View Full Version : Never Again; The Romani
02-15-2003, 11:47 AM
In a time of crisis after crisis, one more horror seems hard to notice. But it is happening, and we said we would never let it happen again.
It was not merely the jews who died in the concentration camps, but the homosexuals and the Romani.
And now they are about to die again.
In this thread, (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=161458) Kal shows the Slovaks are up to their continued attempts at destroying the Romani race. Now, I'm not pleased by this, and neither is anyone in the thread.
The question is, what can we do? The thing that comes to mind is... let's get them out. How can we do it? Does anyone know an interest group who'd be active in this manner?
Of course, it may all be hoax and fabrication, but somehow, I don't think so.
Of course it would happen. It is happening, and it will happen again. Most of the groups to which it has happened have little to no power, and those groups that *do* have some influence are interested only in serving their own interests.
Your desire to change the world is admirable, and worthy of respect, but ultimately futile.
Nothing can be changed until humanity changes, and humanity refuses to change.
02-15-2003, 12:37 PM
Such an ironic name. Right hand of an angel. Can we call you Bester instead?
I believe that one man can make a difference. And many can make it even better. I believe in the myths and legends we tell ourselves, because we can make it so. I believe in truth and justice.
And I believe that some things are more than slogans. We've got one man who has an idea, if you look at the other thread. I'm hoping to find another. I'm not sure what to do, myself, but I am thinking.
Angel of the Lord
02-15-2003, 01:00 PM
Personally, I would just like for the governments of other countries--particularly the US, my own native land--to just freakin' acknowledge the fact that this stuff is happening. The US media and--at least, to my knowledge--the US government constantly overlook blatant violations of human rights. Even some groups such as Amnesty International (at least, the chapter on my college campus) seem to be doing the same thing. Recently, there has been a letter writing campaign for one wrongly imprisioned person in Africa. There has been no mention of what's going on in Slovakia. Indeed, there seems to be hardly any mention of human rights violations *at all*.
I think that writing our representatives--basically, letting them know what's going on and how we feel about it--as well as spreading the word would do some good.
Opening our borders would help. I suspect that universal economic sanctions would help as well--no imports or exports *at all* until you lot stop being jerks; that kind of thing--but I know that there are many, many countries in Europe that won't do that.
Right now, though, I think just letting people know what's going on would be the best thing. TVAA has a somewhat-point; one person going to the Slovakian government isn't going to have a whole lot of impact (most likely, it would have no impact at all). One person spreading the word, and getting more and more people involved, can theoretically result in a revolution. At the very least, it could result in a change in our foreign policy.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that there's a lot of prejudice against the Romani in western countries, I don't have all that much hope that doing so will help. Maybe I'm cynical--I have good reason. However, we can always try--we *must* try to make things better. To do any less would be to deny our obligation to our fellow members of the human race. That would be an abomination.
"You are the left hand of God."
02-15-2003, 01:10 PM
Amnesty International. A good choice. Angel, what can you do with your college chapter? Print out the linked thread's info and pass it around over there?
Angel of the Lord
02-15-2003, 01:14 PM
That would be a start. I plan on e-mailing the president some of the links, and telling a couple of my friends who are also in it about the situation.
Thing is, we're just one fairly small chapter at one fairly small university in the middle of nowhere. We'll write letters, sure, but we also need to *talk* about these things. Bring them up at any and every opportunity. Tell everyone what's going on, and let it spread. Sort of like a virus, but good instead of icky.
In this case, as in many others, I think our greatest enemy is ignorance.
02-15-2003, 01:15 PM
The Slovaks? I was unaware that the entire race of Slovaks was out to destroy another entire race.
Care to reword your thesis?
Angel of the Lord
02-15-2003, 01:21 PM
....Hence why I've been saying the "Slovakian government."
I believe that E-Sabbath was using the term "Slovaks" in the same way that someone would use "Americans" to mean "the US government and some of its citizens." Certainly, it wasn't a statement against Slovacks in general.
Would "Slovakians" work better?
02-15-2003, 01:23 PM
Angel has it correctly, and I shall amend my further conversations to use the term "Slovakian government and certain of its operatives." Or citizens. But if the government is ordering it, isn't operatives more accurate?
02-15-2003, 03:50 PM
Originally posted by E-Sabbath
Such an ironic name. Right hand of an angel. Can we call you Bester instead?
Let's remember that when it all ended we found out the Vorlons weren't any better then the Shadows. <ahem> Now that we've had a geek moment.....
