On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has published a declaration on combating antigypsyism and on cooperating with Sinti and Roma. “Together with members of the Sinti and Roma minority, we want to counteract discrimination in everyday life in the church and society and group-focused enmity as a whole,” Chair of the Council of the EKD, Praeses Annette Kurschus. In this context, the EKD Council also adopts the working definition of antigypsyism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
According to Kurschus, the discrimination and exclusion of members of the Sinti and Roma has a long-standing history. “The Protestant Church has been guilty during many points in history. It was involved in betraying people and leaving them to persecution and extermination.” In addition, antigypsyist stereotypes have also been carried on unthinkingly in the church, and people’s dignity has been violated again and again as a result: “It’s important that we deal with this history of guilt on the part of the churches, which reaches into the present.”
The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma considers it “historic” that the Protestant Church in Germany is issuing this declaration on the outlawing of antigypsyism on the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Romani Rose, Chairman of the Central Council: “[With this declaration], the Protestant Church acknowledges for the first time in this official form its responsibility also for our minority against the background of German history. With this statement, the EKD is sending a strong signal to outlaw antigypsyism, which has been deeply rooted in our society for centuries, and to raise awareness in church and society about the Holocaust of 500,000 murdered Sinti and Roma in Nazi-occupied Europe.“
The EKD will therefore work with educational projects against distorted antigypsyist images and towards an inclusive practice. To this end, it will continue to seek cooperation with both the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma and the network “Sinti, Roma and Churches”. Furthermore, the EKD wants to support the institutional participation of Sinti and Roma in politics and society to the best of its ability.
In addition, the EKD continues to participate in the nationwide network “Sinti, Roma and Churches” made up of church and religious communities as well as nationwide and regional structures of Sinti and Roma. This also involves dealing with the specific contribution of the church in the history of persecution and antigypsyism in the past and present. The aim of participating in the network is strengthening trust, political dialogue and cooperation on equal footing.
The declaration will be presented in a small ceremony on Sunday, January 29, after a church service beginning at 6 p.m. at the Berlin Cathedral. Romani Rose, Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, and Anne Gidion, Plenipotentiary of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) to the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union, will give a brief welcome address.