11 Aug : Hindus have strongly criticized reported eviction notices to Roma camps in Helsinki (Finland) without providing alternatives. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was simply inhuman to continuously crack down on poor Roma.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also said that begging ban proposal appeared to discriminate against Roma people and might involve ethnic profiling which was in violation of Finland Constitution and European Convention of Human Rights. All should be equal before the law, he added.
Rajan Zed argued that instead of systematic discrimination against Roma, Finland should work on poverty elimination and Roma inclusion programs. Politicians should refrain from making political capital out of helpless Roma in view of upcoming April parliamentary elections.
According to reports, last year also City of Helsinki dismantled few Roma camps without providing alternative accommodation, while there were similar camps/shacks within the Helsinki city limits occupied by Finnish derelicts and homeless alcoholics.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, in a statement at the 12th session of Human Rights Council in Geneva on September 15 last said: “Regarding access to housing, direct and indirect discrimination against Roma, Sinti and Travelers and/or forced evictions are known to have taken place in a number of countries, including Finland…”. She further said, “…more must be done to end such discrimination.”
Zed urged Finland to take care of its Roma population who reportedly faced apartheid conditions. Roma had been living in Finland since 1500s, took part alongside other Finns in all of the wars the country participated in, and their mother tongue was Finnish. What more Roma needed to do and how many more centuries they had to reside in Finland to prove that they were “real and equal” Finns like any other, he asked.
Rajan Zed pointed out that it was 2010 and many Finland restaurants, stores, and other licensed premises still reportedly refused them entry. Replying to a telephone survey in the past, some employers reportedly admitted that they would not want to hire a Roma even if he/she had the qualifications for a job. Prejudicial treatment occurred even though the Finnish Penal Code, through an amendment adopted in 1995 [sections 11(8) and (9)], criminalized incitement to racial hatred and racial discrimination. The Criminal Code at Article 47(3) also provided for punishment of discrimination in employment.
Hindu statesman stressed that Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which represented about 80 percent of the Finns, should also come out in support of the cause of this distinct ethnic and cultural group of Roma, because religion taught us to help the helpless.