2 August 2021
Co-Chair of the Left group in the European Parliament
Commemoration speech on the occasion of 2 August 2021, Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma
Today, we commemorate the hundreds of thousands of Sinti and Roma murdered in Nazioccupied Europe.
There is no word strong enough to describe the horror of the slaughter which culminated in Auschwitz in 1944.
Too long the persecution and killing of Sinti and Roma people have been neglected. Many Europeans do not know that they were the second population most persecuted on racist grounds by the Nazis. Hundreds of thousands were murdered during the Second World War.
This crime against humanity has been concealed and overlooked way too long. It makes it even more important to commemorate today.
To this day, Roma and Sinti people suffer from intergenerational poverty, lack of access to jobs, to housing, to healthcare and to education. They keep being largely targeted, victims of racist attacks. Antiziganism, harassment and discriminations against Roma people are still way too numerous in Europe. We must be aware of the seriousness of these systematic attacks.
Commemoration is essential to remember, and not to reproduce the same mistakes. It’s our duty not to forget.
We must indeed be vigilant. Today, the far-right rises again across Europe, promoting the same hateful ideas and political agenda and undermining human rights through racism, xenophobia and homophobia. Memory itself is threatened by some who deny the existence of the Second World War genocide Europe has gone once down that path of deception, hatred and dehumanization and we know that this road leads to irreversible horror.
Remembering the past is necessary, but it is not enough. Remembering must go along with acting for justice and protecting human rights.
We have to remember that when fascists access power, it is too late. And that History taught us what they are capable of.
We must fight for a society where this kind of horror never happens again, by promoting values of inclusion and solidarity, by fighting against preconceived ideas and stereotypes that reinforce discriminations. We must teach our children what happened, because they need to be aware of what can occur if we don’t react in time.
We must promote an education based on respect, diversity, sharing and tolerance, so that such horrors can never happen again. We must oppose racist organisations and political movements that are progressing across Europe.
We know that history can be repeated and have the duty of taking the past into account, to never fall back into the same trap and to build a better future.
There are dark times in our history and difficult times ahead of us. But there is also hope and inspiration in gathering together today. The European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma is proof that there are academics, organisations, elected representatives and many other people that keep on fighting for human dignity and equality to prevail over hatred and racism. Today and for years to come, The Left group in the European Parliament stands in solidarity with the Sinti and Roma people and with all that are striving for peace, justice and human rights.