Conclusions and recommendations of the VII International Rroma Seminar

“Memory of the Rroma Persecution in Europe”


On November 27, 28 and 29, 2017, the VII Rroma International Seminar “Memory of the Rroma Persecution in Europe” took place in Valencia.

See program of the VII Rroma International Seminar

The participation in the seminar was very satisfactory, with 150 participants, more organization and speakers. For three days, the history of the Roma people was discussed, as well as their migratory movements and social behaviors as a result of the persecutions suffered.


To offer this knowledge and learning, the VII International Rroma Seminar had speakers from all over Europe and also from Latin America. Their names and conferences are in the Program of the VII Rroma International Seminar.

Professionals in the study, work and research of the history of the Roma people and their culture, directors of associations at an international level and activists who fight for the rights of the gypsies presented their knowledge about the Rroma people from different perspectives according to the country of origin.

It was three days of sharing knowledge, reflections and real examples of the situations of rejection and racism with which the Roma population must face, in their day to day life. Marcel Courthiade told us about the denial that prevails, not only in his country or in Europe, but internationally, on the Rroma people. The history and culture of the Rroma ethnic minority is a great unknown to society, although it is part of the history of humanity and has contributed much knowledge and evolution. There are sources of information, there are documents with centuries-old dates in which the culture and philosophy of the Roma people are recorded, but even so, and as Marcel said, “there is denial, and when there is negation, everything else does not exist”. It concluded that the lack of knowledge about the gypsy ethnic group leads to discrimination and oppression against the Rroma, it is the formula of the negationism of the gypsy people.

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We learned about the situation of the Roma population in Germany, a country in which the national-socialism practiced by the Nazi dictatorship was born and which killed hundreds of thousands of gypsies. Aldo Rivera explained that the ideology of said dictatorship, that of the Third Reich, "did nothing but confirm what the other Reich did, from the time when the gypsies arrived in Germany (year 1407); and they pass three reigns, or three periods, of the history of Germany under this observation, analysis and systematic persecution ". A talk on policies and actions against the Roma in Germany, without following a chronology, but maintaining "the same ideology that takes the national-socialist line very well to implement the final plan, or what they called the final solution, to exterminate and extract this germ of social cancer that were the gypsies ", explains Aldo. In Germany, the situation of the Roma continues to be one of denial and exclusion, entire families still do not overcome the "horror" of having lived inhumane situations in the Nazi death camps.


Another testimony of the global nature of the negationism worldwide was that of Hugo Alejandro Paternina Espinosa. He said of the Rroma people in Colombia that “from the other side of the sea is the other son of Pachamama, a town that has a presence in America since the third voyage of Columbus, and that today we can not continue to write social history and culture. politics of the continent, of Colombia in particular, without referring to the immeasurable contributions that the Rroma people have made to the construction of Colombianness and Americanity “. A negationism that resists making Gypsies and Gypsies participate in the history of the continent, their presence and their brand as an ethnic group that coexists in the same space. There is a “huge ignorance”, in the words of Hugo, about the gypsy people, who have been in America for centuries but are a “seen but not observed” people.


With Ana Dalila we were able to expand our vision and knowledge of the Rroma people in Colombia. He explained how the legislation in Colombia does not contemplate equality between a majority society and the minority that the Roma population supposes. The first law referring to the Roma population dates from February 11, 1581 and was approved by Felipe II, who Ana summed up “the gypsies had to be separated from the Indians because they deceived them and led them to have a bad example , here we see that since the sixteenth century and in America, in Colombia, there was already news of gypsies in bad ways. Forbidding them all because they already considered us a bad thing. “In her country, the laws have not evolved in a direction of social equality, but there is what she has described as a” differential approach “in which” society has all the laws but we are different, then we do not reach those laws and it is required to make specific laws for the gypsy people “.


In Sweden, a country far from Colombia, with a very different culture and traditions, we also highlight in the history of the people a legislation of repression and denial. Adam Parno narrated chronologically the course of the history of the gypsies in his country and the evolution of the laws that were imposed on this minority. Legislation of persecution towards the Rroma people, expulsion of all Gypsies and Gypsies, separation of children from their families, etc. Even sterilization so that they do not continue with their procreation, “it was thought at that time that the clean Swedish race had to be kept in the population and not mixed with the rroma because they brought criminality (…) they could spoil the social structure of the country,” Parno. Centuries and centuries of legislation of denial to the people rroma by the Swedish parliament since his arrival in the country. He highlighted the figure of Catherine Taikon who “in 1950 began to fight for the rights of the rroma in Sweden, and is the person who thanks to her improved the situation in Sweden and his contribution lasts to this day.” Even so, “the rroma still have problems in terms of housing and getting jobs,” follows the denial of the Roma people.


We got to know the history of the Rroma people in the presentation of Normunds Rudevics, in a very different and interesting way that attracted the whole public. Through tales of mythology, legends and allegorical works of art, he explained the essence that unites gypsies from all over the world. Through these mythological tales, he made known the origin and evolution and migration throughout the world map of the gypsy people. A history and a mobilization very marked and defined by the persecutions and some “very cruel repressions”, as Normunds affirmed, that still exist and maintain that negationism of the historical footprint of the Rroma people. The idea should be made visible that, in the words of Normunds, “the gypsies are like the others, but different”, and in that plurality of cultures is the richness of the human.


