Liberté - Egalité - Fraternité? Only some months ago, a leading British academic said the Roma were the most persecuted minority in present-day Europe.
After centuries of persecution, Europe’s so called “gypsies” faced extermination under the Nazis – and more than half a million people were killed. No one knows their exact number today, but the Roma population is estimated to be between 12 million and 15 million.
This week we concentrate on the plight of the Roma minorities across Europe.
Shadow of the past: Forced sterilisation in the Czech Republic?
Helena Ferencikova a Czech Romany woman, says she was forced to undergo sterilisation immediately after having a baby in 2001. When her case made the headlines in the Czech Republic, many more Romany mothers came forward to say they had received similar treatment. They took their complaints to the Czech Ombudsman, and his office has helped several of them take their case to court.
Catch 22 – asylum in the EU difficult for Bulgarian Roma
Well let’s focus on Bulgaria now. The country may be preparing to join the European Union but it has much left to do, to guarantee the human rights of its minority group, the Roma. Bulgarian Roma have found life so unbearable, they’re asking for asylum in Sweden. The problem is that Swedish authorities, because Bulgaria is set to join the EU, are no longer considering their application. Human rights groups say that is highly unfair.
Not just an eastern European issue
The mayor of Ensisheim, in the north east region of Alsace, has set ablaze a dozen caravans belonging to Romanian citizens. His name is Michel Habig, he belongs to the ruling UMP party, he said they did not have the appropriate authorisation to camp there. He added the place was unfit for human habitation, and that driving the caravans to a dump would have been too costly fort he community. The state prosecutor launched an enquiry and said a mayor is not entitled to set any kind of housing on fire.
Fighting corruption in EU candidate Romania
Romania is pressed to renew efforts to combat corruption and to fight the plague at the top if it wants to join the EU. And it seems that judges and prosecutors there are taking the matter seriously, they have caught prominent figures this week. Former premiere Adrian Nastase resigned as president of the opposition social Democratic party this week over an embarrassing financial scandal. And his former industry minister Dan Ioan Popescu was also caught in the net this week.
The backside of London’s Olympic bidDeep in London’s East End, an Italian diner, popularly known as Tony’s Café, is an unlikely place for a protest. Tony Platia sees himself as a victim of raising property prices in the East End, following London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games bid. Like many Hackney shop tenants, Tony has been evicted by a property developer. The 55 year old Sicilian has operated his cafe for over 30 years, and now with a few dozen of his