Discrimination of Roma minorities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Press-release of ADC “Memorial” for International Romani Day

The situation of the Roma minorities in post-Soviet countries remains difficult: problems, which are rooted in the ethnic policies of the USSR have not yet been overcome. The ban on the nomadic way of life for the Roma people in 1956, which had not been sufficiently supported by the state, led to the situation when hundreds of thousands of people found themselves not integrated into society, they continue to live in terrible conditions, do not receive quality education and medical care.

The most recent tragic events exacerbated the already vulnerable position of the Roma minority in Eastern Ukraine. More than 6,000 of Roma had to leave their place of residence because of the war in the region, those who stayed in the areas of military conflict suffered from shelling, arbitrary actions and violence of paramilitary groups, some were victims of anti-Roma pogroms, which were organized by the separatists.

Hate crimes against Roma are also being registered by human rights defenders in various regions of Ukraine, which had not been directly affected by the war (for example, the pogrom in Loshchinovka, Odessa region), as well as in Moldova.

Violations of the rights of Roma children to education also continue. In Russia many schools practice segregation of Roma children, when the latter are being kept in separate classes and even schools. Same practice also exists in some schools in Ukraine and Moldova. As a result of that, most Roma children get only primary school education at best and can not attend secondary and high school later, while universities also remain out of their reach. In Russia the situation with school education for Roma children has not changed for years: back in 2009, ADC “Memorial” described this discriminatory practice, which was registered in dozens of schools throughout the Russian Federation, but even today Roma children are being placed in the so-called “Ts” classes (classes for Roma children) even without division by age.

Instead of systematically solving the problem of legalizing housing and land allotments, as well as providing Roma settlements with water, electricity and gas supply lines, the Russian authorities have resumed the practice of demolishing houses in Roma settlements. Dozens of families with children found themselves on the street, with no alternative housing provided to them. A real act of intimidation for the Roma in Russia was the demolition of the settlement of Plekhanovo in Tula region, which was carried out with the use of special police forces. Legal claims for demolition of houses in other Roma settlements were also filed by local authorities in Tatarstan (Aisha settlement) and Tula region (Kosaya Gora).

The rights and interests of Roma communities in the countries of Southern Caucasus and Central Asia are also not taken into account by the respective state authorities. Armenian authorities ignore and deny the very existence of the local ethnic group of Romani origin (Bosha), this denial of cultural peculiarities and the problems of this ethnic minority led to almost complete assimilation of Bosha, but xenophobia and prejudices towards members of this ethnic group persist. Tajikistan authorities deny any discrimination against the locals Roma ethnic groups of Jugi and Mugat, while members of this minority are not provided with personal identity documents, they do not receive proper schooling and lose their homes as a result of demolitions and evictions.

Consistent measures are required to improve the situation of the Roma population in Eastern Europe and Central Asia at both regional and local levels. The authorities of these countries should adopt and implement action plans to address the real problems of Roma population (housing, education, protection from violence), while also providing targeted financing and constant monitoring of the effectiveness of their implementation.

On the photo — stopmotion from the TeleTula Channel


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