11th APRIL 2021
17:00 – 18:30 CEST
Hristo Hristov, Sofia
Stefan Ivan, Sliven
Prof. Mauna Kaushik, New Delhi
Bozhidar Nikolov, Sliven
Boyko Nikolov, Sliven
Evald Otterstad, Oslo
Indu Pandey, New Delhi
Introduction about the history of the world Roma movement and the foundational role of the 1st Congress in 1971. A short input on the Bulgarian history of Roma organisations as a part of the European Roma presentation in the last century.
International contacts and support for the Roma cause from India and Norway. The Indian participants, prof. Mauna Kaushik and Ms Indu Pandey, will join from New Delhi. The Norwegian side will be presented by the documentary film director from Oslo, Evald Otterstad, who made a film on Roma situation through the life of one family in Sliven over a decade, and sociologists, who have taken active part in multiple Roma related projects in Bulgaria in past 30 years.
An open discussion for all participants with a focus on youth from one of the largest Roma neighbourhood in the country, kvartal Nadezhda in Sliven, and Roma leaders from Sofia’s “Hristo Botev” neighbourhood.
11th APRIL 2021
SKOKRA / BUENOS AIRES SESSION
International Meeting of SKOKRA – Council of the Associations and Romani People of the Americas and its adhered associations, in commemoration of April 8, International Day of the Romani People, and for the jubilee of the First International Congress, held in London, England, in 1971.
With Jorge Martín Fernández Bernal and other panelists.
10th APRIL 2021
5.00 – 6.30 CEST
SESSION ABOUT THE MEMORIAL TO THE MURDERED SINTI AND ROMA OF EUROPE
The Memorial to the Roma and Sinti of Europe murdered under National Socialism in Berlin is currently threatened by the planned construction of a suburban city train line.
The Jubilee World Roma Congress says: The memorial is not up for disposal! We demand:
– The global community of Romani people must be included into the discussion about the Memorial. The discussion must become transparent.
– The State of Berlin and the German Railways must adopt a solution which doesn’t affect the Memorial at all – also not the trees and bush around it, creating a natural sound barrier between the busy streets and the Memorial, preserving it as place of commemoration and contemplation.
– The Congress supports the open letter by the Bundes-Roma-Verband (Federal Association of Roma).
Noa Karavan, producer, artist and filmmaker, daughter of Dani Karavan, the author of the Memorial, Israel
Jud Nirenberg, writer and manager of democratization and human rights projects, USA
Grattan Puxon, co-initiator and general secrety of the First World Roma Congress, co-organizer of the Jubilee World Roma Congress, U.K.
Tanja Vasic, co-organizer of the Jubilee Congress, psychologist and leader of MI – Manjinska Inicijativa, Serbia/Austria
Hamze Bytyci, chair of RomaTrial and co-organizer of the Jubilee Congress
Significance of the Memorial
Between 1933 and 1945, the Romani people were victims of systematic persecution, internment and finally murder, which originated in Germany and was planned in Berlin. From the 1936 confinement to camps commenced, then later deportations to took place to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other death camps. Many more were murdered by special death squads and German army units. In all more than 500,000 Roma lost their lives in the genocide committed by the National Socialists, in concentration camps, in mass shootings, in poison gas vans, starvation and cruel pseudo-medical experiments.
It took almost 40 years after the end of the Nazi regime for the genocide of the Sinti and Roma to be recognised by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1982. Many survivors were denied the right to moral and material compensation – they passed away stigmatised as “asocials”, officially persecuted for criminal reasons.
The Memorial to the Murdered Romani people Europe was inaugurated in 2012 after decades of civil rights struggles. For survivors and their descendants, it represents a symbolic resting place such as that the victims never had. And for the descendants of the perpetrators, it is a memorial as well as an expression of responsibility for the injustice committed and for the observance of human rights of Roma and Sinti in Europe today.
Threat to the Memorial
Now this place, whose significance is immeasurable both for those affected and for society as a whole, is under acute threat. It could make way for the construction of the new city train line, which is to connect Berlin’s main railway station with Potsdamer Platz, as planned by the State of Berlin.
Since 2020, the State of Berlin, the German Railways, the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma have been negotiating the possible route of the line in several rounds of closed talks, without reaching an acceptable result.
The project of the State of Berlin and the German Railways presents us with an unacceptable violation of ground sacred to the memory of Roma and Sinti victims of the genocide. The memorial must not be at the disposal of German Railways, the successor to the Reichsbahn, which made a profit during the Nazi era by transporting Roma, Sinti and other groups of victims to Auschwitz and many other concentration camps. In the most recent announcement in March 2021 it is proposed that the memorial should be tunneled under. That would involve a deep pit being excavated on the site. This is not an acceptable solution! If this tunnel is built, the immediate surroundings of the monument will be destroyed. The tree landscaping is an integral part of the Memorial’s design. This has been made clear by the Israeli artist Dani Karavan, as the author of the Memorial.
9th APRIL 2021
5.00 – 6.30pm CEST
Focus on crimes against Romani people in Kosovo and the consequences
During and after the civil war in Kosovo in 1999, estimated 130,000 Roma were forced to flee Kosovo, losing an estimated 14,000 homes and properties to arson and later occupation. An unknown number of Romani people lost their lives or unaccountably disappeared during that period. Many crimes against humanity towards Romani people were committed right in front of international peace corps, especially the French and NATO forces, without getting any protection from their side. On 13th June 1999, few days after the official end of the war, the crimes against Romani people were carried out on mass scale. Many Romani people still live under inhuman conditions in camps in Serbia, many tried to start a new life in Germany and other EU countries – often facing insecure residence status and deportations even today, which is effecting even new generation born and raised in Germany.
The Jubilee World Roma Congress aims to adopt a resolution to declare the 13th June to a Kosovo Roma Commemoration Day and to start a working group in order to plan worldwide commemoration events.
I. Testimonies by witnesses of the crimes against humanity and their consequences:
Nizaquete Bislimi, Lawyer, Germany
Ahmet Ibrahimi, Filmmaker and Activist, Germany
Diana Post, Lawyer, USA
Riccardo M. Sahiti, Conductor, Germany
Šani Rifati, Choreographer, Germany
II. Introducing resolution about the Kosovo Roma Commemoration Day on 13th June
Input by Ahmet Ibrahimi
20 minutes discussion