An appeal on behalf of the Kosovar Roma community

From: MINELRES moderator <>
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 11:47:16 +0300 (EET DST)
Message-Id: <>
Subject: An appeal on behalf of the Kosovar Roma community

From: MINELRES moderator <>

Original sender: Greek Helsinki Monitor <>

An appeal on behalf of the Kosovar Roma community

An appeal on behalf of the Kosovar Roma community
We are writing to express our concern about the situation of Roma
(Gypsies) in Kosovo. You are no doubt aware that Roma have been
subjected to harassment and threat to life from both sides in the
conflict. Approximately 20.000 Roma have been expelled from Kosovo
into Serbia, and subsequently have been forced back by the Serbs into
northern Kosovo. The Roma people remain citizens of the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia and therefore still retain rights within Kosovo
and other parts of the FR Yugoslavia. The Roma people have been
subjected to ethnic cleansing by the Serbian paramilitary troops and
now they are suffering expulsion and grave physical assault by the
Kosovo Albanians. As in most European countries they are marginalised
and denied rights from majority communities
Roma people have testified to gross violations of human rights, mass
suffering and humiliation during the war and, as throughout history,
the international community is oblivious to their fate. Roma from
Kosovo have been used as forced labour by Serbian authorities to
support the Serbian army, a fact which has triggered anti-Roma
feelings among the Albanian Kosovars. The presence of Kosovar Roma has
not, in many instances, been officially acknowledged in refugee camps
in Albania and Macedonia.  On the way to the camps many Roma refugees
have experienced discriminatory and prejudicial treatment. As a result
they fear both the camp authorities and their fellow inmates, and as a
rule have chosen to hide their identity.
We believe that the international community has a responsibility to
protect all groups within Kosovo and that this protection must be
fully extended to the Roma population. Given that the moral and
political objectives of the international community in Kosovo are to
prevent ethnic cleansing and the forced expulsion of people from their
homes we believe this places a duty on the international community to
act to prevent the threat to life which the Roma people are currently
We request that the international community should guarantee the safe
return of Romany refugees to Kosovo; however, Roma who have a
well-founded fear of persecution in their homeland should be given the
opportunity to seek asylum outside the FRY. Roma should be included
without discrimination in the action plans for reconstruction of
democratic institutions in Yugoslavia: Romani organisations should be
actively involved in the implementation of policies and programmes
affecting their communities.
The Roma people have no effective political representation at both
national and international levels and are being ‘scapegoated’ by both
Serbian and Kosovo Albanian communities. The Roma people have been,
and continue to be, subjected to discrimination in most European
states. This history and experience of Roma indicates that the
international community should accept that they have a greater
responsibility for the Roma as they do not have adequate
representation of their interests within the current political
Roma have centuries-long experience of living in multi-ethnic,
multi-confessional, multi-linguistic local communities. We hope that
in the resolution of this tragic conflict, the international community
will acknowledge the unique role that Roma could play in the
reconstruction of a genuinely multi-ethnic and democratic society
throughout the Balkan region.
Petr Uhl
Mustafa Hezolet
Karel Holomek
Jiřina Šiklová
Václav Trojan
Nicolae Gheorghe
Jeanette Buirski
Ladislav Goral
Vladimír Zeman
Eva Šotolová
Jana Chárová
Hilda Pášová
P. Pergler
Laura Laubeová
Emil Szirmai
Viktor Sekyt
International Secretariat
Helsinki Citizens' Assembly
tel.: 420 2 20570 640/642
fax: 420 2 20397 251

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