Bucharest will have a monument dedicated to the abolition of Roma slavery

By • on March 4, 2011

Last weekend, Romanian Roma NGOs celebrated 155 years since the abolition of Roma slavery, in 1856. On this occasion, the leaders of the Roma Center “Amare Rromentza” and the European Committee Krisinitor Roma C.E.R.K. launched a national campaign of fundraising in order to build a monument in memory of the Roma who have been slaves for 500 years. “The construction of this monument marks the beginning of a campaign to create landmarks for the history of Roma. The monument will be funded by Roma and will be made by the Roma sculptor Marian Petre. It will cost 300.000 euros. Officially, Romania has 535.000 Roma. If everyone donates 50 cents we could finish this monument by the end of next year”, said Mrs. Delia Grigore, president of the Roma Center “Amare Rromentza”. Mr. Florin Motoi, the president of the European Committee of Krisinitor Roma C.E.R.K. said: “For us, for the traditional Roma, this monument symbolizes the recognition of the tragic period of Roma slavery by Romanian Governement. We will therefore support the construction of the monument.”

During the following press conference, Roma leaders declared that they have begun work on this monument. “We have already sent letters to the minister of Culture and to the City Hall asking to collaborate on finding a central place in Bucharest for this monument. We have a suggestion and we will meet with Romanian authorities to discuss it”, said Mrs. Delia Grigore.

Roma sculptor Marian Petre explained what the monument should look like: “It depends very much on the space where it will be located. I already made several sketches. It will be linked to the deportation of Roma and an important factor in the composition is the symbol of a chain.”

Donations for the construction of the monument can be made to the bank account: RO49 RZBR 0000 0600 1327 6580. For additional details, please contact Mrs. Delia Grigore: rromano@amarerromentza.org.

No political project support the use of the word “Roma” in Romanian society

The leaders of the Roma civil society met on 18 February on the occasion of a debate in celebration of 155 years since the abolition of slavery. They talked about “landowners” and “Gypsies”, the class separation between Romanians and Roma, Roma in Romanian society-past and present and, of course, about abolition of slavery. All discussion topics were influenced by the recent scandal concerning a law project meant to replace the word Roma with Gypsy. The conclusion of the debate belonged to Mr. Nicolae Gheorghe, a Roma leader, who said: “There is currently no political project supporting the use of the word Roma in Romanian society. Even if the law project will not pass the vote in the Deputy Chamber, the decisional room of the Parliament, the Roma leaders of civil society are not ready to have a strong take on this issue. We did not succeed in explaining to all Romanian Roma the difference between these two words, or why does the word Gypsy have a pejorative sense. So, we do share some of  the blame”, said Mr. Nicolae Gheorghe.

During the debate, Roma leaders had to answer questions from the audience: “Why aren’t Roma more united?”, “Why only few Roma come to protests?”, “Why don’t rich Roma do anything for poor Roma?”, “Why haven’t the Roma representatives protested against the law project who wants to replace “Roma” with “gypsy”?”. The Roma leaders having to answer all these questions were Mr. Nicolae Gheorghe, Mr. Vasile Ionescu and Mr. Marian Daragiu. “The Roma need helped from the  Romanian Government, and not from rich Roma, because this is the government’s mission”, answered Mr. Marian Daragiu. As for Roma protests, Mr. Nicolae Gheorghe said that the Romanian Roma are divided between the Pro Europe Roma Party, who supports the Romanian Government and refuse to protest on the streets, and Roma NGOs, who organized the protests. Mr. Vasile Ionescu declared that he is a believer in diplomacy.

The debate was moderated by profesor Vintila Mihailescu. At the end of the debate, the band Romano Butiq performed a concert.