- Join Community
- Post to Community
- Gift Paid Account
|Name:||Roma and Friends|
|Posting Access:||All Members, Moderated|
Welcome to Roma and Friends!
This is a community for the discussion of Romany-related topics. If you have a question, article or information to post, you are most welcome. If you wish to post content written by someone else (or found in an outside news group), please provide a link to the news group(s) where the article(s) may be found. We do ask that new members read the entire profile page before posting, as it contains much information about the Romany people throughout history, including links to many informative articles.
There are several different groups which fall under the Romany ethnicity, and an even more diverse population which falls under the widely used term 'Gypsy' (who may or may not be ethnically Romany). It is not necessary for members to be of any specific ethnic group to join or ask questions. Those of us who are Romany appreciate the opportunity to educate others, dispel many myths and misconceptions about our people, and make new friends.
That said, trolling and spamming are not welcome. Such posts will be deleted and the lj-user making such posts will be banned from the community. There may be no other warning than this. In addition, please do not flame. If someone states something incorrectly, explain it to them politely.
To create a safer space and a more productive community, posting will be moderated. If you need to alert a moderator, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will respond shortly.
Who are the Romany people?
The Romany (also Romani, Romanies, Romanis, or Gypsies) are an ethnic group with origins in South Asia. The Romany are widely dispersed with their largest concentrated populations in Europe, but also in the Americas and, to a lesser extent, in Northern Africa and Asia.
Today, the term Romany is used by most organizations, including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the US Library of Congress. However, some organizations use the term Roma to refer to the Romany people around the world, though it is technically incorrect. Sometimes, Rom and Romany are spelled with a double r, i.e., Rrom and Rromany, particularly in Romania in order to distinguish from the Romanian endonym (români).
There is no official or reliable count of the Romany populations worldwide. Many often refuse to register their ethnic identity in official censuses for fear of discrimination. There are an estimated 4 million Romany people in Europe and Asia Minor (as of 2002), although some high estimates by Romany organizations give numbers as high as 14 million. Significant Romany populations are found in the Balkan peninsula, in some Central European states, in Spain, France, Russia, and the Ukraine. Several million more Romanies may live out of Europe, in particular in the Middle East and in the Americas.
The Romany recognize divisions among themselves based in part on territorial, cultural and dialectal differences. The main branches are:
1. Roma, crystallized in Eastern Europe and Central Italy, emigrated also (mostly from the 19th century onwards), in the rest of Europe, but also on the other continents;
2. Iberian Kale, in Iberian Peninsula, emigrated also in Southern France and Latin America;
3. Finnish Kale, in Finland, emigrated also in Sweden;
4. Welsh Kale, in Wales;
5. Romnichal, in the United Kingdom, emigrated also to the United States and Australia;
6. Sinti, in German-speaking areas of Central Europe and some neighboring countries;
7. Manouche, in French-speaking areas of Central Europe;
Among Romany people there are further internal differentiations, like Bashaldé; Churari; Luri; Ungaritza; Lovari (Lovara) from Hungary; Machvaya (Machavaya, Machwaya, or Macwaia) from Serbia; Romungro (Modyar or Modgar) from Hungary and neighboring Carpathian countries; Erlides (also Yerlii or Arli); Xoraxai (Horahane) from Greece/Turkey; Boyash (Lingurari, Ludar, Ludari, Rudari, or Zlătari) from Romanian/Moldovan miners; Ursari from Romanian/Moldovan bear-trainers; Argintari from silversmiths; Aurari from goldsmiths; Florari from florists; and Lăutari from singers. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
The absence of a written history has meant that the origin and early history of the Romany people was long an enigma. Indian origin was suggested on linguistic grounds as early as 200 years ago.
Historical Persecution of the Romany People
The first and one of the most enduring persecutions against the Romany people was the enslaving of the Romanies who arrived on the territory of the historical Romanian states of Wallachia and Moldavia, which lasted from the 14th century until the second half of the 19th century. Legislation decreed that all the Romanies living in these states, as well as any others who would immigrate there, were slaves.
