Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gypsies, Travellers and innocent children


Peace, in the Gypsy Tsigane [Romany] language

gypsy children

As promised, here is a follow up to my blog

"Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves"

One of my favorite actors began playing guitar in Russian Romany circles in 1934, and was also a trapezist in the (Romany) circus.  He was elected honorary President of Gypsies, and kept that office until his death.
Can you guess who he is?

c. 1919 'Rose of Romany'
courtesy Indiana Music Libraries, web site to the right

Western Europe Gypsies from the 1930's

Here's a hint:

He was born
Yuli Borisovich Brynerafter
Vladivostok, Russia

Gipsy 2
by Konstantin Makovsky, 1839 - 1915

Here's the answer:

Yul Brynner, 1957

and here is another favorite actor of mine whose father was reportedly
Irish Travellers:

Maurice Joseph Micklewhite of the Romanichel family

He changed his name and has gone on to be a wonderfully versatile actor
with quite a long acting career:

Michael Caine

gypsy doll

vintage Simplicity sewing pattern for a gypsy costume

Today you can find gypsies scattered onto many continents and numerous countries.

present-day Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria
Macedonia, Hungary, Slovakia, France, Spain....the list goes on.

You can also find Romani in Latin America, Middle East, Finland, Sweden, Canada,
Australia, Norway and North America.....

It is hard to truly estimate how many Romany there are, or where they live, for a couple of reasons.  Many Romani refuse to register their ethnicity for fear of discrimination.
This is a valid fear.

Gypsy family

For example, let's take a look at Sweden's historical views and actions against the Roma:

Bert Karlsson, leader of Ny Demokrati stated: 
"Gypsies are responsible for 90% of crime against senior citizens in Sweden."

The Swedish State took Romany children and placed them in foster care, under protest from their parents.

Romany women in Sweden were sterilized without their consent.

Mr. Karlsson had previously tried to ban Romani from his theme park
as he believed they were all "thieves".

In 2000 Romini chib became an officially recognized minority language in Sweden.

Antique French Jumping Jack Doll, gypsy man
courtesy EKDuncan.com

Paper doll and gypsy costume from Liana's paper doll blog
address to the right

The shameful history of The Czech Republic:

Living in America, it is hard for me to understand how people have tolerated and even encouraged the kinds of modern-day prejudice against the Roma people that the Czech Republic has done for centuries.

Let me repeat that.

In 2012 Romany families finally won a pledge from Czech government to stop widespread discrimination against Romany children.
This stems from a formal complaint in 1986.

In 2007 the Czech Education Ministry agreed to stop widespread discriminatory practices; being forced to do so by the European Court of Human Rights.

It took the Czech government 26 years after legal courts insisted, to address the current and ongoing practice of placing Roma children in 'special' schools for children with learning, mental or physical disabilities.

That's really the 'politically correct' way of saying these children
through sheer prejudicial discriminatory whims,
have been placed in schools for the mentally handicapped.

It took them 5 years after an international court system decree to begin a change, with a promised 'as early as' 2014' to be put into effect.*

gyspy children smiles by Matthieu Aubry
'L'Innocence D'Un Enfant" series

So, what the heck does all that mean?
In the Czech Republic, 75% of ALL Romany children are in 'special schools'.

While the Roma population in the Czech Republic is less than 3%,
the Roma children in special schools consist of 33% of the schools' children.

"There can be no question at all that some of the children studying at these schools should not be there. One third of students at these schools are Romanies, which most certainly does not correspond to the minority's representation of the population."
- Ombudsman Pavel Vavarovsky*

Mr. Vavarovsky goes on to say the situation has not improved in the last 5 years, as mandated by the courts.

The Ombudsman's Office says the idea that Romanies would have such a high percentage of children with special needs is absurd and the survey results are proof that Romany children are still discriminated against on a broad scale.

modern gypsy children

What progress did he find?
The Czech school system changed the name of the special needs schools to
"practical" schools.
The term is seen as 'less derogatory'.
NO change in curriculum, evaluation or placement has occurred.

sigh. This is just so depressing.
And it makes me mad.
Children are our future. I don't care what they wear,
what language they speak,
how they smell or what they eat.
They are our future.

Romany children

The good news?
Well, yes there is some.

There is an increasingly activist Romany voice.
This shows that the Roma are no longer content to take the old prejudices laying down.

The European Roma Rights Center, based in Budapest,
is active in pushing discrimination cases to European courts, to combat racism against Romany.


Romany protesters last year turned out in Rome to demand better living conditions.

Romany demonstrate opposite Parliament

Prejudice against the gypsies goes back many hundreds of years, and certainly is not only found in the Czech Republic.

I don't want the Czechs to think I am picking on just them!

