Roma communities across Europe are organizing for celebrations of their culture that will include demonstrations and encampments in resistance to a rise in anti-Roma racism. A wide range of events are planned in early April in support of the 42nd Roma Nation Day on April 8.
The actions will include an encampment near the European Parliament, a film festival in Skopje, Macedonia, a media conference in Kosovo, and an exhibition in Strasbourg. The International Romani Union will also hold the Eighth World Romani Congress in Sipiu, Romania.
In London, Roma groups from six different countries will meet on April 7 to address racism and challenges facing their communities. The London events will include demonstrations at several embassies to focus attention on anti-Roma violence.
The planned activities honor Roma culture but also serve to unite Romani people and their supporters in the face of ongoing racism, including deliberate segregation of Romani children into poorly funded schools, forced deportations and hate crimes. Europe is home to an estimated 10 to 12 million Romani people.
Economic crisis fuels bigotry
The worsening economic situation workers face across the continent fuels bigotry against Roma communities, and also against immigrants, as politicians work a divide-and-conquer strategy to split the working class and direct public anger away from super-rich elites.
Politicians have often scapegoated the Roma people. An estimated 220,000 to 600,000 were murdered in the Nazi holocaust. Approximately 100,000 Roma people were expelled from their homes in Kosovo in a wave of violence and ethnic cleansing that began in 1999.
In a show of resilience and solidarity, Roma organizers have scheduled a conference, “Roma and the Public Service Media,” in Pristina, which had been the site of ethnic cleansing.
Celebrations and demonstrations are not confined to Europe. San Francisco, Houston, Buenos Aires, and Rio De Janeiro are among the cities that will have events. European cities include Paris, Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Genoa and Barcelona.
Organizers in Germany will release thousands of balloons with the blue, green and red colors of the Romani national flag in cities across the country. Berlin, Hamburg and Koln are among the dozen cities that will see the releases.
Cultural celebrations and festivities complement the serious anti-racist nature of the April actions. As Malcolm X famously stated, “You can’t have capitalism without racism.” The Party for Socialism and Liberation stands with the Roma communities as they organize to resist the racist attacks that serve to divide workers.