join donate discuss

The Forgotten People

Written By Virgil Bitu


20th of March 2021 – UN Anti-Racism Day

We, Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are a population with a very rough fate. During the centuries we have been enslaved, victims of the Holocaust, of armed conflicts which were not ours and even nowadays we are constantly victims of violent hate crimes especially across Europe.

Roma communities are the most affected by hate crime in countries like Hungary, Italy, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Macedonia, Kosovo where the far-right movements are on the rise and the fascism is wining day by day.

UK doesn't make any exception! Gypsies, Roma and Travellers have no equal access to housing, education, health, work. We face discrimination on daily basis. Verbal and physical aggression, vandalised and arsoned caravans, actions that nobody is held accountable for. No wonder why many members of our communities suffer of Depression and Anxiety and the suicide rate being one of the highest in the travelling communities.

It’s sad to see that these things are happening today in the 21st Century in developed democratic societies, but these things are possible because we are facing institutionalised discrimination.

Media institutions feel entitled to associate ethnicity with crimes and anti social behaviour; Police abusing individuals knowing that nobody will stand for them; Local Governments evicting people without looking for other housing alternatives, Central Governments not undertaking effective measures and not involving us in the decision making process in matters that concern us.

One relevant example is the Holocaust Commission who doesn’t have any Roma representatives, Roma and Sinti being the second largest number of victims of the Holocaust. On a press release of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published on 4th of December 2018 about the UK Holocaust Memorial, it was omitted to mention about Roma and Antigypsyism.

After many attempts to convince authorities to invite us to take part in this historical statement, which is the UK Holocaust Memorial, we have been answered by one of the Co-Chairs of the Holocaust Commission that we shouldn’t be concerned because the Commission has its specialists and the Roma will be well represented… I rather say presented than represented! The respective person is the same person who militated for the allocation of 10 million pounds for the Dale Farm eviction.

Through these attitudes, the message sent by the authorities is that it’s not nice to discriminate the other vulnerable people but in case you cannot hold yourself, you may do it with Gypsies, Roma and Travellers because there is nobody to stand by us or there is no government or institution to represent us.

Today we have attention from the UK Government more then ever, but not the attention that we expected for, thanks to Priti Pattel's new policing bill. A bill which enable Police to arrest and fine travellers, to seize properties and even risk that their children to be taken into Child Protection Services custody. We expect that the biggest oppression will not come from the Police, which consider the bill measures as being exaggerate, but from racists and fascist, who will feel entitled and legitimised to act at free will.

The institutionalised discrimination is only widening the gap between the marginalised groups and the mainstream society and the situation is only getting worse for everybody.

It’s time that the governments don’t mention us in “the others” section or consider us as a “tick” on the lists! It’s time that the governments take Antigypsyism out of the dusty drawer and put it on the table. Enough of mentioning the Antigypsyism just because is politically correct!

Despite the hard times in our history, we are still here, we are many and we have voices to speak, we only need people to listen!