Holocaust Commission & Learning Centre: Give Roma victims proper representation

Holocaust Commission & Learning Centre: Give Roma victims proper representation

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Sinte & Roma Holocaust Memorial Trust started this petition to UK Holocaust Commission

National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre / Holocaust Commission: Representation of Roma

“What is done in the name of the Roma but without the Roma is done against the Roma”

We the undersigned demand that the Holocaust Commission and the new NHMLC provide commensurate representation for the victims and survivors of the Samudaripen (Roma Holocaust) as for the victims of the Shoah.

The Holocaust was a catastrophe for Europe's Roma/Sinte people as it was for its Jewish people. The precise number of Roma/Sinte victims is unknown because the Nazi regime considered us to be unworthy to even have our deaths recorded, and since a great many Roma/Sinte people were still nomadic at the time, the majority of murders were conducted wherever Roma/Sinte were found by the Einsatzgruppen, these unrecorded deaths outnumbering even the terrible toll of the concentration camps.

The German governmant and the EU recognise only 500,000 Roma deaths in the Samudaripen. However, the renowned Wiesenthal Centre stated that, based on their work with Nazi records, 2 to 2.5 million Roma/Sinte were murdered. Adding the fact that a greater number of victims were murdered outside of the camps and based on a best estimate of Europe's Roma/Sinte population before and after the Nazi era, Roma historian Vanya de Gila Kochanowski assessed the likely total death toll as circa 7.5 million, more than three-quarters of Europe's Roma and Sinte population. The Holocaust upon us was so extreme that several entire dialects of the Romani language were lost forever because every single speaker was murdered.

Furthermore, Roma/Sinte victims' families never received proper reparations for their losses. Indeed, until as recently as 1982 the West German government (as it was then) denied that any genocide of the Roma/Sinte had taken place, insisting that the Roma/Sinte victims were “common criminals who got what they deserved”. Although finally the genocide was acknowledged and in 2012 a small monument was constructed in the Tiergarten in Berlin, never has adequate recognition been given to either the fact or the magnitude of the Samudaripen.

There are now between 200,000 and 300,000 Roma/Sinte immigrants and their families in the UK, contributing to the economy (often working at hard, menial jobs that others are reluctant to do) and determined to make better lives for themselves and their children. In view of this, we feel that it is a matter of natural justice that we should have commensurate representation on all Holocaust-related bodies and projects in order both to properly commemorate our family members who were murdered or who suffered torture and deprivation, as well as to educate the public about this much-overlooked chapter in history.

It has now been proposed to invite people from groups who were not in any way affected by the Samudaripen to become the representative(s) of the Roma/Sinte victims to the Holocaust Commission and NHMLC – non-Roma/Sinte people, who were not affected in any way by the Samudaripen, who do not belong to the Roma/Sinte tribes, and who do not even speak the Romani language and therefore cannot communicate effectively with the people who actually need to be represented. It has been proposed that two gàdje (white European, non-Roma/Sinte) authors who made their money and academic reputations by writing “histories of the Roma” should be our representatives. We, the Roma/Sinte people, consider this to be an insult of a similar level to white Americans writing “histories” of the slavery, emancipation and civil rights battles of the Black Americans and then claiming that they can represent them in the fight for their rights. It is totally unacceptable. As we say in Romani, “so kerdo se e navesa e Romenge, numa bi e Romendar, kerdo se muial e Romende” – what is done in the name of the Roma, but without the Roma, is done against the Roma!

We note also the existence of the Sinte & Roma Holocaust Memorial Trust (SRHMT), a genuinely Roma-led, UK-based nonprofit organisation created to campaign for proper commemoration of the Samudaripen and to educate the general public about the Samudaripen. We, the signatories to this petition, demand that the SRHMT be recognised as the appropriate representative for the Roma/Sinte victims of the Holocaust in the UK, and that non-Roma/Sinte people be rejected as our representatives. We also demand that the Holocaust Commission and the new NHMLC provide commensurate representation for the victims and survivors of the Samudaripen (Roma Holocaust) as for the victims of the Shoah.

 

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