Roma condemn intolerance in Europe at Auschwitz

2nd August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Roma leaders condemned intolerance against their community across Europe Monday at the WWII Nazi German Auschwitz death camp where they marked 66 years since the massacre of nearly 3,000 Roma.

"Roma are still the victims of intolerance, even brutal aggression and instead there is talk of the divisions and conflicts between Sinti and Roma," Roman Kwiatkowski, head of the Roma Association of Poland said at the ceremonies, as quoted by the Polish PAP news agency.

Sinti are part of the Roma people, known also as gypsies, but with their own specific dialect.

"To all those who say this, I answer clearly at this place: we are a single, great people, especially on this day, International Remembrance Day of Roma Victims of the Holocaust," Kwiatkowski said.

"We are deprived of our rights ... The discrimination and persecution of Sinti and Roma must forever disappear from the life of the peoples of Europe," said Romani Rose, leader of Germany's Roma and Sinti.

Some 500 Roma from several countries gathered Monday at the foot of a monument commemorating the death of the last group of Roma, nearly 3,000 women, children and elderly people, who were gassed by the Nazis at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on the night of August 2-3, 1944.

Nearly all of the 23,000 Roma and Sinti imprisoned at the "Zigeunerlager" at Auschwitz-Birkenau were killed by the Nazis between 1941-44.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of Nazi Germany's WWII death camps is located in the southern Polish town of Oswiecim, which like all of Poland was under German occupation during the Second World War.

The Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said Monday it had brought together some 80 Roma and non-Roma youth activists from several European countries for four days at the former Auschwitz camp for education about the Nazi's WWII genocide against the Roma.

Between 1940-45 Nazi Germany killed some 1.1 million people, including a million European Jews, at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Other victims included Poles, Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war.

© 2010 AFP

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