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August 10, 2022

Romania commemorates Roma Holocaust victims. President Iohannis: Further efforts must be made to educate on the Roma genocide

August 2 marks the National Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day – Samudaripen, established by law in 2020.

On August 2, 1944, about 3,000 Romany people from the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp fell victim to the Nazi regime. About 500,000 Roma were killed in Europe during the Holocaust, according to Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

To commemorate the victims, August 2 was declared the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day by the European Parliament Resolution of April 15, 2015.

At the same time, under Law 124/2020, August 2 was established nationally as the National Roma Holocaust (Samudaripen) Remembrance Day. Samudaripen means mass murder in Romani.

Romania’s Foreign Ministry (MAE) is paying “pious homage” to the memory of the Roma Holocaust victims, pointing out that “the sufferings of the Romany people in Nazi concentration and extermination camps and their allies during WWII were long unknown to the general public, which contributed to the perpetuation of prejudices affecting this community.”

In a press statement released on Monday, MAE says that, according to the final report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, about 11,000 Roma died, out of the approximately 25,000 who were deported by the Antonescu regime to Transnistria.

MAE also points out that national and international initiatives to promote education, research and commemoration of the Roma genocide must be supported, as “in the absence of knowledge of Samudaripen’s history, prejudice and stigmatisation of members of the Romany community will continue.”

At the same time, MAE is “firmly” condemning the proliferation of “hate speech against members of the Romany community, especially online,” Agerpres informs.


President Iohannis: Further efforts must be made to educate on the Roma genocide


President Klaus Iohannis sent a message on Monday on the occasion of the European Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual commemorative event organised by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, in which he says that further efforts must be made to educate on the Roma genocide.

“Every year, on 2 August, we pay tribute to the memory of half a million Roma children, women and men who were killed in Europe during the Holocaust. They were the victims of a brutal, dehumanizing regime that promoted racism, anti-Semitism, hatred and intolerance as state policies. Remembering is a fundamental dimension of life. In Romania, about 25,000 Roma were deported to Transnistria, with about 11,000 losing their lives. It is our duty today to bring forth their memory and ensure that such atrocities will not be repeated. At this point, the need for remembrance is more important than ever,” Iohannis says in the message.

He points out that, in the context created by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is once again an alarming increase in racism, anti-Semitism and hate-motivated speeches targeting the Roma, especially online, and that the duty of political leaders is to combat these developments, to publicly condemn without hesitation any statement that incites hate.

“We must also continue our efforts to develop appropriate tools that allow us to protect our societies against these threats,” Iohannis adds.

The president says that Romania has made important steps in the direction of taking on the Holocaust, combating racism and anti-Semitism and can now be considered a regional model, given that, in May 2021, the National Strategy for preventing and combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia, radicalization and hate speech was adopted. This allows better training for public officials dealing with this phenomenon.

President Iohannis also says that, at international level, Romania was one of the countries that supported strongly, in 2020, the adoption by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) of a working definition, which is not legally binding, of anti-gypsy/discrimination against Roma, a major project of the German Presidency of IHRA.

Moreover, Klaus Iohannis advocates the need to make further efforts on education on the genocide of the Roma, showing that young generations must know the truth about this tragic episode of European history.

“We must make sure that we educate young generations on this tragic episode of European history. Every society has this fundamental duty to make certain that new generations know and keep the truth alive. We support strengthened efforts to include the genocide of the Roma during the Second World War in educational programmes, as well as efforts to protect the last survivors. Europe is based on respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. Promoting cultural, religious and ethnic diversity is the best way to prevent conflicts and build peaceful democratic societies. As President of Romania, I reaffirm my country’s firm commitment to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, promoting democratic values and condemning any racist act, combating discrimination, anti-Semitism, extremism, and racial or ethnic violence,” Iohannis concludes.


Photo: www.pixabay.com

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