Roma being arrested

Let me just insert here a comment about our own country's shameful past of prejudice.  We have not been innocent of prejudice against minorities. Our treatment of black people after the Civil War is disgraceful; even after we gave them freedom from slavery. There was segregation (no 'coloreds' allowed), uneven education opportunities, prejudice in the workplace, and more.
However, even though it took us 100 years to correct many of the major problems, we did try to correct them, and continue to actively monitor against them. I do not see a correlation in the Eastern European countries. It seems to be a 'we have always done this this way, and we see no reason to change' type attitude. There are numerous modern-day travesties against the Roma.
I welcome your comments on this.

February, 2011
A group of Roma, mostly women and children, walking down a sidewalk in Ireland:
a group of mostly teenagers start heckling and calling out derogatory names.
Then an Irish teen girl picks up a folding chair and advances toward a gypsy woman
carrying a child in her arms.

The Irish teenager attacks the Roma woman and her child with a folding chair.
Her teen friends eventually call her back to them with more cat-calls.

Notice: there are numerous people in the background of both photos.
The photographer states that NO ONE stopped or gave any hint of help to the gypsy woman. A few turned around to look, but that was all.
The photographer goes on to state that the Roma woman never raised her voice, or did anything except protect herself and her child. When the teen left, she turned and continued on up the sidewalk, with no words of anger said.

I ask you, who is the righteous one here?
Who is the mature one, and who is the immature one?

"Gypsy Camp"
Collage Paper Painting, original by inkspired

Let's get back to the Roma children for a moment:

Slovakia:  Roma make up less than 10% of school-age population.
60% of pupils in special schools are Roma.*
Romani children are 28 times more likely to be sent to a special school than a non-Roma.

*Amnesty International Survey

Hungary:  44% of all Romani children are in special schools

Eastern European countries:  Romany often live in depressed squatter communities, while only some are fully integrated into society.

vintage photograph, gypsy caravan, www.wiki-media.org

Think gypsies like wandering around?
Although some Roma still embrace a nomadic lifestyle,
most migration is actually forced, as most communities do not accept Romani settlements.

Common complaints are that Roma steal and live off social welfare,
 are shoplifters and con artists
and residents often reject the encampments.

This is politely termed as
"tensions" between Romanies and major populations.

Romani in Slovakia

c. 1920

France:  Ah, where do I start? And that is a sad statement, right there.
In late 2008 a mob in Marseilles, France set fire to an encampment of 35 Roma.
During the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy thousands of Romany were deported and their homes were razed. (see my previous blog).
His successor, Francois Hollande, has promised to better integrate them into French society.

October, 2013
yes, that's right, not even 2 months ago.
Police boarded a school bus and seized a gypsy girl in front of all her classmates in order to deport her back to Kosovo.
She is 15.
Her family had requested official asylum due to discrimination and few opportunities for work and survival. Asylum denied. All were deported.


October, 2013
The author is Cyril Dixon

Hundreds of hospital workers are outraged when a caravan of gypsies park in the hospital parking lot in Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, South Wales.

Let's read the fine print:
14 gypsy caravans park illegally in the lot.
There are 300 parking spaces. The Travellers take up 65 of them.
One Traveller was quoted “We will not stay long – this is a holiday. We live in Nice and Paris and will go home soon.”
{Why am I reminded of the Enquirer-type magazines that only publish the least-flattering photos of celebrities they are 'exposing'?}
Staff were diverted to alternate car parks. Some of these involved walking.
Oh, yeah. Walking.
A hospital visitor (elderly, of course) is quoted as saying
“Someone could suffer because a doctor is late for their shift."
This phrase is then repeated in a sidebar, larger type.
Hmmmm...ever heard of planning ahead?

The article includes a random photo of an elderly man in a wheelchair,
with a quote beneath that hospital workers are having to park further away.
It includes this statement:
"The gypsies also brought a fleet of luxury cars including two Mercedes, a BMW X6 and Volkswagen."
Let's look at the parking situation:
There are 300 parking spaces.
There are 3,400 hospital workers.
There are 750 beds.
I would assume there would be visitors for the 750 beds.
If the hospital workers have 8 hour shifts, that means that at any given time there are 1,134 people that need a parking space. Unless of course they car-pool, bike or walk.
Seems to me, the parking spaces are at a premium due to the hospital not having created enough for the demand and size of the facility.
So, when 65 of them get taken, I can see why tempers might flare.
maybe part of the problem is people are already on edge trying to find a parking space.
Just a thought.
Here's another one for you:
Why is there a random pic of an (elderly) man in a wheelchair, non-related to the article?
Why is one (elderly) visitor's comments both published in the article and set apart in a special 'notice me' box?
What do other Travellers say about the 'invasion'?
why is the writer using inflammatory language in a news article (see the car quote above).
Isn't new supposed to be un-biased? Isn't that what we expect?
Why should I have to pick apart the motives of a newspaper article?
It should instead be under the "personal opinions" section of the paper,
don't you agree?

Oh, I need to just publish this and go to the post office!!!
I will write more on gypsy history and the wonderful legacy of gypsy wagons another time!!



til next time,





and on pinterest:  kkloberdans

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