Roma congress discusses political unity and a Roma nation

27-07-2000

Is there a Romani nation? That is one of the issues raised at the World Congress of the International Roma Union, which is underway this week in Prague on Wednesday, with Romani delegates from all over the world. Nick Carey has this report

The debate over the future status of the Roma is an emotional one. Several delegates at the congress have criticised the fact that so far the Roma, who live predominantly in Central and Eastern Europe, have no political unity. They propose the recognition of Roma as a nation by the UN. The working group devoted to this issue also proposed a programme that included a media campaign to create awareness of Roma issues in the region.

I spoke to one of the Australian delegates, Ramajana Rusitovic, originally from Serbia, and asked her first what she thought the Roma stood to gain by attaining the status of a nation:

One of the main issues related to the future status of the Roma is migration. In the past few years there have been waves of Roma leaving the region due their conditions and racist attacks, seeking asylum in particular in Western Europe. Many of these countries rejected most asylum requests, saying that these are economic migrants. This situation, say many of the delegates, requires that the Geneva Convention be amended: