Canadians Call for Official Recognition of the Roma Genocide

2017-08-02-1501687176-1397144-commemorationromagenocide

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

We write to you today to reiterate our request for the official recognition of the Genocide of Roma and Sinti (‘Porrajmos’) which occurred during Nazi occupation of Europe in World War II.

In addition to committing genocide against the Jews, the Nazis committed genocide against the Roma and Sinti. On August 2nd 1944, the remaining 2897 Roma and Sinti men, women, elderly and children imprisoned in the Zigeunerlager (“Gypsy Camp”) were murdered in the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau. According to the most recent estimates, between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Roma and Sinti were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. For this reason, the international Roma community has designated August 2 as the day to commemorate the Roma and Sinti Porrajmos.

Given the Nazi ideology of “racial purity”, Roma and Sinti were among the first victims. With Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, anti-Roma laws proliferated. The Nuremberg Laws directly targeted Jews and were extended to include “Gypsies, Negroes and their bastard offspring” in late 1935. In 1936 the Racial Hygiene and Demographic Biology Research Unit was established under the supervision of Dr. Robert Ritter. Soon after, the first Roma ghettos were established and Roma and Sinti deportations to concentration camps began.

Despite this history, the Porrajmos, which is often referred to as the “Forgotten Holocaust”, remains widely unrecognised by governments around the world. After the war, scant political and academic attention was paid to the fate suffered by the Roma and Sinti. During the Nuremberg trials, there was seldom mention of the mass murders of Roma and Sinti, and Roma witnesses were not invited to testify.

Only in April 2015 did the European Parliament finally adopt a resolution recognizing the historical fact of the Porrajmos. The resolution declared “that a European day should be dedicated to commemorating the victims of the genocide of the Roma during World War II”. It states, furthermore, “the need to combat Antigypsyism at every level and by every means, and stresses that this phenomenon is an especially persistent, violent, recurrent and commonplace form of racism”.

Romanipe invites the Canadian government to follow the example of the European Parliament and to formally recognise the Porrajmos. This recognition would grant legal and moral legitimacy to the Roma and Sinti, allowing them to be rightfully integrated into the history of the Holocaust and included in all official ceremonies, commemorations and events that honour the victims of World War II.

Our inability to recognise the Roma Genocide continues to normalize hate and discrimination against these peoples today. Last year, a monument dedicated to the Roma and Sinti victims was tragically vandalized in Berlin. Events like these signal the need to change perceptions and attitudes toward Roma and Sinti, in order to build a culture of understanding and acceptance rather than one of hate. In your note left in the book of remembrance at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, you mentioned the importance of remembering this painful part of our history, and our commitment to never again allow such darkness to prevail. The lack of indignation at the recent killings of Roma by far-right extremists speaks to the very real dangers and consequences of forgetting the past.

This is why we ask the Canadian government to respect its commitment to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and its aim of recognising the Genocide of the Roma. . Officially recognising August 2 as the day of memory dedicated to the Porrajmos ensures that the right to remembrance of Roma communities is respected and that the untold stories of Roma and Sinti victims and survivors are honoured. Such recognition also serves to delegitimize current hate and violence, and acknowledges the fact that Roma and Sinti communities still suffer from discrimination and persecution.

We invite your government to make a statement that draws attention to the plight of Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust and to mark this solemn occasion on August 2 this year.

Signatories:

Romanipe, Montreal Holocaust Museum, Hoodstock Montreal , Communication, Ouverture, Rapprochement Interculturel (C.O.R.), Toronto Roma Community Centre (RCC), World Romani Dialects Translation Bureau, Romani Criss, TernYpe International Roma Youth Network, Phiren Amenca International Network, La voix des Rroms, European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC), Irwin Cotler Founder of Raoul Wallenberg Centre For Human Rights, Professor Nandini Ramanujam, McGill Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, François Crépeau, Professor, McGill University, Amnesty International Canada (English Branch) Amnistie Internationale (Francophone), Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, Manitoba Multifaith Council, Rev. Dr. James Christie Director, Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy, Centre Khemara, Alliance Genocide Awareness and Remembrance (AGAR), European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO), The Azrieli Foundation.

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Deputy Gouin, Québec Solidaire.

Members of Parliament:
Elizabeth May, MP of Saanich – Gulf Islands, Leader of the Green Party of Canada
Hélène Laverdière, Laurier - Sainte-Marie
Alexandre Boulerice, Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie
Ali Ehsassi, Willowdale
Cheryl Hardcastle, Windsor – Tecumseh
Anthony Housefather- Mount-Royal

 

Advertisements

An Open Letter To Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

An Open Letter To Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

July 18, 2016

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Mr.Prime Minister,

Romanipe is an established Non-for-Profit organization based in Montreal since April 19th 2013. Its main mission  is to fight discrimination against Roma in Canada as well as abroad. The end goal of our organization is to address the human rights abuses which Roma face around the world and to break the stereotypes, which are unfortunately still present today. Fighting racism and securing rights for Roma refugees to Canada is an important objective for us.

This past Monday, accompanied by Canadian Holocaust survivors, your government rightfully paid a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and underscored the importance of remembrance.

Although Romanipe welcomes this important initiative, we would like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention the often forgotten plight of Roma during the Holocaust and likewise express our concern over the failure to include Roma survivors in this endeavour.

On August 2nd 1944, the last remaining 2897 Roma and Sinti, including the elderly and children, imprisoned in the so-called Zigeunerlager or “Gypsy Camp” were murdered in the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau. By latest estimates, at least half the entire Roma and Sinti population of European Roma amounting to an estimated 500 000 Roma were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II.

Given the Nazi ideology for “racial purity”, the Roma were among their first victims. With the rise of Hitler to power in 1933 and following the Nazi ideology of “racial purity”, the anti-Roma laws proliferated. The Nuremberg Laws, which passed in 1935 and targeted the Jews directly, were extended to include “Gypsies, Negroes and their bastard offspring” in late 1935. As of 1936, the Racial Hygiene and Demographic Biology Research Unit was established under the supervision of Dr. Robert Ritter. Soon after the first Roma ghettos and deportation to labour camps begun. (Ternype International Roma Youth Network) 

Yet until this day, the fate of the Roma under the Nazi Regime remains largely unrecognized. The Roma Genocide has often been referred to as the “forgotten Holocaust” which still seems valid today.  After the war, hardly any attention has been paid to the fate of the Roma and Sinti during WWII, neither by scholars nor by governments. During the Nuremberg trials there was not a single Roma witness and the Roma mass murders were only mentioned marginally.

For the past three years, Romanipe has worked in collaboration with Ternype, an International Roma Youth Network which has actively been working toward the official recognition of August 2nd as Roma Holocaust Memorial Day. It pays homage to the victims, heroes, survivors, and strengthens our identity based on deep knowledge of the past. Every year, for the past six years, on August 2nd, the Ternype Network has been organizing an International Roma Remembrance Initiative in memory of the Roma Genocide.

This event gathers young Roma and non-Roma from across Europe in Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau in a unique youth event: “Dikh he na bister” (Look and don’t forget). The Roma Genocide Remembrance Initiative aims to raise awareness among young Europeans, civil society and decision-makers about the Roma Genocide. Likewise, it outlines the mechanisms of antigypsyism in a challenging context of rising racism, hate speech and extremism in Europe.

Romanipe has participated and contributed to this event for two consecutive years. Recognition of the Roma Genocide has become an essential objective for us. We have since been actively working towards obtaining official recognition of the Roma Genocide by the Canadian Government, an effort initiated by Canadian Roma civil society (Roma Community Centre) since 2013. An effort that has unfortunately been denied by the previous government.

Earlier this year, the monument dedicated to the Roma victims of the Holocaust was tragically vandalized. This tells us that more work needs to be done to change perceptions and attitudes, in order to build a culture of understanding and acceptance, and not one of hate. In your note left in the books of humanity at the museum you mentioned the importance of remembering this painful part of our history, and our commitment to never again allow such darkness to prevail. The Roma Genocide is one which was and remains largely forgotten. With the growing influence of Neo-Nazi movements taking place throughout Europe, we have recently witnessed the very dangers and consequence of forgetting the past. In current day Europe, growing Anti-Gypsyism has led to the racially motivated killings of Roma by far-right extremists. Such widespread hatred and violence against Roma would not be allowed today had the history of the

Roma Genocide been rightfully recognized and taught.

It is for this reason that we ask the Canadian government to demonstrate its commitment to the memory of the Holocaust and officially recognize August 2nd as the official day dedicated to the memory of the Roma Genocide.

As a young Canadian Roma myself, visiting the Auschwitz Museum three years ago was a pivotal and turning point in my life, changing and altering my world view.  I felt a sudden albeit familiar consciousness, an awareness of all the lives that had been lost here, including thousands of my own. The plight the Roma faced there, alongside many others, has been hidden for far too many years and clear light must finally be shed on this.

We would also invite your current government to make a statement to mark and draw attention to the plight of Roma during the Holocaust to mark the occasion of August 2nd this year.

 

Signatories:

Dafina Savic, Lela Savic, Debbie  Folaron, Romanipe; Dr. Ronald Lee , Lynn Hutchinson Lee,  Micheal Butch, Nazik Deniz, Shayna Plaut, Roma Community Centre; Gina Csanyi-Robah,  Peter Csicsai; Canadian Romani Alliance, Jennifer Danch MSW, JD Candidate 2007

Take Action  To Support Our Request  For The Canadian Government to Officially Recognize the Roma Genocide.

