27.10.2014 - LETTER
BUT, HOW FAR ARE WE GOING TO LET THINGS GO?
It has been suggested in Italy that gypsies should not be able to travel in the same buses as non-gypsies (“gadché”)
A few years ago it was Berlusconi. This infamous leader – recognised by Italian courts as a criminal addicted to prostitution, who organised orgies in his house with underage girls, and authorised the repressive policies of his interior minister, a member of the racist Liga Norte party with whom he ruled the country in coalition and who sent back poor gypsy families who were fleeing from civil war in the Balkans (where there were territorial disputes between non gypsies).
Later on, in order to have more control over gypsies, this evil minister decided that the finger prints of young gypsy children should be taken and stored in a police archive. This only happened four or five years ago.
However, just as we thought the imagination of racists had reached its height, we found that the mayor of Borgaro (a town near Turín) had proposed that separate buses should be instated to avoid gypsies and non-gypsies travelling in the same vehicle. In this way, it surpasses the apartheid regime in the US as in the 1950s and 1960s whites and blacks could at least travel in the same buses, although whites sat at the front and blacks at the back.
Italian gypsies are at breaking point in their resistance. This is why they have made a public appeal for people to speak out against such a disgraceful situation. The Italian National Roma Association (La Associazione Nazione Rom, or ANR) – which is part of the Italian National Roma Council (Consiglio Nazionale Rom, or CNR) – organised a national demonstration that took place both inside and outside the Santa María Novella train station in Florence. The demonstration denounced the violence, racism and persecution that gypsies suffer across the country.
According to the Italian National Roma Association (La Associazione Nazione Rom, or ANR) the limits have been reached as not even the Italian government lead by Matteo Renzi respects the agreements signed by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in Brussels 5th April 2011 when political leaders promised to respect the framework of social inclusion towards gypsies in Italian society.
Gypsies demonstrated in the Santa María Novella train station because in this station gypsies are prohibited from boarding trains. Only five days ago a young gypsy boy, practically a child, Pascal Costel got on a 3 o’clock train from Pistoia. His journey should only have lasted a few stops and before getting off at Castillo Rifredi where he lives in a modest house with his family, however, his journey was cut short because the train controller, without even checking the ticket the boy had bought, grabbed him by the shirt and without even noticing the child’s tears threw him violently from the train.
The ANR also protested that a few days earlier, Fernando, a gypsy child, took out his ticket to enter through the train station in Florence and enter onto platform number five where the paying public toilets are accessed. The boy had money to pay the entry but despite showing clear handicap in one of his arms he was thrown out of the bathroom by station staff. As a consequence of a racist anti-gypsy decree by the Committee for Public Order and Security in Florence dated 20 February 2014 gypsies are denied access to the bathrooms.
The spark has been lit. The mayor of of Borgaro has said that he isn’t a racist. “It’s about defending law and security”, he claims. The same was said by Hitler and his supporters. The result has not given rise to much hope. Far right politicians from the Liga Norte parte have already suggested that different buses for gypsies and non-gypsies should be set up in Rome.
This is why we are asking: how far are we going to let this continue? Have people in the street, society, the authorities, those citizens that go to mass and those that don’t, the military, and everyone else... forgotten already that Hitler and social nationalism started this way? And we know what happened in the past!
Let’s hope to God that everyone will remember soon/
Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia
Lawyer and journalist
President of the Roma Union