Photo: CEC/Albin Hillert
Press Release No: 18/27
2 August 2018
In April 2015, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to adopt 2 August as Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day is devoted to remembering the Roma Holocaust and honouring the memory of the more than 3,000 Roma who died at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944.
During the years leading to World War II and throughout the wartime period, Roma people were persecuted, imprisoned, and murdered. This Nazi-era oppression is but one tragedy in their long history in Europe. For centuries Roma have experienced discrimination and violence and are still victims of widespread social exclusion, crime, and unjust treatment.
“The Roma Holocaust did not happen overnight. It was prepared for years, through social segregation of Roma in society and dehumanisation in public speech and portrayal—not least by politicians,” remarked Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) General Secretary Torsten Moritz. “Today we again can hear similar messages in political speeches. Churches are called to oppose any discrimination and dehumanising of Roma brothers and sisters today.”
“Even generations after Porajmos, the Roma Holocaust, life often remains insufferable for the Roma community in Europe,” added Conference of European Churches (CEC) General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen. “The shame of these events linger, along with old prejudices. The churches must continue to take up the urgent and difficult work of reconciliation with Roma people and communities.”
CEC and CCME encourage all to honour the memory of those who died on this day and contribute to a just society for the 10 to 12 million Roma people living in Europe today. As a pan-European minority, the quest justice for Roma affects all European countries and churches. The upcoming Romanian EU presidency also provides special opportunity to highlight the plight of Roma today.
CCME is part of the partnership with the Alliance Against Anti-gypsyism.
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