A Brief History —
Gypsy is the name given to Roma since they appeared in Europe in the thirteenth century, refugees from the widespread warfare that had overtaken their native India as part of the expansion of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Europeans took these newcomers from the East for Egyptians (Egyptian, Egipcian, ‘gypcian, ‘gipcian, gipsy, gypsy) , and feared them because they were not Christians, they had no homeland, and their experiences with slavery and brutal oppression on their path westward had caused them to shun non-Romanies. Laws were passed forcing the Gypsies to move onward, at times penalizing them for their presence with death orders. Survivors were often shipped to Europe’s colonies abroad, where Romanies were exposed to indenture or slavery. Education and employment were forbidden to the living. This unreasonable hatred culminated in the murder of more than one million Gypsies/Roma by the Nazis. The misconceptions and oppression have continued: Today the Roma are Europe’s poorest minority, and neo-Nazis are screaming in the streets of Eastern Europe, “Gypsies to the gas chamber!” In some countries, they are allowed to live only in undesirable areas such as refuse dumps, and they are forcibly deported when they try to find better homes.
Gypsies are NOT
• a lifestyle
• a set of behaviors
• a mythical people
• happy wanderers
• an ethnic group of Asian Indian origin
• present on all continents since our diaspora began in the eleventh century
• claiming our right to be free of racial stereotypes
HELP US END THE USE OF RACIAL SLURS!
Everyone has the right to say what they want.
We have the right to be offended and outraged.
Our people who even today are facing pogroms,
neo-Nazi death squads, and more hatred
have the right to live and prosper in peace.
A Brief Timeline of Romani History
997-‐1026: The people now known as the Roma/Romani/Romanies begin to leave northern India,
headed west through Persia. The last migration begins in 1192.
1347: Due to plagues and wars, Romanies begin to move west again, through Armenia and Asia Minor.
1385: The first recorded transaction of Romani slaves is recorded in Romania.
1416-‐1504: The Roma are expelled from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and France.
1510: Switzerland imposes the death penalty.
1512-‐1538: The Roma are expelled from Catalonia, Bavaria, Portugal, Sweden, England, Wales, and Denmark.
1538: Portugal deports Romanies to the Colonies.
1544: England deports Romanies to Norway.
1589: Denmark imposes the death penalty to all Roma.
1637: Sweden imposes the death penalty to all Roma.
1721: Emperor Karl VI orders the extermination of all Roma in the Austro-‐Hungarian Empire.
1728: Last living Romanies hunted down in Holland.
1547-‐1749: The Roma are expelled from Norway, Bohemia, Poland, Lithuania, Scotland, Denmark(again), Norway (again), Belarus, and Sweden (again).
1758: Empress Maria Theresa begins a program to assimilate all Roma by force.
1783: Most legislation against the Roma is repealed.
1812: Nomadic Romanies in Finland are confined to workhouses.
1822: Turnpike Act is introduced. All Roma camping along the roadside are fined.
1830: Germany begins a program of removing Romani children from their homes to be fostered with non-Roma families.
1848: Transylvania frees the Roma from 500 years of slavery, followed by Moldavia in 1855 and Wallachia in 1856.
1849: Denmark allows Romanies back into the country.
1868: Richard Liebich coins the phrase “lives unworthy of life.” This is later used by the Nazis to destroy the Roma alongside the Jews in the Holocaust.
1872 – 1899: Roma are expelled from Belgium, Denmark (again), and Germany.
1884: A Romni, Dr. Kavalasky, is appointed Professor of Mathematics at Stockholm University. She is the first female professor in Scandinavia.
1890: Germany organizes a conference on “The Gypsy Scum.” The “Central Office for Fighting the Gypsy Nuisance” gets its start there.
1906: France hands out identity cards to all Roma.
1920s: In the Weimar Republic, Roma were forbidden to use parks or public baths and required to register with police. In 1922, Germany begins a program to fingerprint and photograph all Romani. Professor Hans F. Gunther blames the Roma for introducing foreign blood into Europe.
1933-‐34: Hitler comes to power in Germany. Romani musicians are barred from the State Cultural Chamber, forced sterilizations begin of all Romanies, Sinto boxer Johann Trollman is stripped of his title as lightweight champion, and “Beggars Week” means thousands of Roma are arrested. Romani people who can’t prove German citizenship are expelled.
