Friday, May 11, 2012

The Roma of Central Europe “feel fear”

Can Roma (“gypsies”) from “liberal, democratic, EU countries” really be refugees, fleeing persecution? If I were a Roma person living in Central Europe I know I would not feel safe. Last year, while we were filming the documentary Never Come Back, Malcolm Hamilton and I visited Roma enclaves in the Czech Republic and Hungary. A first glance, it seemed to us that those communities were not that different from poor and underserviced First Nations communities in Canada. But make no mistake about it: The challenge the Central European Roma face is not merely one of poverty, fuelled by well-documented discrimination in housing to employment and education. The far bigger challenge is the constant threat of intimidation and violence from a growing crew of aggressive neo-Nazi and skinheads.