ROMA GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE DAY

25 July, 2014
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Community Manager
July 25, 2014 at 5:33 pm
Hungary

2 August 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of the remembrance day of the Roma Genocide. On this action day the campaign aims to raise awareness about the Roma Genocide, and about antigypsyism, hate speech and hate crimes against Roma in the past and present. The initiative aims to advocate for a wider official recognition of the Roma Genocide in Europe and for the formal establishment of August 2nd as the memorial day of the Roma Genocide. The Hate Speech Watch invites you to report any online hate speech content that aims against Roma people or content that denies the Roma Genocide.

On 2 August 1944 the so-called “Gyspy family camp” in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau was liquidated; 2,897 women, men and children were taken to gas chamber V and exterminated. Their bodies were burned in pits next to the crematorium. This day has been commemorated by Roma organizations in the last decades as a remembrance day of the Roma genocide. Recently, Roma organizations started to raise awareness about May 16 – the Romani Resistance Day. When the Nazis started to liquidate the “Gypsy family camp” already on May 16, 1944, the Roma rebelled and stopped the liquidation, which gave them a few more months of life. During the Holocaust at least 500.000 Roma were victims of the genocide, amounting perhaps as much as 70-80 % of the total Roma population in Europe at the time. In the Nazi racist ideology, the Roma were among their first victims. Due to the lack of recognition of the fate of the Roma under the Nazi Regime, the Roma Genocide was often referred to as the “forgotten Holocaust” which seems still valid until today. After the war, hardly any attention has been paid to the fate of the Roma and Sinti during the WWII neither by scholars nor by governments. As of the 60´s a number of Roma and Sinti organizations begun the plight to officially recognize the Roma Genocide, mobilizing attention around the fate of the Roma during the WWII through actions such as the demonstration at the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1979 or the hunger strike in 1980 at Dachau. The demands presented before the German authorities were largely fruitless. For many years, the Roma Genocide was denied recognition based on the argument that the murders of Roma under the Nazi regime were not done on racial grounds, but rather for the Romani status as “antisocial” or criminal groups. It was not until 1982 that the government of West Germany has officially recognized the Roma Genocide. Despite the official recognition of the Roma Genocide by the German Authorities, this chapter in European history still remains largely unrecognized. The Roma Genocide still has not entered the canon of modern history and is seldom taught or even mentioned in school curricula. Stereotypes, antigypsyism, hate speech and hate crimes against Roma continue to be the daily reality in Europe. Advocating for the official recognition of 2nd August as a Memorial Day of the Roma Genocide pays homage to the victims, and strengthens the identity based on the deep knowledge of the past. Young Roma and non-Roma around Europe take the responsibility to acknowledge a memory which has been largely forgotten for more than seventy years: It is a responsibility of all Europeans of all States to pay the due respect to the Roma victims of the Holocaust during World War II. The lack of recognition of the Roma Genocide has a moral dimension as well. While recognizing the racial persecution of Roma under the Nazi regime, we need to acknowledge and address the fact that stereotypes and antigypsyism, mechanisms of exclusion, hate speech and hate crime, as well as the denial of the Holocaust are still widespread in Europe today. Recognition of the Roma Genocide is an important step in the restoration of dignity and justice for Roma, and in the respect of human rights in Europe nowadays.

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