MINELRES: Romania: Bulletin DIVERS on Ethnic Minorities - 40 (123)/2004

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Divers Bulletin no. 40 (123) / November 15, 2004
News

HOLOCAUST NUMBER REVISED IN ROMANIA

ETHNIC HUNGARIANS IN ROMANIA SUPPORT DOUBLE CITIZENSHIP INITIATIVE

CAMPAIGN TO CONVINCE YOUNG ROMA GIRSL NOT TO GET MARRIED AT EARLY AGE

"ETHNIC ROMA IN ROMANIAN ART" EXHIBITION

GYPSY WITCH RUNS FOR SENATE TO HELP WOMEN

WEAK AND FRAGMENTED


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News

HOLOCAUST NUMBER REVISED IN ROMANIA

BUCHAREST - Half a million Jews were killed in Romania's Holocaust, many
more than previously thought, a special commission set up to shed light
on the country's Nazi past says, according to media reports.
It also recommended Romania, an ally of Adolf Hitler in World War II,
face up to its history by building a memorial to those who died and
teaching children about the Holocaust in school.
The international commission was appointed last year after the
government denied the Holocaust happened in the Balkan country,
prompting a diplomatic row with Israel.
"For us, this was our sacred mission: to honour truth by remembering the
dead," said the commission's chairman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate
Elie Wiesel. "For them it is too late but not for their children, and
ours." The report said between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and
Ukrainian Jews were killed by Romanian civilian and military authorities
in Romania and territories under its control.
Another 135,000 Romanian Jews living in the then Hungarian-controlled
Transylvania and 5,000 Romanian Jews living outside Romania also died,
it said, and over 25,000 Roma people were deported of whom 11,000 died.
According to previous figures in the Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust some
420,000 people from Romania's pre-war Jewish community of 750,000 died.
Only around 13,000 Jews now live in Romania.
Directives to degrade and destroy Jews and Jewish institutions came from
wartime leader Ion Antonescu, the report said.
Until two years ago, Antonescu, who was executed in 1946 for allying
Romania with Hitler and sending hundreds of thousands of Jews and
gypsies to death camps, was deemed an anti-communist hero and
immortalised in statues across the country.
But these were demolished when Romania, which is hoping to join the
European Union, passed legislation banning the use of fascist, racist
and xenophobic symbols.
The commission recommended Romania annul war criminal rehabilitations,
of which it said there had been a number of cases in the 15 years since
the overthrow of Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
It also said a national Holocaust memorial and museum should be built in
Bucharest and that the school curriculum and textbooks be changed to
include the Holocaust.
Romanian-born Wiesel, 76, a prolific writer on the Holocaust who has
drawn from his own experiences in Nazi death camps, said he hoped the
commission's report would "take its place in Romania's history". The
commission also included Tuvia Friling, the head of the Israeli
Archives, Holocaust survivors and experts and historians from Israel,
the United States and Europe.
Author: DIVERS


ETHNIC HUNGARIANS IN ROMANIA SUPPORT DOUBLE CITIZENSHIP INITIATIVE

BUCHAREST - Ethnic Hungarians in Romania seem to be less interested
about Romanian legislative elections this month and more interested in
the December 5 referendum in Hungary on giving double citizenship for
Magyars abroad. Statistic data are eloquent in that respect as about 80%
of the ethnic Hungarians in Romania are in favor of granting double
citizenship, informs a last poll recently published by Hungarian
Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR). According to the poll, about
60% of the 1.5 million Magyars stated they would request double
citizenship, while 17% are ready to move to Hungary in the event they
receive double citizenship.
The idea is also supported through the events in Sfintu Gheorghe
(southern Transylvania), on November 9 when tens of persons protested
against the visit of the Hungarian Socialist Party’s representative Vass
Lajos, secretary of state in the Hungarian Ministry of Culture, as this
party does not support the granting of double citizenship. The
protesters carried boards sending messages such as "We want double
citizenship", "We want the unification of the Hungarian nation" and
shouted various slogans, the protest not being a quiet one as initially
announced.
Author: DIVERS


