2 August 2020
"Roma Youth Voices" Project Coordinator, Phiren Amenca International Network
Statement on the occasion of the European Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma 2020
2 August 2020 marks 76 years from the liquidation of the Roma family camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. This date has become emblematic of all the atrocities committed against European Roma during World War II and a time to remember the thousands of missing destinies of Roma children, women and men.
Not only we mark 76 years from the tragedy of the Roma in Auschwitz-Birkenau, but we also morn the loss of a great friend – at the age of 94, in May 2020, left this world the Holocaust Survivor Raymond Gureme. For years, Raymond was inseparable from the young Roma who participated in the Roma youth initiative for Roma Genocide remembrance ‘Dikh i na Bistar’. Every year, Raymond was there with us, side by side, to tell us about the horrors he experienced as a young man. To tell us what it was like to run for your life and to remind us that the freedom we have today has been paid a high price, and that it is never guaranteed. The legacy of Raymond to Roma youth remains: “Never give up! Always resist! Always stand up!”.
To our regret, there is a lot that we European Roma youth have to fight for today. In a number of countries, even after so many years, the Roma Holocaust and the date of its commemoration, August 2, continue to be officially unrecognized. In a number of countries where the majority of Roma perished as victims of Nazi persecutions, there are still no monuments, memorials or museums dedicated to the Roma victims. Furthermore, the Roma Holocaust and Roma history as a whole remain untold, torn pages in European history textbooks.
It is our duty, of the European Roma Youth, to demand all these today: for Raymond and for the thousands of Roma whose names we will never know. We have no choice but to fight for a more just society, because others are coming after us, and we want to leave this world a better place.
Roma youth voices matter and it is a high time that we hear them!
Phiren Amenca International Network
Phiren Amenca is a network of Roma and non-Roma volunteers and voluntary service organizations creating opportunities for non-formal education, dialogue and engagement, in order to challenge stereotypes and racism.
Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma
Vice President of the European Parliament
European Commissioner for Equality
Vice President of the German Bundestag
Dutch State Secretary Paul Blokhuis
Amb. Chris J. Lazaris, IHRA Chairman
UN Special Rapporteur UN minorities
President of the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)
Prime Minister of Canada
Chairman of the Association of Roma in Poland
Deputy Chairman of the Documentation and Cultural Center of German Sinti and Roma and Chairman of the Association of German Sinti and Roma
European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC)
Civil Rights Activist
Chairman of the Council of German Sinti and Roma in Hesse
Manon Aubry, MEP
Historian at the University of Bucharest
German former Weinkönigin
Chairman of the Association of Jews,
Survivors and Victims of the Second World War
First Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland