Sofia, Bulgaria and encouraging European governments to eliminate discrimination against Roma and close the unacceptable gaps between Roma and the rest of society. The Decade of Roma Inclusion and the EU Framework for Roma Integration were two of the most significant international political developments for Roma in the last 10 years. The Decade has been formally closed with a meeting in Sarajevo on September 11, 2015.

The twelve countries taking part in the Decade were Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Spain. Slovenia, the United States, Norway and Moldova had observer status. The Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 operated according to Decade’s Terms of Reference. Principle operational elements of the Decade were: National Action Plans, policy coordination, exchange of experiences, revision and demonstration of progress, participation of Roma and provision of information and expert support. The Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 was not another new institution, bureaucracy, or fund. Participating governments must have reallocated resources to achieve results, also aligning their plans with funding instruments of multinational, international, and bilateral donors. The Decade had also Trust Fund (DTF) administered by the World Bank. The DTF was financed out of contributions from all Decade countries as well as interested international partner organizations. It was agreed at the November 2005 International Steering Committee (ISC) meeting in Bucharest that each of the Decade countries would contribute an initial amount of EUR 20,000 to the Trust Fund. The Open Society Institute has also contributed this amount. The World Bank managed the DTF at the request and on behalf of the Decade countries.

Originators formed the Decade program focused in general on the priority areas of education, employment, health, and housing, and committed governments to take into account the other core issues of poverty, discrimination, and gender mainstreaming. The Decade was an international initiative that should have brought together governments, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as Romani civil society.


Available information coming from Roma Inclusion Index suggests that education was the priority area in which the most progress has been made in improving the situation of Roma relative both to what it was at the beginning of the Decade and to the situation of non-Roma. Much of the progress on inclusive education was attributable to the work of the Roma Education Fund (REF), which was founded at the launch of the Decade in 2005. For ten years, REF has provided support to thousands of children and young people in education from pre-school to post-graduate studies. As Bernard Rorke notices: in the course of the decade REF has shown that school desegregation is possible, achievable and better for all; that substantive Roma participation is crucial for success; and that effective cooperation on the ground delivers the kind of change that can transform the lives of tens of thousands of Roma children.[2] Assessing the other priority areas in terms of achievements in the course of the Decade is made more difficult by the smaller bodies of available data, but it appears that achievements in the area of health have been greater than in employment or housing; despite a slow start in designing and implementing health-related policies targeting Roma, there is evidence suggesting both gradual acceleration and uneven progress. Assessing employment and housing is more difficult still due to incomplete information. [3]

Nonetheless, the second half of the Decade seems to confirm the observation made around the Decade’s midpoint that a “lack of coherent policies regarding housing and employment affects negatively the efficiency of programs in the fields of education and health.”[4]

It is now considered that he cross-cutting issues have been largely neglected throughout the Decade. Giving an example, the discrimination have received attention from governments as well as in external assessments, but modest advances made in the first half of the Decade were rolled back in some participating countries in the second half of the Decade as relations between Roma and non-Roma deteriorated. Going a bit further, a lack of sustained attention to issues of gender was recorded in both halves of the Decade. Finally, poverty reduction has for the most part been left alone not only by government policies, but also by external assessments. Although, the Decade set a very necessary, audacious and public agenda for Roma inclusion which was identifying key inclusion policy priorities, insisting on the need to set clear targets with earmarked resources within fixed time limits; tracking progress with regular and robust monitoring mechanisms and calling for structured Roma participation,  at the end of the day, the general conclusion of the first Decade Watch report still reminds that despite some progress, the Decade has not reached the critical point that would guarantee success.[5]


The Decade of Roma Inclusion has ended. But in opinions of some authorities, governments definitely did not deliver all given before promises. However, The Roma Inclusion Index shows some progress in literacy levels, completion of primary education, and access to health insurance, but in general the daily life of Roma seems to struggle like no other ethnic group in Europe. On average, in the Decade countries, only one in ten Roma completes secondary school, almost half of Roma are unemployed, and more than one in three Roma still live in absolute poverty, meaning they are severely deprived of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health care, and shelter.

