MINELRES: Romania: Bulletin DIVERS on Ethnic Minorities - 34 (162)/2005

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Divers Bulletin no. 34 (162)/September 12, 2005 

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EXPERTS FROM THE VENICE COMMISSION MEET ROMANIAN OFFICIALS 
HUNGARY AND ROMANIA PREPARE FOR JOINT GOVERNMENT MEETING 
HADARENI CASE: COURT DEFERS THE DECISION ON THE FORECLOSURE APPEAL 
GUIDEBOOK FOR ETHNIC ROMA ACTIVISTS 

FEATURE 
ROMA ANNUAL FESTIVAL IN SOUTHERN ROMANIA 

*** 

EXPERTS FROM THE VENICE COMMISSION MEET ROMANIAN OFFICIALS 

BUCHAREST – Minister of State for coordinating the activities in the
fields of culture, education and European accession, Marko Bela, met on
September 7, with the experts of the Venice Commission Alain Chablais
and Sergio Bartole, to discuss about the status of ethnic minorities in
Romania and about the legislative changes in the field, informs a
Government release. The main topic of the meeting was the law draft on
the statute of the ethnic minorities in Romania, an Democratic Union of
ethnic Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) initiative. Marko Bela presented the
content of the project to the experts of the Venice Commission,
stressing out this aims at settling, among others, the statute of the
minorities and their organizations. 
Marko also said the project on the statute of the minorities is a
framework-law and subsequent to its enactment by the two Chambers of the
Parliament, it will be complete and will strengthen the legislation in
force. Present at the meeting, the chief of the Department for
Inter-ethnic Relations, the secretary of state Marko Attila mentioned
the law draft on the minorities was subjected to the public debate. The
representatives of the other minorities, of the civil society, of the
different non-governmental organizations had the chance to submit their
notes, amendment proposals, proposals, which were introduced in the
project enacted by the Government in April. 
The European experts will also hold consultative meetings in the
Parliament and will be received by the secretary of state in Ministry of
Education and Research Koto Jozsef. On Thursday morning, Alain Chablais
and Sergio Bartole will meet with the president of the National Council
to Fight Discrimination, Asztalos Csaba. 
The Venice Commission – Commission for Democracy through Law of the
Council of Europe– is a consultative body cooperating with the states
member of the Council of Europe as well as with the non-member states,
especially with those in Central and Eastern Europe. The specific range
of action pertains to the guarantees lawfully provided in the best
interest of the democracy. The Commission can carry out researches, out
of its own initiative, and can even draw up law drafts, recommendations
or international agreements drafts. Any proposal made by the commission
can be discussed and passed by the statutory bodies of the Council of
Europe. (DIVERS) 

HUNGARY AND ROMANIA PREPARE FOR JOINT GOVERNMENT MEETING 
BUCHAREST - The Romanian-Hungarian common government meeting which will
take place next month will tackle specific projects in the fields of
infrastructure and environment, according to Lucian Leustean and Andras
Barsony, state secretaries in the Romanian and Hungarian Foreign Affairs
Ministries. 
Leustean and Barsony had a meeting last week to prepare the first common
meeting of the Romanian and Hungarian governments, scheduled for October
20-21. 
Leustean said a common working group had been set up to prepare the
meeting. Two other working groups will concentrate on regional
cooperation and joint efforts to promote Romania's EU integration. 
The two state secretaries will meet on a regular basis to identify
precise projects within the strategic partnership between the two
countries. This month, the Hungarian and Romanian Foreign Affairs
Ministries will assess national development plans, and joint common
projects in infrastructure and the environment. 
Barsony also proposed that, besides the government meeting, the two
prime ministers should also visit a flood-devastated area. 
When asked about the special passports Hungary wants to issue for ethnic
Hungarians living in neighboring countries, Barsony said the issue was
not discussed on Tuesday, but that the Hungarian government will inform
the neighboring states about the issue. 
The state secretary also told journalists he had not discussed the issue
of two Romanian citizens who allegedly spied on Hungarian politicians
with the Romanian side. "If all the stories published by the media would
have really built up tension in relations between Romania and Hungary,
there would already have been an 
explosion," Barsony said. (DIVERS) 

