MINELRES: Fwd: Statement of the Kosovo Roma Diaspora

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Nov 1 12:23:21 2008


Original sender: Roma Virtual Network <romale@zahav.net.il>


Statement of the Kosovo Roma Diaspora on the occasion of the
„International Roundtable on Roma, Ashakli and Egyptians of Kosovo:
Challenges and Prospects of Sustainable Integration"


22 October 2008 - We, representatives of the Kosovo Roma Diaspora, would
like to express our disagreement with the organisation of an
international roundtable on the integration of Roma from Kosovo by the
Project on Ethnic Relations in cooperation with the OSCE/ODIHR. 

We believe that this conference, which is taking place today at the
headquarters of the OSCE in Vienna, has no other purpose than to set the
basis for the forthcoming forced return of several ten thousand Roma
refugees to Kosovo.

In June 1999, the international community, including KFOR and the OSCE,
did nothing to prevent the violent expulsion of ten thousands of Roma
from their homes in Kosovo and the destruction of their properties.

In ten years, the international community did hardly anything to allow
the return of the internally displaced Roma in Kosovo, leaving people
knowingly in situations which are harmful to their lives (see the
situation of the internally displaced in Kosovska Mitrovica).

Asylum applications of Kosovo Roma were rejected on no grounds. Asylum
application procedures such as those in Macedonia were denounced as
flawed and unfair, including by the EU Commission and the US government,
with no consequence for the treatment of those who had become victims of
these discriminatory practices.

Despite the ban of the UNHCR, Kosovo Roma have been subjected to
pressure to either leave their host country voluntarily or to be
forcibly returned to Kosovo. There have been, throughout these years,
attempts to deport Roma to Kosovo, some of them stopped, in the last
minute, by UNMIK. In other cases, Kosovo Roma were deported to Serbia.

With the imminent declaration of independence and as a price to pay for
it, the Kosovo government adopted, in October last year, a strategy for
the reintegration of the returnees. It goes out from this document,
which was obviously drafted with heavy input of the international
community, if not entirely masterminded by it, that the Roma as an
ethnic group are the main target of forced repatriations.

The UNHCR currently withholds a new position on the continued need for
protection of individuals from Kosovo. Countries such as Switzerland
have recently announced that they will start returning minorities
including Roma to Kosovo next year. In other countries such as Sweden,
there has been an increase in negative decisions by tribunals, awakening
fears of forced deportations also from these countries. The German
"Bleiberechtsregelung" offers only limited opportunities for the
regularisation of Kosovo Roma refugees, leaving more than 20,000 people
with the threat of a being forcibly deported.

The Kosovo government has recently issued a draft strategy for the
integration of Roma, Ashkali and Kosovo Egyptians. This strategy belies
the fact that Roma in Kosovo were well integrated before the war. It
also belies the fact that Roma were comparatively well-off, sometimes
even better off than their Albanian neighbours. We fail to see in this
document any recognition of the crimes committed against Kosovo Roma for
which no compensation was ever offered. We fail to see any recognition
of the ongoing discrimination and violence against Roma in Kosovo. 

We noticed that we have not even been included in the Kosovo
constitution as a people of Kosovo. Our language is not recognized on
the same level than Albanian and Serbian. We have no guaranteed
political representation at local level in spite of the enhanced powers
of the local institutions. On central level, we are guaranteed one
representative while our community was once the third largest in Kosovo.

The meeting in Vienna comes at a moment when all the major decisions
have already been taken. Some finger-picked individuals are called in to
give their agreement – in the name of whom? – to a strategy decided by
others, a strategy which implies a discretionary decision over the lives
of several ten thousands of people, a strategy which implies
acknowledging injustice and creating new injustice, a strategy which
implies driving a whole people into misery.

We ask, who decided about this meeting and who set up the agenda? We are
not aware of any consultation with the Diaspora. Instead, the
information was circulated almost secretly and in a language which most
of us do not understand. Only a few days before the conference, the
(provisional?) list of invitees was made available. We realise that the
majority of the representatives in this meeting are representatives of
international organisations or national governments. Have they been
consulted with, when the agenda was drafted, or how will they be able to
participate in the debate?

We want to have a discussion and we do have issues to discuss. This
concerns in first place the denial of asylum to Kosovo Roma. This
concerns our exclusion from political processes including the status
negotiations and the drafting of a constitution. This also concerns the
issue of compensation. It finally concerns the bringing to justice of
war criminals. 

We expect from the OSCE/ODIHR to facilitate the creation of a permanent
forum of Kosovo Roma representatives which would have the means to start
consultations among its constituency on issues such as refugee returns.
It should also have the means to compile and analyse information such as
war crimes, property returns, etc..

Only then can we start to talk about a real dialogue. We are deeply
ashamed and outraged by the fact of being treated as a social
under-class and outcasts whose destiny is left at the hands of some NGOs
who act as the henchmen of Western governments and line up their pockets
on our backs. We have lived in Kosovo for more than 600 years. We
request the same respect than which is given to other people from
Kosovo.

We call on our brothers and sisters who are present at this meeting to
abstain from any decision which will put them at odds with their own
people. We ask them to watch and listen carefully and to report back to
their constituency, because the final vote belongs only to those who are
actually concerned.


Signatories:

Murat Haliti <kosovoroma@gmail.com>, Romano Them
<http://kosovoroma.wordpress.com/>

Brahim Music <rromadayo@free.fr>, Ternikano Berno

Muharem Gasnjani <refugeek@sonet.com.mk>, Committee of the Kosovo Roma,
Egyptian and Askhali Refugees in Macedonia

Imer Kajtazi <romano.dzuvdipe@skynet.be>, Romano Dzuvdipe, URYD Belgium

Mifailj Osmani <m.osmani@romandie.com>, Amalipe Rom Nevo Dive/ URYD
Switzerland

Nedzo Nezirin <uryd_france@yahoo.fr>, URYD France
<http://www.uryd.com/>

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