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Casilino 900: urgent appeal against the persecution of the Roma in Italy

by EveryOne Group Thursday, Apr. 24, 2008 at 10:08 AM

The persecution of the Rroms (Roma) in Italy: EveryOne Group and the Committee for the Rights of the Roma of Casilino 900 have launched an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights following a serious humanitarian emergency at the Casilino 900 camp, in Rome.

Casilino 900: urgent appeal against the persecution of the Roma in Italy

Wednesday April 23, 2008

The persecution of the Rroms (Roma) in Italy: EveryOne Group and the Committee for the Rights of the Roma of Casilino 900 have launched an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights following a serious humanitarian emergency at the Casilino 900 camp, in Rome.

Urgent appeal to The European Court of Human Rights


European Commission;

High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR);

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (United Nations);

European Roma Rights Center;

European Roma Information Office (ERIO)

Gruppo EveryOne has been following very closely the situation of the Roma camp “Casilino 900” which is situated between the VII and VIII Municipalities, in the vicinity of via Casilina, 900 in Rome. The camp is the oldest in the capital. Official figures date it back to the 1960s, but according to some of the older Roma who have always lived in the camp, it is even older. As our group has reported on several occasions, the Italian authorities are conducting an authentic ethnic purge against the Roma, be they Romanians, Roma originating from the Balkans or Italian nationals. The European Union and the United Nations have stigmatized the Italian Government and authorities on several occasions because of their racist policies towards the Roma, and have indicated a political line of integration to be followed. However, all warnings, suggestions, resolutions and observations have fallen on deaf ears. This is a list of some of the documents approved on an international level, with details of the persecutory policies towards the Roma people in Italy:

- the official letter from the EU dated June 27th, 2007, inviting Italy to adopt what was laid out in Directive 43 from 2000;

- The European Parliament Resolution of November 15th, 2007 on the application of Directive 2004/38/CE concerning the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of Member States;

- the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD - United Nations); 18th February – 7th March, 2008.

- the Resolution of the European Parliament dated January 31st, 2008 on a European Strategy for the Roma people (the Parliament for the most part discussed the persecution of the Roma people in Italy before approving the resolution);

- the denunciation of Crimes against Humanity being carried out by the Italian institutions, a report which was upheld by the International Criminal Court of the Hague in January 2008.

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso has also reminded the Italian Government on several occasions that the basis of any policies being carried out towards the Roma must be Directive 43 of 2000, which guarantees the Roma the right to health care, employment and lodgings. Barroso has also reminded the Italian institutions that the European Social Fund has set aside for Italy substantial sums to encourage the integration of Roma citizens, and that Italy has decided not to make use of those funds. Before the racial campaign being carried out by most of the Italian political parties (according to whom the repression of the Roma is being conducted as a response to an invasion of gypsies from Romania) Barroso has stressed, with the help of figures and data, that there has been no increase in Romanian immigration to Italy following Romania’s entry into the European Union.

It is no coincidence that the average lifespan of the Roma people in Italy has dropped to well below 40 years of age (compared to the average age of 80 of other European citizens) while the infant mortality rate is from 10 to 15 times higher than the European average. Members of EveryOne Group have witnessed numerous acts of violence and inhumane and degrading treatment carried out by the police force towards Roma children, women and men, as well at the strategy of terror being directed at them, with helicopters, sniffer dogs, raids and continual searches, judicial abuse. Camp clearances (which resemble pogroms) without offering any alternative lodging have already taken place in numerous camps in Rome - among them the camps at Tor di Quinto, Ponte Mammolo, Tor Vergata and Saxa Rubra. The figures of these acts of persecution are shocking: in just over a year 40 camp clearances have been carried out in Rome. Countless police operations have been carried out against the capital’s Roma community. What is more, these persecutory policies are at the root of attacks on the camp by groups of racists, attacks which in some cases have threatened the lives of hundreds of Roma with incendiary bombs, (for example, the fire at the former Mira Lanza factory in the Marconi area on January 3rd, 2008 - an episode that was never investigated by the authorities or given any attention by the media). In his electoral campaign Francesco Rutelli has announced that “The Casilino 900 gypsy camp, the largest in Rome, will be cleared and we will prevent any further settlements. We will insist on legality and be inflexible with those who do not obey the law.” An attitude which sums up a programme and which leads us to expect the worst for the future of the Roma in the Casilino 900 camp and the city of Rome itself.

