Recent Romnews postings

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Date: Sun, 10 May 1998 12:27:04 +0300 (EET DST)
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Subject: Recent Romnews postings

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Recent Romnews postings

Marburg citizens commemorated the murder of Roma
Memory of hitherto forgotten victims of the Nazi terror
Daniel and Heinz Straus layed down a wreath in memory of the deported
Roma and Sinti together with Heinrich L=F6wer and Egon Vaupel in front
of the former district administration
Marburg / GERMANY (RNN Agency) April the 22nd 1998

For many years nobody ever spoke of the Roma who had also badly
suffered of the Nazi terror. Now, in Marburg this is increasingly
brought home to the people: Since some time there hangs a
commemorative tablet on the wall of the former district
administration, reminding of the fact that from this point on 23 March
1942 the Roma of Marburg were sent to the concentration camps and
consequently to death. Yesterday, exactly 56 years later, there was a
commemoration ceremony reminding of those atrocities.
Daniel and Heinz Straus who are the representatives of the Roma, the
mayor Egon Vaupel, and the town councillor Heinrich Loewer, laid down
a wreath. A commemoration ceremony followed in the town hall, where
witnesses of the times reported about the destiny of the deported

Right of Residence demanded for Roma

SPD and GAL vote for the Resolution

Muenster / GERMANY (RNN Agency) April the 20th 1998

Together with the votes of SPD and GAL the town council resolved to
ask of the North Rhine-Westfalia minister of the interior Franz-Josef
Kniola to make use of the possibility to take in the Roma for
humanitarian reasons. This possibility is embodied in the Foreigner
Law, as long as the Roma are exposed to danger and inhuman conditions
of life in their home countries. The background is that approx. 50
Roma families must reckon with a soon deportation to Ex-Yugoslavia.

The CDU rejected the resolution " because the rules of equal treatment
for all refugees in Münster would be abrogated by this", said town
councillor Magdalene Gefroi. Since the minister of the interior Kniola
(SPD) declared himself against the right of residence for Roma groups,
the CDU-party leader Werner Stolz considers the resolution as an
"island solution" with which the the town councillors want to relieve
their conscience "without changing anything in the matter itself".

Hery Klas (GAL) characterized the position of the CDU as "morally
blamable".  The Roma would have to reckon with their deportation to a
"home country" that actually does not exist anymore. SPD party leader
Theo Straßer pleaded for the Roma. On the other hand he warned against
raising "wrong hopes" of the Roma.

Swiss funds for holocaust victims: First Payments to Indigent German
Singen / GERMANY (RNN Correspondent) April the 21st 1998

The Swiss funds for needy holocaust victims has payed subsidies for
the first time in Germany. Three Roma who live in Singen/Hohentwiel
received 2,000 Swiss francs each (about 2.400 DM). The Sinti, between
58 and 78 years of age, had been deported to concentration camps when
they were children because they were migrants.

"I do remember very well  hunger and cold in a Polish labour camp,
where they put me when I was a child", says Josef Lehmann. Since that
time he is suffering of rheumatism, disease of the intervertebral
discs and arthrosis of the hips. Now he is old and socially needy - a
man who meets the demands of the funds. Together with another two
families he sits a bit shy in a pub in Singen and submits to
TV-cameras, flashlights, and the questioning of the reporters.

The "reward" for this are 2,000 Swiss francs that he and his two
friends receive vicariously for 42 more Roma, and Jenische from
Germany, Switzerland, France, Great Britain, Spain, and Canada. "The
subsidy is a little bit higher than the payments in East Europe
because of the dwindling purchasing power", said Rolf Bloch, the
president of the funds. 

On occasion of the ceremony - the City of Muenster had not been able
to offer a suitable room at short-term notice - Bloch emphasized that
the outrages of the Nazis cannot be undone with this money. Neither it
can be a reparation, but it is meant as a sign of solidarity.

The funds can only be paid out after application by the Sinti
organization "Radgenossenschaft der Landstraße". Its president Robert
Huber criticized the foreign Roma and Sinti agencies. "They do not
inform the survivors of the holocaust and many of the victims do not
get any payment though they are entitled to it. On the other hand many
migrants are simply afraid of dealing with the authorities", he said.

The holocaust funds that was founded last year, supports mainly needy
victims in East Europe. It has 273 millions Swiss francs at its
disposal. 100 millions come from the Swiss leading banks respectively
from the Swiss National Bank, and 73 millions from the industry. Until
to-day 17 millions have been paid out; 15 millions are going to follow
soon, including payments for victims in the United States and in
Israel as well.

The funds was founded on account of the debates about the role of
Switzerland and the Swiss banks during the Nazi time and the Second
World War. It has nothing to do with the Swiss Solidarity Funds, on
whose establishment the Swiss people have not yet voted on. 

Rome City Council quarter 70 Roma families on a chemically
contaminated camp ground.

Rome / ITALY (RNN Correspondent) April 23rd.98

In Dec. 1997, the Rome City Council settled some 70 Roma families on a
camp ground that was severely contaminated by chemical waste. The
adress of which is: Via Magliana Vechia 854. The camp lacks the basic
hygene or electricity services and has no pavements or properly
maintained path or road system. To date nothing has
been done to improve the catastrophic conditions which the Roma are
forced to live under.

In order to build a new animal home beside the Roma camp, the Rome
Council decided that the ground for the dog-animal home would have to
be decontaminated at an astronomical of some Lira or
U.S. Dollar 4.500.000. One must draw the conclusion that dogs in Rome
are entitled to healthier living standards than Roma families?

Bulgaria to promote integration of its Roma

Sofia / BULGARIA (RNN Correspondent) May the 5th 1998

Bulgaria is planning moves to promote integration of its large,
impoverished and often ostracised Roma population, officials said on
Tuesday, admitting they had a tough task.

