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From Mon Apr 10 20:34:46 EDT 2000
Article: 233579 of soc.culture.canada
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Subject: The Gypsies of Slovakia: Despised and Despairing 
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The Gypsies of Slovakia: Despised and Despairing
The New York Times
Page 10, Column 1

Foreign Desk; Section A

RUDNANY, Slovakia -- Darina Horvathova, 23, lives with her baby on the
crumbling remains of an abandoned iron and mercury mine, without a husband,
a job or indoor plumbing. The soil, under the mounds of uncollected trash,
is known to be contaminated. But 500 Gypsies , or Roma as they are also
known, live here in sickness and squalor in the shadow of a factory shut
down when Communism died.

The factory itself is now nothing but a broken concrete shell, having been
dismantled for construction materials by the people here.

Some live in wooden sheds; some in crumbling, filthy structures built for
mineworkers in 1918. There is one water tap for the whole settlement, no
toilets and not a single garbage container.

''The government doesn't care about us at all,'' said Miss Horvathova,
standing in a path of oily mud and trash. ''They could put down some pebbles
or pick up the garbage,'' she said. ''Anything you put on is dirty
immediately. Is this life?''

Cyril and Petr Horvath, 26 and 23, both went to school, and Cyril trained as
a bricklayer. But neither has a job. In fact, no Gypsy here has a regular
job. ''We want to work, but there is no work,'' said Cyril Horvath. ''When
you show up, they take one look at you, and that's it. They take only

Worsening conditions for Gypsies throughout Eastern Europe have caused
thousands to try to emigrate, quickly wearing out any welcome from Western
Europe. Their flight has created new pressure, most recently in Britain, to
tighten visa, immigration and asylum rules to keep them out.

Alojz Dunka, 58, is the unofficial aprilor of this settlement on the
outskirts of Rudnany, a town about seven miles east of Spisska Nova Ves, in
the mountains of north-east Slovakia. He worked at the mine, which was shut
down in 1992. ''It was much better under Communism,'' he said. ''Even with
discrimination, it was possible to live. Democracy has brought us nothing
but crisis.''

Mr. Dunka, a widower still too young to get a pension, now lives on a state
subsidy of 1,600 crowns a month, or $40. ''I haven't bought a new shirt in
years,'' he said, fingering the greasy, unravelling collar of the one he
wore. ''A new shirt costs 400 crowns. Try living on 1,600 crowns.''

His deputy, Stefan Ziga, 42, said: ''People tell us we live terrible lives
and scold us, but what can we do? We didn't shut down the mine or the
factory. The soil and the buildings are contaminated, and kids live in this
and get sick and die.''

Mr. Dunka said, ''The government talks and talks but nobody helps us.''

In the 11 years since Communism crumbled in 1989, Slovakia has struggled
with privatization and restructuring, closing many factories that showed no
profits and had too many workers. A system where work was compulsory but at
least put bread on the table has been replaced by one where open
discrimination keeps Gypsies from being hired.

Recently, two towns in this part of Slovakia, Nagov and Rokytovce, adopted
resolutions forbidding Gypsies from settling on their territory.

Slovakia is notorious for its treatment of Gypsies , who make up some 10
percent of its five million population. Discrimination, including police
mistreatment and beatings, has been reinforced by the post-Communist rise of
skinheads and other neo-fascist groups who, as in the neighboring Czech
Republic and Hungary, single out the Gypsies and are rarely punished.

In a report due out soon, Amnesty International describes ''punitive police
raids'' against Gypsy settlements, with dogs at dawn, apartments damaged and
inhabitants beaten. Rudnany was raided in July 1998; in Zehra in December
1999, a 13-year-old boy was shot in the leg, kitchen knives were impounded
as weapons and the local Gypsy leader, Jozef Mizigar, was put under house
arrest. In March, Jan Ondo and Michal Badzo, two Gypsies from Michalovce, 35
miles east of Kosice, were beaten by the police at the station and
hospitalized with fractures. In a statement to local television, the police
said there had been ''a mistake'' and apologized.

Mr. Dzurinda, elected 18 months ago to replace the populist Vladimir Meciar,
has promised to protect the rights of minorities, in particular the Gypsies
. Mr. Meciar had called the Gypsies ''mental retards.''

In September, the new government published a ''strategy'' to solve ''the
problems of the Roma national minority.''

But ''prejudice and xenophobia are widespread'' and money is scarce, says
Vincent Denihel, the government's representative for the Gypsies . Mr.
Denihel, himself a Gypsy, is considered to have little power in the
government, and he still speaks of plans and studies and strategies and
approaches. But he is proud that some 40 Gypsies are now being trained to
enter the police academy. ''The government is aware of how complicated the
situation is,'' Mr. Denihel said. ''We do not expect to solve the Roma
problem in the short term.''

But the national government will get little help from the officials of

The aprilor, Miroslav Blistan, and his deputy, Ladislav Sabo, are both
former managers of the mine and former Communists -- and both now are
evangelical Protestants. They think life was better under socialism, when
the mines and factories worked, no matter the cost to the state. As for the
Gypsies , they speak of them with open racial prejudice.

