HAPPY APRIL 8TH. LET’S HAVE A PROTEST

by Jonathan Lee

Content warning: article mentions antigypsyism, racism, discrimination and persecution 

Opre Roma, si bakht akana
Aven mansa sa lumnyake Roma.
Roma arise! The time is now.
Come with me, Roma from all the world.

These words were written in 1949 by Žarko Jovanović, a Romani Holocaust survivor, Yugoslav Partisan fighter, and activist. They were put to a traditional melody, and adopted as the Romani Anthem in 1971.

It bears none of the hallmarks of an anthem as conceived in the traditional sense by European nation-states. It is not a hymn or an opera. It’s melody is plaintive, unstructured, reckless even. It does not conceive of a homeland, real or imagined, nor does it call for the unification of a people in a national sense. Instead the lyrics speak of the freedom of the road, freedom from persecution, and the need for unity of Romani people across the world. Amongst many other things, it is fundamentally a protest song.Continue Reading

LIBERTÉ, EGALITÉ, EXPULSIONS FORCÉES

by Jonathan Lee

If you get off the metro at Porte de Clignancourt in Paris, a little over a kilometre north of the Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre, and follow the line of the disused 19th century Petite Ceinture railway for a couple of minutes from the busy intersection, you will soon come across rows of makeshift shacks lining the railway.

Similar shanty towns can be found tucked away under bridges, behind fences, and on ex-industrial plots across the city and throughout France. Along with a scattering of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, these slums are inhabited almost entirely by Roma.Continue Reading

HAPPY TO BE ANGRY: THE ANTI-GOVERNMENT ROMANIAN PROTESTS

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by Mihaela Precup

“Romania is not sexy,” a fellow academic once told me. “Nobody cares what happens there, nobody wants to study it. There’s so little going on there that’s really exciting or new. ” I thought she was right at the time. After all, I was also always going on about the political apathy of much of my fellow Romanians, the very slow pace of change after the fall of communism in December 1989, as well as the indifference of post-revolutionary governments towards preserving the memory of the totalitarian regime and its survivors. Apathy and amnesia were, I thought, the two main curses of my people.

But four years ago, something finally started happening.Continue Reading

THE SHAME OF EUROPE’S FORGOTTEN SLAVES

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by Jonathan Lee

Kon mangel te kerel tumendar rroburen chi shoxa phenela tumen o chachimos pa tumare perintonde.
He who wants to enslave you will never tell you the truth about your forefathers.”

In the mid to late 19th century, Bucharest was a city typical of the reformist changes of the era. The influences of the Late Enlightenment and Romanticism in cultural arts were emerging in public administration, economics and politics. The growing call for egalitarianism across Europe had given birth to revolutionary movements and philosophies, out of which Marxism, Idealism and Existentialism, to name a few, began to take shape. Bucharest saw increasing civil mobility as anti-aristocratic sentiment spread, culminating in Prince Bibescu renouncing the throne. The increase of Liberalism across Europe was matched by feats of human endeavour and the creation of centres of intellectualism in the major cities of the continent.

In Bucharest, the Grand Theatre of Bucharest was constructed in 1852, a modern water supply network was put in place and the Cișmigiu public gardens were created. During the mid to late 19th century the city was transformed by gas street lighting, the creation of the University of Bucharest, a tram system and the establishment of the National Bank of Romania. The wave of modernity and reform which was sweeping the continent was becoming ever more present in the visible character of the city.

Continue Reading