Now it is the turn of the Casilino 900 camp, which Roberto Malini, Dario Picciau and Steed Gamero paid a careful visit to, meeting dozens of families and documenting (both with photographs and by listening to their stories) the conditions they are living in. For months the Italian press, (particularly the Roman press) prompted by the police and authorities, has been creating a sinister aura around the Roma Casilino community. The Roma have been accused of armed robbery, rape, organizing a prostitution ring, drug trafficking, environmental pollution (burning cables to extract the copper) and even the ill-treatment of dogs and birds. In the surrounding area rumours have spread about “the gypsies eating dogs and cats”. At the beginning of April (2008), with the excuse of non-existent ill-treatment of dogs and cats (pets which are often the only comfort of children and the elderly) the police, the Forestry corps, the detective branch for crimes against animals, and the animal rights department, confiscated 66 cats and 36 dogs from the Roma living in the Casilino camp. The confiscation of the cats has, in fact, taken from the Roma their only protection against mice and rats that are now running rife in the camp, making health and sanitary conditions even worse. In spite of the emergency due to the presence of rats and mice, the authorities and presidents of the VII and VIII local municipalities have ignored (and even derided) our request for the cats to be returned to the camp. Along with the racist campaign, every persecutory measure against the camp has been activated - the camp has been closed off like a ghetto and is being guarded by the police. The activities of the heads of the families have been curtailed, their means of transport confiscated. For example, the police prevented a sick woman being taken to hospital by car. 748 registered Roma live in the camp, plus a few dozen guests. Over half of them are children and young people; many of them young mothers. Dozens of Roma who live in the camp suffer from serious illnesses, heart problems and infections. About 250 of the children are attending school and the community (despite their criminalization by the media) has a relationship with the surrounding district that goes back over 40 years. EveryOne Group has observed that the clearance has already begun, with the destruction of 36 shelters. The justification of this destruction supplied to the members of EveryOne by the authorities, is that they had to “create a passageway wide enough to allow the fire department to get through in the event of a fire”. Various families, (among which a family with eight children) were thrown out of their homes without alternative lodging or financial support. A police officer taking part in the operation, who would not give his name (none of the police on the site will) admitted that: “the truth of the matter is that the clearance is necessary because the local authorities have decided to carry out work on the Metro here. Security and unlawfulness are just an excuse, because the fate of the Casilino 900 camp has already been decided and they don’t want the Roma people to claim any right to the area after they have lived here for over 40 years.” Coming up with the most amazing excuses (the Roma waste water because they always leave the taps running) the authorities have cut off their supply of drinking water: a single drinking fountain now has to satisfy the needs of 800 human beings. Over a month ago the Comune di Roma cut off the electricity supply to the camp, causing serious hardship: the Roma community at the Casilino 900 camp, is made up of ailing elderly people, undernourished children suffering from various pathologies, and pregnant women forced to live in the cold and dark.

Candles increase the risk of fires breaking out and the sanitary conditions in which the families live is rapidly deteriorating. We could compare their situation to the conditions the Jews in the ghettoes of Warsaw and Lodz were forced to live in during the Holocaust. Let us not forget that several of the members of EveryOne are authoritative scholars of the Holocaust, historical genocides, racial persecution and its dynamics. Before the protests of EveryOne Group and the other associations and human rights organizations calling for an urgent end to the segregation, the inhumane and degrading treatment and the political-media racist campaign, as well as the return of the water and electricity supplies, the setting up of health and social assistance and alternative lodging for the families left homeless, the Roman authorities have supplied no answers, showing themselves to play an active role in the persecution.

EveryOne Group, after listening to the requests of a committee of breadwinners at the Casilino camp have forwarded some requests to the local authorities:

1) after many years of persecution, it is necessary that the local institutions, if they intend to act with conscience and according to the international conventions that protect the Roma minority, recognise the authority of camp representatives, divided into committees, and do their utmost to listen to their requests in order to give a tangible and permanent response to their legitimate appeals;

2) the Roma community of the Casilino 900 camp asks that their right to live on the present area be recognised, without any further reduction of space. They ask for the allocation of funding and the realization of the project they have already presented to the authorities, with improved facilities and adequate water and electricity supplies for the needs of the community - a project based on the French model of “quality camps” (EveryOne Group has the requisites, experience and competence to provide excellent consultation in the matter);

3) it is absolutely essential that the professional activities of the Roma in the Casilino camp are facilitated. Many of them are highly competent in the building, artisan and industrial sectors, for example, and they should be helped to create activities and businesses run by people from the Roma community;

4) it is just as important that the children and young people of Casilino 900 are able to attend school without being surrounded by a climate of segregation and persecution; it is also advisable to encourage contact between young Roma and Italian peers in sports, games, and cultural events in an attempt to break down the barriers of prejudice, and at the same time encourage an awareness of each other’s culture and traditions;

5) the media and political campaign that helps to spread negative stereotypes about the Roma community must be stopped, immediately, and be replaced by teaching and positive integration programmes.

