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Slovakia opens its first permanent exhibition on Romany minority

Martin, Central Slovakia, 19.2.2009 11:23, (ROMEA)

The first permanent exhibition on Romanies in Slovakia was opened in the open-air museum in Martin today, Hana Zelinova, from the Slovak National Museum, told journalists today.

"We wanted to trace the Romanies' way from their original homeland to Europe, to Slovakia. We wanted to show what they were overcoming on their way, under what circumstances they were looking for their home here," Zelinova said.

It is estimated that 350,000 to 450,000 Romanies live in Slovakia at present, most of them in unsuitable social conditions in east Slovak settlements in which they do not have running water and electricity, for instance.

European institutions have criticised the conditions in the Romany settlements in Slovakia.

According to museum workers, the first written mention of Romanies' presence on Slovak soil was made by the village magistrate of Spisska Nova Ves, east Slovakia, who wrote about roaming Romanies in 1322.

The exhibition features a nomadic wagon, shows various crafts Romanies did as well as violins, the most typical Romany musical instruments.

Romanies in Slovakia allegedly earned their money with music in the 16th century already.

"This museum is the first step for us (Romanies) not to be ashamed of what we are. It is also a message to the majority to help it get to learn us such as we are. It is the first small step that should help us recognise one another," Anina Botosova, government commissioner for Romany communities, said.

The exhibition is to be extended in the future with examples of typical Romany dwellings.

CTK
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