CAMPAIGN TO CONVINCE YOUNG ROMA GIRSL NOT TO GET MARRIED AT EARLY AGE

BUCHAREST - Organization "Educatia 2000 Plus" launched on November 9 a
caravan through various counties countrywide trying to convince the
young Roma girls to no longer marry at early ages.
"The project did not necessarily intend to change Roman’s mentality, as
in the very traditional communities it is hard to change the mentality
through such a short project of only 9 months, but we aimed at informing
the mothers and Roma girls, namely the target group of this project,
what are the risks supposed by marriage and pregnancy at early ages",
stated Crina Mosneagu, project coordinator.
According to a study developed by "Educatia 2000 Plus", despite the fact
that the percent of early marriages is dropping about 20% of these
marriages involve girls ranking between 12 and 18 years old.
Author: DIVERS


"ETHNIC ROMA IN ROMANIAN ART" EXHIBITION

BUCHAREST - ArtiRoma Cultural Association opened on November 11, at the
Romanian National Art Museum (MNAR), the exhibition "Roma in the
Romanian art", which gathers the works of important Romanian painters
such as Theodor Aman, Nicolae Grigorescu or Octav Bancila. No matter the
century, school or the trends they belonged to, Roma’ works have been
the constant preoccupation of the Romanian artist. The exhibition is
opened until mid-December.
Author: DIVERS


GYPSY WITCH RUNS FOR SENATE TO HELP WOMEN

CRAIOVA - Timisoara Velcu is a powerful Romanian Gypsy witch who can
take your voice away by simply muttering a curse, Reuter reports.
But witchcraft alone cannot improve the lot of her people in modern
Romania, so the 46-year-old mother of six -- and grandmother of 11 -- is
running for the 140-seat upper house senate in Nov. 28 presidential and
parliamentary elections.
"Our human rights are not respected," said Velcu, a striking figure in a
long pleated skirt, her pitch-black hair braided and covered with a
colourful scarf.
"I go into a shop or restaurant in my traditional clothes and I am not
allowed in," she told Reuters at her home in the southern city of
Craiova in a recent interview.
Velcu is one of scores of Roma running in the elections, a sign, rights
groups say, that Romania's Gypsies are finally turning to mainstream
politics to demand their rights.
"It is a sign of strengthening of the Roma movement," said Dimitrina
Petrova, executive director of the Budapest-based European Roma Rights
Centre. "It's a new phenomenon."
Most of Romania's estimated 2 million Roma, the biggest Gypsy minority
in Europe, live in abject poverty among the 22 million population of
this Balkan country.
>From slavery in mediaeval days to forced assimilation during the
communist era, the Romanian Gypsies' lot has not been easy since their
ancestors migrated from India in the early Middle Ages and spread across
Europe.
"The most important problems now are continued abuse by police
officials, segregation in education, little access to health care,
housing problems and unemployment," Petrova said.
Romania wants to join the European Union in 2007 and the accession
process has prompted the country's Roma to fight for their rights more
vigorously, she said.
Author: DIVERS


WEAK AND FRAGMENTED

Since the 1989 ousting of Communist strongman Nicolae Ceausescu,
Romanian Roma have been fragmented and weakly represented, usually
voting for one of the main political parties in the absence of their own
candidates.
Opinion polls show this month's elections will be a tough fight between
the ruling ex-communist PSD and a centrist alliance running a close
second. There is just one Roma representative in the present lower house
of parliament.
Local "kings" are the traditional Roma leaders, but with two rival kings
and one emperor claiming they rule all Gypsies, most Roma don't
recognise their authority.
"This is all a joke," said Velcu's husband, Vasile Velcu Nazdravan, who
is running for the 345-seat lower house of parliament. "These people
would have done something for us if they were real kings."
Timisoara said her mission would be to help Gypsy women, especially
impoverished young mothers, so that they would no longer be driven to
abandon their children.
"I will stand between those who make the decisions and the poor," she
said. "I have a lot of power to help people, to do good. I inherited
this gift from my mother and I will use my powers a little bit to make
sure I get elected."
Nazdravan, who eloped with his wife on a horse-drawn cart in 1976
because he didn't have enough money to pay her father a dowry, admitted
he was a little afraid of her spells but said he was proud to be a
modern husband and to back her candidacy.
"It's a historic moment when real Gypsy women, dressed in traditional
clothes, run as candidates," he said. 
Author: DIVERS


DIVERS - News bulletin about ethnic minorities living in Romania is
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