Thousands of people paid the tribute to the victims of the Roma Holocaust on the 2nd of August at the official commemoration ceremony in Auschwitz-Birkenau. On the 2nd August 1944 in the so-called “Gypsy camp” at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, around 3000-4000 Roma were exterminated during one single evening. This date is commemorated as the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day.
Right after the commemoration, ternYpe International Roma Youth Network gathered hundreds of young Roma and non-Roma people from all over the world at the International Youth Meeting Centre in Auschwitz. The aim of the gathering was to reflect on the importance of Remembrance of the Roma Holocaust but also to find ways how different youth groups and youth organizations can build up alliances and support each other in this important role and work.
At a roundtable discussion Marietta Herfort, Director of the Phiren Amenca International Network, Alina Bricman, President of European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS), Pia Šlogar, Vice-President of the Youth of European Nationalities (YEN), Benjamin Günther, Board Member of the European Youth Forum, , Matic Germovšek member of the Advisory Council of the Council of Europe and Lois Brookes-Jones on behalf of the Dikh He Na Bister movement have been invited.
The moderator, Irina Spataru, among many interesting questions asked the representatives why it is important for them and for their organizations and institutions to remember the Roma Holocaust and how can we build up alliances across our communities. Each of the guest speakers in their responses emphasized the importance of commemorating 2 August as International Day of Remembrance of the Roma Holocaust by Roma youth organizations and movements but not just in the formal concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau but they have mentioned the importance of the commemorations on local and national levels, which are often lead by Roma youth initiatives as well. They all pointed out that remembrance is also a tool for young people to fight for human rights and against discrimination and remembrance education is more important in Europe today when we see the growth of antigypsyism, antisemitism, hate speech and hate crime.
Alina Bricman from EUJS shared that young Jewish people show solidarity through these events and activities. She stated that coalitions and alliances are important to fight for equality for all minorities in Europe.
Another important point of the discussion was that we are, no matter to what minorities we belong to, the last generation who has a genuine link with the survivors, so it is our role to keep their memory alive.
After the roundtable with the youth networks, Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, European Commission welcomed the participants. Commissioner Jourova emphasized the importance of the Remembrance of the Roma Holocaust and had an opened discussion with the young participants on several topics related to the situation of Roma in Europe.
The event was financed through the Roma Youth Voices Project, funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020).