International Roma Day was set during the first World Romani Congress in London in 1971. This was the first instance of international representation by the #Roma community and the place where their flag and anthem were also established.
The Roma people, officially known as Romani, are an #Indo-#Aryan ethnic population comprised of diverse groups worldwide, mainly in #Europe, America, and Western Asia. As traditionally nomadic, they have been discriminated against and persecuted by the local communities where they would temporarily settle. Consequently, the increased poverty and unemployment led to them being marginalised. In addition, they were often associated and compared to those from the lowest socioeconomic strata, perpetuating negative stereotypes and further discrimination.
The commemoration of this day is intended to promote the Romani identity and eliminate existing stereotypes. It also forces us to acknowledge and rectify the centuries-old history of deportation, detention, forced assimilation, and extermination by the #Nazis during #WWII.
At Rethinking Refugees, we support the Roma people and strive to raise awareness about Romani culture. Our shared responsibility is to eliminate all the prejudices that have historically damaged the impression of the Roma people.
Lastly, we must be mindful that the term 'Roma' is the general name given to a population that includes many diverse groups with their own distinct identities. Acknowledging these diversities is when we would have surpassed all prejudices and have achieved "international understanding and world peace." - Indira Gandhi in the second International Romani Festival in Chandigarh in 1983.
On #InternationalRomaDay, our thoughts are also with the Roma #refugees fleeing war in #Ukraine. We call on all #EU governments, organisations, and citizens to show solidarity with Roma refugees and offer help and support without discrimination.