1935-‐38: In Germany, all Romanies become subjected to the Nuremburg Laws for the Protection of German Blood and German honor. Roma in Germany lose the right to vote, the internment camp in Marzahn is opened, Hitler issues the General Decree for Fighting the Gypsy Menace, and the Racial Hygiene and Population Biological Unit of the Health Office opens. By 1938, all Roma in Germany are declared anti-‐social, arrested, and sent into forced labor to build the concentration camps.
In Russia, Stalin bans the Romani language and culture.
1940: The first mass genocidal action of the Holocaust takes place in Buchenwald, where 250 Romani children are used as guinea pigs to test the Zyklon‐B gas crystals.
1941-‐44: In Germany, in July, Himmler orders the Einsatzkommandos to “kill all Jews, Gypsies, and mental patients.” In 1944, the 1,400 Roma at Auschwitz still deemed fit for work are sent to Buchenwald.
The remaining 2,900 Roma attempt to defend themselves using rocks and sticks, but they are defeated and taken to the gas chambers.
1945: World War II ends, though it is still illegal to be Roma in much of post-‐war Europe.
1962: The courts in the German Federal Republic declare that the Roma were persecuted in the Holocaust for racial reasons. Romani survivors do not share in the millions of dollars of reparations given to other survivors of the Holocaust.
1966: The Gypsy Council is set up in Great Britain.
1969: Bulgaria establishes segregated schools for Romani children. Countries across the former Soviet client states follow their lead.
1970: National Gypsy Education Council is established in England.
1971: First Romani Congress held in London, England, adopting “Gelem, Gelem” as the national anthem, as well as a national flag, based on the flag of India. Other considerations include a Romani alphabet, the protection of the language and culture, and human rights issues.
1972: Czech Republic begins to sterilize Romani women. The government claims the process ended in 2007, but reports of sterilization are still being investigated and the government has refused to pay reparations to the affected women.
1977: A UN sub-committee makes a resolution on the protection of Roma.
1979: The Romani Union is recognized by the UN’s Economic and Social Council.
1981: Yugoslavia grants the Roma national status.
1987: The United States Holocaust Memorial Council appoints its first Romani member, seven years after the Council was created.
1989: Germany deports foreign Romanies.
1990: Fourth World Romani Congress adopts an alphabet for the Romani language.
1991: The Roma gain equal rights in Macedonia.
1960-‐1999: The Roma face persecution and death from attack by both civilians and governments across Europe. In 1997, Neo-‐Nazi street gangs beat and kill Roma with impunity in Serbia. Periodic altercations continue, especially in Eastern Europe, where Romani children are relegated to back rows and special education, often beaten and ostracized by students and some teachers.
1998-‐99 In the Kosovo Conflict, Romani communities are targeted by all sides.
2008-‐9: Parts of a Romani settlement near Naples are burned by a mob. Italian authorities destroy another settlement, moving Roma to temporary quarters that lack water and electricity. The Prime Minister gives local authorities powers to carry out evictions and to fingerprint people, including children.
A widespread outcry ensues, but the European Commission does not ask Prime Minister Berlusconi to end the fingerprint provisions. Romanies from other EU countries are deported without individual appeal.
2009-‐11 Neo-‐Nazis intimidate and harass Romani communities in Hungary and the Czech Republic. Repeated violence, discrimination in employment and housing, and continued harassment from authorities continues across Eastern Europe, forcing many Roma to flee to Western Europe.
2010-‐11 French police shoot and kill a young Rom at a checkpoint in the Loire Valley, resulting in riots. In response, French President Sarkozy orders the dismantling of some 300 Romani settlements, declaring the illegal camps sources of crime, and deporting Roma, most to Eastern Europe. Caught up in the police roundups are some Roma who are French citizens. Deportations do not allow for asylum or appeals. EU Commissioner Vivian Reding declares the expulsions violate EU provisions on freedom of movement, but eventually Sarkozy’s deportations are allowed to continue.
2011 In Kosovo, thousands of Romani refugees whose homes were destroyed in the War remain in refugee camps without appropriate hygiene facilities, located near or on top of rubbish heaps, which leach harmful substances into the water and soil, while other refugee groups have been given housing. One remaining camp populated by Roma in Mitrovica sits atop a heavy metal mine, leading to lead poisoning in the population.
This is a compact list, created to help readers understand the history of the Romani in Europe and the United States.
For further reading, we suggest:
The Gypsies by Angus Fraser, Blackwell Publishing, 1992.
We are the Romani People by Ian Hancock, The Interface Collection, University of Hertfordshire Press, 2002.