Mr. Blistan, a jolly man of 64 with a big office, a lavender jacket and a
dirty maroon tie, said the mine was running down under the Communists. ''But
then the wise ones were elected and it collapsed,'' he said bitterly. ''The
democrats liquidated it,'' along with 3,000 jobs.

Mr. Sabo brandished a handwritten chart of the changing ethnic makeup of the
town. Many Slovaks have left for jobs elsewhere and the rest are having
fewer children, while Gypsies , who have nearly no work at all here, have
more children. ''What we need is a Chinese fertility program,'' said Mr.
Sabo, who then began to giggle.

When asked if he meant forced sterilization, he giggled again, waving his
chart. In 1970, he pointed out, Rudnany had 6,300 people and only 200
Gypsies . Now it has 3,100 people, 1,040 of them Gypsies . ''This year,'' he
said, meaning last year, ''there were 64 Roma kids born and only 14 white

Mr. Blistan said: ''All these people you're talking about have been
procreated. My deputy works with them, but I can't debate with them anymore.
They just want to see how much money the state will give them. A Roma just
goes to the post office once a month to pick up money.''

The Gypsies , badly educated and not easily led, do not vote in anything
like a self-interested block, here or anywhere in Slovakia. ''Blistan tells
us lies and throws us a barbecue and a lot of Roma vote for him,'' said Mr.
Dunka, with disgust.

Asked about garbage collection, Mr. Blistan burst into laughter. ''I'd give
them containers, but they don't want to pay for garbage collection, so what
can I do?'' he asked, smiling broadly. As for sanitation, he said: ''Two
times they built sewers but they were clogged. I don't know what they put in
them -- horse skins or whatever.'' Mr. Sabo giggled again.

As for water, Mr. Blistan said, ''the law says we have to give everyone
water, but they don't want to pay for it.'' He renewed the contract, ''but
they owe 40,000 crowns,'' or $1,000.

Mr. Dunka says the settlement pays 600 crowns a month for water. Mr. Blistan
said he gets on fine with Mr. Dunka. ''But he has no authority among them,
because he's not a usurer and doesn't have money.''

Mr. Blistan said he was planning new housing for the Gypsies , which turned
out to mean the renovation of more mineworkers' housing. Mr. Dunka and other
Gypsies say the buildings are already on condemned, poisoned land.

Karol Kanalos, a Gypsy in a private machinery business with two Slovak
partners, said that despite happy talk from the state, ''there is no effort
to do anything, because they don't take us seriously.''

If an airplane ticket cost only $50, he said, ''we'd all leave this place.''
He laughed sourly. ''Most of us don't consider Slovakia our country.''

What is your country? ''I can't give you an answer,'' he said. ''But I can't
say Slovakia. This country doesn't guarantee us a life.''

Photos: Stefan Ziga chopped wood at the gypsy settlement at the abandoned
mine at Rudnany, where there is just one water tap for 500 people.; Gypsies
live in squalor in old mine buildings on the outskirts of Rudnany, Slovakia,
where open discrimination keeps them out of work. ''It was much better under
Communism,'' said Alojz Dunka, the settlement's unofficial aprilor. ''Even
with discrimination, it was possible to live.'' (Photographs by Julie
Denesha for The New York Times) Map of Slovakia highlighting Rudnany:
Rudnany's civic leaders speak of Gypsies with open racial prejudice.

From Mon Apr 10 20:35:26 EDT 2000
Article: 233580 of soc.culture.canada
From: "Creative Intelligence Agency" 
Newsgroups: soc.culture.magyar,soc.culture.polish,soc.culture.czecho-slovak,soc.culture.canada,soc.culture.usa
Subject: April 8-10, The Polish Roma Council
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Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
Aleje Ujazdowskie 19
00-557 Warsaw, Poland
For information - not an official document

OSCE/ODIHR Supports activities surrounding the International Roma Day

Warsaw, 4 April 2000 - The OSCE/ODIHR Contact Point for Roma and Sinti
Issues supports a number of awareness-raising activities organized on the
occasion of the International Roma Day on 8 April 2000. The main focus of
this year's events will be Kosovo, where the ODIHR, as part of its Action
Plan and in co-operation with the OSCE Mission in Kosovo and the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of Norway, is organizing number of public activities,
including a series of cultural events with the participation of a group of
famous Roma artists from Norway. The activities take place in Roma
communities throughout the province and constitute the first high profile
public manifestation of Roma in Kosovo since the end of the armed conflict.

"We must maintain and develop our Roma culture, encourage new dynamism in
our communities and forge a future compatible with Roma lifestyle and
beliefs. We have been passive for long enough", says Nicolae Gheorghe, the
ODIHR Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues. "This International Roma Day is a
good opportunity to make further progress in raising awareness of the
particular situation of Roma in many OSCE countries."

The ODIHR Contact Point also co-ordinated activities commemorating the
International Roma Day in a number of other countries, including Austria,
Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
In this context, the Contact Point welcomes the official presentation of a
study on "Roma in the OSCE Countries" by the OSCE High Commissioner on
National Minorities on the occasion of the International Roma Day on 8

The International Roma Day is celebrated in commemoration of the First
International Roma Congress in London in 1971, which marked the beginning of
a co-ordinated effort to promote Roma rights at an international level.

