Roma

A “Vilnius Model” for Roma Integration?



OPINION  |  ROMA RIGHTS   |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

In April of 2016, the Vilnius City Municipality announced the launching of its Roma Integration Program, or “Vilnius (Kirtimai) Roma Tabor Community Social Integration Program for 2016-2019.” The municipality’s plans were widely discussed in the media, which in its own turn, came up with sensational headlines like “Program of Roma Integration and Tabor Eradication To Be Approved.” A curious fact: Roma representatives did not take part in the negotiation process for this major 700,000 euro project. They were not invited to even observe a single meeting. As ever, Roma are being “integrated” behind their own backs.

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Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairperson Faina Kukliansky Issues Powerful Statement on Annual “Holiday” that Humiliates Jews and Roma



ANTISEMITISM  |  UŽGAVĖNĖS / SHROVETIDE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  ROMA RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Lithuanian Jewish Community chairperson Faina Kukliansky today issued a powerful statement on the community’s website condemning the newest call from some top politicians asking the population to revere a national holiday in Lithuania, Užgavėnės, or Shrovetide, that falls this year tomorrow, 28 February 2017. Defending History has been (intermittently) monitoring the day since 2008, as part of the mission to monitor antisemitism and racism, and to cover those sectors of Human Rights that tend to be wholly ignored by the lavishly funded, official human rights organizations here in the Lithuanian capital.

UPDATES AND INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE:

International Business Times; Lzinios.ltMako.co.il

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Dr. Efraim Zuroff Awarded Gold Medal by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic



BELGRADE—The president of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic, today awarded a Golden Medal for Merit to Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter and its Director of East European Affairs, as part of the celebrations of Sretenje, the Serbian republic’s national day. The rationale for the award, which was granted to Dr. Zuroff for “exceptional achievements” included his “selfless dedication to defending the truth about the suffering of Jews, and also Serbs, Roma and other nations during World War II.”

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When Both Law Enforcement and Politicians Cover Up Racism



HUMAN RIGHTS  |  RACISM  |  ROMA  |  OPINION

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

A Nigerian citizen was attacked with a knife and injured in Kaunas, Lithuania, earlier this month. Trying hard to avoid describing the assault as a racially motivated hate crime, law enforcement officials and the mainstream media alike explained that the incident was purely part of a private dispute. Strange to tell, reading through official statistics you would rapidly come to the conclusion that racist and xenopohobic crimes in Lithuania stand at about zero. And, that neo-Nazi minded youth are “just patriotic.” 

It is no great secret in this part of the world that law enforcement officials and some politicians like to beautify the statistics, or to terminate or redefine proceedings brought in respect of racial or xenophobic hatred. One example comes to mind from 2011, when MPs J. Narkevičius and E. Zingeris appealed to the General Prosecutor’s Office to do something about  the neo-Nazi ideology espoused in the song “Diktatūra” by the group “Šalčininkų rajonas” (Šalčininkai District). 

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Roma in Lithuania: But What Does the Government Need To Do?



R O M A   /   H U M A N   R I G H T S    /    O P I N I O N

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

“Which social group in the EU is most generally evicted from housing?” This was the question cheerfully posed by the host of the Good Morning Lithuania show on our national television. The viewer who called in said “Roma” and won a prize.

It can be pleasant to drink morning coffee while tuned to a TV quiz, but this time it was quite something else. The program’s entertaining format and the host’s frequent jokes are not very funny at all when such painful social issues are the subject of entertainment. But the episode well illustrates the public attitude towards the Roma here. Many Roma are still deemed to be distant, exotic and mysterious people, an object rather than a living community. Maybe because there is a lack of empathy and understanding in dealing with Roma integration problems and there are various language issues too.

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Roma, Travellers and Jews Commemorate the Holocaust



O P I N I O N    /    R O M A   I S S U E S

by Ruth Barnett

Over a hundred people gathered on August 2nd, 2015 at the Holocaust Memorial in Hyde Park to commemorate the liquidation of the “Gypsy Camp” at Auschwitz on August 2nd 1944 and the murder of between .5 and 1.5 million Roma in the Holocaust.

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Persecution of Roma in Lithuania and Britain



H U M A N   R I G H T S    /    R O M A   I S S U E S    /    O P I N I O N

by Ruth Barnett

Avivid description of the horrific treatment of Roma in Lithuania has just appeared in Defending History. This is yet another in a long line of reports of discrimination  and injustice against Roma in Eastern European countries – a catalogue of unacceptable situations.

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What is the “Program for Roma Integration” in Lithuania?



H U M A N   R I G H T S    /    R O M A   I S S U E S    /    O P I N I O N

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Fiokla Kiure by B Janusevicius

Vilma Fiokla Kiurė. Photo: Benediktas Januševičius.

