23 Sep : Hindus want Finland to take care of its Roma (Gypsy) population instead of cracking down on them, who reportedly face apartheid like conditions.
Acclaimed Hindu and Indo-American statesman Rajan Zed, in a release in Nevada (USA) today, asked how Finland, which prides itself for its human rights record, was tolerating such widespread prejudice against a segment of its own society. Maltreatment of Roma, who mostly migrated from India many centuries back, was a dark stain on the face of Finland.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that 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, Zed asked.
Rajan Zed pointed out that it was 2008 and many Finland restaurants, stores, and other licensed premises still reportedly refused them entry. Replying to a telephone survey, 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.
He said that it was moral obligation of Finland to improve the plight of its Roma population and stop human rights violations suffered by them, who numbered around 12,000 and were the most disadvantaged.
Roma 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, unusually high unemployment rates, etc., Rajan Zed argued.
He further said that it was like an undeclared apartheid. The abuse of Roma was outside even the European Union norms. Everybody openly saw the prejudice and various reports had clearly pointed out the brazen discrimination Roma faced in Finland, but the country just ignored it and appeared to lack the will to stop it.
Roma inclusion and integration programs needed to immediately take off the ground providing them with better health and education avenues, higher economic opportunities, sources of empowerment and participation, etc., Zed pointed out.
Zed further said 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.