Gypsy Collectors

Originally uploaded by D LeRoy

Special to

The much-publicized first-ever high-level European Roma Summit held in Brussels (Belgium) on Tuesday failed to deliver any concrete results to improve the plight of Roma (also called Gypsies) people of Europe, who live in apartheid like conditions, Hindus emphasize.

Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu and Indo-American statesman, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that although the participants in the Summit, organized by European Commission, agreed that Roma faced deeply embedded institutional discrimination and social exclusion, but no solid steps came out of it to improve their condition. The Summit even did not criticize the recent allegedly discriminatory measures of Italy against Roma, which some have portrayed as ethnic profiling.

Describing the Summit as just a “sweet talk”, Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that Summit failed to secure commitments for actions, which was one of its main aims.

Zed said that what was the use of keynote addresses, video presentation, display, policy panels, etc., (which formed agenda of Tuesday’s Summit) to highlight the plight of Roma people, while it was very clear from previous reports/researches/memorandums/etc. that they have been facing persistent discrimination for long time. If somebody was ignorant about their plight, he/she just had to visit one of their encampments and their sufferings were easily visible to the naked eye.

Zed further says that on paper, Roma are fully covered by EU legislation, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin in employment, social protection and education as well as access to goods and services, including housing. But in reality, Roma reportedly regularly face racism, substandard education, hostility, social exclusion, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, language barriers, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, racist slogans on Internet, unusually high unemployment rates, etc.

European Union and countries of Europe, instead of just discussions like this Summit, should act immediately with clear deadlines to end the centuries of severe discrimination and abuse of Roma and achieve their social inclusion. It is simply immoral to let this around ten million population of Europe continually suffer and face human rights violations, Rajan Zed says and adds that instead of repression, provide them social inclusion.

Zed points out that a comprehensive, uniform, sustainable, cohesive and integrated Europe-wide policy with strategic focus; supported by effective implementation, firm commitment and strong political will is needed to improve the Roma plight. In the past, policies on paper to tackle Roma discrimination and exclusion had proved very weak to deal with their day-to-day sufferings.

Rajan Zed stresses that European Union and member countries should show more responsibility in handling complex Roma issues. Roma inclusion and integration programs need to immediately take off the ground providing them with better health and education avenues, higher economic opportunities, sources of empowerment and participation, etc. Their alarming condition is a social blight for Europe and the rest of the world.

It is like an undeclared apartheid, Zed argues explaining the Roma situation, and adds that it is moral obligation of Europe to take care of its frequently maltreated population of Roma people.