Shared Sorrows: A Gypsy Family Remembers the Holocaust by Toby Sonnema, University of Hertfordshire Press, 2002.
The Pariah Syndrome: An Account of Gypsy Slavery and Persecution, by Ian Hancock. Karoma, 1987.
The Roads of the Roma: a PEN anthology of Gypsy Writers, edited by Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd and Rajko Djuric, University of Hertfordshire Press, 1998.
It drives me mad that one of my long-time friends is an incorrigible anti-ziganist. She is so intelligent otherwise, why the fuck does she buy into that? She just made a comment on Facebook that she was more upset about being called a “gypsy” than the fact that her car got smashed, because “gypsies” don’t go to private school and get PhDs.
It’s true that many don’t because the marginalization of various peoples termed “gypsy” - Romanichal, Rroma, Kalderash, Sinti, Pavee, Ursari, what have you - has made it difficult for them to combat their oppression by us, gadje.
And I just so badly want to point out the existence of Drs. Petra Gelbart and Ian Hancock, and even people like Qristina whom I have followed for a while on Tumblr who is brilliant and as far as I know is working on a Master’s degree, and also tell her why so many of these people (but not all! not all!) do not succeed, and that it’s because of people who look and think like HER, people who look like ME, who make this happen.
But I know it will fall on deaf ears. And that is terrible. Because when we politely point out people’s errors and ignorance they should graciously accept the new knowledge they’ve been given and use it to make themselves better, more tolerant and accepting and helpful and kind people. And they don’t. They would rather strive to generalize than to just come to terms with the fact that they are racist and rely too heavily on discriminatory and hateful preconceptions.
^^^THIS, SO MUCH THIS.
(And yes, I am working on a Master’s degree, but it has NOT BEEN EASY and I still struggle.. and that struggle is why I am not getting my PhD… most likely. That struggle is why it has taken me SO LONG to actually graduate with a BA in anything…. and why I am still here, still going to school, still trying to “get with the (white) program”….)
It makes me cry to read that this is so bad that you’ve decided not to get your PhD. You’re a human being. You deserve better than to be discriminated against, stalked, harassed, and otherwise persecuted for your ethnic background!
French Socialist Party presidential candidate calls for internment camps for the Roma
In a February 12 interview on Canal Plus TV, François Hollande, Socialist Party candidate for president in the upcoming elections, proposed as a “solution” to the presence in France of Roma European Union (EU) citizens “the creation of camps … to accommodate them”.
The association of a “solution” in relation to specific racial groups with special camps can only bring to mind the period of Nazi rule in Europe, during which not only Jews and homosexuals, but also Roma and gypsies were rounded up and sent to extermination camps. This was not lost on many French people.
Hollande called for the establishment of “European rules to avoid our experiencing this constant to and fro [of the Roma]. Let there be camps that we can decide on, that is, to avoid these people settling just anywhere … [to] enable these people to go back to Romania … and not then return to France”.
Put more concretely, the Roma would be rounded up, and after their improvised encampments were broken up, they would be sent back to Romania, the same policy the present right-wing government of President Nicolas Sarkozy is pursuing.
The “Socialist” Hollande’s innovation is to suggest the building of internment camps and then preventing the Roma from returning by some sort of frontier control. Hollande is here attacking the free movement within the EU of these European citizens, one of the few progressive measures European capitalism temporarily conceded in the Schengen agreement in 1985.
Ruling UMP (Union for a Popular Majority) deputies pounced on Hollande’s statement to justify the brutality of the governments’ current policy. On RTL radio, minister for apprenticeship Nadine Morano, a rabid racist, claimed that she was “profoundly shocked” by this “outlandish proposal … We [the government] were the ones who organised the dismantling of the Roma camps with legal procedures, in accordance with French law”, while “Mr. Hollande is proposing the creation of camps for Roma in France.”
An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 Roma, citizens of Romania and Bulgaria, have legally come to France since their countries joined the European Union in 2007. According to the BBC, ten other EU countries, including Germany, Italy, Denmark and Sweden, which also welcomed Roma, are likewise introducing deportation policies. Measures adopted by a number of European states, including France, limit access to work and residence rights for Romanian and Bulgarian migrants until December 12, 2013, when the restrictions will end. It is clear that Hollande would not want to end these restrictions but, rather, extend and reinforce them.
