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World Romani Congres

28. 1. 2011

London may host next World Romani Congress
London, 2. 5. 2003

Three Roma are currently on trial in London following the burning down last year of the Yarl's Wood detention centre for asylum-seekers - the largest in Europe. At a crisis meeting of the Trans-European Roma Federation on 1 May, two of the defendants spoke of their ordeals since escaping from Yarl's Wood on the night of the fire. 
Behar Lemani, who has spent eight months in detention, told the meeting that he has already suffered forced deportation to Kosovo. He found his home, near Mitrovica, looted and trashed. "People shouted 'get out Gypsy'," Lemani said. "In fear of my life I left again and crossed the border into Macedonia."
Ladislav Balaz, chairman of TERF, said the rate of deportations from Britain was now at a record high. In recent weeks alone some 450 Roma had been sent back to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other countries. "What the Czech Government is saying about improvements is only propaganda," Balaz asserted after Yarl's Wood defendant Peter Hrubes described how he had left his hometown following attacks by fascist skinheads. In a further violation of their rights, said Balaz, Czech authorities were taking away the passports of Roma deported to Praque. As for Slovakia, the sterilisation of women had again become a major outrage.
Dr Boris Muntyanu, recently granted asylum after arriving from the Ukraine, said a high proportion of Roma were living like refugees even in their so-called 'home' countries, facing discrimination, harassment, beatings, murder and wholesale ethnic-cleansing. "In this situation we need to call for a session of the World Romani Congress," urged Dr Munyanu. "The 6th Congress is due next year - let us help by hosting the Congress in London."
The meeting agreed that in conjunction with other organizations and subject to the approval of the IRU Cabinet and Parliament, TERF will commence preparations for the holding of the World Romani Congress at a London venue.
An initial step will be taken on 9 May during exploratory talks with European Dialogue and members of the All Parliamentary Group on Roma Affairs. An offer of accommodation for Congress plenum sessions to be held at London's new City Hall is also be to pursued.

The following were outlined as desirable for the 6th World Romani Congress:

1. Increased representation with an expansion from 35 to 50 countries from which delegations should be invited - including South America, the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as Europe.

2. Emphasis by the Congress on the need for freedom of movement, including migration within the European Union; an end to detention. deportation and forced eviction.

3. Better utilization of "8 April" with fully co-ordinated global manifestations to mark Roma Nation Day each year.

4. Increased role for women and women's organizations in the Congress and its commissions.

5. Discussion of a new federal structure, with the IRU, RNC and organizations like SOKRA and TERF maintaining autonomy while co-operating on major issues.