Balder C. Hasvoll and Gorm K. Gaare: Roma are not wanted in Norway
In a new book called “An unwanted people” (“Et uønsket folk”), Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities documented how Norway had a racist policy of exclusion against Roma between 1927 and 1956. We have followed Norwegian Roma today and have documented how Norwegian Roma are still being discriminated and excluded.
Gorm K. Gaares exhibition “White walls, long dresses” opened in Trondheim 14th November. The exhibition contains the movie “One for all”. With hidden cameras and recorders, we showed how Roma were being discriminated and denied access to housing, hotels, camping sites and other facilities that other Norwegians take for granted. The Roma Council in Norway reported seven cases of discrimination, documented in the film, to the police in March 2017. Most of the cases ended up in a special police unit against hate crime. The director of the hate crime unit told Norwegian TV2 in March this year that these cases would be given high priority. Six months later, four of the seven cases were left by the police, without any of the witnesses being interrogated.
In one of the cases from the film, a Roma calls a camping site. The following happens:
- He asks the camping site to be let in and says he is a «Gypsie». «There is absolutely no space available», sounds the answer.
- A Gažo calls the camping site one minute later. He speaks with a clear local Trondheim dialect and is able to book a space without problems. Then he calls back and cancels the reservation.
- Thereafter, the Roma calls again, and the person who is answering the phone says impatiently that there still is no space available: «We don’t even have space for a small tent».
- The discrimination is reported to the police, who leaves the case without proper investigation.
According to the lawyer Randi Spydevold, a film or telephone record is sufficient as evidence. The method is called «testing in pairs» and is a recognized way of documenting unequal treatment. Spydevold has several Roma clients.
Photo: Balder C. Hasvoll and Gorm K. Gaare
Norwegian Roma are met with closed doors not only at the police station. «The equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman» (LDO) is supposed to be easily accessible to victims of discrimination. However, Norwegian Roma have experienced that there is no gain in complaining to LDO. During the last 12 years, LDO found discrimination against Roma proven only five times. This problem was addressed in the Czech documentary film «Know how sharing in discrimination victims support» (ROMEA 2016).
The smallest of our national minorities count only a few hundred people, a handful of families. Even so, we have to conclude that Roma are still unwanted in Norway.
Gorm K. Gaare is a photographer and film maker who worked with Roma in Norway and The Czech Republic. Balder C. Hasvoll is a social anthropologist and author who worked with Norwegian Roma in the municipality of Oslo since 2010.
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