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Statement by Minister of State Katja Keul on the occasion of International Roma Day

07.04.2022 - Press release

The members of the Sinti and Roma community are the largest minority in Europe. Their culture can be found on several continents and their visual arts, literature, dance, film, theatre and music enrich our lives. On International Roma Day, we celebrate this cultural heritage. Sinti and Roma are an integral part of our diverse society. It is therefore important that they play a prominent role in our society with their talents, issues, language and culture.

This is all the more important because their discrimination and persecution over the course of many centuries, culminating in the systematic murder of hundreds of thousands of members of the minority under National Socialism, continue to make themselves felt to this day. We are all called upon to stand up to each and every form of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination.

The Federal Government will likewise continue to work hard to lay the groundwork for taking action against the structural racism to which Sinti and Roma are exposed. This includes working internationally for the application of the working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and implementing the EU Roma Strategy 2030 in Germany.

My thoughts today are also with the approximately 400,000 Roma living in Ukraine. It must be ensured that they – like everyone else – have access to aid supplies. In the EU and also here in Germany, we must ensure that they are not treated as second-class refugees.

Background information:

International Roma Day is marked every year on 8 April. The day commemorates the beginnings of the Roma civil rights movement at the First World Romani Congress on 8 April 1971. It pays tribute to Roma culture while at the same time raising awareness of their ongoing discrimination.

The Federal Foreign Office supports various projects around the world that serve this goal, including the performance of two Roma chamber operas in Vienna, language and cultural promotion in cooperation with the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture in Berlin, and a project to strengthen the social participation of Roma in Ukraine.

As chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the Federal Government was instrumental in launching the IHRA working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination in 2021 and supports its international dissemination and application. Furthermore, it is implementing the EU Roma Strategy 2030 with the national strategy Tackling Antigypsyism, Ensuring Participation. During the last legislative period, the Independent Commission on Antigypsyism developed important recommendations for action, including the appointment of a Federal Government Commissioner for the Fight against Antigypsyism and for Sinti and Roma Life in Germany. Mehmet Daimagüler will hold this office as of May.

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