MINELRES: Advocacynet: Roma Evictions Erupt across Europe as New 'Decade' Seeks to End Discrimination

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Wed Feb 2 08:14:24 2005

Original sender: The Advocacy Project <dcoffice@advocacynet.org>

News Bulletin - Number 28, January 31, 2005


Washington, DC, January 31, 2005: On the eve of the launch of a new
'Decade' aimed at ending discrimination against the Romany population in
Europe, the Advocacy Project has received disturbing reports from its
Roma partners of a rash of forced evictions of Roma families throughout
the Continent.

In one recent incident in the United Kingdom, a sick and elderly woman
was among a group of Traveller (Roma)
families who were woken at 4 am and ordered to leave their homes in the
Twin Oaks caravan park in Herefordshire. According to the International
Roma Women's Network (IRWN), an AP partner, the woman's
mobile home was demolished while she was still inside and her two
wheelchairs were deliberately destroyed.
The bailiffs also jumped on an elderly man who refused to leave, and
broke his ribs.

Elsewhere in Europe, the pace of evictions is increasing in Lithuania
and Albania, according to the Dzeno Roma news agency in Prague, another
AP partner. Adding to the concern, the Center on Housing Rights and
Evictions (COHRE) recently detailed evictions in Greece, Ireland, Kosovo
and Italy.

These reports come as eight European governments are preparing to launch
the 'Decade of Roma Inclusion' in Sofia, Bulgaria on Wednesday (February
2, 2005). The Initiative has been sponsored by the World Bank and Open
Society Institute. The eight governments - Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech
Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and the
Slovak Republic - have all pledged to present national action plans in
Sofia aimed at ending discrimination against Roma within their borders.

Dzeno and other Roma advocates hope that the Decade will put some
pressure on European governments to respect the rights of Roma. But the
rising pace of evictions in Britain - supposedly one of the more
advanced European nations - raises serious doubts about government

Catherine Beard, a British Gypsy activist and the Campaign Coordinator
for the IRWN, said that the Twin Oaks evictions are merely the latest in
a series of increasingly violent actions against British Gypsies and
Travellers by local councils in the UK. According to COHRE, over 150
individually-owned plots in gypsy caravan parks in the UK have been
'cleared' by local councils in the last 18 months.

In the case of Twin Oaks, the families had offered to move to a
different site and were waiting for a reply from the local authorities
when they were awoken early in the morning. They refused to leave, and
after an eight-hour standoff, their caravans and mobile homes were
forcefully broken apart and destroyed by a contractor hired by the local
district council.

Ms. Beard said that the Travellers owned the land, but had been refused
planning permission to build or park their mobile homes. This, she said,
is commonly used by local councils to justify the expulsion of Gypsies
and Travellers. Ms. Beard's own family purchased almost two acres of
land in 1986, at a cost of $18,000, but was forced to move after the
local council refused to allow them to refurbish a barn on the property.
"It's racial discrimination," she said. "They do not want Gypsies in
their area."

Ms. Beard said that evictions are typically conducted by bailiffs and by
scores of police in full riot gear, who cordon off the area to prevent
any reports getting out. At the same time, she said, the press in
Britain is fanning hatred of Gypsies by portraying them as thieves and

Such evictions are a clear breach of the U.N. International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and also of European human rights
standards. Ms. Beard said that Gypsies and Travellers in the UK hope to
draw on the Europe-wide membership of the IRWN to appeal to the Council
of Europe and other European bodies.

* To read the personal account of Margaret Quilligan, one of the
Travellers evicted at Twin Oaks, click here:

* To read more about the work of IRWN, visit:

* To read more about the work of Dzeno visit http://www.dzeno.cz.

* To read the blogs of Stacy Kosko, who interned with Dzeno for AP in
the summer of 2004, visit:

* To read COHRE's December 2004 newsletter on evictions, click here:


The Advocacy Project is based in Washington D.C. Phone:
+1 202 332 3900; fax: +1 202 332 4600. Visit the AP web
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