Conference on Roma Holocaust – We shall remember

The Roma Working Group of the European People's Party held an open session to commemorate the victims of the Roma Holocaust. In her speech Lívia Járóka - chair of the working group - emphasized the need to draw the conclusions of 20th century adversities and the initiative to recognize 2 August as an official European Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Roma Holocaust.

The Working Group on Roma Inclusion of the European People's Party (EPP) dedicated an open session to commemorate Roma victims of the Holocaust with the participation of deputies from different political groups, EU officials, as well as representatives of Roma and civil organizations. The seminar was opened by Augustín Díaz de Mera, vice-chair of the EPP Working Group Legal and Home Affairs, who emphasized the need for standing up united against ethnic intolerance and fighting the ignorance concerning Roma as well as welcomed the efforts of Lívia Járóka to establish a European Day of Remembrance for the victims. Lívia Járóka, rapporteur of the EU strategy on Roma inclusion, reminded that due to the lack of documentation and the scientific processing of historical events, the Roma Holocaust is still largely unknown to the general public.'Universities and research institutes must therefore be supported to raise the awareness of majority societies towards the long common history they share with Roma' – she underlined. MEPs Cecilia Wikström from ALDE and Mikael Gustafsson from GUE have also addressed the audience as co-initiators of the Written Declaration on establishing a European Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Roma Holocaust.

During the event, the documentary film of the European Roma Information Office 'The untold story: Roma Holocaust' has been presented, followed by a round of keynote speakers. Nicolae Gheorghe from the Pakiv European Roma Reflexion Group highlighted that there is still a resistance to be experienced against the full acceptance of Roma as victims of the Holocaust and he expressed his gratitude toward the German government for opening a memorial for the Roma victims in Berlin. He further emphasized that the fight against prejudices and intolerance would Roma leaders a leverage to modernize their own communities. Patrice Bensimon, director of the Yahad In Unum Research Centre presented the research activities of his organization, including the gathering of more than a thousand testimonies from Holocaust survivors and he reminded that despite the high number of Roma victims, there are only two monuments commemorating them. Costel Nastasie, president of Dignités Roms reported on uncovering more than fifty historic sites of atrocities and emphasized that dignity for Roma communities is not possible without exploring the past. Ivan Ivanov, director of the European Roma Information Office drew the attention that many of the racial stereotypes preceding the Second World War were still alive today and that although prejudices would not vanish overnight, the institutional recognition of the Roma Holocaust would strongly underpin this process.