Roma remember holocaust and protest mistreatment

By staff writers
August 10, 2013

Romani rights activists have commemorated the Roma Holocaust and protested at Europe’s continued mistreatment of them.

The event took place last weekend, and has been followed up by continued human rights advocacy over the past week.

It was on 2 August 1944 that Nazi guards at Auschwitz murdered almost 3,000 Roma at its ‘Gypsy family camp’.

This has become the memorial day of the Roma Holocaust – or Porajmos (the ‘devouring’) in which an estimated half a million Roma people were killed .

Romani rights activists gathered in Hyde Park, in London, to learn the lessons of this history and to take heed of an anti-Roma racism that is reaching fever pitch across Europe, reports the Institute of Race Relations - a research and campaigning organisation that has taken up Roma rights as a major issue.

Ekklesia has reported the significant and growing hostility, abuse and violence towards Roma people and travelling communities in Hungary, Romania and a range of other European countries over the past few years.

The day began with a protest outside the Czech embassy, against the rise of neo-Nazi attacks against the Roma in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, IRR reports.

Delegates from the Halifax Roma Group, Europe Roma, the Roma Virtual Network, the European Roma Rights Centre and Derby’s Roma Community Care were among those who gathered to hand a letter of protest to the Czech Ambassador.

The group then travelled to Hyde Park’s Holocaust Memorial to meet others who had come to commemorate the Porajmos.

Grattan Puxon, a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller rights activist, told IRR News that the same Nazi feeling of the 1940s was gathering pace today: "We see the racism against Roma turning into ever more acts of violence and murder almost everywhere in Europe."

"The problem is even mainstream governments are failing to curb the threatening revival of fascism and are themselves adopting anti-Roma policies – which include mass evictions and deportations," Gratton pointed out.

The next stop was the French embassy, for a protest against the enforced evictions of Romani people from camps on the outskirts of Paris, before protestors made their way to Marble Arch, where, earlier this year, the process was mirrored – homeless Romani people were rounded up by the Metropolitan Police, with the aid of Romanian police officers and UKBA immigration enforcement officers, in a ‘voluntary’ deportation programme bizarrely dubbed Operation Chefornak.

The protests of 2 August were a timely rebuke to a mainstream media that blames Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people for their own persecution, misdiagnosing the rise of violent anti-Roma fascism as a response to the inherent criminality of the persecuted, rather than the result of a pan-European policy of criminalisation, pauperisation and deportation.

Acknowledgements to IRR.

* Institute of Race Relations research paper: 'From Pillar to Post: pan-European racism and the Roma' -

* More on the IRR:


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