Sunday, 3 May 2009

Belarus Roma

Economic downturns, increasing surveillance and increasing fearful governments all mean that people living in the margins get persecuted. Roma everywhere are a clear example of this. The appalling actions of the Italian government have not gone completely unnoticed by the press as they attempt to database and criminalise the Roma there. Racism must be stopped wherever it occurs.

The email below is from Belarus. I can't verify any of it, but I have no reason to doubt it either.

Dear Greens!
Last news from Belarus

Let them to survive…

Today is 40 days when one 14 years Roma girl was suicide. According to Russian Orthodox Church tradition, 40 days its symbolic. It was in Tolochin, small town in Vitebsk region. According to Tolochin branch office of Party of Communists of Belarus, today, local library membership card is the only one document which certificated her existence in that life. There was no birthday certificate, no medical card, no school attendance certificate; nothing left…Nothing left, except just simple short piece of paper, librarian membership card. According to local leader of Tolochin branch office of Party of Communists of Belarus, officially there is no evidence about Natalia Tumarevich’s existence in Tolochin!!!

Natalia Tumarevich was typical Roma girl. Nice, bold, funny girl with whole life in front of her. How did she live? What dreams she had? What she liked? We don’t know…

What have happened in Belarus with Roma? What is going on in Belarus? Suicide’s a not characteristic of Roma community. Roma people has very high survival rate everywhere. But everything has an edge even Roma survival rate.

Roma living conditions are very far from ideal everywhere, it’s true. Different numbers of Roma population in Belarus. I would say something about 25000. Approximately 97 percent of total Roma population is totally unemployment. More then 90 percent didn’t finish secondary school. There are no Roma school, no Roma newspapers, no Roma classes, no cultural programs, nothing. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that but it is. People are existing in Belarus without any kind of positive attention from Belarusian government. In the same time TV channels disseminating different stereotypes about Roma people, doing that with the great pleasure, doing everyday… Attention for Roma people in Belarus directed to discriminate them, to prevent, to separate them from education, from job, from the progress. It’s not a single case, it’s Belarusian state policy to discriminate Roma people!!!

Stop to left “librarian membership cards”, stop it now. We are people like everyone else. And we will live our life like a people!!!

For everyone I want to appeal with this. Imagine, please, how many Natalia Tumarevich’s are in your country? Some of them are very close too you, somewhere next too you. Probably, everyday you meet people like Natalia. Remember, Natalia Tumarevich still leaving in your city, in your town, in your country and you are in position to help her. We can’t resurrect poor Roma girl from Belarus but what we can do is to stop our indifference to people like Natalia. Let them to survive…

Kalinin Nicolas

Delegate in European Roma Travelers Forum

Member in Federation of European Roma Young People