6) It being understood that we believe the Roma families from the Casilino 900 camp, after living in a situation of segregation, hardship and discrimination have every right to remain on the site of their present camp, with its over 40 years of Roma history (more than 60 according to the elderly) and that the camp should be equipped with facilities and improvements by the authorities - an alternative solution would be the creation of well-equipped camps of smaller dimensions, with facilities necessary for the families to live a dignified existence: in other words “quality camps”. These camps must in any case be approved before and after their creation by the committee of Roma representatives of the Casilino 900 camp, and only after their approval will the families move to the new site. These quality camps should be created in the vicinity of the present site, considering the close relationship, albeit a difficult one, that the Roma families have with the VII and VIII municipalities;

7) a valid alternative, of course, could be the allocation of council property to the Roma of the Casilino 900 camp, suitable for each family nucleus as part of a protection programme for the Roma community. This new situation must not, however, interfere in a negative way with the traditions, culture, religion of the Roma community from the Casilino 900 camp. Again, this alternative would have to be examined and approved by the Roma representatives.

8) the guests of the Casilino 900 camp who are not members of the Roma ethnic group, but who have shared the experience of the Roma in the Casilino 900 camp, and who are now part of their community, should naturally be recognized equal rights with the ethnic Roma.

In the event of the Roman institutions (after the meetings with our Group, who will continue to coordinate with the Roma representatives) refusing to agree to the civil alternatives and continuing their racist policies (in violation of the Convention and laws that protect the rights of the Roma people) EveryOne Group will oppose any operations of enforced removal with a passive, non-violent, Gandhian protest: in the event of the police forcibly kicking our Roma brothers and sisters out of their camp, our group will hold hands, singing the anthem of the Roma people and other songs of peace and justice, the way Janusz Korkzac and his assistant Stephania Vilchinska did when the Nazi criminals decided to deport the Jewish children from their orphanage to Treblinka.

Before we arrive at this solution, which will obviously lead to fresh abuse and institutional violence, EveryOne Group is asking the European Court of Human Rights to carry out a surprise inspection to verify the level of marginalization, segregation and persecution that the Roma of Casilino 900 are subjected to, as well as requesting immediate action through all the instruments of human social justice in its power, in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe (which is already underway) leading to consequences of unimaginable suffering for the more than 200 Roma families who live in the Roman camp.


Gruppo EveryOne

e-mail info@everyonegroup.com

www.everyonegroup.com - www.annesdoor.com

tel. (+ 39) 334-8429527

Commitee for the Roma Rights of Casilino 900

via Casilina 900, Rome (Italy)

e-mail info@monteauto.it

Promoting the action to protect the Roma community of Casilino 900:

EveryOne Group

Roberto Malini • Matteo Pegoraro • Dario Picciau • Jeanne Gamonet • Jean (Pipo) Sarguera • Santino Spinelli • Daniela De Rentiis • Marcel Courthiade • Saimir Mile • Ahmad Rafat • Arsham Parsi • Laura Todisco • Glenys Robinson • Steed Gamero • Fabio Patronelli • Stelian Covaciu • Udila Ciurar • Alessandro Matta • Cristos Papaioannou • Paul Albrecht • George Scarlat • Seyed Mehdi Kazemi • Terry Evans • Elisabetta Vivaldi • Esad "Francesco" Licina

