A Romanian mayor wants to build a wall to isolate the blocks inhabited by Roma

By • on July 8, 2011

Catalin Chereches (photo), the mayor of the town of Baia Mare, located in the Maramures County, decided a few days ago to build a wall 100 meters long and 1.80 meters high, which would isolate three blocks of flats inhabited mostly by Roma from the Horea neighborhood. The mayor has publicly stated that he decided to build this wall because the Roma are messy and throw garbage out of the windows of their flats. He added that the decision to build the wall also concerned the safety of the Roma children who were injured last year by cars passing on the streets. The  construction could begin any day and it will cost 30,000 lei (7500 euros), a sum that will be covered by local budgets. The plans of mayor Chereches do not stop there. He suggested that the entire neighborhood inhabited by Roma should be video monitored constantly and that a police station should be established.

Chereches likes “order and discipline”

Asked by the press why he decided to build this wall, the mayor explained: “There are not only Roma but also Romanian and Hungarian living there. One of that three blocks of flats is indeed inhabited by Roma only. There are three social units, out of which one that was rehabilitated and now is out of order again. They throw garbage out of the windows. We will raise the wall to protect people and the traffic on the nearby street. It will be a normal wall, divided.I’m not afraid of anything when it comes to maintaining order and discipline”

Roma leader: “This is a decision with a Nazi character”

The decision to build the wall caused the vehement reaction of the Roma NGOs defending the rights of this minority. David Mark, the leader of the Roma Civic Alliance of Romania (RCAR, an organization that brings together 29 Roma NGOs) asked the Romanian prime minister to take urgent measures to stop the construction of the “ghetto” from Horea neighborhood and to sanction the mayor, Catalin Chereches, for taking racist and segregationist actions against the Roma from Baia Mare. “Catalin Chereches’ decision, to build walls several meters high, to delimit blocks from Horea neighborhood where Roma most live is similar to the Nazi measures of creating Jewish ghettos in European cities, surrounded by walls and military forces. Building this wall under the pretext of ensuring the security of the citizens of this district is a proof of pure cynicism from the part of the Mayor Chereches”, said Mr. David Mark.

At present, the scandal is in full swing. The President of the National Council for Combating Discrimination launched an investigation.