7-12 APRIL, 2000

Up-dated, 5 April, on communications from Roma and Sinti Associations.

With occasion of the Roma International Day,8 April, the OSCE High
Commissioner on National Minorities will official launch its Study on Roma
in the OSCE .

The ODIHR Contact Point of Roma and Sinti Issues has networked the
celebrations of the Roma International day in the participating States and
highlighted the situation of Roma in Kosovo as the focus of the celebrations
of Roma International Day in 2000.

Officers of the main international organisations working on Roma and Sinti
issues are meeting on 12 April at the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, to
plan better co-operation and co-ordination of their activities on the
situation of Roma and Sinti/Gypsies.

April 8-10, The Polish Roma Council, in co-operation with Romani CRISS, will
organize a press conference and cultural event in Warsaw in the Cultural
Educational Center.
Contact: ODIHR CPRSI and Council of Polish Roma, Mr. Stanislaw Stankiewicz ,
Ul. Warszawska 43, pok. 101: 15-062 Bialystok: Poland Tel: (48-85) 732 74 54
Fax: (48-85) 732 96 07 e-mail:

From Mon Apr 10 20:35:47 EDT 2000
Article: 233581 of soc.culture.canada
From: "Creative Intelligence Agency" 
Newsgroups: soc.culture.magyar,soc.culture.polish,soc.culture.canada,soc.culture.czecho-slovak,soc.culture.usa
Subject: OSCE Report on Roma
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Helsinki Commission Chairman Welcomes OSCE Report on Roma; Calls for
Adoption of Anti-Discrimination Legislation
WASHINGTON, April 7 /PRNewswire/

"Last September, OSCE High Commissioner
on National Minorities Max van der Stoel described the deplorable problems
the Romani minority faces: intolerance, mutual distrust, poor housing,
exclusion, unemployment, low levels of education and-an underlying cause of
many of these-systemic discrimination," said Commission Chairman Christopher
H. Smith (R-NJ). "Today, the High Commissioner made public his long-awaited
report, 'The Situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE Area,' which should
give further impetus to the OSCE's efforts to improve respect for the human
rights of one of Europe's most abused minorities."

"Czech President Vaclav Havel once said that the treatment of the Roma is a
litmus test for civil society; New York Times reporter Steven Erlanger wrote
this week that post-communist Europe is failing that test -- and, in my
opinion, most countries are failing badly," continued Smith. "But it is not
enough to describe the problem. Governments can and should takes immediate
steps to address human rights violations that have grown worse, not better,
over the course of Europe's first, post-communist decade.

"While government officials often argue that it will take years to solve or
address the complex problems Roma face, one particular step can be taken
now-this year, this month, this week, today. Governments should begin to
draft and implement comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that will
establish a coherent statutory framework for Roma to seek legal redress
through the civil courts when confronted with discrimination in the
workplace, housing, education, public places and the military. As it now
stands, most post-communist countries have no anti-discrimination provisions
in their civil codes at all; the thread-bare patchwork of constitutional
references to non- discrimination and criminal code references to race
relations have proven completely inadequate for the task at hand.

"I welcome the High Commissioner's report and am confident that it will
prove extraordinarily useful for those governments which have the political
will to address the problems of the Romani minority. The High Commissioner's
insightful report will serve as an indispensable tool in fulling the goals
established by the OSCE Heads of State and Government at their most recent
summit in Istanbul."

Background: The OSCE Heads of State and Government adopted the following
agreements at the Istanbul Summit on November 17, 1999:

"We recognize the particular difficulties faced by Roma and Sinti and the
need to undertake effective measures in order to achieve full equality of
opportunity, consistent with OSCE commitments, for persons belonging to Roma
and Sinti. We will reinforce our efforts to ensure that Roma and Sinti are
able to play a full and equal part in our societies, and to eradicate
discrimination against them." (Para. 20, Charter for European Security)

"We deplore violence and other manifestations of racism and discrimination
against minorities, including the Roma and Sinti. We commit ourselves to
ensure that laws and policies fully respect the rights of Roma and Sinti
and, where necessary, to promote anti-discrimination legislation to this
effect. We underline the importance of careful attention to the problems of
the social exclusion of Roma and Sinti. These issues are primarily a
responsibility of the participating States concerned. We emphasize the
important role that the ODIHR Contact Point for Roma and Sinti issues can
play in providing support. A further helpful step might be the elaboration
by the Contact Point of an action plan of targeted activities, drawn up in
co-operation with the High Commissioner on National Minorities and others
active in this field, notably the Council of Europe." (Para. 31, Istanbul
Summit Declaration)

The HCNM's Sept. 6, 1999 speech on Romani issues as well as the full text of
his report, "The Situation of Roma and Sinti in the OSCE Area," is posted
at: SOURCE Helsinki Commission

-0- 04/07/2000
/CONTACT: Chadwick R. Gore, 202-225-1901, for the Helsinki Commission/
/Web site: CO: Helsinki Commission ST: District
of Columbia, Czech Republic IN: SU: L

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