29 sep ;Reacting to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) report on Roma and Sinti situation released today in Warsaw painting a "bleak picture", Hindus have urged the Europe to instantly wake-up to their plight, who live in apartheid like conditions.
Acclaimed Hindu and Indo-American statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that European Union (EU) and national governments of the countries of Europe should urgently respond to pain of Roma (Gypsy) people of Europe and do something concrete to improve their plight, who reportedly faced brazen structural discrimination.
Zed, who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, says that "Report on Implementation of the Action Plan on Improving the Situation on Roma and Sinti Within the OSCE Area" states "…Roma and Sinti communities continue to face disadvantages and discrimination in all areas of life, from access to housing, health, education, and employment, to relations with law-enforcement institutions, inlcuding the police."
The First EU Roma Summit at Brussels on September 16 also admitted "…one of Europe’s most persecuted ethnic minorities, the Roma are still the targets of racially motivated attacks. Many live in communities characterised by high levels of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. They face deeply embedded institutional discrimination, especially in housing, education and social welfare."
Despite everybody agreeing that Roma faced societal exclusion in Europe for a long time and their sufferings clearly visible to the naked eye, why not solid steps had been taken to integrate them as equal partners in the society and why still we don’t have a concrete roadmap for their social inclusion, Zed asks.
Rajan Zed further says that it is a moral obligation of Europe to take care of its largest minority Roma population and stop human rights violations suffered by them, who numbered around ten million and were the most disadvantaged.
Their alarming condition is a black spot on the face of Europe and the rest of the world as they reportedly regularly face racism, substandard education, hostility, social exclusion, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, language barriers, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, racist slogans on Internet, unusually high unemployment rates, etc., Zed points out.
Rajan Zed stresses that a comprehensive, sustainable, cohesive and integrated Europe-wide policy with strategic focus is needed to target discrimination against Roma and their integration; providing them equal access to education, employment, public services, housing, and health care; empowerment through participation; increased transparency of authorities; improving their material and human rights situation, etc. Roma issue should be one of the highest priorities of European human rights agenda, Zed adds.
The OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization whose 56 participating States span the geographical area from Vancouver to Vladivostok.