Derby recognized Roma Nation Day on Sunday. It is a day for people to understand and celebrate that the Roma people are a Nation, but a Nation without a home. Despite this lack of homeland they have many traditions and a varied culture – many may be different to ours, but it is about understanding not about despising.
Throughout the centuries and the lands of Europe, the Roma have always lived on the edge of society and, for that, they have been persecuted. It is everyone’s human right to live their own lifestyle within the law, and a travelling tradition is an ancient alternative.
In civilized societies we have matured to embrace different colours, creeds, traditions, and customs. Sadly the Roma have found themselves in places which lack this modern approach whether this be throughout mainland Europe during the Second World War where they were killed alongside the Jews in the millions, or Eastern Europe in 2014. To this day they are being persecuted in Slovakia, Romania and other countries in the region for the colour of their skin – this is quite simply racism.
What has happened to the Roma people is Genocide – and it is one of the few, along with the Armenian Genocide, that goes totally unrecognized. Because of that, the Genocide is allowed to continue. From Step 1 of the “Path to Genocide” –
“The differences between people are not respected. There’s a division of ‘us’ and ‘them’. This can be carried out through the use of stereotypes, or excluding people who are perceived to be different”
To Step 8 which is “Denial” continues to this day.
We all think that we know a Genocide when we see it – we do, and then it is too late.
People should read, and re-read step 1 and ask themselves the question whether they occupy step 1. I fear that too many do, and for those who live in Derby it is a fine line between local bigotry, and the early stages of this terrible crime.
Postscript: As part of a cross community musical evening at the Multi-Faith Centre in Derby Fatima Gaziva, and her son, entertained the audience with a few songs from the traditions of Roma. Fatima, and her family moved from Slovakia and now see Derby as their home. There were songs and dances from many of the other cultures, and faiths within the city.