Ukraine’s zero tolerance regarding Romani is critical

Author : Vitaliy Andronik

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ethnic conflict in Odesa region identified the problem that remained invisible for a long time
17:12, 7 September 2016

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Loschynivka, Odesa
Azov press center

Notorious events in Odesa region demonstrated the intolerance of society towards the Roma people, and this attitude has increased in recent years.

Executive vice-president of the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine and the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine Josef Zissels believes that the events in Loschynivka, Odesa region, are the massacres on ethnic grounds. Experts note that intolerance to the Roma minority in Ukraine is at a critical level.

Related: BBC: Ukraine moves Roma families amid village's rage at murder

"We regard the incident as a massacre on ethnic grounds. This problem must be seen and react accordingly. Actions of local authorities must be assessed in terms of legislation - they have led to discrimination of an entire ethnic group. Instead of protecting the rights of people, their lives and property, the law enforcement officers just relaxed and calmly watched. This situation must be revised at the national level. But so far none of the state bodies has condemned the committed crimes in Loschynivka. Bogardus social distance scale of the last 20 years shows that distance of Roma people is at its maximum level, and it is very close to discrimination. And this distance is only growing," says Josef Zissels.

Representatives of the Roma people claim that they face ethnic hatred in Loschynivka. This situation incidental to the whole country. The head of the Roma Organizations Coalition "Strategy-2020" Volodymyr Kondur appealed to the authorities to consider creation of the post of Deputy for the Roma minority within the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights or the Commissioner President of Ukraine for the Roma minority.

"Roma people respect the language, culture, traditions, customs, religious originality of the Ukrainian people and all national minorities. Because we are the people of peace and always strive for peaceful sky for all nations. We are citizens of Ukraine and is part of the country," emphasizes Kondur.

Related: 4 participants of conflict in Odesa delivered to police department

The losses of Roma people must be compensated, and the offenders must be brought to responsibility, notes Mykhailo Tarahkalo, director of the Center for Strategic Affairs of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights. First of all police officers should be punished for supporting the pogroms.

According to National Police representative Kostyantyn Tarasenko, the criminal proceedings has been instituted, and the perpetrators would be brought to justice.

Related: Equality March in Kyiv: this is when far-rights come too far

The charges to the entire nation through the act of one person shows the attitude of society towards Roma people. Ukrainians has numerous stereotypes concerning the minority, and they do not want to get rid of this stereotypes. In addition, all these years, the government did nothing for the integration of Roma people into Ukrainian society. The Cabinet has created an interagency working group on implementation of the action plan on protection and integration of the Roma minority into Ukrainian society (for the period until 2020), but the working group on the matter has never met.

Related: Far-right march in Kyiv: 21 cases of keeping weapons and foreign bodies

"Roma people are a particular community. People’s attitude to them is usually based on the stereotypes. Romani are a closed community, for society does nothing to make them involved into the wide social group. If Roma do something wrong, we must think that the society is doing nothing to integrate them," said the representative office of Ombudsperson for Human Rights Aksana Filipishyna.

As was reported, the pogroms and arson of Roma houses in Loschynivka were caused by the death of the girl, who was allegedly killed by someone from the minorities. Without waiting for the final results of the investigation, the villagers decided to commit lynching and began to smash and burn houses of Romani living in Loschynivka. About ten Roma families were forced to leave their homes in order not to risk their life. But the most striking fact in this situation is the inaction of local authorities and law enforcement bodies that practically support the eviction of Roma people and keep silent.

Related: Seven Poles suspected of assaulting Ukrainians for ethnic descent, - prosecutor’s office

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