 

Communiqué: En Réponse à la visite du Gouvernement Canadien à Auschwitz-Birkenau

Le 10 juillet 2016, le très honorable Justin Trudeau, premier ministre du Canada, a visité Auschwitz-Birkenau. À la suite de cette visite, M. Trudeau a fait la déclaration suivante :

« Aujourd’hui, nous sommes témoins de la capacité de l’humanité à être délibérément cruelle et malveillante. Souvenons-nous de cette dure vérité, puisse-elle renforcer notre engagement à ne jamais laisser une telle obscurité régner. »

L’Associciation Canadienne Rom en solidarité avec Romanipe souhaite saisir cette occasion pour mettre en lumière le destin, souvent oublié, des Roms durant l’Holocauste. Le 2 août a été désigné par la communauté rom internationale comme la journée de commémoration du Porrajmos, c’est-à-dire du génocide des Roms commis en Europe sous l’occupation nazie. Cette date a été choisie car c’est ce jour-là, en 1944, que 2897 Roms et Sintis, y compris des personnes âgées et des enfants, étaient emprisonnés dans le Zigeunerlager, un camp de gitans, puis assassinés dans les chambres à gaz d’Auschwitz-Birkenau. Les estimations les plus récentes indiquent qu’au moins la moitié de la population rom et sinti d’Europe (environ 500 000) a été tuée par les nazis et leurs collaborateurs pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

Malheureusement, le génocide des Roms et des Sintis demeure largement méconnu de l’opinion publique. Il n’apparaît aucunement dans les programmes canadiens d’éducation publique et fait l’objet de simples mentions dans les comptes rendus  historiques du Troisième Reich.

Au cours des 70 dernières années, la tragique histoire du génocide rom a été ignorée et oubliée ce qui, de fait, a permis le maintien en Europe de la discrimination contre les Roms. Dans un contexte accru de racisme anti-roms et par la présence de mouvements néonazis partout en Europe, nous avons récemment été témoins du danger grandissant de l’oubli du passé et de ses conséquences. Dernièrement encore, l’anti-tsiganisme a mené à l’assassinat de six Roms, dont un enfant, par des extrémistes de droite. Une telle propagation de haine et de violence contre les Roms n’aurait pas été permise, si l’histoire du génocide rom avait été correctement reconnue et enseignée.

C’est seulement l’année dernière, le 14 avril 2015, que le Parlement européen a enfin adopté une résolution reconnaissant « le fait historique du génocide rom ayant eu lieu durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. »  La résolution précise que le 2 août devrait être consacré aux victimes du génocide et proclamée « Journée européenne de commémoration de l’holocauste des Roms ». Elle condamne ondamne d toutes les formes de racisme et de discrimination commises contre les Roms et souligne que l’anti-tsiganisme doit être combattu efficacement, si l’on veut que les mesures prises dans d’autres domaines portent leurs fruits.

Romanipe invite le gouvernement canadien à reconnaître lui aussi officiellement le génocide rom commis durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Cette reconnaissance assurerait une légitimité juridique et morale aux revendications des Roms, qui demandent leur juste intégration à l’histoire de l’Holocauste. Par ce geste, les cérémonies, les commémorations et les activités en honneur aux victimes de ce génocide gagneraient elles aussi une reconnaissance officielle. Il est donc proposé que le 2 août soit reconnu comme la journée consacrée à la commémoration du génocide rom durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Cette date a été retenue par les organisations roms, en raison de son poids historique et symbolique. La  reconnaissance officielle de cette date marquera le début du processus de guérison collective des Roms et des Sintis tragiquement disparus sous le régime de Hitler et de ses collaborateurs.

16 mai: Insurrection “Gitane” /Romani Resistance

Le 16 mai 1944 les soldats allemands de Birkenau s’apprêtent à conduire les Rroms internés vers les chambres de la mort.

Avertis de ce projet final par le secrétaire polonais du camp, les Rroms s’organisent, s’arment de pioches et de pieds de biche et refusent de sortir de leurs baraquements lorsque l’ordre leur en est donné.

Dedans, armés, prêts à frapper, ils attendent l’entrée des SS afind de saisir leurs fusils et étendre l’insurrection à tout le camps.

Face à la force organisée qui leur résiste les assassins abandonnent ce jour-là leur plan de mort.

Aujourd’hui, le combat contre la discrimination des Roms
continue.

En cette période de montée du fascisme, les Roms sont la principale cible des mouvements Neo-Nazi qui qualifient les Roms comme de parasites desquels ils voudraient se débarrasser.

Let’s remember: “On 15 May, the underground resistance movement in the camp warned the Roma of what the Nazis were planning. On the morning of 16 May, the Romani prisoners did not show up for the usual morning roll call and ceased cooperating with the SS guards.

The Roma barricaded themselves into their shanties. They had broken into an equipment warehouse and armed themselves with hammers, pickaxes and shovels, taking apart the wooden sections of the bunks they slept on to make wooden stakes.

The children collected rocks. When the SS guards entered the camp in the late afternoon to take the Roma to the gas chambers, they began to fight for their lives.

The Roma fought to the death. Children, men, and women all fought.”

Today, with the rise of Facism in Europe, Roma have become the main target of Neo-Nazi groups who qualify Roma as parasites which should be eliminated.

“Today I celebrate #RomaniResistance in Birkeanu on #16May 1944, I stand up with #Roma 4 #humanrights, I #vote4change in #EP2014 #OpreRoma”