One change is noticeable by Zeljko Jovanovic: when the Decade began, there was less money and more political will to deliver; today there is more money, but less political will. Among some contributing factors is, paradoxically, the accession of Eastern European countries to the European Union. Ten years ago, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania saw the Decade as an opportunity to demonstrate their fulfillment of EU accession criteria on human and minority rights. As they were granted membership in the EU, the Decade quickly lost its relevance for them.[6]

Another negative influence on the Decade implementation indicated by Jovanovic was the financial crisis, which brought with it anger and economic anxiety. Against this backdrop, a backlash ensued against governments and the EU committing millions of euros as a financial aid for Roma communities. But it did not help either. This phenomena increased opposition e.g. to Roma children in ethnic-majority schools and Roma families living in ethnic-majority neighborhoods. The economic crisis catalyzed anti-Gypsyism as an effective weapon in domestic politics. According to several opinions, this had quite negative impact on Roma in eastern EU countries like Bulgaria, for instance. Although the EU provided generous funds, Bulgaria did not use them to prevent evictions or offer alternative housing. It simply signed on to the EU Framework, just as it signed on to the Decade of Roma Inclusion, to create the appearance of pushing positive change, while in reality making few real efforts. It was directly perceived by Jovanovic that this status quo exposed by the Decade of Roma Inclusion - the international appearance of progress concealing a devastating regression at home - works well for a narrow elite. Too many politicians, civil servants, experts, staff of international organizations, donors, and local NGOs comfortably entrench themselves in the industry of report writing, conferences, and usually EU-funded projects. These activities might lead to limited improvements, but at the domestic level they have been ineffective at creating equal access to public services for Roma. It was said by Jovanovic that those ones, who claim to be most concerned about and committed to inclusion, need to change the way they work. This starts with some hard truths about the real obstacles to inclusion.

On the other hand Bernard Rorke remarked that “if the Decade is to be judged on its own terms, i.e. its pledge “to close the gap” between Roma and non-Roma in health, housing, education and employment within ten years, then clearly it has not been a success. Only the most naïve, however, could have expected such a social transformation to be launched, packaged and completed within a decade. It was abundantly clear from the outset that undoing centuries of exclusion would take far more than ten years. There were no illusions about the difficulty to sustain the political will to implement substantive social inclusion policies across such a motley crew of barely consolidated democracies.”[7] Undoubtedly the Decade did not (indeed it could not) deliver the kind of social transformations required to lift millions out of poverty, undo centuries of exclusion, and eliminate popular prejudice and structural discrimination. This actually existing and imperfect Decade did, however, provide a template for social inclusion and marked a real departure in that it raised the stakes in advocacy terms and it shone a harsh light like never before.

To follow directions ensuing from the Decades idea, Roma civil society activists were expected to initiate dialogue between local authorities and local communities; communicate the Decade goals and objectives to the Roma populations, actively participate in implementation and monitoring of National Decade Action Plans, and ensure national level Roma participation “to the broadest possible extent.”[8] By any standards this was a tall order, but as Margareta Matache notes in her examination of how Roma actually did participate, the Decade was greeted with broad optimism by many Roma who found that for the first time doors were open for regular consultation. In some countries Roma advocates began to meet with state representatives, ministry officials and to communicate with local authorities. Matache also states, that the deliberate tactic of the Decade founders to select groups of young, “fresh” and well-educated Roma and to put some distance between the Decade and the more established figures within the Roma movement was a misstep. It is clear for Matache that including more senior Roma advocates would have made for a better balance, and maybe even better results.

“So was it a lost decade? Ten years on, this publication[9] aims to take stock and reflect on the vicissitudes of Roma inclusion since 2005. Three chapters by three different authors, combined with dozens of interviews with activists, officials and representatives all connected to the Decade, yield a wide and varied plurality of perspectives. Yet some common themes emerge to suggest that despite the lack of progress on the ground, all was definitely not lost in the Decade that was.”[10]

At first glance, like some of experts observed, all might seem to suggest that as far as Roma inclusion is concerned it’s been a lost decade. So, to get a sense of what the Decade achieved it has been necessary to look wider, dig deeper and examine a range of publications including the civil society monitoring reports; World Bank, UNDP and FRA surveys and researches to see if they offer any succor for those who would like to be counted among the “glass half-full” variety of observers, who would assert that all was not lost, and that gains were indeed made in Roma inclusion over the course of the decade that was. Now it is just “too early to say”[11].

