Porajmos: Remember the Roma Holocaust
August 2, 2017 is dedicated to the commemoration of the Roma Holocaust, marking the killing of more than 3,000 Roma children, men, and women at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) remember this event, honour the memory of those who died, and encourage churches and all parts of society to work for reconciliation with the 10 to 12 million Roma people living in Europe.
Throughout the Nazi-rule in Germany, Roma suffered widespread imprisonment and murder. These genocidal events are part of a long history of persecution of and violence against Roma people in Europe. Today, Roma continue to experience discrimination and marginalisation across the continent. They are victims of hate speech, crimes and frequently face unjust treatment, not least in the labour market.
”Remembering the crimes and injustice of the past can lead to reconciliation. Dignity and justice for Roma people all over Europe need to be established.”, remarked CCME General Secretary Doris Peschke. CCME is in partnership with the Alliance against Anti-gypsyism, to help combat prejudice against Roma people and work towards social inclusion.
“More than seventy years after Porajmos, the Roma Holocaust, the challenges still facing Roma in Europe are utterly discriminating“, added Fr Heikki Huttunen, General Secretary of CEC. “We must be conscious of this European-wide racist injustice and the shameful fact of how difficult it has been for us to even recognise Porajmos.”
In this time when new and old prejudices are being invoked and hate speech often replaces reason and reflection, we in the churches must be more active than ever to promote the dignity and human rights of the Roma. Our mission is to work for a Europe that is a safe and nurturing home for all its inhabitants.