Following a campaign launched last month by the S&D Group, the European Parliament today in Brussels solemnly recognised the genocide of Roma that took place during World War II and declared that a "European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day" should be dedicated to remember the 500,000 Roma people who were exterminated by the Nazis.
Roma MEP Soraya Post, S&D spokesperson for this campaign and one of the key players behind this historical decision, said:
"The European Parliament position is an important first step in addressing anti-gypsyism. It breaks the silence around the Roma victims of the Nazi regime and it gives Roma the place in our common history that they have been denied for so long. The recognition of the Roma Holocaust and the establishment of a memorial day for its victims are crucial for the fight against anti-gypsyism in Europe.
"The MEPs have also condemned utterly and without equivocation the fact that, in the present-day, Roma people are still victims of racist and violent attacks, and are calling on the European Commission to monitor the respect of EU citizens' fundamental values and respond to any systemic breaches which may occur.
"In addition to the issue of the Roma's daily fight for equal rights, the European Parliament has also addressed the issues of equal access to housing, healthcare, education and gender equality."
S&D vice-president Tanja Fajon MEP added:
"The S&D Group has always been at the forefront and will remain a driving force on Roma inclusion in the EU, Europe’s largest minority group. Only a continued and open dialogue between Roma and non Roma stakeholders and the European institutions will help overcome our prejudices, constant discrimination and segregation by upholding key EU values of equality and protection of fundamental rights.
"The European institutions ought to follow the S&D Group and make the fight against anti-gypsyism an absolute priority. Too often, Roma still live in overwhelmingly poor conditions and face extreme level of social exclusion with limited access to employment, education, health, social services and decision-making. Such conditions are not worthy of modern democratic societies we claim to have created in Europe.
"The Holocaust and genocide of Roma by the Nazi and other regimes is a fact that is still largely ignored and not acknowledged by the broad public and often not recognized or taught in schools. Only by recognizing and remembrance can we make sure such atrocities do not ever happen again."