International Romani Day – not a holiday only, but a day to fight discrimination

International Romani Day, April 8, is celebrated since 1971, when the First World Romani congress has convened, one of the first events aimed at defending the rights and preserving the culture of the Romani people. It was also one of the first occasions, when it was openly stated that Roma and Sinti people, being the largest European ethnic minority, live poorer than most of their neighbors belonging to European ethnic majorities in various countries. Poorer quality of life includes poorer living conditions, unemployment, poorer education. Human rights activists mark this day and use it as an opportunity to speak about the necessity of fighting against discrimination of Romani people. In 2013 ADC “Memorial” calls to pay special attention to the rights of the Roma children in Russia.

On this day ADC “Memorial” participated in various children and school activities in different cities. In Samara human rights activists from ADC “Memorial” spoke before Roma school children and their teachers, told them about the Convention on the rights of the child and possibilities for getting stipends for Roma students after finishing the school

Although the International Romani Day is not celebrated as a mere holiday, it is often that there are some entertainment events on April 8. Not only Roma children and adults are invited to participate in the festive events on this day, but all school children and local people are welcome to take part in the events on that day that take place in various locations.

In Leskolovo, Leningrad region, on April 7, 2013 a concert was held in a local  community centre. Children and young people from a nearby Roma settlement, who are part of  “Red Rose” dance ensemble, took part in the event, which was also attended by local people of Leskolovo.

Children who attend a preschool group in school no.6 in Chudovo, Leningrad region, showed a small play in Roma language. It was directed by Suleiman Yanopol, a high school student. The play was shown to the pupils of Chudovo boarding school. Ilya Berdyshev of ADC “Memorial” congratulated the children with the International Romani Day.

International Romani Day was also celebrated in Lipetsk. One of the local community centres housed an event in which school children and teachers of school no.2 took part. ADC “Memorial” cooperates with this school and the local Roma association “Romani Pearl” for several years now.

International Romani Day was also celebrated in Penza, Ryazan, Tula, Volgograd, Astrakhan, the cities where local teachers have a long-standing interest for the rights and achievements of their Roma students.

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