This war is not only a threat to European security and peace, it is a violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws under treaties ratified by the Russian Federation. This act of violence has already led to far too many deaths on both sides and continues to force hundreds of thousands of citizens to seek refuge in neighbouring countries while many others are stuck in conflict zones where missiles, bombs, and gunfire are a daily occurrence.
As members of the international Roma community, we call in solidarity for peace and diplomatic relations to return.
From the Second World War to the Balkan Wars of the late 1990s, history has shown us that in times of war or conflict, the plight of Roma as well as other minorities is continuously ignored. Ethnic minorities are often rendered invisible and further victimised instead of being provided equal protection. Amid bomb and missile assaults upon Ukrainian cities, let us not yet again forget that among the stranded families (who are increasingly living without supplies, electricity, or medical equipment) are Roma, people of African descent, migrants, and differently-abled human beings. Let us not forget that amongst those joining the resistance to fight for the freedom and security of Ukraine, and all its residents, are those same people.
As we have already witnessed in countries around the world, peoples of all nationalities are standing in solidarity with the civilians affected by war once again in Europe. Let us collectively fight for peace, justice and integrity by:
• Continuing to be united in taking a stand against the horrors of war and violence.
• Calling on authorities to ensure that the 400,000 Roma and other minorities living in Ukraine are granted equal protection and safety when seeking refuge inside and outside of the country.
• Calling on governments, world leaders, international and European institutions to provide equal access to humanitarian aid for Roma, and other marginalised individuals (including those without identity documents, who are in state care, or are in detention).
We call on media editors, journalists, and politicians to not monetise the war against Ukraine in order to promote inflammatory, racist portrayals of marginalised groups, including Roma. Such stories only further stigmatise and victimise minorities and risk additional violence against these groups.
As members of the international Roma community, we ask you to:
• Monitor the human rights violations and violence experienced by Roma and other minorities, who often face double victimisation during times of war.
• We call upon the UN High Commissioner for Refugees agency to work closely with Roma civil society organisations and take measures to ensure that Roma refugees and other minorities face no discrimination (with a particular emphasis on ensuring that discrimination, such as that faced by the Domari population during the war in Syria, is not repeated).
We call on international bodies – the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Development Programme, UNICEF and other UN secretariat units – to provide monitoring and practical assistance for the respect of human rights at the national level, taking into account the international human rights standards for minorities to prevent any violations. We in civil society shall keep relevant international institutions and treaty bodies informed in case the situation of the Roma population in Ukraine deteriorates.
European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, Belgium
Roma Active Albania association, Albania
Marius Taba, United Kingdom
Soraya Post, Sweden, former Member of the European Parliament
Phiren Amenca International Network, Belgium
European Roma Rights Centre, Belgium
Art Foundation Jaw Dikh, Poland
ROMEA, Czech Republic
ARA ART, Czech Republic
Jarmila Balážová, journalist, Czech Republic.
RomanoNet, Czech Republic
ARA ART SK, Slovakia
KaskoSan Roma Charity, United Kingdom
Roma Support Group, United Kingdom
Life Together, Czech Republic
E-Romnja Association, Romania
Margareta Matache, Roma scholar and activist, Romania