Commemorating Roma genocide is not only about the past but also present and future

Julian Kondur

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Author: Hungarian Romani and human rights activist Vivien Brassoi

2 August does not only shake the past and remind us of what exclusion and stigmatisation have lead to but also pushes us to look at the present situation in our countries and think of how could we contribute to a better future for all of us.

August 2 is an important day for the European Roma community, and is being marked in order to give an honor to the people of Roma origin who suffered during the times of extermination and mass murder during the World War II – be that a child, elderly person, or woman, the cruelty exercised against Roma knew no barriers.

Roma were not the only ones who underwent such path of pain and suffering. Yet, the consequences of these atrocious actions have ultimately resulted in what Roma people experience in the present time, particularly in the Eastern Europe. Exclusion, marginalization, extreme poverty and an array of stereotypes and prejudices are in many regards linked to the stereotypes spread by the propaganda of past regimes, particularly in the times of the II WW.

Ukraine these days, having an armed conflict in the East of the country, attempts to break ties with its post-soviet image and come to a modern or European way of being. Unfortunately, the situation of Roma rights has aggravated in the light of the conflict and not only because of the violence and military activities. It can be seen with a bare eye that the radicalism is on the rise and the current government does not seem to be able to effectively interfere, especially to bring about fair investigations into the cases of hate crimes, forced evictions and systematic discrimination.

However, the civil society of Ukrainian Roma has not given up. It stands firmly on pressing the government to investigate these cases and implements various initiatives aimed at improving the situation of Roma in Ukraine through advancing the values of open, democratic and tolerant society.

So, the 2nd of August does not only shake the past and remind us of what exclusion and stigmatisation have lead to but also pushes us to look at the present situation in our countries and think of how could we contribute to a better future for all of us.

 

Edited by Mariann Rikka

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