Many Bulgarian Roma, largely uneducated and unemployed.  Now
Bulgaria's National Ethnic and Demographic Council is drafting a
programme in cooperation with Roma representatives to improve the lot
of Roma and the way they are viewed, secretary Petar Atanassov told a
news conference.

"The National Council together with representatives of Roma
organisations will draft a government programme which will serve as a
base of the country's policy in this delicate sphere," he said. But he
added: "We are far from thinking that centuries-old prejudices can be
overwhelmed within two or three years."

A report on Human Rights Practices in Bulgaria for 1997 by the U.S.
State Department said "societal mistreatment of Roma" was a serious
problem. The report listed cases of police beatings and ill-treatment
of Roma which it said had resulted in several deaths. The report also
described cases of attacks by private citizens on Roma communities.
Atanassov said a Roma culture and information centre would be opened
soon to promote education among the Roma and help find proper jobs for

A 1992 census found that more than 600.000 Roma - 7 percent of
Bulgaria's population - live in the mostly Slav Balkan state of 8.5
million. After the collapse of communism in 1989 they lost access to
jobs previously reserved for them. Leaders of Roma organisations
complain Roma are not wanted for any jobs.
"Private enterprises do not take Roma. They even warn the labour
exchange offices Roma were not wanted," Mladenov said. 

Croatia commemorates victims of WW2 fascist camp 

Jasenovak / CROATIA (RNN Corresspondent) May the 2nd 1998

Serbs, Jews and Roma gathered at the site of a World War two
concentration camp on Sunday to pay respect to the thousands killed
there by Croatia's 1941-45 fascist regime.

Jasenovac, run by the Nazi-backed Ustasha regime, came to be known as
the "Auschwitz of the Balkans." But its death toll remains a matter of
dispute, varying from 85,000 according to independent Croatian
estimates to 700,000 by Serbian writers.

"The number of victims is unknown but for us who survived the camp
these are not figures, these are eyes, voices and cries of people who
were here with us," survivor Mara Cvetko told the gathering in an
emotional speech.

The ceremony marked the 53rd anniversary of the camp's dissolution as
fascist rule collapsed in April 1945, allowing 50 inmates to escape.

"It is our duty to guarantee that we shall never again allow the
creation of such a system which will deprive innocent people of their
lives," said retired General Janko Bobetko, head of the state
delegation and a member of parliament who served in the anti-fascist
Partisan movement in World War Two.

The crowd, comprising mostly war veterans and a handful of camp
survivors, laid wreaths at the towering, flower-shaped monument to the
victims built by communist Yugoslav authorities in a broad field near
the Sava River border with Bosnia.

The commemoration came at a particularly sensitive time of Western
pressure on Croatia's present-day nationalist authorities to seek the
extradition of former Jasenovac commandant Dinko Sakic, who has lived
in Argentina since 1945. Croatian prosecutors are now gathering
evidence to support a formal request for Sakic's extradition, likely
to be filed next week, state officials say. Zagreb has expressed its
readiness to try Sakic, 76, for war crimes after he discussed his role
as commander of the camp from 1942 to 1944 on Argentine television.
"Croatia will these days demand Sakic's extradition and we expect he
will be sentenced appropriately," said Ognjen Kraus, leader of
Croatia's small Jewish community. It also has a Roma community in
addition to a larger Serb minority.

Diplomats have often cited Croatia's ambivalent stance towards its
fascist past under the conservative nationalist government that has
ruled since the country won independence from federal Yugoslavia in
1991. President Franjo Tudjman was criticised by Jews and others for a
1996 proposal, which was later shelved, to build a new memorial centre
at Jasenovac "reuniting" the remains of victims and perpetrators. The
idea resurfaced again in a recent parliamentary commission debate,
Kraus said.

"The Jewish community expresses its shock at the idea, which is
insulting for both the living and the dead," he told the gathering.
"We shall fight for Jasenovac to remain an exclusive monument to the
victims of fascism."

Slavko Goldstein, another prominent Croatian Jew, publicly invited
Tudjman to attend and said he was disappointed at the low-key
government delegation that came.

Britain fears new influx of Czech, Slovak Roma 

London / UK (RNN Correspondent) May the 3rd 1998

Interior minister Jack Straw said on Thursday he had received reports
of an exodus of Roma from the Czech Republic and Slovakia and warned
them they would not be welcome if they sought asylum in Britain. "We
have reports that Czech and Slovak Roma  are on the move in Eastern
Europe," Straw said in a statement. "Britain is taking a firm line and
will not be a soft touch for illegal immigrants with no right to
asylum. My message is 'Do not think you will get through'."

A spokesman in Home Secretary Straw's department declined to give
details of the reported Roma movements. Asked how many people are
involved, he said merely that Straw would not have made his statement
if the number was small.

A report in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper on March 29 said hundreds
of Roma families were headed for Britain from the Czech Republic
following some 30 racially motivated murders there carried out by what
it called "skinheads."

Last November authorities in the southern English port of Dover
protested at an influx of Roma  claiming political asylum. They said
they did not have the facilities to deal with them. They were said to
have been attracted to Britain by a television programme which claimed
the country had generous welfare benefits for

Straw said over the past six months, more than 600 asylum applicants
from the Czech Republic and Slovakia had had their claims rejected and
been sent back. "Any more who come illegally are unlikely to succeed,"
he said.

Straw announced on Wednesday that the Eurostar company which runs
trains through the Channel Tunnel would risk fines of 2,000 pounds
($3,340) for every passenger it carried without proper papers. The
move was taken to deal with what he believes is a steady flow of
illegal migrants taking trains from Brussels to London.

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