by Bernard Rorke
CW: child mistreatment, state violence, abuse
Back in May 2018, both Vladimir Putin and former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions hit the headlines in the same week by threatening to take children away from their families. In the New Yorker, Masha Gessen called this a form of state terror: “Hostage-taking is an instrument of terror. Capturing family members, especially children, is a tried-and-true instrument of totalitarian terror.”
This form of ‘state terror’ is all too familiar to Europe’s Roma. While for centuries, racist folktales warned children not to wander into the woods lest they get ‘snatched by Gypsies’, the historical reality is quite the reverse. It is Romani children who have been kidnapped by the authorities and separated from their parents; kidnapped by authorities bent on forced assimilation, or in the case of the Nazis and their allies, gruesome experimentation and annihilation. In the democratic 21st Century, where anti-Roma racism has been routinized, disproportionate numbers of Romani children are removed from their biological families and placed in institutional state care.
by Bernard Rorke
On the Wednesday evening of the 2nd of September, in a narrow street in Budapest’s eighth district, a large crowd gathered in solidarity with the students who have staged an occupation of Hungary’s University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE). The students had sealed the entrances to the building with red and white tape in protest against the latest power grab by the far-right government of Victor Orbán.
From the first-floor balconies, students stood silently in yellow face masks with clenched fists, while below, leading figures from Hungary’s cultural and literary scene recited apposite verses from the country’s rich reserve of defiant, liberty-loving poetry. The students closed the event with a folk song and the crowd joined in defiant chants of ‘Szabad Ország, Szabad Egyetem! (Free Country, Free University!)’.
by Jonathan Lee
There is a mendacious yet persistent fantasy that Roma could be saved from the horrors of racism and discrimination if only they weren’t so poor. It is the conservative idea that the free market can cure racism, that racism is purely a product of economic disparity, and that if only Roma were more economically engaged, most of the nasty symptoms of antigypsyism would simply fall away. Continue Reading
by Jonathan Lee
A new project to count the number of Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers in London was recently launched by London Gypsies & Travellers and Mapping for Change. Their goal is to provide an accurate estimate of the numbers and distribution of GRT (Gypsy, Roma and Traveller) people across the city.
Official census statistics on Romani and Traveller people in the UK are famously inaccurate (only 58,000 in the 2011 census). This is partly because neither group are traditionally very fond of official registers, particularly those which record ethnicity.
And why should we be?Continue Reading
by Kelvin Smith
The last trip was just before the EU referendum; through France, Spain and Portugal, preoccupied with the possibility of a leave vote, but knowing somewhere deep inside that it would never, could never happen. So much for gut feelings.
by Zoe Harding
Well folks, these last few weeks your humble correspondent has been travelling around Eastern Europe on a hastily-booked last chance tour. I’m four cities in and thought I’d share a little of the mood on the street from Warsaw, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. Part two of this article looks at Vienna and Budapest.
by Gunnar Eigener
‘Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill or to die for and no religion too.’ John Lennon
As record numbers of refugees flee wars and conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa seeking some semblance of normality in Europe, an ingrained racism and skewed sense of nationalism is seeping out of the barely healed wound of financial recessions and austerity cuts. As front line services are cut to the bone and the ability to look after our own homeless and vulnerable citizens seems distinctly lacking, the idea of supporting other people from other countries is turning into a poisoned chalice. Original plans to relocate 120,000 refugees have reduced the number to 66,000. Balkan states are erecting fences along their borders but to no avail. Far-right parties who were taking ever bigger numbers of national votes before this crisis began, are now exploiting it to spread hatred and fear. Protest movements in Germany and Austria have formed, and shown aggression and resistance to the influx of refugees, while the UK Independence Party allows hate-mongers like Katie Hopkins to speak at their party conference. Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s National Front political party suggested that the Ebola virus would be able to solve Europe’s immigration problem.