The War Against the Roma

by Emma Cornfield, http://neovox.cortland.edu, February 28, 2011

print.gif Printer-friendly version


In the spring and summer of 2010, throughout France magazine after magazine, newspaper after newspaper was dominated by stories of Sarkozy and the Roma people. One magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur caught my eye. A black and white photo of Sarkozy covered the magazine with a bright red headline screaming the question, "Cet homme est-il dangereux?"... Is this man dangerous? So many questions ran through my mind... is he really dangerous? Is this the start to another holocaust? Who are these Roma people, and what comes next for them?

The Roma people , pronounced "rahma", are nomadic people who originated in northern India but currently live worldwide, chiefly in Europe. (wordiq.com) As I tried to research more about these nomadic spiritual people, I stumbled upon stereotypes of the Roma people...

"....They do not have a religion, are dirty, and a burden to society. They do not want to integrate and marginalize themselves. They are most happy when they are away from non-Roma. They do not want to be citizens of the country they live in and whenever they migrate, they ruin the reputation of the country that they have come from... They must be mentally deficient. Maybe they are not even human beings. They are greedy and never satisfied. They are lazy and not trust worthy. They are genetically predestined to become thieves and drug dealers..." (deviousdiva.com)

Is that really what the world today has come too? We stereotype, generalize, and discriminate people because of their race, ethnicity, and culture?
Decade after decade, the Roma people, also known as Gypsy and Sinti have been charged with crimes, persecuted, deported, and during World War II, even put to death.
During World War II, Gypsies were considered to be scum, and almost as evil as those of the Jewish faith. These poor nomadic people traveled around Europe, and were considered to be "racially inferior and degenerate and therefore worthless." (holocaustforgotten.com)

Starting in the year 1890, a conference occurred in Germany where the military had the right to regulate the movement of the Gypsies. After that in the 1920's, all Gypsies including men, women, and even children had to be photographed and fingerprinted. Also 8,000 Roma's were processed and placed into "camps" making it easier to track their movements. (osi.com). Countries all over Europe believed that the Roma people caused the crime rate to increase. The beginning of the end... Porrajmos, the Gypsy Holocaust.
With all of their civil rights stripped and human privileges taken from them Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party deemed these people as a waste of space; "subhuman". They were persecuted, arrested, put into a labor camp, and were then sent to the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Chelmno, Belzec, and Treblinka. (izieu.com). In the early 1940's gypsies would be eliminated, destroyed... become extinct. "Half a million Gypsies, almost the entire Eastern European Gypsy population, was wiped out during the Holocaust," (holocaustforgotten.com).

According to dictionary.com, death can be defined as, "the act of dying; the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism". Death can also defined as "extinction and destruction". (dictionary.com). As what Hitler did to nearly the entire Roma population.

Today, exactly 65 years later, the Roma people are still being brutalized. Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, has begun another "purging" of Europe and deporting the Roma people. The French government has dismantled and bulldozed over 300 Roma camps.

"...the expulsions have actually been taking place for a few years. Ever since Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union in 2007, France has been undertaking to expel the Roma who have traveled from those countries to France. And France has been seeking to return these people almost since the beginning. It's only very recently, in the summer, that the French government enunciated a policy at the highest level that targeted Romani migrants for expulsion as well as targeting French national Roma or travelers for eviction from illegal settlements."
Rob Kushen- Executive Director, European Roma Rights Center

Hundreds of Roma people, men, women, and children have been arrested, and were left homeless. Sarkozy has given these poor people the "option" of being imprisoned, or men and women are given €300 and children are given €100 to return back to their motherland of Romania. (fifthinternational.com).

But as this is their only "option", Sarkozy and the French government has slandered these people in the mud calling them "criminals", "thieves", and have stated the crime rate has increased. Magazines and newspapers all over France have compared what the French government is doing to these people to what the Nazi holocaust of the Roma. The genocide of WWII and the deportation of the Roma and Gypsy people today has become every topic of conversation in multiple countries all over Europe - "The Austrians, the Danes, the Swedes, and the Italians have been expelling European Roma immigrants. The Germans are preparing to kick out 12,000 Roma." (worldnews.com)

Although majority of the French population (79% of French favored the "crackdown" (aolnews.com)) supported Sarkozy in August, people from many groups have come out against the French government. The NPA, the National Anticapitalist Party are extremely vocal in their disagreement; "The NPA strongly condemns this policy of hatred and persecution against Travellers, almost all French citizens, and against Roma, who have the right to travel within the EU." (fifthinternational.com). The E.U., European Union, is made up of 27 countries, which gives the citizens of the 27 countries access to cross borders freely. (theepochtimes.com).

Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights, stated, "I personally have been appalled by a situation that gave the impression that people are being removed from a member state of the EU just because they belong to an ethnic minority. This is a situation I thought Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War." (telegraph.co.uk). The last time France exiled people based on their ethnicity was during World War II, when the French government sent 75,000 Jewish people to their death. (aolnews.com). The European commission is supposed to state legal proceedings against France on grounds of discrimination and failing to protect citizens of the EU. If France does not comply with the Commission's wishes and halt the deportations, France could face some extremely high fines (telegraph.co.uk).
Approximately two weeks later, the EU recanted their statements comparing the French deportations of the Roma people to WWII displacements. Why? Nicholas Sarkozy demanded and apology as her statements were a "disgusting and shameful attack on the honour of France" (telegraph.co.uk). Reding retracted her original statement and summoned France to change their behavior towards the Roma people as an ethnic minority, as it is in "technical breach" of EU law.

What is most frightening about the injustice being perpetrated against the Roma people is that there is no legal basis and that the governing body of the European Union has not done anything to either aid the Roma people or put pressure on the French government to insist they cease the deportations or suffer serious consequences.

Edmond Burke, a political philosopher in the early 1700's stated, "All that is essential for evil to exist is that good men do nothing." (mendiburumagic.org). Since that time, history has unfortunately proved Burke correct. Be it the enslavement of African Americans in America prior to the Civil War or the extermination of the Jews during World War II or the civil war in Rwanda, mankind has born witness to the outcome of turning a blind eye to the dehumanization of those different from themselves.

Within the confines of Western civilization, the citizens elect the government to act on behalf of the "good men". The governing power is entrusted to provide all its citizens with stability and safety. Although the European Union provides lip service in support of the Roma's plight, they have done little else by way of fining or sanctioning the French government.

The French journalists have asked the question regarding the dangers of Sarkozy's policies. Sarkozy has targeted and dehumanized the Roma people and managed to do so without any obstruction. What is to stop Sarkozy from choosing another group to victimize? Sarkozy began with threatening the Roma people, and finally in August 2010, 79 Roma people boarded a flight and were returned to Romania.


Work Cited


1.) Krumova, Kremena. "Roma People a Sore Spot for France: Sarkozy orders the dismantling of makeshift camps." The Epoch Times. 15 Aug. 2010.

2.) Miller, Shirley A. "The Road to Porrajmos, The Gypsy Holocaust." Patrin Web Journal. 1998.

3.) Unknown. "The definition of Death"

4) Toma, Catalina. "Roma People Stir Another Conflict." The World News. 17 Sept. 2010.

5) Pröbsting, Michael. "Sarkozy's attack on Roma: Deporting hundreds to poison the minds of millions." The Fifth International. 25 Aug. 2010.

6) Deviousdiva. "Roma Stereotypes". 13 Dec. 2007

7) Unknown. "Definition of Roma"

8.)Waterfield, Bruno. "Europe compares France Roma expulsion to Nazi deportations." The Telegraph. 15 Sept. 2010.

9) Waterfield, Bruno. "EU backs down from comparing French expulsions to Nazi deportations" The Telegraph. 29 Sept. 2010. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/8033015/EU-backs-down-from-comparing-French-expulsions-to-Nazi-deportations.html

10) Kennedy, Dana. "Sarkozy's Roma Crackdown Likened to WWII Roundups". AOL News. 17 Aug. 2010.

11) Burke, Edmund. Quote.

12) Wikipedia. "Edmund Burke"
13) Unknown. "The History Guide; Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History. Edmund Burke, 1729-1797."
< http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/burke.html >

14.) Kushen,Rob. "Roma Expulsion Hints Of Racial Discrimination" 13 Oct. 2010.
< http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130538246>


Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://neovox.cortland.edu/mt/mt-tb.cgi/801

your thoughts?

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?