Here in Lithuania, the words “Roma” and “discrimination” are regarded as inseparable. It seems that even the Roma community is reconciled with that. The situation, however, is worsening and what is currently happening in Kirtimai, a village on the outskirts of Vilnius, the capital city’s home to its most prominent tabor, or Roma settlement, and often referred to just as Kirtimai Tabor. What is happening is something larger than just “discrimination against Roma.”

For starters, the water has been disconnected in upper Kirtimai. There had never been a proper water supply but there was a water “column” used by some three hundred people. But it has been blocked off. Looking at the sight of baby carriages used for carrying urns of water is a sight unbelievable for the beautiful capital city of a European Union member state.

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Roma Commemoration at Lety Site in the Czech Republic



O P I N I O N

by Monica Lowenberg

Most people know that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Few people know that well over half a million Sinti and Roma Gypsies were murdered in the same ghettos, killing fields and concentration camps alongside the Jews.

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Roma: Presumption of Guilt



O P I N I O N

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Vilma Fiokla Kiurė (photo: Benediktas Januševičius)

The first international congress of Roma was held on April 8, 1971 in Oprington, England. In 1990, the date was designated International Roma Day.

On this day Roma celebrate and hold concerts, but also remember the most tragic eras in the history of the Roma: persecution by the Nazis and their collaborators in World War II and the resulting genocide of the Roma people. On this day the Vilnius Roma community floats wreaths of flowers on the Neris River in remembrance of their compatriots.

Roma who survived the Second World War, ethnic cleansing and genocide remember that the Nazi soldiers and their local police collaborators used simple external recognition to persecute the Roma. At that time the Roma were still wanderers, and it was a rare member of the community who had identification documents. Few had relationships with sedentary residents, making physical resemblance to the typical Roma the main indicator of ethnicity, in many cases guaranteeing death.

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In Parubanka, Roma People say History is Repeating Itself



O P I N I O N

by Lina Žigelytė

 

Lina Žigelytė

Residents of Parubanka immediately notice strangers. An empty police booth with broken windows marks the entrance to this Roma settlement in the outskirts of Vilnius. Here, there are no paved roads. A dusty dirt track winds along dozens of flimsy wooden houses and shacks. Some children walk barefoot on paths that have shards of glass and needles protruding from them. After a recent public transport reform, the nearest bus stop is about three kilometers away.

This area is home to 500 Roma people — raging from the very young to the elderly. Each time a car approaches or someone walks by, locals look over wooden fences that surround houses and often recognize visitors. The majority of these outsiders are so-called tarchoks – drug users, who come to Parubanka for a fix. I learnt of this term from Fiokla Kiurė.

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Landsbergis. Then and Now.



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

 

Vytautas Landsbergis is one of the giants of the twentieth century. Along with Poland’s Lech Wałęsa and then-Czechoslovakia’s Václav Havel, Landsbergis led his people from foreign domination to freedom and democracy. Nothing these gentlemen might later on have said or done to their own legacies, particularly in the subsequent century, can detract from their singular achievements in contributing to the downfall of the Soviet Union and the freedom of the subjugated nations on its western periphery.

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Uzgavenes Festival again Features Mockery of Jews and Roma


The annual Uzgavenes festival, celebrated throughout Lithuania, again featured costumes and behavior making fun of – and perpetuating the worst stereotypes of –  Roma and Jews (‘and monsters’). Roma and Jews comprise two of the country’s smallest and weakest minorities. Most of both communities were murdered during the Holocaust by the Nazis (with massive voluntary participation in the killings by locals). Today, progressive forces continue to live in hope that political, academic, legal, religious and cultural opinion makers in the country will rise to the occasion of explaining the essence, evil and dangers of such rampant racism unconvincingly disguised as the majority’s ‘national ethnographic tradition’. See below at 2008 (→ 6 Feb) for Michael Casper’s Forward report on that year’s event. Photo by Evaldas Butkevičius.

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Human Rights, News & Views, Roma, UŽGAVĖNĖS (SHROVETIDE) | Comments Off on Uzgavenes Festival again Features Mockery of Jews and Roma

American Reporter Exposes Uzgavenes Festival’s Mockery of Jews and Roma


Report in the Forward by Michael Casper on the annual public portrayal of Jews and Roma during the Uzgavenes carnival in central Vilnius. (Image courtesy of Michael Casper.) The report notes the attitudes of the state sponsored Center for Ethnic Activity and the Vilnius City Municipality.

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Human Rights, Media Watch, News & Views, Roma, United States, UŽGAVĖNĖS (SHROVETIDE) | Comments Off on American Reporter Exposes Uzgavenes Festival’s Mockery of Jews and Roma