Last week, a young woman and her unborn child died in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, after being denied medical care on several occasions. The European Roma Rights Center in Budapest is following this case of institutional racism and is awaiting the outcome of the investigations by the Ministry of Health before legal action can be taken.
For the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, this sad case once again confirms that structural antigypsyism, this specific form of racism directed against Roma, is intensifying in Europe, especially under the critical conditions of the Corona crisis.
On the occasion of International Roma Day on 8 April, the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma renews its appeal to national governments and European institutions to recognise the particularly precarious situation of Roma in the countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe and to take immediate and targeted measures. Here, the Central Council particularly welcomes the statement of the EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, who called for “the prosecution and punishment of racist statements in public”, “which can lead to violence against Roma in times of crisis”.
Structural antigypsyism, which has existed for decades in many European countries, repeatedly leads to avoidable deaths. The Central Council expects from the European Commission that the new EU Roma Strategy for equal participation of Roma in the member states after 2020 will put the fight against antigypsyism in the centre of the planned programmes.
“Antigypsyism is the root cause for the desolate situation in which a large part of the Roma find themselves, especially in the countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe. With approximately 12 million people, Roma form the largest minority in Europe. But especially now, Roma are often doubly endangered when nationalist politicians try to legitimise their racist positions as state actions by denouncing Roma as scapegoats in this crisis”, Romani Rose explained. “National governments bear direct responsibility for the ghettos in which the Roma often have to live cut off from any infrastructure, reflecting the decades of apartheid in many countries,” continued Rose.
But 8 April is also a day of pride, showing that Roma are perceived as a national minority in their respective home countries. “In Germany we are currently commemorating the hunger strike of 12 Sinti in the former concentration camp Dachau, which marked the beginning of our civil rights work. It is important today in Germany and in Europe that antigypsyism is outlawed just like anti-Semitism, and that antigypsyist incidents are observed and recorded. The Central Council has therefore expressly welcomed the establishment of an Independent Antigypsyism Commission, which is to specify specific measures against this racism in its report”, said Rose.