15 Mar : USA has expressed “major concern” regarding discrimination against Roma in Romania.
In its annual “Human Rights Report” about Romania issued recently, US Department of State says: “Roma faced persistent poverty and had poor access to government services, few employment opportunities, high rates of school attrition, inadequate health care, and pervasive discrimination.”
Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman; and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada and California in USA; in a statement issued in Nevada today, said that condition of Roma in Romania had most of the signs of an “apartheid”. It was now time for European Union to urgently intervene in Romania and do something “concrete and real” for Roma upliftment.
The US report talks about police brutality, pervasive societal discrimination, anti-Roma slogans and banners, destruction of houses and cars and setting a house on fire in Roma community in Sanmartin and Roma taking refuge in woods, setting fire to several stables belonging to Roma in Sancraieni, anti-Roma messages on a politician’s blog, denial of access or refusal of service to Roma in many public places including bars/clubs, repeated refusal of a doctor in Vartop village to treat Roma patients, likelihood of ethnic Roma to live below the poverty line five times as compared to majority population, large exclusion from administrative and legal system, 4.9 percent of Roma lacking birth certificate, lack of identity cards excluding many Roma from various programs, inadequate and ineffective government assistance to the Roma, etc.
Report also refers to non-completion of high school by 95 per cent Roma; 23 percent illiteracy among Roma; discrimination by teachers and other students against Romani students; reports of Romani children being placed in the back of classrooms and of teachers ignoring Romani students and of unimpeded bullying of Romani students by other schoolchildren; placing of Romani students in separate classrooms from other students or in separate schools; school segregation cases in Albeni, Corabia, Cugir, and Polovraci; refusal by a kindergarten teacher in Magheru to enroll the twins of a Romani woman for several years; etc.
It also mentions a report which said that approximately 60 percent of Roma lived segregated from the majority population in communities with substandard housing and without basic governmental services, such as schools, adequate health care, running water, electricity, and waste disposal. “Stereotypes and use of discriminatory language against Roma were widespread; journalists and even high ranking officials frequently made discriminatory statements”, it adds.
Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, and Rabbi Jonathan Freirich further said that alarming condition of Roma people was a social blight for Romania and Europe and the rest of the world as they reportedly regularly faced social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, racist slogans, etc.
The Romani population was estimated at between 1.8 and 2.5 million in Romania by this report.