ROMA BACK DALE FARM ON 8 APRIL

 

28/03/2012 - Dale Farm families, who have become a symbol of resistance through a bitter, ten-year campaign to hold onto their land, received the welcome news this week of active backing from Roma on the other side of Europe.
 
Banners protesting any further eviction attempt will be raised in Sibiu and other Romanian towns for Roma Nation Day, pledges Florin Cioaba, of the International Romani Union.
 
"We want this year to show by these demonstrations that we're united," said Cioaba. "And that we're a nation which cannot be ignored."
 
He said Dale Farm, a long-established mixed community of Travellers and Roma, had won recognition by refusing to give up despite a brutal police-led assault and the bulldozing of so many cherished homes and its Christian chapel.
 
As preparations take place for the celebration of the 41st Roma Nation Day, unchecked racism overshadows the lives of communities in all parts of Europe. More Gypsy move-ons are taking place daily.
 
Caravan-dwellers at Vaulx-en-velin, near Lyon, most from Romania, are threatened with a French-style mass deportation. In Lithuania ninety-nine houses out of a hundred in Kirtimai are to be raised, boasts the the mayor of
Vilnius.
 
Some 1,500 Roma in Serbia, many refugees from Kosovo, who have set up shanty-homes at Belvil, close to one of Belgrade's Danube bridges, have been told their homes are to be destroyed to make way for new development.
 
Roma fleeing from Bulgaria say vigilantes from the neo-fascist Attack Party have rampaged through Romani quarters and set fire to houses. Protesting activists are being arrested and held in prison, creating an atmoshere of fear and repression.
 
Toma Nikolaev, of the newly organized Roma London BG, which is participating in the 8 April demonstration in the UK capital, says they will protest outside the Bulgarian Embassy calling for the far-right to be stopped.
 
"I was four months in prison before bringing by family to England," commented Nikolaev. "The situation for Roma has never been worse - no jobs, no decent homes and apatheid in the schools."
 
Roma Nation Day organizing committee in Budapest, promoted by the European Roma Rights Centre, is also calling for widespread peaceful events on 8 April. It is emphasing the need to restore toleration and co-existence to counter
the damage done by anti-Roma politicians.
 
Hungary has seen some of the worst organized violence against Roma. The Jobbik Party, partof European neo-fascist alliance and once linked with UK Tory MEPs, has a uniformedHungarian Guard which has intimated villages, where
homes have been fire-bombed several Roma murdered.
 
Both the Czech Republic and Slovakia have been criticised for not curbing neo-fascist and skinhead assaults on Roma. Thousands of Romani women have suffered serilization, and the school systems continue to segregate children, holding back their development, according Ladislav Balaz.
 
His Birmingham-based Europe-Roma group, intends to organize its own 8 April protest and lobby the Czech embassy.
 
"All of us want to play our part in defeating racism," says Balaz. "Every year we'll build up our demonstrations until our voice is heard."
 

Roma face French police at Vaulx-en-Velin (Guardian photo)