02-15-2003, 05:27 PM
A plan to relocate these people will not work. Would western countries accept a great number of people who (through no fault of their own) lack the skills they are looking for in new immigrants? I doubt it, especially considering the prejudices present in these countries. (Remember the case of the two Czech journalists, one Roma, one not?)
In my opinion, the problem is (at least in my view, which, granted, is based on Hungary, not Slovakia) primarily a social one. The communist regimes of Central Europe chose the easy road in the 50s and 60s in solving it, and this has lead to the present sad state of affairs. They were all about quick success, and they didn't give the Roma the opportunity to become successful and get out of poverty. They provided (and guaranteed) low-paying untrained jobs, shoddy housing (still better than huts, but not by much) and that was all - a stunning success on paper, a dysmal failure in reality. Slovakia's case is different in that Roma workers were settled en masse in the old Saxon towns - after the deportation and/or murder of their former residents, the heavy industry needed new hands. For example, Dobsina [the town my family comes from] has an Abestos Manufacturing Plant that uses Roma work... If it is still open, that is.
Add to this segregation: while this is present in all countries of the region to an extent, the conditions in Slovakia are worse than usual. Several Gypsies live in separate colonies ("Romsky Kolony" IIRC) outside regular settlements, where conditions are nothing but dysmal - I never visited one, but during my holiday visit in 2000, I saw a number of them while driving by or through them. They are horrid, something like the middle ages - no tap water, no sewers. In a few cases, I didn't see power lines, either, but this could be an error in observation.
The economic collapse of the late 80s and the reorganization of the early 90s affected them severely. Unskilled labour in heavy industry and agriculture was no longer sustainable, partly thanks to modernization, partly thanks to the upheaval these sectors experienced and partly thanks to stricter and more efficient labour organization. The massive unemployment created a trap with few exits and many sinkholes. Unskilled labour was (and is) only really used in building projects and (more rarely) agriculture. This form of poverty is not THAT specific to ethnicity - there are many non-Roma who were affected in the same way. Usually, it is a vicious circle: there are no jobs (especially in small villages and former industrial towns), people lose hope and deteriorate, they need to commit petty crimes (or beg) to support themselves, which further lessens their chances of getting jobs and reinforces stereotypes. Mothers have several children to get state subsidized support - and of course, more kids means less money, even less chance for getting a job, or education for the young, who then once again contribute to the unemployed masses when they grow up. All standard symptoms of destitution are present, from early pregnancies to teen vandalism to drug and alcohol addiction.
The solution to these problems can't be relocation. It will not happen. And, while the practice of forced sterilizations must be stopped as soon as possible, alarmism about a new Roma Holocaust will accomplish nothing. It will do one thing - infuriate the non-Roma population, who will treat it as a political attack and respond in the usual way, which is denial. It has happened in Hungary when 40 Roma were granted asylum by France, and it will happen in Slovakia. Additionally, a press campaign will accomplish absolutely nothing. At best, it can lead to the treatment of the symptoms, not the root cause.
What is my answer? We must give the Roma the proverbial fishing nets, not just fish. Those gypsies who had access to higher education and job opportunities usually seem to have succeeded and they aren't really targets of abuse like their less fortunate brethren - after all, if they can break out of destitution, they are just like anybody else, with maybe a slight tan. I have seen several examples of this. Once you are in the middle class, the suspicious glances and the condescension is substantially lessened. Nobody likes poor people. And most Roma are poor.
The key is giving opportunities: job creation programs and, what is even more important in my eyes, education. The example set by the Gandhi Highs School and Foundation in Hungary is worth studying, IMHO. Cite: http://www.romnet.hu/bemutat/gandhi.html
My (quick and shoddy) translation of the key parts:
The Gandhi Public Foundation and High School, established in 1994, is the first institution in Hungary or Europe to offer a national Highs School Degree [in one of the Romani languages].
Our goal is to "develop open-minded Roma youth who also have an interest in sciences and want to keep ties to their language and folk", and, furthermore, to provide the same level of education to all young Roma in Hungary as their non-gypsy peers...
The education is organized into a program of 4 or 6 years, similar to [other] nationality curriculums, focusing on langauge education. In our nationality program, the students have the opportunity to get acquainted with both languages speaken by Hungarian Roma: beas [this is an archaic dialect with several Romanian words mixed in] and lovari [this is the more widely spoken of the two], to see its beauties and to make this, along with the Roma culture often conveyed through these languages, an organic part of their identity.
