PAGE 5/6



PAGE 5 ::: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

INFO   :::  Press Release - PAGE 5 > Ghettoization of Roma in Serbia


Ghettoization of Roma in Serbia

Belgrade, June 27, 2009


For more than ten days - by decision of Belgrade city authorities - Roma have been living in a settlement fenced off by wire. The decision has been made within preparation for the 2009 World University Games. For, as Mayor of Belgrade Dragan Djilas put it, "the city will not allow wild settlements to obstruct its development." The wire barrier has been erected under the pretext of security concerns. Such hypocritical justification of Roma segregation and ghettoization has gained support from all governmental agencies of the Republic of Serbia.

In order to hide "the city's eyesore" from the world, the authorities have maximally restricted Roma's movement in the vicinity of the university camp Belleville. Tens and tens of police officers and private security guards are posted around and in the settlement round the clock and patrol all over it with police dogs. Roma are constantly exposed to torture and threats, particularly when the patrols learn that some of them have communicated with human rights defenders ready to alert general public of their degrading treatment. They are threatened with jail and insulted on racial and ethnic grounds. Some have even been beaten by their "guards."

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia has contacted the Belgrade Secretariat for Social Protection (the most relevant institution when it comes to solution of the problems of Roma population) in the attempt to learn whether those people - denied a fundamental human right, the right to free movement - were being provided the necessities of life. Unfortunately, despite all promises from relevant institutions food, healthcare and the right to work are not available to Roma inhabitants. Water cisterns are supplied to them irregularly, whereas - according to the information the Committee obtained - they will have to wait for their food rations, which imply "a long procedure." Ambulances that used to have free access to the settlement cannot drive in now because of the fencing. The same refers to the trucks that were used for transport of wastepaper on which Roma in Serbia can earn their living. The situation aggravates as time goes by - new barriers made of wire and concrete poles are being erected obstructing the only access for ambulances and trucks. According to latest news, inhabitants themselves are being checked at police posts and kept there for hours. Last but not least, Roma are growingly endangered by neo-Nazi organizations, whereas the police do not guarantee them any protection.

Such situation just follows on the city authorities' brutal and irresponsible attitude towards Roma. In April 2009 - also within preparation for the 2009 World University Games - they tore down the barracks housing Roma and left them without roofs over their heads for days on. The same scenario applies to both cases - the authorities firstly make a decision and implement it and only then try to cope with consequences of their deeds. And all this happens at the time of Serbia's presidency of the Roma Decade. A priority the country has bound itself to meet was to solve housing problems of Roma citizens. However, instead of paying heed to this socially most vulnerable group and developing a long-term strategy for improvement of its situation, the city authorities have constructed a "modern" concentration camp in the capital and appointed police officers to guard it.

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia alerts of the dramatic situation of Belgrade Roma and calls upon all relevant institutions to end the restrictions imposed on them. We demand the authorities to remove the barrier without delay and secure the freedom of movement to all citizens without exception. We also appeal to OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Delegation of the European Commission to Serbia to intervene against such racist methods bearing in mind that the treatment of Roma has been placed on the top of international agenda.



PAGE 5 ::: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6










Copyright * Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia - 2008

Web Design * Eksperiment