Romanian Roma hold a street protest against discrimination

By • on September 25, 2012

Several hundred Roma gathered in front of the Romanian Government and Presidency in Bucharest on September 12 to protest against the racist statements of the French Interior Minister and against the lack of governmental initiatives meant for improving the situation of Romanian Roma.

The action was organized by the Civic Democratic Alliance of Roma (CDAR), and the date, 12 September, was not chosen at random. The Roma protest was directly related to the visit of the French Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, and Minister of the European Affairs, Bernard Cazeneuve to Bucharest. A week before this visit, the French Minister of the Interior declared for a French TV station that France “cannot receive the mess of the world and of Europe”, referring specifically to the Roma. He added that before the end of September, 7,000 Romanian and Bulgarian Roma will receive financial aid for the return to their home countries. Marian Daragiu, the president of CDAR, said that the people took to the streets in order to ask the Executive to draft public policies that would improve their “miserable living conditions”.

Daragiu said that the Romanian Roma have accumulated a lot of resentment over the past 20 years, due to their fact that they were only used as an electoral bait and never treated as a real problem. “This beautiful story about the French coming to point out the wrongs of the Romanian Government should make us understand that this situation must stop. You can not expect positive results as long as the causes are swept under the carpet”, said Marian Daragiu. The reality, he said, is that of a lack of jobs and housing for Roma, who are unable to send their children to school. Because of this, the Roma community becomes increasingly isolated, a fact that the Romanian autorithies already know well. “We should not blame the French officials for telling us that we have a problem, the Romanian government and authorities must respond with appropriate measures and take action right now” said Daragiu.

“We want the Roma to become people who can contribute to the state budget in five to ten years. We want to be part of the democratic process of decision making”, said Daragiu in reference to the the Law on Political Parties and Elections, which addresses minorities not represented in the Parliament.

Manuel Valls , the French Interior Minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, the Deputy Minister for European Affairs, met with the Romanian President Traian Basescu, Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Mariana Câmpeanu, the Minister of Labour and Mircea Dusaon, the Minister of Internal Affairs on 12 September in Bucharest. The representatives of the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Internal affairs met at the Romanian government to sign a framework agreement with the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) that establishes a mechanism to support the reintegration of Roma families returning from France. The two French ministers came to Romania to tackle the Roma problem also because the new Socialist government have relaunched the evacuation of migrant camps and the eviction of Roma over this past summer.