Listen to Roma Rights
Why this album?

One of Europe’s largest minorities, Roma continue to be amongst the most systematically discriminated and excluded groups across the continent. In both the East and the West, the Roma continue to face serious obstacles in accessing basic goods and services and securing their rights to housing, health care, education and work. Millions of Roma still live in informal settlements with no or inadequate sanitation, high levels of unemployment and limited access to health care services.

You can buy online our Roma music album at http://www.amnesty.nl/listentoromarights

Black & white picture of a roma child (c) Joe Zimmer
© Zoe Zimmer

Music is a strong part of Romani culture and is widely appreciated by audiences across the world. Through this album, Amnesty International is working with Romani people to make their voices heard, and help fight the discrimination and stigmatisation which the individual stories in this webpage illustrate.

Amnesty International asked Romani musicians to write or donate a song for this album. Please support our cause for Roma equality in Europe. Sharing this album helps tell the story of millions of Roma. Enjoy the music and take action yourself!

Romania: Forcibly evicted to the city outskirts in Cluj-Napoca

I was in Italy for work and I received a phone call to come as soon as possible, because they are demolishing our homes. I took a plane from Rome and arrived at 11.00 pm on 16 December 2010. Everybody had packed. They were told that at 5.00 am the municipal police will come. Whoever had packed would be moved normally. Whoever had not would be moved by force. I asked: ‘Why are you moving us in the middle of the winter? Why are you sending us there with the garbage’”? Florin, former Coastei Street resident, Cluj-Napoca

On 17 December 2010, in the middle of a harsh winter, 356 people, the majority of them Roma, were forcibly evicted by local authorities from the centre of Cluj-Napoca without any consultation or exploration of alternatives. The community was not notified in advance nor did it have the opportunity to challenge the eviction. The majority of the families were re-housed on the outskirts of the city in New Pata Rat area, in sub-standard modular housing, close to the municipal landfill and a former chemical dump, while those remaining were left homeless.

The forced eviction of the Romani community from Coastei Street is not an isolated case. Across the country, a pattern of forced evictions and relocation to inadequate housing conditions perpetuate racial segregation.
 
 

Sub-standard modular housing in New Pata Rat © Amnesty International
Sub-standard modular housing in New Pata Rat © Amnesty International

Serbia: The Belvil community in Belgrade

“I wish that all the Roma here get adequate housing and work, so that they can educate their children and live their lives in a normal way - and live without fear. For me, I would like to have a little house to call my own, a house covered with flowers, just a little house…I am almost 60 years-old, but for as long as I can stand on my feet I will preach the truth and fight for human rights”. Borka, Belvil settlement in Belgrade

The forced eviction of around 1500 Romani people from an informal settlement known as Belvil was initially announced on 30 March 2010. The settlement was to be evicted a month later to make way for an access road for a new bridge over the River Sava.

Following international pressure, the city authorities temporarily suspended their plans and held one information meeting in April 2011, when they assured the residents that the eviction will be carried out in line with international standards.

In March 2012, almost a year later, the city authorities told all residents of Belvil that they would be soon evicted. Some of the people already received eviction notices.

Since then they live in total uncertainty over when they will be evicted and where they will live.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY to the authorities in Serbia in English or your own language:

1. Urging the city authorities not to forcibly evict the Roma families living in Belvil or elsewhere in Belgrade;
2. Urging them to undertake a genuine consultation with all affected people on all feasible alternatives to evictions and on options for resettlement, including the provision of adequate housing;
3. Urging them to ensure that evictions are undertaken only as last resort, and after all legal protections and safeguards are in place including a comprehensive resettlement and compensation plan for all those affected.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO:

Mayor of Belgrade
Dragan Djilas
Dragoslava Jovanovica 2,
Belgrade 11000,
Serbia
Email: gradonacelnik [at] beogradsg [dot] org [dot] rs
or natasa [dot] golubovic [at] beogradsg [dot] org [dot] rs
Salutation: Dear Mr Djilas

Copies to:

Minister for Labour and Social Affairs
Rasim Ljajiæ
Ministarstvo rada i socijalne politike
Nemanjina 22-24, 11000 Beograd
Serbia
Email: ministar [at] minrzs [dot] gov [dot] rs
Salutation: Dear Minister

President of the Republic of Serbia
Boris Tadic
Predsednik Republike Srbije
Andricev Venac 1
11000 Beograd, Serbia
Email:
kontakt [dot] predsednik [at] predsednik [dot] rs
Salutation: Dear President

Roma settlement Block 61, Belgrade © Amnesty International
Roma settlement Block 61, Belgrade © Amnesty International

Slovakia: "They made an idiot out of me": Jakub’s case

"I think the system should change. Romani and ‘white’ children should be together. Romani children should not be treated like prisoners". Jakub, Plavecký Štvrtok

Amnesty International first met Jakub when he was 16 in 2010. He lives with his family at the Romani settlement on the outskirts of Plavecký Štvrtok, a village 20km north of Bratislava. His story is the same as thousands of Romani children in Slovakia who have been unjustly placed in inferior education. Jakub began school in the mainstream class, where he stayed until fourth grade. An excellent student, Jakub even received a scholarship. But when he reached fifth grade, he was sent for assessment following a disagreement with a teacher. His parents were not told about the assessment and he was immediately transferred to the special class for pupils with “mild mental disabilities”. His mother was later told it was a class for ”slower pupils”, but she wonders how her son can be “slow” having previously received good grades.

Having now finished elementary school, Jakub clearly feels frustrated by the injustice he suffered: “What they did to me was nasty… They made an idiot out of me. I was getting a scholarship of 100 crowns per month. I was one of the best pupils in fourth grade. If I could turn the time back, I would do it. But it’s too late now.” One of Jakub’s former teachers told Amnesty International he should have been in a normal class, “He was a genius” she said.

When Amnesty International visited Plavecký Štvrtok in 2010 about half of the Romani pupils in the elementary school were taught in special classes, which are de facto Roma-only classes. Romani children attending special classes were locked in a separate corridor or even in their classrooms for much of the day and had limited opportunities to meet other pupils.

Romani pupils in a special class designed for pupils with "mild mental disabilities" at the elementary school of Plavecký Štvrtok, Slovakia, February 2010, © Amnesty International
Romani pupils in a special class designed for pupils with "mild mental disabilities" at the elementary school of Plavecký Štvrtok, Slovakia, February 2010, © Amnesty International

Italy: evicted because of the international EXPO in Milan

Since 2001 Adriatik and his family have lived in via Novara, a camp established by Milan authorities on the outskirts of the city.

In 2010 the municipality decided to close via Novara. The land is needed for EXPO 2015, a major international event. Over half of the original 178 residents had reportedly left the camp by the start of 2012, accepting short-term alternatives offered by the municipality.

Those remaining have nowhere else to go. “We would like to live in a house”, Adriatik told Amnesty International. “But we cannot afford paying rent, as I lost my job when the factory I was working for was closed, a few months ago”. Most of the Romani people who live in via Novara came to Italy to escape the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

Living conditions for those who remain are dire, with overcrowded containers, rats, and a failing sewage system.

Roma settlement of via Novara, Milan, July 2011, © Amnesty International
Roma settlement of via Novara, Milan, July 2011, © Amnesty International

Authorized settlement, inhabited by Roma from Former Yugoslavia. Its closure is foreseen by Milan authorities.