Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Louise Doughty has an article in today's Guardian about the Roma being used as a whipping boy by ambitious fascist politicians with depressing lessons from the 1930's
In Czechoslovakia, as it then was, restrictive legislation against Gypsies was brought in as early as 1927. Law 117 required all Gypsies to be fingerprinted and to provide details of their movements around the country. The evidence gathered under Law 117 facilitated the internment of Bohemian and Moravian Roma when the occupying German army decided the time had come. In August 1942, under the guise of a so-called Registration Day, the Roma and Sinti were rounded up and imprisoned in two camps, Lety in Bohemia and Hodinin in Moravia. After a year, most of the inhabitants of those camps were sent on to Auschwitz, where they were murdered. Of the 6,500 Roma in the Czech lands at the start of the war, fewer than 500 survived. What began with fingerprints in 1927 ended 16 years later in the gas chambers.
And so today, fingerprinting in Italy (at the moment they say all Italians also to be fingerprinted by 2010 - we'll see) and land dispossession in England
What is undeniable in this picture is that the current moves by both the government of Italy and British local councils such as Brentwood will only exacerbate the tensions between Romany or Traveller and settled populations. The immigrant Roma in Italy are there because they left countries such as Romania in search of better lives. The residents of Sulukule will have to go somewhere when the demolition trucks move in. Travellers turned off the land they own in Cambridgeshire or Essex will be forced to camp by the side of the road or on publicly owned recreation grounds. Bernadette Reilly remembers saying to one police officer who was moving the family on from the side of the road one night, "Where do you expect us to go?"
"Anywhere," the officer replied. "Just not in my borough."


Geoff Coupe said...

It's so depressing and disheartening. Those who do not learn the lessons of history are not only doomed to repeat them but to continue to inflict evil down the ages...

rajm said...

I cynically wonder whether they have learnt all too well the lessons of history