The arrival of some branches of the Romany people in Western Europe in the 15th century was precipitated by the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. Although the Romany themselves were refugees from the conflicts in southeastern Europe, they were mistaken by the local population in the West, because of their foreign appearance, as part of the Ottoman invasion (the German Reichstags at Landau and Freiburg in 1496-1498 declared the Romany as spies of the Turks). In Western Europe, this resulted in a violent history of persecution and attempts of ethnic cleansing. As time passed, other accusations were added against local Romanies (accusations specific to this area, against non-assimilated minorities), like that of bringing the plague, usually sharing their burden together with the local Jews.
Later in the 19th century, Romany immigration was forbidden on a racial basis in areas outside Europe, mostly in the English speaking world (in 1885 the United States outlawed the entry of the Romany people) and also in some South American countries (in 1880, Argentina adopted a similar policy).
Sinti & Roma: Victims of the Holocaust
The persecution of the Romany people reached a peak during World War II in the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. In 1935, the Nuremberg laws stripped the Romany people living in Nazi Germany of their citizenship, after which they were subjected to violence, medical experimentation, imprisonment in concentration camps, and later genocide in extermination camps. The policy was extended in areas occupied by the Nazis during the war, and it was also applied by their allies, notably the Independent State of Croatia, Romania and Hungary.
Because no pre-war census figures exist for the Romany people, it is impossible to accurately assess the number of victims. Ian Hancock, director of the Program of Romany Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, proposes a figure of up to a million and a half, while an estimate of between 220,000 and 500,000 was made by the late Sybil Milton, formerly senior historian of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Modern Day Persecution of the Romany People
The practice of placing Romany students in segregated schools or classes remains widespread in countries across Central and Eastern Europe. In Hungary and Bulgaria, many Romany children have been channeled into all-Romany schools that offer inferior quality education and are sometimes in poor physical condition, or into segregated all-Romany or predominantly Romany classes within mixed schools. Many Romany children are sent to classes for pupils with learning disabilities, regardless of whether such classes are appropriate for the children in question. In Bulgaria, they are also sent to so-called "delinquent schools", where a variety of human rights abuses take place.
Despite the low birth rate in the country, Bulgaria's Health Ministry was considering a law aimed at lowering the birth rate of certain minority groups, particularly the Romany, due to the high mortality rate among Romany families, which are typically large. This was later abandoned due to conflict with EU law and the Bulgarian constitution.
Romany people in European population centers are often accused of crimes such as pickpocketing. This is a regular justification for anti-Ziganist persecution. In 1899, the Nachrichtendienst in Bezug auf die Zigeuner ("Intelligence Service Regarding the Gypsies") was set up in Munich under the direction of Alfred Dillmann, cataloguing data on all Romany individuals throughout the German lands. It did not officially close down until 1970. The results were published in 1905 in Dillmann’s Zigeuner-Buch, that was used in the next years as justification for the treatment of Romanies during the Holocaust. It described the Romany people as a "plague" and a "menace".
In July 2008, a Business Week feature found the region's Romany population to be a "missed economic opportunity." Hundreds of people from Ostravice in the Beskydy mountains signed a petition against a plan to move Romany families from Ostrava city to their home town, fearing the "Romany invasion" as well as their schools not being able to cope with the influx of Romany children.
On July 3, 2008 it was announced that Italy had started fingerprinting their Romany populations, despite accusations of racism by human rights advocates and international organizations. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told parliament the move was needed to fight crime and identify illegal immigrants for expulsion, but also to improve the lives of those legally living in the makeshift, often unsanitary camps.
On July 19, 2008 two Romany girls drowned off Torregaveta, west of Naples. Local newspapers reported that sunbathers continued as normal with their day at the beach despite the bodies of the two girls being laid out on the sand nearby for over an hour. Hostility to the Romany people has been growing in recent years, and according to Enzo Esposito of Opera Nomadi, Italy's largest Romany organization, the events on the beach "showed a terrible lack of sensitivity and respect."
Adding insult to injury, on September 4, 2008 the European Commission ruled that Italy's census of illegal Gypsy camps does not discriminate against the Romany community, stating that the census is in line with European Union law.