Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, liebe Freundinnen und Freunde, wir möchten Sie bitten, unsere Forderungen zu unterstützen.
Now also in English – please spread widely and sign!
FINDING A SOLUTION FOR GENERATIONS: FOR THE RIGHT TO STAY FOR ROMA IN GERMANY
The Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism in Berlin reminds the world of the persecution and death as well as survival and deportation of the Roma. In May 2016, about 50 Romnja and Roma gathered at the Memorial to protest against their impending deportation as well as structural discrimination and social and political exclusion.
The Roma protesters were brutally disbursed by the police in the middle of the night. Neither in the countries classified as „safe“, nor in Germany, can Roma find a place to live in dignity. The practice of nightly, unannounced deportations means existential insecurity and persecution. The word “Deportation” has nowadays come back to common lingual use among Roma. Every recent tightening of the asylum and residency law has led to dramatic worsening of the situation of Roma in Germany.
“Many of us, including small children and teenagers, live in constant fear of state institutions and have to go underground when they are threatened with deportation. This means no access to medical care, to education, work, housing and public life. We are denied basic and human rights, our dignity is taken away from us. This continuous disfranchisement reinforces conditions of isolation from society in general as well as from the state, which we are not supposed to be able to find our way out.” This statement was the conclusion of the Romnja and Roma, living in fear and danger since the war in Yugoslavia.
Roma aren’t safe anywhere. In the post-Yugoslavian countries they have no rights, even if Germany and the prevailing governments made deals that supposedly protect their rights. Albania, BosniaHerzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are categorized “safe countries of origin” according to German law, but these countries are not safe for Roma. But this „safe“ definition denies Roma any chance to get refugee status in Germany. For Roma, the “safe countries of origin” regulation, de facto abolishes their right of Asylum.
Almost all Roma in these countries are denied not only access to the job market, but also any participation in social life. The findings of all international organizations – European Council, OSCE, Research Group, Roma Antidiscrimination Network, Pro Asyl and the Society for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker) etc. – all conclude that the situation of Roma in the above mentioned regions is hopeless. Because of horrific racism against Roma in Serbia and Macedonia, many of them are forced to live in self-constructed huts in makeshift settlements, often without running water or connection to any sort of public infrastructure. Roma are not hired and, therefore, also do not receive free medical assistance in case of illness. According to research by lawyers, doctors and journalists in collaboration with the network “alle bleiben” (Everybody Stays), even members of the majority society have to cover the costs for primary health care themselves in Kosovo – this strikes Roma even harder, because, as they have no access to the labor market, they have no earnings. This situation, where cases in which even children with chronic diseases are denied medical assistance, is dreadful and leads to drastically increased infant mortality.
Again and again, Roma are targets of nationalist attacks. Attendance at school is nearly impossible when there are public appeals for violence against minority members. The neo-Nazi Srbska Akcija (Serbian Action) are not the only people who brag about attacks and expulsion of Roma. The Helsinki Committee, in Macedonia, reports of racist attacks, after which often the victims, and not the attackers are blamed. Cases of police being sued were answered with blackmailing and pressure, so that the legal
complaints were taken back. Ethnic screening is carried out at the borders. This results in stopping Roma from leaving the country.
The economic situation in the countries of former Yugoslavia, is so bad that even poor people among the majority society often live below the existential minimum. The Roma, many of whom have been internally displaced for more than 15 years without registration, do not have any chance to reapproach the economic situation they were in before the war. If the families had houses they were either destroyed or forcibly expropriated by main stream society. After the NATO intervention in the Kosovo war in 1999, 120.000 out of 150.000 Roma, Ashkali and Kosovo-Egyptians were violently expelled from the country by nationalist Albanians: 14.000 out of about 19.000 houses were demolished, 70 out of 75 districts and villages were leveled to the ground – right in front of the eyes of international military forces.
The widespread assumption in Germany, that Roma benefit from EU development aid, is misguided. Corruption hinders the agreements, which are questionable in any case. It is unworthy of a constitutional state to negotiate with politicians who have been involved in corruption and war during the war-time displacement of Roma from Kosovo in 1999/2000.
In the EU‘s process of enlargement, countries trying to join the EU are not confronted with demands to end the exclusion of Roma. Rather, the EU puts pressure on them to take back members of the Roma minority or block them from leaving the country at all. This is further reinforcing the exclusion and persecution of Roma.
Due to the current political rightward shift in Europe, discrimination against Roma is being reinforced. Exclusion of Roma is effectively legitimized, among the masses through racist and nationalist ideologies.
There are existing legal regulations which recognize the possibility to acknowledge Roma‘s need of protection. However, international agreements are not put into practice. The Geneva Convention has been dismantled, and human rights violations in the countries of origin, are not recognized as human rights violations. In other European countries the recognition quota is significantly higher. The classification of the Balkan countries as „safe“ not only does not correspond to reality, but also represents a misled attempt to conform to influence of right wing populist forces. Those politics draw on racist stereotypes, they legitimate and fuel racist resentment and violence.
Considering Germany‘s historical responsibility, another option would be to recognize Roma as “quota refugees” („Kontingentflüchtlinge“). More than 200.000 Jews came to Germany from the former Soviet Union since 1990 because their acceptance had been decided by the last GDR government and confirmed by the German government within the conditions of the unification treaty. As a matter of course, Germany‘s historic responsibility to victims of the Holocaust and their descendants result in the provision of protection from persecution. We do not intend to compare one injustice to another, however, following a perfidious double standard, it is still possible in Germany, to deport Roma seeking protection from a hopeless situation.
The Paragraph 23 Residency Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) gives the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the “highest state”, e.g. Saxony or Berlin authorities, the right to grant Roma, as a specific group, such a right of residence. Within the principle of equal treatment with Jews from Eastern Europa, Roma must be granted such a right of residence through ministerial approval.
We demand the German government withdraw the classification of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia as „safe countries of origin“! We demand an unconditional right of entry and an unrestricted right to stay in Germany for Roma! We demand an immediate end to deportations. Now – and forever!