Roma Pride: Marches take place in European cities
Roma Pride marches took place yesterday in several European countries. Several hundred persons convened in the afternoon in Paris for a celebratory assembly to demonstrate the dignity of the Romani people as well as the migratory nations of Europe. A similar event in the center of the Romanian capital of Bucharest was attended by about 300 people.
Agence-France Presse reports that the historic Roma Pride demonstrations also took place in Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, Norway, and Turkey. In Sofia, Romani boys and girls distributed flowers to passers-by in order to reduce the current tensions between ethnic Bulgarians and Romani people there.
Roma Pride events in Paris and other European metropolises demonstrated pride in the Romani nation primarily through Romani music performances. The events also condemned "the racism and discrimination suffered by individuals considered Romani". The co-organizers of the pro-Roma demonstration in Paris, such as the SOS Racisme organization and the French Union of Romani Associations (Ufat), took advantage of the opportunity to express their demands that freedom of movement be respected for all Europeans and that caravans be legally recognized as housing units.
Human Rights Watch expressed outrage at the end of September over the French authorities' practices toward Romani migrants living at campsites. Paris is said to have deported Romani people "en masse" back to their countries of origin in Eastern Europe.
In Romania, the country from which many Romani people have headed to France, the Roma Pride demonstration brought 300 people to the center of the capital. The 2011 census will take place in Romania several weeks from now. NGOs defending the interests of the Romani minority called on the Roma to enter their ethnicity in the census forms.
During the 2002 census, approximately 530 000 Romanian Roma declared their ethnicity. However, according to NGO estimates, as many as 2.5 million members of this minority actually live in the Balkan country.
"Many Roma are afraid or ashamed to openly recognize their ethnicity because they are concerned about discrimination," Marian Mandache of the Romani Criss organization told Agence-France Presse. The demonstrators in Bucharest wore t-shirts that said "I am Romani" in the Romani language.
In Bulgaria, Romani demonstrators took advantage of the long-awaited Roma Pride event to reduce the tensions which have arisen between ethnic Bulgarians and the Roma after a fatal car accident in the town Katunitsa. Bulgarian National Radio reported that ethnic Bulgarians also participated in the pro-Roma demonstration.