msbrown at msbrown at
Sun Dec 15 12:10:36 GMT 2002

Ustiben reported on 13/12/02: 

* * * 

Protests across Europe on eve of Copenhagen summit 

Tomorrow 's EU gathering in Copenhagen will set the stage for the entry in 2004 
of an additional one million Roma; another four million are scheduled 
to obtain Union citizenship three years' later. 

While status as Europe's largest national minority cannot be denied, most Roma 
inside and outside the EU remain at best second class citizens; tens of 
thousands are stateless. 

Yesterday, Roma activists across Europe marked Human Rights Day with rallies 
and protests, many appealing for UN action. But though the UNHRC is at 
loggerheads with EU members over mass "removals", in particular to Serbia and 
Kosovo, deportations look set to continue. 

In London, speakers at a UNA-UK conference were pessimistic at the prospects 
for Roma within an expanded EU. TERF representatives characterised Roma in 
eastern Europe as "recycled" migrants. After years of sedentary existence, 
large numbers were being forced to emigrate by unbridled racial attacks - 
beatings, murders and house burnings. 

"Three Roma were shot dead by police in Romania last week," Dr.Boris Muntyanu 
told delegates at Church House. 


At l2 noon, timed to coincide with a simultaneous demonstration in the Romani 
township of Sutor Orizari. Macedonia, Roma asylum-seekers and refugees from 
Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland and the Ukraine gathered outside Central Hall, 
Westminster, birthplace of the General Assembly, for a symbolic appeal to the 
United Nations. They were accompanied by Jean Lambert, MEP, of the Green Party. 

Afterwards, Ladislav Balaz, TERF chairman, spoke at a House of Commons 
committee room meeting on the present plight of Roma asylum-seekers in the UK. 
He noted that despite the fact the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary would 
soon be EU members, large-scale "removals" remained the order of the day. On 
present figures, around 40% of those targeted for fast-track detention and 
deportations were Roma. 

"Why go on causing this misery?" asked Balaz. "At the very least the Home 
Office could stop putting in appeals where adjucators have granted asylum." 

Taking this point, the meeting's chairman Bob Russell MP (LibDem) promised to 
raise the issue at a forthcoming discussion with Immigration Minister Beverley 

Valery Ivanov, aged l6, a pupil at Hounslow Manor School, told how at a Romani 
political rally in Bulgaria, he and his mother, along with others, had been 
severely beaten by police. He remained in a coma for ten days and was not 
expected to live. 

"My mother was hit about the head," Ivanov recalled. "She still has problems 
and can't remember things. She is not well. But her application for asylum has 
been refused." 

"This Government, and in particular David Blunket, seems hell-bent on deporting 
as many people as possible with scant regard to indivual claims like Valery's," 
commented Russell. 


In the past year, TERF co-ordinator Grattan Puxon said, Roma and long-
established Traveller groups had begun to come together and find common cause. 
Eviction from so-called unauthorized encampments and trailer parks and forced 
removals out of the UK were aspects of one all-embracing, racially motivated 
policy: get rid of the Gypsies. 

As a response, the recently-created Traveller Law Reform Coalition, of which 
TERF formed a part, had adopted a simple but dramatic slogan, Stop Ethnic 
Cleansing. Those were the words pinned to the barricade when an attempted 
eviction was halted at Woodside on 4 November. 

Patrick Egan, spokesman for Dale Farm, said people on his site faced rising 
hostility. Basildon District Council wanted to prevent any development. 
The latest tactic was to issue stop orders prohibiting installation of water 
and electicity to new plots. Local MP John Baron had stated everyone was 
welcome as long as they lived within the law - yet backed the 
council's appeal to the High Court when a planning application was successful. 

"We are trying to regularize our position," Egan emphazied. "But each time we 
take a step forward the local authority does all it can to outlaw us again." 

Summing up, Keri McCormick said she perhaps personified the growing sense of 
unity among Roma. "I'm a Romani working with Travellers in Scotland and will be 
attached shortly to the European Roma Rights Center in Budapest. All of us are 
struggling for the same thing." 

"We've been pushed into the present crisis" Balaz contended. "Entry to the EU, 
creation of the European Roma Forum and new legislation may be part of the 
answer. But nothing has been, or ever will be, handed to us on a plate. Our 
rights will only be realized through organization and action." 

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