MINELRES: Roma in Bulgaria are in Danger after the Entering of an Extreme Nationalist Party into Parliament

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Jul 18 09:28:01 2005

Original sender: Emil Cohen <emil.cohen@gmail.com>

Towards EU Accession. Roma in the South Eastern Europe Project*


Roma in Bulgaria are in Danger after the Entering of an Extreme
Nationalist Party into Parliament 

Sofia, July 16, 2005 - Parliamentary elections took parting Bulgaria on
June 25, 2005. Except the traditional parties a significant group of 21
MPs (out of 240) in the new 40th Parliament was constituted by the
coalition "Ataka" (Attack) leaded by the journalist Volen Siderov.
Taking into consideration both, the pre-election behavior and propaganda
of this group, as well as the books and articles of its leader, we can
define it as extreme nationalist, racist and xenophobic with strong
tendencies towards fascism. This is the unanimous opinion of leading
politicians from one side, and of observers and the broad public for
another. Right after the elections Sergey Stanishev, the leader of the
Bulgarian socialist party (BSP) which got the highest results in the
election declared that his party would never enter a coalition or
cooperate with "Ataka". The leader of the second party of the elections
Simeon Saxe-Coburgh Gotta (he is the former King of Bulgaria; till June
2001 till June 2005 he was Prime Minister of Bulgaria) made a statement
in the same direction. In one form or another all other parties denied
the possibility for a future parliamentary cooperation with the
"xenophobic, populist and anti-European coalition "Ataka" (Sergey

The coalition 'Ataka' was formed two months before the elections. It is
a union of five hardly nationalistic but almost unknown until now
political groups. Leader of the new formation is the journalist Volen
Siderov, well known with his numerous publications where minorities
(Roma, Turks and Jews) are blamed for all the problems and miseries that
have happened to Bulgarian people since 1989. Beside this, he is the
author of two strongly anti-Semitic books where the Jews and their
"world Jewish conspiracy" are claimed to be guilty for all possible
misfortunes and calamities that happened to mankind. Furthermore, he
denies the existing of the Holocaust and declares this as a "big lie". 

In addition, agitation against Roma plays an important role in all the
public speeches of Volen Siderov and his fellows. Point 11 in the
so-called "Program" of the coalition states that the party insists on
creating a "Program for fighting with Gypsy Crime-rate and drug
-traffic". Principle No.1 states that "Bulgaria is one-national and
monolithic country which can not be divided by any of the following
principles: religion, ethnic origin or culture. The diversity in origin
or religion can not be put above national affiliation. Who does this is
self-separating himself/herself from the Bulgarian nation and state and
can have no claims towards them." In other words the first out of 20
principles states that Bulgaria has no minorities and if somebody
declares as such he or she has to be excluded from the Bulgarian nation
and the state has no responsibilities about their fate. 

At a meeting in Sofia on June 21st, the orators openly appealed for
"Roma being sent to camps". In addition commonly spoken words have been
the appeals for "de-Gypsization" and "de-Turcization" of Bulgaria. The
major slogan of the coalition "Let's turn back Bulgaria to Bulgarians"
was based on the statement that "Gypsies have privileges which
Bulgarians do not have" and therefore these privileges should be taken
away. In the eve of the elections Volen Siderov dedicated 7 of his
emissions on the cable "Skat" TV to the topic of the "Gypsy terror" over
Bulgarians. These and many other speeches of Siderov and his people can
be incriminated under article 162 of the Penal Code for "preaching or
instigating towards racial or national hatred or racial discrimination".
This envisages three years imprisoning. They have also violated article
5 of the Law against Discrimination. 

The entering of that pro-fascist party in the Bulgarian National
Assembly presents by itself a serious danger to further democratic
developments of Bulgaria and especially to the Bulgarian Roma minority
in few directions: 

- It will have practically unrestricted possibilities to carry on a
campaign against the minorities and especially against the Romany people
because it will be able to use the forum of the Parliament and thus its
messages will reach an extremely large audience. By that way the racist
attitudes and feelings in the country will be strengthened; 

- The passing of measures through the National Assembly for further
integration of the Roma will be much more difficult and may be
impossible after the entering of 'Ataka' in the Parliament. It has been
too hard to pass such measures through the Parliament since now. The
main parties will be afraid to offer and back up initiatives for the
integration of the Roma because they will be afraid of the criticism of 
'Ataka' as well as they will be afraid of   losing of the support of the

- The unpunished anti-Roma propaganda of 'Ataka' most probably will abet
skinheads and other youth gangs to commit outrages against the Roma. It
has already appeared signs for this. Some days ago the small Roma
neighborhood situated in the Sofia's district 'Zaharna Fabrika' was
surrounded by unknown group that names itself 'Brigada' (Brigade) .
There have been clashes between the Roma and their local Bulgarian
neighbors. The people of 'Brigada' threatened the Roma and wanted them
to move from the district within a month. If their demand would not be
fulfilled they said that 'Brigada' will come again. 

The 'Roma in the Southeastern Europe ' Project call on the European
public, the European Parliament, the Commission of the European Union as
well as the Council of Europe and the OSCE: 

- to urge the Bulgarian Government to continue to fulfill its
international commitments in the field of the human rights and
especially the engagements that it took under the 'Decade of Roma

- to insist on the Bulgarian National Assembly and on the Government to
take all allowed by the legislation actions in order to stop the
explosive growth of the anti-minorities, anti-Roma and in general the
fascist sentiments in Bulgaria. The authorities should in close
cooperation with the NGOs to develop a large educational campaign in
order people to understand the evil that fascism presents by itself; 

- to exert the necessary pressure on the Bulgarian authorities in order
they to continue to keep a policy of rule of law, respect to the human
rights and Roma integration. 

On behalf of the project: 

Emil Cohen


* The main aims of the project are: to exersise an objective monitoring
and make an evaluation of what has been done about Roma integration in
2004 and the next years; to inform the broad public about the real
dimensions of this process; to promote the inclusion of the Roma
community as a real participant in its integration during the
forthcoming years; to monitor the state of human rights situation of
Roma in the area of the project.

The project is being implemented by Center for Interethnic Dialogue and
Tolerance "Amalipe" (Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria), Bulgarian Helsinki
Committee and European Roma Information Office (Brussels). It is
financially supported by CORDAID, Netherlands. 

Manager of the project: Deyan Kolev 
Project Coordinator: Teodora Krumova 
PR and relations with institutions coordinator: Emil Cohen 
Coordinator for EU institutions relationship: Valeriu Nicolae 

- Main office: 5000 Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria, POB 113; tel.: (+359) 888
681 134;  e-mail: amalipe@mail.bg 

- Sofia office: 1504 Sofia, Bulgaria, 7 Varbitza St, tel./fax: (+3592)
980 94 05; (+359) 888 33 57 07; e-mail: emil.cohen@gmail.com;

Emil Cohen
President of Tolerance Foundation, 
member of the Board of the BHC 

Address: 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
4 Dobrudja St.
Phone #: (+359 2) 980 94 05; 
Cellular phone #: (+359) 0888 33 57 07; 

This message was sent using Endymion MailMan.
http://www.endymion.com/products/mailman/ http://www.microlink.com/