The West and the Fascist Mindset Within: Romani Folk under Fire


Raïs Neza Boneza – TRANSCEND Media Service

Known by different names; not that long ago the name Rom started to be used in order to achieve some political and social attention to their plight. In 1994, a Program was created by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which uses the term “Roma or Sinti”. Strangely there is a persistent myth that the Rom came from Egypt in Yugoslavia instead of India.

Expelled and misunderstood in Romania where the large group of Rom lives; they are chased and left to live under appalling conditions throughout Europe. There are also fairly large Rom groups in the former Soviet Union, in particular the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, as well as in Turkey. Originally from India, the Rom people have spread throughout Europe probably between the ninth and fourteenth centuries. Wondering land to land; they are an example of global citizens ahead of their time today.

The Rom folk face a wide range of often interrelated problems: citizenship, political participation, racially-motivated violence, poverty, unemployment, and an image which arouses ancestral fears of Gypsies. European governments pioneering in humanitarianism around the world seems inapt to deal with the Rom domestic issues yet related to human right and dignity. Their willingness to provide to the Rom decent living conditions based on equality and non-discrimination laws is questionable.

The confrontation between nomad and sedentary people is an old one, always present in different forms and in different region of the globe. Compassion and political creative solution are needed. For example, the 2012 culminated conflict in Mali; West Africa, can illustrate a clear example of that friction between the Touareg Nomadic in the north and the sedentary majority population in the south. The international community was eager to provide military and humanitarian assistance to deafen the crisis in Mali. Why the Rom people case should not benefit from an international and humanitarian arbitration involving the United Nation?

It is incomprehensible to learn of the everyday mistreatment of Rom people; in this case in Europe, or country such as Norway, who champion themselves as the torch bearer of human rights around the world

Remembering the 4th July 2013, Florina Daniela Bitic gave birth to a premature child in the recluse forest of Sognsvann many kilometers outside Oslo. Together with her husband, she took refuge there after being harassed and chased away from place to place by police in Oslo. It is unimaginable that in our civilized society in Norway labeled “in 2009 best Country to live in “by the UN  to let people living as savages in the Bush. Meanwhile we are the first country to give lesson to other nations about the respect of human rights and ironically awarding “the Nobel Peace Prize”.

The example of Florina is only the tips of the Iceberg when it concerns the plight of Rom. The European and in this case Norway administration have excelled in the past and the present in investing a lot in breeding hatred towards Rom people. Normally, wherever Imperialism has migrated, it often followed by the control and subjugation of minority groups. It happened earlier under colonialism and neo-colonialism to today imperialism. The mindset of Apartheid and racism prevail this time in the midst of our so –called civilized society. The imperial mindset target first the poor and weak around the world and domestically.

The weak are the indigenous peoples of countries where Imperialism reached out to. Such as the Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, and now the Rom. These people have been criminalized and they got to adapt to live under unbearable situations. We need to understand how imperialism affects repressed people such as Rom whose culture is as old as of the native peoples around the world. It causes mental issues, depression, anxiety, percussion and victimization syndrome. The Rom are one of the most persecuted people in the world because they play the role of lab-rat for the people repressed condition around world.

We need to feel for the people who have and still suffering under the yoke of imperialism. A policy of compassion is required to break away from the oppressive mindset that has pushed many on the margin of society. Romani are not the only people with social issues. They have been constantly marginalized because the society has been all the time biased toward minorities. It doesn’t take much to realize how Rom are labeled (e.g. thieves, liars, cheaters, etc). They are surely human beings with the same dreams and fear as everyone else. The question is not about who or what they are but who are we as a society. Are we compassionate Human beings or endemic racist?

Managing migration in a changing global environment is a crucial issue. The treatment of Rom is a test for our society’s ability to mediate between the universal nature of human rights and the protection of the cultural specificity of a people. As said once: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members”


Rais Neza Boneza, MaH, Dr.hc. is a Congolese poet and author living in Norway. He is Board Member for the TRANSCEND Network in Africa.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 Sep 2014.

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