Joseph P Jones, chairman of the Gypsy Council dared to give a remedy. He stated that Roma communities must look into solving the lack of education, training, employment and accommodation, so that all can be winners in solving the problems, also by thinking and working in a more positive way. As he wrote: “It's not what they can do for us, it's what we can do for them. We must challenge those in power, who look at everything what they have to do with Roma in a negative vein from the start. Also by gaining the confidence of our own community.”[12] No more than that.  

- “Decade of the Roma” by Joseph P Jones, Gypsy Council cooperative;
- “Why Europe’s Roma Decade Didn’t Lead to Inclusion”, September 21, 2015, by Zeljko Jovanovic;
- “The end of a decade: what happened to Roma inclusion?”  - September  29, 2015,  by Bernard Rorke;
- “Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015: Terms of Reference”, International Steering Committee, Bucharest 2005; 
- “Roma Inclusion Index” by Decade of Roma Inclusion Secretariat Foundation, September 2015.  

[1] “George Soros looks back on the decade” by Margareta Matache, p.14; [in:] “A lost decade? Reflections on Roma inclusion 2005-2015”, Bernard Rorke, Margareta Matache and Eben Friedman. Edited by Bernard Rorke and Orhan Usein.
[2] “The end of a decade: what happened to Roma inclusion?”, 29 September 2015, Bernard Rorke.
[3] “A lost decade? Reflections on Roma inclusion 2005-2015”, Bernard Rorke, Margareta Matache and Eben Friedman. Edited by Bernard Rorke and Orhan Usein, p. 7.
[4] “Decade Watch Romania Report: Mid-Term Evaluation of the Decade of Roma Inclusion”, Iulian Stoian, David Mark, and Marius Wamsiedel, Roma Civic Alliance of Romania, Bucharest, 2010, p. 53.
[5] “A lost decade? Reflections on Roma inclusion 2005-2015”, Bernard Rorke, Margareta Matache and Eben Friedman. Edited by Bernard Rorke and Orhan Usein, p. 9.
[6] “Why Europe’s “Roma Decade” Didn’t Lead to Inclusion”, September 21, 2015, by Zeljko Jovanovic.
[7] “The end of a decade: what happened to Roma inclusion?”, 29 September 2015, Bernard Rorke.
[8]Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015: Terms of Reference”, International Steering Committee, Bucharest, 2005, p. 6.
[9] Meaning:“A lost decade? Reflections on Roma inclusion 2005-2015”, written by Bernard Rorke, Margareta Matache and Eben Friedman. Edited by Bernard Rorke and Orhan Usein and “Roma Inclusion Index” by Decade of Roma Inclusion Secretariat Foundation, September 2015.
[10] “A lost decade? Reflections on Roma inclusion 2005-2015”, written by Bernard Rorke, Margareta Matache and Eben Friedman. Edited by Bernard Rorke and Orhan Usein, p. 6.
[11] Ibidem, p.59.  
[12] “Decade of the Roma” by Joseph P Jones, Gypsy Council cooperative;

Posted by admin_zrp on Tuesday, January 26 @ 10:38:44 CET (2682 reads)
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 Honorable medal for services to the community

The Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities and honorable medal for services to the community.

The Joint Commission of Government and National and Ethnic Minorities was established ten years ago. On the occasion of this anniversary a glamorous celebration was created. At the request of the Minister of Administration and Digitization Andrzej Halicki, the Polish President Andrzej Duda awarded the Cross of Merit seven persons for their efforts to preserve and develop the cultural identity of national and ethnic minorities. The ceremony took place on 22 of September in Warsaw at the headquarters of the Chancellery of the President of the Council of Ministers. Among honored ones is also Roman Chojnacki, Polish Rom, the president of Polish Roma Union and a member of the Joint Commission of the Government and National and Ethnic Minorities. Roman Chojnacki received the Silver Cross of Merit - this is a very high honor.

Fot. Grzegorz Spodarek

Posted by admin_zrp on Friday, September 25 @ 15:56:39 CEST (1495 reads)
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