“THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF ROMANIES: INDIC DIASPORA, OF EUROPEAN CITIZENS”
(The Tragic Story of lost Children of India)
In Europe, kidnapping children was considered legal for most of 1500AD-1750AD. On one condition you had to kidnap Roma Gypsy children, More than 25,000 children kidnapped. No problem. Everybody sleeps peacefully at night. Switzerland was doing this till 1973.Roughly, between 1500 to 1750, it was legal in Europe to hunt human beings. Yes, just like hunting for deer in India, or hunting buffalo in Africa or fox-hunting in Britain. Yes, you could hunt human beings. As long as the humans you hunted were Roma Gypsies.
In Europe you could be hung to death if you committed the crime of being born – between 1500AD-1750AD born as a Roma Gypsy Europeans, in the their age of Enlightenment and Renaissance, (1500-1750) could just pick up human slaves – yes, own them like cattle and furniture, if you found one, As long as they were Roma Gypsies. Later you could also sell them for profit.
Ship owners and captains in Europe’s Golden age, (1500-1750) could arrange galley slaves for free. No wages, no salary. You just had to feed them. Use them, abuse them, flog them, kill them, drown them. You could do anything – as long as they were Roma Gypsies.
Hitler’s Germany killed 60 lakh Jews in various concentration camps – a broadly accepted figure. Other figures range between 50, 00,000-1, 00, 00,000. This is today estimated at about 50% of the Jewish population. These concentration camps (first used by Spaniards in Cuba) were discovered by Allied troops as they drove back German troops. All concentration camp commanders were tried at Nuremberg trials and sentenced.
Sharing the concentration camps with the Jews were a fringe European group – Roma Gypsies 80% of the Romany Gypsy population, a greater percentage of Roma Gypsies died than the Jews. The world has little sympathy and no intention of doing anything about this holocaust. One out of three in concentration camps were Jews, the rest were Roma Gypsies and others (Jehovah’s Witnesses Spanish Republicans, and ordinary criminals). Estimates of Roma Gypsy deaths in the Nazi holocaust vary and are contradictory between 2 lakhs to 15 lakhs. A weighted median figure seems to be 5 lakhs, and better figures are difficult as Roma Gypsies were considered unfit for inclusion as human population in various census operations.
“In war-crimes trials, Nazis attempted to justify or differentiate the killing of Gypsies by stating that they had been punished as criminals, not as Gypsies per se. And they succeeded, although sufficient documents were available immediately after the war, the mass murderer of Roma and Sinti was not addressed at the Nuremberg trials, and no Gypsy witnesses were called. To this day, just one Nazi, Ernst-August Konig, has received a sentence specifically for crimes against Gypsies. (from Bury me standing By Isabel Fonseca).”
In 1984, 40 years after the German defeat, Simon Wiesenthal wrote to Elie Wiesel about “the Gypsies had been murdered (in a proportion) similar to the Jews, about 80% of them in the area of the countries which were occupied by the Nazis”. It is now speculated that his espousal of the Gypsy cause cost him the Nobel Prize – and was meant to show Elie Wiesel in poor light. Elie Wiesel supporters claim, allegedly, he was more interested in discrediting Elie Wiesel and less bothered about Romany Gypsy deaths.
“I confess that I feel somewhat guilty towards our Roma friends. We have not done enough to listen to your voice of anguish. We have not done enough to make other people listen to your voice of sadness. I can promise you we shall do whatever we can from now on to listen better” (Tanner 1997).
Elie Wiesel confirms that he feels only somewhat guilty and will do his best to listen – just like Europe and the world does once in a while and complete indifference rest of the time .
Till 1867, Roma gypsies were part of European slave population. Their crime – a different language, a different religion and they looked different. After living in Europe for 1000 years, they were considered ‘outsiders’ – and did not mix much with ‘native’ Europeans.
It is the same Roma Gypsies who have contributed to the Spanish cultural icon – Flamenco! It is the Roma-Gypsies (along with the Arabs) who brought Indian music systems to Europe – based on which the Western music system developed over the last 300-400 years.
But no one was quite sure. Recent DNA mapping done has confirmed what they always claimed – they were from India. A Russian-Roma poet (born in Latvia) Leksa Manush, wrote a the Roma version of the Indian epic poem, Ramayana as “Ramajanam”.
What are we (Indians) doing about these “lost Indian tribe”. Sweet nothing at all!
If India wants an international role, other countries and peoples will judge us by how we treat our own people first. Other countries are unlikely to let India have an international role, if our (Indian) national role is indifferent and dubious. If Indian professionals want to play an international role, they must be in a position to take up international issues. If Indian media wants to be be on world stage, they must take up issues that others in the world are not taking up.
In order to sensitize to the people of India about this unaddressed issue, Human Rights Defense International is organizing a Symposium. “THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF ROMANIES: INDIC DIASPORA, EUROPEAN CITIZENS”. The tragic story of lost children of India. At Indian Law Institute at 3rd May, Saturday, 3:00 p.m onwards. A documentary addressing the Journey of Romas from India to Europe to be broadcast follow by speeches by distinguish speakers of International repute and supporters of Human Rights of Romas.
Human Rights Defense International is trying to establish a bridge in between Romas and the rights/ cultural organizations based in India. We trust that the small beginning would prove to be a milestone in finding the lost children of India.