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ERTF commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Genocide on Roma

Brussels, 1.8.2014 23:58, (ROMEA)
The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

With a minute of silence at noon beside the Holocaust memorial stone in front of the Palais de l'Europe in Strasbourg, the European Forum for Roma and Travellers (ERTF) remembered more than 3,000 Roma exterminated by the German Nazis during the night of 2-3 August 1944 in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

"The extermination of 3000 Roma on the night of 2 August, 1944 was a tragedy which transcends the individuals who perished in the gas chambers. It was a tragedy which hit a whole community in what it has most sacred: its identity. These were not 3000 ordinary individuals –dissenters, rebels, criminals; these were Roma who were exterminated because they were Roma. This was not just mass killing but an act of genocide.

The crime of genocide against the Roma is not a debatable subject. Already in 1945 the genocide of Roma was clearly part of the indictment presented to the International Tribunal of Nuremberg in October 1945 and the Council of Europe has not failed to refer to the genocide of Roma in a number of legal texts." said M. Kawczynski, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, in his key address to the representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, staff members of the Council of Europe and the citizens of Strasbourg.

The official recognition of the genocide committed against Roma on a national and international level, is of crucial importance to fighting and eliminating the anti-Gypsyism that unfortunately is happening throughout Europe to this day. This tragedy was an attempt to destroy the identity of the Roma communities as a pan-European people having common origins, language and culture.
At the initiative of the ERTF, supported by the European Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma Issues drafted a Declaration on Roma genocide during World War II and submitted it for adoption by the Committee of Ministers. The text of the Declaration called for official recognition of the genocide of Roma during the Second World War.

The Committee of Ministers at their 1196th meeting on 2 April 2014 considered this Declaration, but in the absence of unanimity its adoption was abandoned. In fact, Turkey, Russia and Azerbaijan were opposed to the use of the word "genocide" in the Declaration.

M. Kawczynski has addressed a letter to Ms Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, informing her of the failed adoption of this Declaration by the Committee of Ministers to obtain the reasons that led the latest to abandon the adoption of the Declaration.

The ERTF calls upon those working to promote the rights of all Roma, Travellers and related groups throughout the world to organise their own events every 2nd August to ensure maximum visibility of this horrendous crime.

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