It is difficult to distinguish Hollande’s statements from Sarkozy’s infamous Grenoble speech of June 30, 2010: “We’ll examine the rights and welfare entitlements, currently available to foreigners living in suspiciously irregular circumstances.… The general rule is clear: illegals must be directed back to their own countries”, said Sarkozy. He had already asked the interior minister “to put an end to unauthorized gypsy settlements. These are lawless zones not to be tolerated in France”.
EU commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding accused the Sarkozy government of “discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin or race” and of calling into question “the common values and laws of our European Union”. She described the French policy as a “disgrace”. She implicitly compared the actions of the French government with those of the fascists during the Second World War. In the event, she backed down and Sarkozy has been able to continue with this “disgrace”.
Hollande is currently justifying Socialist Party-dominated town councils’ current practice in relation to Roma settlements. Essonne Info reported that on February 13, his campaign manager Manuel Valls, mayor of Evry, “by a mayoral municipal decree … called on the préfet [police chief] to clear by force the children and their parents and bulldoze their encampment”. There is no report that the mayor offered them alternative accomodation.
Discussion about the closing of frontiers between EU countries flared up in 2011, when Tunisian refugees fleeing state repression and devastated living conditions through Italy were prevented by the French government from crossing the Italian border, where they were legal, into France where many had family and friends.
The announcement of Hollande’s Roma “solution” came only days after the controversy created by Martinique deputy Serge Latchimi, who said that minister of the interior Claude Guéant’s comment that some civilisations were superior to others was close to Nazism. Hollande refused to support Latchimi’s position.
Hollande is appealing to the most backward elements in French society and distancing himself from wide layers of the population deeply opposed to the brutality of the state’s attacks on fundamental human rights.
When accused of being “soft” on illegal immigrants, Hollande likes to cite his election programme: “I will conduct an implacable struggle against illegal immigration … Legal residence will be granted case-by-case on objective criteria”.
The Socialist Party candidate did not offer any criticism of minister of the interior Guéant’s proud achievement of expelling 32,912 undocumented immigrants in 2011, up from 28,026 in 2010, a 17.5 percent increase.
In response to a remark by Sarkozy suggesting that Hollande favoured mass legalisation of undocumented immigrants, the Socialist Party’s Mireille Le Corre, in charge of “immigration-integration” policy, insisted: “François Hollande … is not for carrying out mass legalisations, but for re-establishing a fair and transparent procedure. Foreigners whose circumstances do not comply with a possible legalisation will go through an expulsion procedure, under conditions which respect their rights and their dignity”.
Hollande’s anti-immigrant positions are reinforced by the fact that the entire bourgeois and petty-bourgeois “left”—the Socialist Party, Communist Party, Left Party and New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA)—worked actively with Sarkozy in Islamophobic campaigns to ban the burqa and, before that, the Muslim veil in schools. They are now all mobilising behind Hollande in the presidential elections in April-May to enable the French bourgeoisie to ride out the economic crisis by destroying the rights and living standards of the working class as is now under way in Greece.
Here is a guitarra for you, my little Chavo
If you’re slave to kissing
You gotta play this thing
I kinda just watch this to see how cute Sergey is and each time I think about starting up violin again I watch this, hear his playing, and then give up :I I’ll never be a cute old russian man like him—
Somehow at the word Gypsy I always think about Esmeralda from Hunchback of Notre Dam. This is obviously a skewed perception. For many of my friends and me, our first exposure to the ‘Gypsy people’ was while watching the Walt Disney cartoon.
However, it was when we lived in Romania, that I learned about the fate of thousands of Gypsies who were victims of prejudice in the developing east European country. The Gypsies, also known as the Roma people, live on the sidelines of the bustling and thriving main cities of Romania such as Bucharest. They’re literally scorned as the scum of society. I remember my friends would warn us to beware of the Roma, for they have a reputation of stealing and committing crimes.
A huge debate is raging in Europe over the fate of these people. An Economist article states, ”Scapegoated abroad and the victims of prejudice at home, eastern Europe’s Roma are the problem no politician wants to solve”. France’s decision to expel thousands of Roma immigrants was met with opposition from most of the world. Yet nobody comes to the rescue of ‘Europe’s largest stateless minority’.
The debate is long and invites fierce debate from all sides. Today, I thought I’d continue with the theme from yesterday and post more photos of the Gypsy camp that I visited in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. I hope this post gives you some food for thought.
Gypsy (roma tigan rrom tzigane) (Roman/Romania)
Gypsy family on the street Teiului, Roman / Romania
Gypsy children playing in the courtyard of the Social Center, Roman / Romania