Currently, the Gandhi Foundation and High School owns a hostel [not sure if this is the correct word] with room for 340, supplemented by a library, a reading room, computer lab, 10 classrooms, 6 group rooms, a crafts room, 3 communal rooms and a gym hall [the larger kind]. ...
And, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is where You can help. The High School mentioned above was a civilian initiative and it received funding by the state as well as private individuals both domestic and foreign (I think George Soros was one of them). It is successful - the graduates have shown good results on university entry exams, and they will likely succeed in life as well. There is only one problem: there is but one of these institutions. Lack of money plays a great part. An organized effort could help establish another in Slovakia or other countries (not to mention multiple High Schools in each country). You can help not only with money, but your efforts as well - I assume there are Roma Civilian groups in the US and Canada - participate, establish contact with local organizations and help them find funding (even make them aware of available funding!) and so on.
02-15-2003, 06:07 PM
I'm not sure, Melan, but they might be able to be relocated. There can't be that many. I'm thinking of the 70s, and the cambodian refugees. And up in Maine, there's a town full of nothing but... darn, someplace in africa. Rwandan refugees?
Originally posted by MGibson
Let's remember that when it all ended we found out the Vorlons weren't any better then the Shadows. "And so it began..."
02-16-2003, 06:59 AM
E-Sabbath: this might have been true in the 20s and 30s, but not anymore. The Roma experienced a population boom after WWII (since their conditions improved somewhat , just not by much).
According to The World Bank (http://www.worldbank.org/eca/roma/), they make up up to 10% of countries. Exact population figures, from The EU Commission (http://europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/docs/pdf/brochure_roma_may2002.pdf):
There are major Roma communities in most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe who have
applied to join the European Union, known as the ‘candidate countries’ of Central and Eastern
Country Estimated number of Roma3
Bulgaria 700,000 – 800,0004
Czech Republic 250,000 – 300,000
Hungary 550,000 – 600,000
Poland 50,000 – 60,000
Romania 1,800,000 – 2,500,0006
Slovakia 480,000 – 520,0007
Slovenia 6,500 – 10,000
Despite many common traditions, the Roma communities today are made up of diverse branches,
with many different cultures, dialects and languages between them. As a minority group, they have
had difficulties in establishing and defending their basic human rights. Roma communities suffer
from social and cultural exclusion in most European countries.
Total (taking low/high estimates into consideration): 3.8 Million to 4.8 Million. Would (say) the US be willing to take so many people? And if they do, would they be willing to take people from Africa who arguably face a lot more severe persecution? I have doubts.
02-16-2003, 09:51 AM
Hm. Little web searching goes a long way. Look what I found!
From the second site, "IRSA helped nearly 10,000 of the 85,011 refugees who resettled in the US during fiscal year 1999. IRSA staff not only helps refugee families find their first home, a job and get their kids in school, but also helps them learn English, understand American culture, and overcome the loss and trauma that so many refugees suffer. "
So... It might take some time, but I don't see why _not_?
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me..."
I'm going to contact the second group on Tuesday, and see what they can do. At the moment, the only concern is those persons in Slovakia that _want_ to leave. That cuts down the numbers considerably. It's not like there's a lack of space in the USA. Sure, they'll face bigotry here. Sometimes. Most of the time people won't know what they are. Even more of the time, people won't care.
But it'll still be better than where they are, if they chose to leave. That's the great part about this land.
As far as African countries go, well, apparently, yes.
02-16-2003, 08:22 PM
Perhaps I've gone one step too far. Refugee status is only _one_ option. What else can we do?
02-16-2003, 09:00 PM
Start a form letter campaign via email and snail mail to our Government ( I wouldn't know where to send it. Politics is not my area of expertise)
Send form letter to the attention of (each individual senders) home town news station ( with info/links ) to back it up.
Send form letter to your congressperson/senator/Govenor via email and snail mail.
Make a notation and promise on a calendar to send a letter a week ( or whatever you can) to flood whatever politician's inbox ( electronic/metal) on a continuous basis.
Nothing gets their attention like paper work that keeps rolling in and never goes away. ( Like Shawshank Redemption's letter writing campaign.)
Write to ex presidents, ex politico people (Dear Trent Lott, since you are unemployed...:) )
For college and high school dopers, bring the attention of the situation to their classmates and teachers about " What can we do to help." ask everyone to do an email a day. A letter a week.
Thirty seven cents on a form letter is ash tray money for us all. Ask everyone to spread the word.
I wish I were more eloquent with speech to do up a well done form letter.
Just my two bits.
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