Auschwitz Memorial; photo: Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma.
2 August 2021
Message of the President of Romania, H.E. Klaus Werner Iohannis on the occasion of 2 August 2021, Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma
On 2 August every year we pay our tribute to the memory of the half-million Roma children, women and men who were murdered in Europe during the period of the Holocaust. They were the victims of a brutal, dehumanizing regime that promoted racism, Antisemitism, hatred and intolerance as state policies.
Remembrance is a fundamental dimension of human lives. In Romania, approximately 25,000 Roma were deported to Transnistria and about 11,000 lost their lives as a result. It is our duty, today, to evoke their memory and make sure that such atrocities will not be repeated.
The need to remember is more urgent than ever at this time. In the recent context created by the COVID 19 pandemic, we see again an alarming rise in racism, Antisemitism, and hate speech targeting Roma, especially online. Our duty, as political leaders, is to fight these developments, to publicly condemn without hesitation any statement that incites to hate. We also need to pursue our efforts to develop appropriate instruments that enable us to protect our societies against these threats.
Romania has made important steps in terms of assuming the Holocaust and combating racism and antisemitism and can be now considered a regional model: we have adopted, in May 2021, a National Strategy for the Prevention and Combatting of Antisemitism, Xenophobia, Radicalization and Hate Speech. This strategy enables us to better train public officials dealing with this phenomenon and also to have a better data collection.
Internationally, Romania was one of the countries that strongly supported, in 2020, the adoption by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance/IHRA of a non-legally binding working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination. It was a major project of the German Chairmanship of IHRA to which we lent our constant support.
Further effort needs to be done regarding education on the Roma genocide. We need to make sure that we educate young generations on this tragic episode of European history. Every society has this fundamental duty to ensure that each new generation knows and keeps the truth alive. We support consolidated efforts to include Roma genocide during the second World War in educational curricula as well as efforts directed at protecting the last survivors.
Europe is founded on the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms. Promoting cultural, religious and ethnical diversity are the best way to prevent conflicts and to build peaceful democratic societies.
As President of Romania, I reaffirm my country’s unwavering commitment for preserving the memory of the Holocaust, promoting the democratic values and to decisively condemning any racist act, combating discrimination, Antisemitism, extremisim as well as racially or ethnically motivated violence.