Amnesty International: Asking Romania to stop Roma persecution

Local Amnesty international members are asking other Manx people to join them in messages to Romanian politicians to stop the segregation of Roma people.Their efforts centre on the city of Cluj-Napoca, where local government has forcibly re-located a longstanding Roma community of 76 families from city centre housing to a landfill and former chemical waste dump on the outskirts, away from the schools and medical facilities which accept them and sometimes lacking even basic facilities such as water or electricity. While about 40 families were granted a small room in basic housing units, the others have simply been told to “build something”.

Manx Amnesty activist Stuart Hartill said: “I’ve lived over there, and go back to see friends and relatives annually, so have been watching the worsening situation of the Roma now for around 20 years. To be quite blunt, they are the only section of Central and East European society who, having originally been decimated along with the Jewish community by the Nazis, have then survived Stalinism, the collapse of Communism and the supposed rise of democracy and the free market which followed only to see their situation actually get worse.”

One means of response is very quick and easy. There is an online petition to Victor Ponta, the Prime Minister of Romania, at calling for an end to forced evictions and it will only take a couple of seconds for members of the public to add their names.

The second requires faith communities to make a direct appeal to fellow believers. The first evictions in Cluj-Napoca happened while the current mayor, Emil Boc, was Romania’s prime Minister and before he returned to local politics. Mr Boc claims to be a deeply religious man whose political actions are guided by his beliefs. Faith leaders from around the UK are therefore being asked to join together locally in sending him letters urging him to “realise the lack of humanity in these actions and take steps to rebuild relationships with the Roma community in your city, and secure that every citizen of Cluj-Napoca can benefit from his right to adequate housing.”

The local letter will be coordinated by the Manx Amnesty group’s chairman, Reverend Cyril Rogers, and both Christian clergy and leaders of other Manx faith communities are invited to contact him at Ballaugh Rectory (tel: 897873) if they wish to add their names.

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