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May 17, 2009

Page: 22/35

Home > 2009 Issues > May 17, 2009

Hindus ask Europe to end Roma apartheid and apologise for centuries of maltreatment

Hindus have asked European Union and countries of Europe to urgently take steps to end apartheid of their Roma people, terming it as immoral and a dark stain on the face of Europe.

Acclaimed Hindu statesman, Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA), said that it was moral obligation of Europe to take care of its largest minority Roma population and stop human rights violations reportedly regularly suffered by them, who numbered around ten million and were the most disadvantaged.

Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of Council of Europe, in his viewpoint published on April 27 on Council website, said, ?Anti-Gypsyism continues to be a major human rights problem in Europe ? governments must start taking serious action against both official and inter-personal discrimination of Roma.?

He cited incidents where Roma children were forced to strip and violently slap one another in a Slovakia police station, sudden eviction of Roma families in Belgrade without alternative accommodation, etc. He asks in the viewpoint, ?Would this have happened to non-Roma??

Hammarberg further says, ?Hate speech must be stopped. It is crucial that leading politicians and other opinion makers avoid anti-Roma rhetoric and, instead, stand up for principles of non-discrimination, tolerance and respect for people from another background.?

A joint statement recently released by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, said, ?Our organisations are deeply concerned by the continuing discriminatory treatment and exclusion of the Roma, and particularly by the recent escalation in hate motivated incidents and racist rhetoric reported in a number of States.?

Zed, who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, says that Roma live in deep poverty even in most prosperous parts of the world. Many of their children reportedly study in segregated schools offering inferior quality education and many do not attend school at all.

Their alarming condition is a social blight for Europe and the rest of the world as they reportedly regularly face social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, language barriers, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalisation, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, racist slogans on Internet, unusually high unemployment rates, etc., Rajan Zed argues.

Zed further says that there is reportedly brazen structural discrimination of Roma in education, housing access, property rights, etc. Anti-Roma attitude even shows sometimes in official speeches. According to an estimate, less than one per cent of Roma children attend post secondary education. The maltreatment of Roma is even outside the European Union.

Rajan Zed also urged His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Patriarch of Orthodox Christian Church His All Holiness Archbishop Bartholomew and The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan D Williams, all of whom were very influential in Europe, to immediately come up with a White Paper on the plight of Roma people of Europe.

Zed pointed out that references to Roma people reportedly went as far back as ninth century AD. How many more centuries they would have to reside in Europe to prove that they were ?real and equal? Europeans like any other, Zed asked and added that in some European countries, many businesses reportedly still refused them entry.


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