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Italy and the ruthless attacks on the Romani people

The Romani people are among the most oppressed on the face of the planet. There can be no question about this. Many people continue to use racist epithets against the Roma and not know it, even in the United States. The word “gypped” is a epithet referencing being “ripped off”. The fact that it escapes people’s attention when almost every other kind of epithet is treated as a scandal, it is a sad reflection of consciousness about the oppression of the Romani. In some countries the oppression of the Roma goes behind the acceptance of epithets, like for example Italy. According to a recent poll, 68% of the Italian public want all Romani expelled (regardless of whether they hold Italian passports) and 75% want unauthorized Romani camps demolished. The reactionary Berlusconi government which is in league with outright Fascists like the Northern League Party, has implemented a law which  requires the fingerprinting of all Romani people (including children). The law was implemented in order to make it easier to identify child beggars and have them promptly removed from their families, as well as expel “illegal residents”.

This reactionary law along with other recent incidents like the torching of a Romani camp by an Italian mob near Naples:   indicates that the Romani people are increasingly under attack.  When they’re not under attack, their deaths are treated like non-events. For example there is the case of the Italian vacationers sitting by idly as they clearly see two dead Roma children right near them. Italy is supposed to a member of the European Union, the so-called “vanguard” of human rights, that likes to tell the rest of the world how bad their human rights’ situation is. But these kinds of policies towards Roma people are not new or unique to Italy. Many other EU states have similar despicable policies towards the Roma, and there is little outcry. The Czech Republic and Hungary (new EU members) have for years forcibly sterilized Roma women. Roma children are routinely segregated and placed in “special schools’ for the mentally disabled, regardless of whether they actually have a disability or not. The unemployment figures for Roma people in all European countries are staggering, averaging between 70-90%. Roma people are routinely denied access to healthcare, and basic living infrastructure like clean water facilities. The inequality in education (and forced segregation into schools for the less gifted) precludes the Romani from getting access to the training needed for gainful employment.

It is true that Roma people were also mistreated under socialism in many countries. But Roma people were uniformly treated better, particularly in socialist Romania and Yugoslavia, than currently.  It is no coincidence that Romani people lined up to fight alongside the Yugoslav government against neo-fascist separatists and terrorists. The plight of the Roma underscores the failed promise of ‘social democracy’ and the European model of so-called “democratic socialism”. Only by destroying the economic system which operates under the principle of “divide and rule”, and fans ethnic hatreds in order to bolster its crumbling edifice, will the Roma be free.


One Response

  1. Your commentary is absolutely correct. When the reactionary Czech nationalists using their “liberal” leader Vaclav Havel came to power, one of their first acts was to break up Czechoslovakia and then to declare Roma people as non-citizens. The new ruling class, backed by their U.S. imperialist friends claimed the Roma’s are Slovakian and should be sent across the border. Havel acted like the Vichy regime.

    I met Roma people in Belgium around 1997. They came from Romania and lived in ethnically mixed areas with Romanians, similar to Hungarians in Romania. Living side by side in houses, helping each other to farm, their children went to the same schools, and their standard of living was as good as or even better than their Romanian neighbors. Their families mostly settled in the 1940’s and 1950’s. They were provided good land to work. That is what a group of 5 men and one older woman told me. When the 1990 Velvet Counter-revolution came to their village, Romanians from outside their village came and burned their houses down and chased them away. The police, who used to defend their rights, were no where to be found. The marauders left the Romanian houses alone and only attacked Romi. They were organizing a one truck caravan to bring clothes and household goods down to Romania, much like the caravans we send to Central America.

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