If we talk about plurality, we should mention the Solymosi brothers of Hungary, who in their conference reported that “the rroma speak 13 dialects in our country, so they are very diversified”. A country, whose contemporary history is very marked by two totalitarian systems that were established at the end of the 20th century. Two systems with very contrary ideologies, but which both subordinated the gypsy people. On the one hand, the Nazis “thousands of Gypsies from Hungary were killed” in the concentration camps, they were victims of the Samudaripen. “The communist government implanted, with the police, the so-called forced assimilation,” in which the identity of the ethnic group was not respected, “it is not a physical execution but an execution as spiritual. The physical extermination of the gypsies was replaced by the distraction and destruction of their ways of life, their traditional methods and their culture “, as the brothers said. Regardless of the territory they occupy or the system in which they live, the gypsies have always ended up being persecuted and victims of denial. Even with this tragic past, “the neo-Nazi party, believe it or not, is the third most important party in Hungary.” A situation that will have to coexist together with the rapid growth of the Roma population that is speculated that “in 15 years the Roma population will be greater than that of the Hungarians”.


Bordering Hungary we find Serbia, a country with also a significant number of Roma population. Robert Kasumovic spoke about the history of the rroma in the Balkans, more specifically in his country. He explained that many studies say that “the rroma people came to Serbia, and to the Balkans in general, in the fourteenth century.” Two very important periods in the history of the gypsies in the Balkans “the first is the period of the Turkish Empire, because in some parts of the Balkans the Ottoman Empire was about 600 years; the other important period is that of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that was also in some parts of the Balkans. ” Two empires that legislated with a strong repression towards the gypsies. An example was that “Gypsies could not bury their deceased in Turkish cemeteries. Even now in Serbia, and other Balkan countries, the Rroma have their own cemeteries, “said Robert. He also highlighted the Nazi occupation as a totalitarian and dictatorial system with rules that were directly aimed at the destruction of the Roma people, in Robert’s words “another category of people that was incompatible according to the Nazi ideology, the Roma community”.


The situation of the Rroma people in Italy is not an exception. Nazzareno Guarnieri was in charge of publicizing the situation of social exclusion suffered by the gypsies in this country, there is “hatred and fear towards the minority”. In Italy, the rejection of the Roma population is 82% of the population, almost the entirety of a majority that perpetuates the denial towards the Roma minority. A minority that Nazzareno defines from two points of view, “as an invisible and hypervisible minority. Invisible because it is little studied and little told, (…) it is hypervisible, because the little-known of the Roma minority is almost exclusively linked to events of chronic black. Consequently, public opinion only ends up associating the Rrom minority with crime, violence and degradation. ” It is another real example, with real data and figures, of the denial of a global social inclusion of the Roma people.

Next to Nazzaereno we could hear the testimony of a young rroma, Fiore Manzo, from southern Italy, more specifically from Cosenza. He affirms that there is a strong segregation of the Italian population between gypsies and non-gypsies, and that "the media does not help, the policies go in the same directions, and the nonroman people who imagine the Roms build that differentiation through of negative and superficial representations ". Since the 1980s, regional policies and laws have been carried out that, as a consequence of that negative image that has been created of the Roma people, are destined to segregate the gypsies in the outskirts instead of integrating them into the cities. "We know very well that what happens within the fields, is all negative, segregation leads to a psycho-physical state of depression," among other things. No change is foreseeable in the near future because, as he himself tells us, "a project of 8 million euros has been presented to expand and maintain this nomadic field. It makes us understand that Italian politics does not manage to change the old categories of the past. "

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The most unique conference was that of Isnet Jasarevic. He captivated the audience with his violin, playing live and singing songs written by gypsy musicians. Through music and poetry, we have been able to know many details about the history of the gypsy people, on this he affirmed that “no historian and no researcher, can speak of a better nation than his old songs”. Isnet told the adventures that narrated the songs and, in this way, he made known the situation of the rroma and its trajectory throughout its history. He defended the idea that the gypsy culture should be visible worldwide, we must make sure that “our language and our history do not fall into oblivion”.


Conclusions and recommendations of the VII International Rroma Seminar

Throughout the seminar we heard testimonies of how the Roma people have been persecuted and socially excluded throughout their history. All the speakers, of different nationalities at international level, agreed that the history of gypsies in their country had been harsh, marked by repression and even inhumane extermination.

Marcel Courthiade spoke of the negationism of the gypsy ethnic group, of a socially invisible minority of which there is practically no knowledge, therefore, it is denied. After this first contact with the concept of negationism in the first presentation, and at the hand of Marcel, the participants in the seminar were able to identify this negationism towards the Roma population in the rest of the conferences.

It is a reality that the majority tries to absorb, repress and deny minorities that become different and distant. There are no just laws for these minorities, there is only exclusion and marginalization. And this is not an exception that occurs in certain territories, this is the norm of behavior worldwide. The Roma population, among many other minorities, suffers the consequences of this isolation for centuries.

The proposal in the VII International Rroma Seminar is to make visible the situation of the Rrom throughout the world map and to make society aware that a change is necessary and necessary. Eliminate this negationism that does not allow the Roma people to advance towards a totally equal and respectful reality towards all ethnic groups, cultures and traditions. Reaching the whole society but also the institutions, which are the ones who make the laws and their duty and only objective should be to spread equality and ensure that it is real equality. As Aldo Rivera affirmed, "if we want a joint solution, we will have to prepare the new generations at work in these political, legislative, and professional spheres, more than just a search for justice without more fundamentals, simply an emotional approach".

As Ana Dalila Gómez Báos said in her presentation “the objective of those of us who are here is precisely to make visible and socialize the advances we have made in peace, as a peaceful people that we are”.

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