HADARENI CASE: COURT DEFERS THE DECISION ON THE FORECLOSURE APPEAL 
TIRGU MURES – Local court in Ludus (central Romania) deferred on
September 6, for September 28, the decision in case of the appeal to the
foreclosure carried out by the Romanians sentenced in Hadareni trial,
which arose the dissatisfaction of the ethnic Roma people, making a
scandal when getting out of the audience hall, allegedly threatening
with putting the Romanians on fire. 
Judge Maria Neamtu made this decision because she has only the
translation of the ECHR Decision on July 5, in which the ethnic Roma
reached an agreement with the Romanian state, and not the translation of
the decision on July 12, of the European Court. 
The magistrate announced she will request the Romanian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs to send a copy of the decision of the European Court of
Human Rights on July 12, which sentenced the Romanian state to pay
compensations. After the ethnic Roma were communicated this decision of
the court, dissatisfied, they accused the judge of favouring the
Romanians and they made scandal when getting out of the audience hall,
threatening the Romanians with setting them on fire. 
On their turn, the Romanians accused the ethnic Roma of having lied at
ECHR that their houses have not been rebuilt. Some of them say the
ethnic Roma had also lied as regards the goods they allegedly lost
during the fire. 
Four persons sentenced to jail for murder one, following the
inter-ethnic conflict on September 1993, namely Nicolae Gall, Iuliu
Bucur, Petru Bucur and Pavel Bucur, stated when getting out of the
audience hall, that a policeman had instigated the population against
the ethnic Roma and it is not fair they are the only ones to 
pay considering the entire village took part in setting on fire the
houses of the ethnic Roma. 
On August 10, the judicial executor Eugen Huruba, accompanied by
gendarmes, policemen and DIAS troops, levied the distraint upon the
houses of the Romanians sentenced by the internal courts for having set
on fire the houses of ethnic Roma, on September 1993. Some of them were
levied the distraint upon the house after 
having paid damages worth ROL210 mn, as the sentence of Tirgu-Mures
Court of Appeals, maintained by ICCJ, stipulates the compensations
should be paid in a solidary manner. The Romanians lodged an appeal to
the foreclosure decision, which is scheduled for September 6, at Ludus
Courthouse. 
The action to levy the distraint upon the goods of the seven Romanians
in Hadareni locality in Mures comes following a decision of Targu-Mures
Court of Appeals, on February 2004, confirmed on May this year by the
High Court of Cassation and Justice. 
The decision of Tirgu-Mures Court of Appeals, delivered on February 27,
2004 granted the victims –civil parties in the trial- material
compensations worth ROL1.3 bn and moral damages worth ROL580 mn. The
conflict in Hadareni burst in the evening of September 20, 1993, with an
altercation between three ethnic Roma – 
Iligor Ghetan and brothers Lacatus Ripa Lupian and Lacatus Aurel
Pardailian. The spontaneous conflict between the three persons involved
several persons, Romanians and ethnic Roma altogether. Lacatus Rapa
Lupian stabbed Craciun Chetan in the chest, who ultimately died. The
police in the locality tried to intervene, but Lacatus brothers refused
to hand over to the authorities. They hid in a house and threatened with
killing some persons if they are not left alone. 
The inhabitants gathered around the house the two men had hidden in and
some of them started to throw stones at the house to make the two
brothers get out and hand over. Two persons in the crowd lit a piece of
paper and threw it inside of the house, setting it on fire, and Lacatus
Rapa Lupian got out. The people gathered 
around the house started to hit him and the conflict amplified. 
During the incidents between the Romanians and the ethnic Roma, four
persons died, 14 houses were set on fire and other four were partially
destroyed. 
Subsequently, trials were initiated in the criminal law (finalized on
November 1999 with sentencing five persons to jail for murder), as well
as in the civil law (finalized on February 27, 2004, through the
sentence passed by Tirgu Mures Court of Appeals),and the ethnic Roma
sued the Romanian state, accusing the authorities of having breached
several articles from the European Convention of Human Rights. 
On July 5, 2005, a first solution of ECHR in "Hadareni” case was the
amiable solving of the conflict, 15 persons receiving compensations
worth EUR262,000. 
As regards the other seven ethnic Roma who had not reached an agreement
with the Romanian state, on July 12, 2005, they were ruled in favour by
ECHR, the European Court sentencing the Romanian state to pay other
EUR238,000. (DIVERS) 

GUIDEBOOK FOR ETHNIC ROMA ACTIVISTS 
CLUJ-NAPOCA – Resources Department for the ethnic Roma communities with
headquarters in Budapest has recently launched the translation into the
Romanian language of a guidebook for ethnic Roma activists "Cum sa iti
cunosti drepturile si sa lupti pentru ele" (How to know your rights and
to fight for them). 
The guidebook eyes to provide an instrument to the people involved in
the ethnic Roma movement, in order to face the daily challenges in the
fight for equal rights. 
The first part of the manual "Cum sa intelegem drepturile omului" (How
to understand the human rights) presents the basic notions connected to
the human rights issue and through examples and exercises, these are
exemplified with the problems faced by the ethnic Roma communities in
Europe. "Exercitarea si protejarea 
drepturilor" (Exercising and protecting the rights), namely the second
part of the guidebook, is focused upon the abilities and activities that
the activists and the non-governmental organisations need in protecting
the human rights. 

