By Melinda Szabo
The same as every year, this year Phiren Amenca and Ternype youth organizations organized, the Roma Genocide Remembrance Initiative. We gathered this year 1.000 young people from various parts of Europe.
I was surprised how uninformed the youth are. Most of the youth from Europe have never heard about the Roma Holocaust. In my opinion, this occurs because the Roma Holocaust is not promoted and it is also not included in the educational curriculum of schools. I can use myself as an example of this lack of knowledge about the topic. I knew few things about the Jewish Holocaust but nothing about the Roma’s! The worst part is that this is not a rare situation! Most young people only associate the Jewish population when they hear “Holocaust victims.” They are unaware that the Roma population were also victims and are unaware about important dates in history like 16th of May and 2nd of August 1944, the Romani Resistance Day and the Roma Genocide Remembrance Day.
The Roma Genocide Remembrance event took place in Krakow at Blonia Park and the Pedagogical University, and in Auschwitz in the Holocaust Museum, but it began in Budapest one day before we left to Krakow. Our goal for this event was to promote the Roma Genocide by non-formal education such as seminars, drama theatre play, workshops, and for the first time we had the chance to talk with Roma Holocaust survivors.
1.000 Roma and non-Roma young people from different parts of Europe gathered to commemorate the Roma Holocaust. I think it is our duty to promote this topic, to educate the youth, to build the capacity of educational multipliers, and to promote human rights and the recognition of the Roma Genocide. I think that we have a lot of examples from the past that should awake our judgment in order to show what should never happen again. Mankind’s delirious judgment took away life of innocent people because of their identity and destroyed generations. Now, the question is … WHY did all this happen? This part of history is evidence of what a human mind is capable of! Human against human!!!
One of the workshops that I participated in had a realistic question that I think we all should think about, Is an another Roma genocide possible in our days? What a good question! It is well known that people are discriminated especially because of their identity. Roma are strongly discriminated in Europe for this very reason. Even if we had lots of examples from the past unfortunately is still happens in our modern life. Roma people are not treated equally in society and institutions such as in hospitals, there are still segregated schools, and examples may continue. In Romania, the country I come from, Roma are not getting the right medical treatment they need just because they are Roma. When they go to the doctor, the other patients are prioritized because they are not. It is well known that Roma are refuse with diplomatic excuses just because their identity. I can continue the list with examples of Roma children who study in segregated schools. To study in a segregated school means to affect the youth’s future and carrier because teachers in Roma schools might be well prepared, but most of them lack motivation because of low salaries and because they teach in a not “normal” school. Lack of motivation given in teaching, in my opinion is ”poison’’ that harms the development process.
I call this discrimination and racism in our days made in a “nazi’’ way just like 70 years ago in the concentration camps. For sure that life has evolved since then, but the harming attitude against minorities still exists. As far as we still have this old mentality we will not development at all. The world developed because we live in a modern life with more developed technology than 70 years ago, people are better informed about their rights, many have access to information by television and media, but despite of all these technological advances, there are still no changes in the judgment and attitude of the people. As far as we have this anger, hate, and discrimination against other people, there is no any realistic reason to believe that the world is protected from genocide. What I think about what is happening now, is that it is a passive genocide of the modern life! We don’t have concentration camps but Roma are still (verbally) abused by the police on streets, they face hate speech, and are even victims of hate crimes because of their Roma identity and the negative stereotypes that have been unfairly been applied to the entirety of the Roma community.
I think there is still a priority for us to find a solution! That is why we, Phiren Amenca, and other youth organizations gathered again this year to engage governments, educational leaders and decision-makers to raise their awareness about the Roma genocide, and to support educational and remembrance practices in the European countries.