WE DEMAND THAT A RROMA VOICE IS PRESENT IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
In order to fulfil a mandate from the Board of Directors of the Romani Union, we've called upon the key leaders of major European political parties urging them to do everything they possibly can to put a rroma committed to defending our community on their electoral list.
Taking on board the considerations expressed by the vast majority of rroma that we asked, we continue to protest that the situation of zero representation that we have suffered in the European Parliament must be put to an end. After the departure of the President of the Spanish Romani Union from the European Parliament and the end of Hungarian rromnia of the Liberal Party, Victoria Mohasci’s term in office, we’re just left with one valuable testimony of another Hungarian rromnia, Livia Jaroka of the Conservative Party.
The rroma population in Europe is of greatest magnitude within the Union’s territory. We’re ten million people, Günter Grass described the Romani people as: “what we strive to be: real Europeans.”. We’re ten million men and women that have never thought borders should exist between communities that express the same respect for human rights and the rule of law that regulates collective cohabitation. When I voted in Strasbourg for the elimination of national borders I congratulated the group of parliamentarians present but also added that the rroma had accomplished this victory seven hundred years before.
Also the Union Romani would like to remind people that our country, for reasons we all know, has led the recognition of the world rroma community over many years. And now during difficult times for Europeans, when the cruelest racism looms over the heads of democrats, as racist parties find themselves in a breeding ground to spread hatred and confrontation, it's more important than ever that the political class takes a step forward and allows a rroma to embody the hopes of millions of our brothers who have put their faith in us.
Reflections that may be simple but are no less important.
Our struggle is consistent with the defense of Human Rights for the establishment of complete social justice. Rroma remain in last place in the ranking of progress and development amongst the people of Europe. We suffer the most from unemployment, illiteracy and living in sub-standard housing.
Therefore, it could be said that our daily struggle is centred in four objectives:
Firstly: Full enjoyment our civil and social rights. The fight to get rid of poverty, illiteracy and marginalisation is the main task of rroma associations and rroma leaders who are greatly aware of the problem.
Secondly: Respect and promotion of our thousand year old culture. We are proud to be rroma. We are rroma and we want to continue being rroma. Our history, our customs, our traditions and our language must be defended, protected and promoted.
Thirdly: European rroma demand to be represented directly by our people. Our political participation in all democratic institutions is essential to this. The main European political parties have declared, and on occasion signed, that the party leaders will promote rroma presence in their electoral lists and in positions that guarentee their election. But in reality it is clear that this isn’t the case, there are few rroma that can count on the support and promotion of the major parties.
Fourthly: The time to say stop to paternalism has come. Over the years the defense of our interests has been in the hands of non-rroma, the gadchés. There was a time in which this participation was essential and we recognise and are grateful for this. But today this influence should be passed to the hands of rroma. Politically, rroma must demand, and we do demand, to be direct and irreplaceable spokespeople to public authorities in all things that affect us. Unfortunately we have noticed that there’s a great discordance between what the authorities recognise and express in this regard, (see the European Parliament's Resolutions) to what then happens in reality. We keep being treated like minors. We live in a type of community where it’s the gadchés who speak for us, represent us and administrate the resources that public authorities grant to our cause.
The sad reality of our presence in Europe.
Firstly: Unfortunately European rroma also come last in the use of social services and progress. Because of this Spain must always support social politics that swiftly and efficiently attack the misery and the abandonment that millions of rroma citizens are still suffering despite equally being part of the European Union.
Secondly: The truth is that European institutions (the European Council, The Human Rights Tribunal, the European Parliament and the Commission) have dedicated lots of time and reports and revolutions, and why not say so, a lot of money in attempt to analyse and alleviate these problems. However, the results obtained don’t correspond with all of this legislative and economic effort. The Council should undoubtedly ask itself, What is the cause of this situation and why does it continue to occur?
Thirdly: We'd dare to say that, judging from our experiences and the knowledge we’ve gathered in Spain, the failings of cultural and social politics evident in the European rroma community’s current situation is due to the lack of participation of rroma themselves in the design and execution of the programs created for them. Rroma are only sometimes invited to official meetings where they get the opportunity to represent themselves and speak out.
Fourthly: From the perspective of Spain’s vision of the European rroma, we are encouraged by the existence of a youth that seeks to take control of it’s own destiny and, particularly cultural, interests. We stand up for European social and cultural politics that rroma consider their own and not just imposed by others and the current circumstances which have meant that working together has been greatly discussed but little results have been yielded.
We therefore respectfully but firmly ask the leaders of the major European political parties, along with those from parties that aren't as well established, if they would consider the possibility of a rroma member of their party to be one of the candidates for the European Parliament, allowing us to contribute to the beautiful adventure of the fight to create a better society for our children.
Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia
This Spanish - English translation was done by the translator Robyn Emily Darbyshire for the PerMondo initiative that involves providing free translations for NGOs. PerMondo is sponsored and run by the translation agency Mondo Agit.