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ERTF Press Release: International Roma Day - 8 April

Strasbourg, 8.4.2008 15:31, (ROMEA/ERTF)

Today, on International Roma Day, the European Roma and Travellers Forum declares its strong solidarity with the many Roma and Travellers across Europe who still experience extreme poverty, miserable conditions, fear and discrimination in their daily lives. Current conditions are an affront to human dignity everywhere. ERTF is committed to building a world where Human Rights are fully respected and implemented in accordance with the rule of law.

We take this occasion to pay tribute to those who have fought, and continue to fight – despite the hardship and sacrifice involved – for equality and the right of all people to live with respect and dignity. The struggle to break down prejudice towards Roma and Travellers and to eliminate discrimination is integral to the struggle for social justice and a better world, which is the responsibility of us all.

In order to succeed in eliminating discrimination, it is crucial for everyone to understand that it expresses itself in many different forms. It is not only the most overt examples, such as the use of racial slurs or hate graffiti. Nor is it just the denial of employment, housing or education due to ethnic or cultural background. Discrimination can also take on much more subtle forms, and involve systemic barriers to access leading to real exclusion.

‘I call upon all States to honour their legally and politically binding obligations, including commitments, for those in a position to do so, to give the Roma and Traveller communities equal opportunities and assistance. Today, I encourage all States which have not yet done so, to accede to all these legally and politically binding documents as soon as possible.’ said Mr. Rudko Kawczynski, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum.

There are enormous challenges ahead in the quest for a equal opportunities for all -- from achieving more effective coordination and mobilization of resources at the international level, to building better capacity at the national and local levels. All of us can play a part in raising awareness of these challenges; all of us can play our part in overcoming them. On this Day, let us vow to redouble our efforts in that direction.

The European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF), which has a partnership agreement with the Council of Europe and a special status with this institution, is Europe’s largest and most inclusive Roma and Traveller organisation. It brings together Europe’s main international Roma-NGOs and more than 1,500 national Roma and Traveller organisations from most of the Council of Europe member states.

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EU, 2008 April 8, 2008



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