FEATURE 
ROMA ANNUAL FESTIVAL IN SOUTHERN ROMANIA 
COSTESTI – Over 3000 ethnic Roma from throughout the country gathered on
September 8 in the village of Costesti, in Valcea County, to celebrate
their annual festival on Saint Mary's Day, Bucharest Daily News reports. 
Wearing nothing but a long pink skirt, little Zana Paraschiva belly
dances in front of her family's full table of bottles of wine, roasted
suckling pigs, fried chickens, and exotic fruits. With her hands in the
air, Zana moves her belly to the music's rhythm. At the table, the
girl's mother, Mariana, claps her hands and whispers a gypsy song for
her daughter to dance to. 
Nearby, one of Zana's playmates, seven-year-old Mario Stanescu, wears a
long and heavy gold cross, proudly showing his even heavier gold watch.
Behind him, his father, wearing gold rings on four of the fingers on his
right hand, fills his glass with champagne. 
Zana and Mario's families arrived in the small village of Costesti on
Thursday to take part in the Annual Gypsies' Festival. They first went
to the nearby Saint Gregory's monastery to thank God for their gold and
to pray for their wealth to flourish. According to Gypsy tradition all
those who take part in the festival have to pray at the monastery first. 
"We prayed for health and wealth," Mariana says, smiling and showing her
front gold tooth. The Paraschiva family was among the first to arrive in
the valley of Costesti, in their black Mercedes Benz. They put up their
tent and set the table, proudly exhibiting their various kinds of
steaks. Early in the morning, the valley's silence was disturbed by the
sound of raging engines from the cars which have replaced the gypsies'
traditional carriages. 
Convertible Porsches, latest models of Mercedes and limousines seemed to
take the valley by surprise. By noon, most of the elite of the gypsy
minority had arrived in the valley. 
Soon, the smell of roasted meet and the loud gypsy music grasped the
senses of anybody who walked into or near the valley. The festival is
for all gypsies, regardless of wealth or social position, but it is
mostly the richest members of this minority who come. Consequently, the
festival has become a competition, whose 
winner is the one whose car is more expensive, whose gold necklace is
heavier or whose table is richer. 
Showing off with their kilos of gold jewelry and rich tables was not the
original purpose of the festival, at its outset about 40 years ago. The
late Gypsy King Ion Cioaba wanted the festival to be a meeting of
gypsies from throughout the country, for different tribes to get
together and celebrate. Ion's son, current King Florin Cioaba, has sworn
to carry out his father's last wish. "My father said this manifestation
has to remain the way it was at the beginning," he said. "The Roma
people meet here to be together and to maintain our tradition and
culture," Cioaba said. 
This task seems more and more difficult to carry out, as Cioaba is
discontented with other issues which distort the festival's true
meaning. "Recently, we had serious problems because this meeting turned
into a fair. We want it to remain a traditional, cultural meeting," the
self-proclaimed king said. 
Cioaba will ask the local authorities to forbid merchants who sell
various items from participating in the festival. The king said the
merchants are mainly Romanians, but the long line of poor gypsies
selling old items of clothing in the valley contradicts him. 
These gypsies are not allowed to come to the festival unless they have
an invitation. They come here to make some money by selling a few rags
and household items. "What can I do? I have to raise my kids. The rich
ones do not welcome us at their tables, although they are our brothers,
we are the same kind, we are 
gypsies," said Mazarica, an old lady selling old boots. 
Nevertheless, richness and opulence have a great importance at the
festival, as this event is also an opportunity for the different tribal
leaders to select brides for their sons. 
The Gypsy custom says that the bride's family has to have a similar
social position and wealth as the groom's family. For many tribes, it is
the parents, and not the young people, who arrange the marriage. 
According to the tribal custom, children marry very young, at about
10-12 years old. Mariuta Goman, eight years old, blushes when asked if
she will get married soon. "As soon as she's 11 or 12, I'll marry her,"
says her father, Mihai Goman. "I already found her a boy, but I am still
negotiating with his father," Goman said. 
Tradition says it is an essential duty of the parents to find a match
suitable for their offspring. The potential bride and groom might be
consulted, but their opinions are rarely taken into consideration in
making a final decision. 
King Cioaba now wants to convince the gypsies to stop marrying their
offspring at such early ages, as huge controversies have been caused by
marriages between 10 or 11 year old Gypsy children. 
Cioaba has to face the gypsies' stubbornness, since they refuse to obey
regulations broken by the King himself. "Who does he think he is? Didn't
he marry his daughter, Ana Maria, when she was 12?" said Gabor Geta, a
26 years old gypsy woman from Targu Mures, who intends to find a proper
match for her 7-year-old 
boy in a few years. 
In September 2003, King Florin Cioaba organized a three-day party for
her young daughter's wedding. The event got off to a bad start, as the
reluctant 12-year-old bride stormed out of the church, refusing to get
married. Convinced by her family, Ana-Maria eventually married
15-year-old Mihai Birita. 
The wedding caused controversy and scandal, as EU envoy Emma Nicholson
demanded local authorities forbid marriages between minors. 
Most of the gypsies who came to the annual festival did not seem to care
about such scandals, as they kept peering at each others' cars and
jewelry searching for a suitable match for their offspring. (DIVERS) 

*** 

DIVERS - News bulletin about ethnic minorities living in Romania is
edited every week by MEDIAFAX, with the financial support of King
Baudouin Foundation, Belgium and Ethnocultural Diversity Resource
Center. Partial or full reproduction of the information contained in
DIVERS is allowed only if the source is mentioned. You can send messages
and suggestions regarding the content of DIVERS bulletin at MEDIAFAX,
Str. Tudor Arghezi, Nr. 3B, Sector 2 - Bucharest, tel: 021/ 305.31.91 or
at the e-mail address: divers@mediafax.ro

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