Promoters and Consultants

Elisabetta Vivaldi, studiosa di Storia e cultura Rrom, Bruxelles • Jeanne Gamonet, "Aver" Centre President and supplementary French delegate to the European Roma and Traveller Forum (Council of Europe) • Natale Adornetto, psychologist, author, lecturer, expert in the abuse of psychiatry • Yukiko Hosomi, Human Rights activist, Japan/Uk • Sylvia Ioannides, writer, Canada • Jeannie Markarian, writer, Armenia/United States of America • Thomas Erbsloh, Irish Travellers Movement, Northern Ireland • Conor Keys, Omagh Travellers Support Group, Ireland • European Roma Rights Centre • European Roma Information Office (ERIO) • Mark Donahue, Irish Traveller • Tommaso Vitale, Sociology Professor • Joseph Cahill, Historian, Northern Ireland • Irish Traveller Movement, Northern Ireland Associazione Aven Amentza - Unione Rom e Sinti, Milano • Thomas Erbsloh, Irish Traveller Movement • Carolina Varga Dinicu • Association des Droits Democratiques a Geneve • Centre Culturel Gitan, Pavillons-sous-Bois (France) • Promoters and Consultants • La Voix des Rroms (Paris) • Gypsy Lore Society (Usa) • Group of Migrants & Refugees of Salonica • Union Gypsy • Roma Right Watch • Union Rromsni • Roma Press Center (Budapest) • Opera Nomadi • Associazione Çingeneyiz (Rroms in Turkey) • Romani Yah - Association and Newspaper of Romas from Transcarpathia • Roma Virtual Network • Tamara Deuel (Israel), Holocaust survivor – activist against the discrimination of Rroms • Mercedes Lourdes Frias, Italian Republic Depute (Rifondazione Comunista - Sinistra Europea) • Etudes Tsiganes (Paris) • Alain Reyniers, anthropologist at the University of Louvain-La-Neuve (Belgium), expert in Rroms, Sinti and Kale cultures • European Roma Information Office • Roma Diplomacy Programme • John Pearson, Secretary, Democratic Socialist Alliance, UK • Gady Castel (Israel), director, director of the Jewish Film Festival "Jewish Eyes" of Tel Aviv, author of documentaries on the Holocaust • Cristina Matricardi, founder of the first Multiethnic kindergarten "Oasis" - Genoa • Maria Eugenia Esparragoza, cultural mediator, member of the Ministerial Intercultural Technical Committee • Professor Matt T. Salo, researcher and publisher, expert in Gypsy culture • Emiliano Laurenzi, giornalista • Paolo Buconi, Yiddish and Klezmer musician • Marius Benta, journalist • Seven Times (Romania) • Ted Coombs, Director of Hilo Art Museum (Holocaust and Genocide art) • Steve Davey, co-director of the Hilo Art Museum (Holocaust and Genocide Art) • Mirjam Pinkhof, survivor of the Shoah, Holocaust heroine who saved 70 Jewish children from the Nazis • Halina Birenbaum, survivor of the Shoah, writer and teacher • Oni Onhaus, Holocaust witness • Manzi Onhaus, Auschwitz survivor • Elisheva Zimet, Auschwitz survivor • Alice Offenbacher, Bergen Belsen survivor• Mirko Bezzecchi, survivor the Samudaripen • Antonia Bezzecchi, survivor the Samudaripen • Hanneli Pick-Goslar, friend of Anne Frank, Holocaust survivor • Michael Petrelis, veteran Human Rights Advocate (Usa) • Stichting Buitenlandse Partner • Professor Saimir Mile, jurist, lecturer in Rromsni, Sinti and Kale culture at the University of Paris (INALCO), General-Secretary of the Centre of Research and Action in France Against all Forms of Racism, member of EveryOne Group • Jean (Pipo) Sarguera, President of the Centre culturel gitan – Paris • Emeritus professor Marcel Courthiade, holder of the chair of Rromsni, Sinti and Kale language and civilization at the University of Paris (INALCO) • Kibbutz Netzer Sereni, Israel • Antonia Arslan, essayist and writer • Caffé Shakerato - Intercultura - Genova • Simona Titti, Caritas Livorno • Gazeta de Sud, Cotidian al oltenilor de pretutindeni (Romania) • Oana Olaru, journalist (Romania) • Fabio Contu, playwright and teacher, Comunità Sant'Egidio, Genova • Allie, Gypsy News, NE, Ohio, United States • Guri Gentian - Group of Migrant&Refugees of Salonica • Associazione Yakaar Italia Senegal • Thèm Romano ONLUS Association

Marco Brazzoduro (University of Roma, La Sapienza) • Roberta Cipollini (University of Rome, La Sapienza) • Roberto De Angelis (University di Rome, La Sapienza) • Tommaso Vitale (University of Milan, Bicocca) • Rita Corneli (CPN Rifondazione Comunista) • Gianluca Peciola (Councillor XI Municipio, Rome) • Stefano Galieni (National Coordinator for the Immigration Department, Prc), Claudio Graziano • (head of immigration ARCI Roma)


Gruppo EveryOne

e-mail info@everyonegroup.com

www.everyonegroup.com - www.annesdoor.com

tel. (+ 39) 334-8429527

Commitee for the Roma Rights of Casilino 900

via Casilina 900, Rome (Italy)

e-mail info@monteauto.it

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