Forced evictions of Roma families continue throughout Italy
Florence - The forced evictions of Roma families are continuing throughout Italy. In Rome, the clearance of the Magliana aqueduct area on the morning of May 9th - without the offer of alternative lodgings - has resulted in a humanitarian emergency for many Roma families. In Milan, the operations against the Piazza Lugano settlement has forced five Romanian Roma families to undertake a dramatic exodus as they were already living in conditions of extreme poverty and poor health.
On April 13th it was the turn of a Roma family in Prato. "This is a truly heartbreaking case," say Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, co-presidents of EveryOne Group, "because we are talking about a family in need of humanitarian care.
The family is already known to the international institutions and local humanitarian organizations, particularly Opera Nomadi Tuscany, which has been following the family closely after all the suffering its members have been subjected to over the years. The eldest member, Duja Ahmetovic, aged 65, is a refugee from Bosnia who fled the persecution and bombings of the 1990s.
She lost many relatives and friends during those terrible conflicts, including many children. She is in bad health and in need of urgent medical treatment.
The average life span of Roma people in Italy is 40 years, and Duja, after a life of hardship and poverty, is physically much older than her age."
EveryOne Group has written a letter to the Italian and international institutions to explain the tragedies that result from these evictions and request a law to put a stop to this barbaric treatment of the most vulnerable families. "These camp clearances are inhumane actions, already criticized by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Commission and the European Council," says EveryOne Group. "More than 200,000 human beings - over half of them children - have been subjected to this modern form of ethnic cleansing since 2007. Evictions have taken place during the winter; even when those evicted were suffering from serious heart problems and malignant tumours; and when women were heavily pregnant or carrying newborn babies in their arms.
Many children and sick people have died in the aftermath of the evictions, while others have disappeared without a trace. If the Roma people in Italy numbered 180,000 back in 2007, today less than 40,000 remain on Italian soil. These numbers point to a mass expulsion that goes against all the laws that protect peoples. Unfortunately, the Roma people are being persecuted in Italy by both Center-right and Center-left local authorities, and politicians regularly build their election campaigns on promising to evict Roma and Sinti families from their towns and cities.
We are calling on the Italian authorities who have still not been carried away by this wave of intolerance - and in particular on the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Gianfranco Fini - to set up a commission to evaluate the effects of these evictions and put an end to them with modern and effective legal measures in line with EU laws and the agreements signed with the United Nations. At the same time, we are asking the European Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg - who we have repeatedly asked to come and verify the persecution of the Roma people in Italy, and who is finally about to visit the last Roma settlements in Milan and Rome - to take legal action to ensure this ruthless repression of socially excluded and persecuted human beings does not continue among general indifference.
It is vital to put an end to these evictions and collect testimonies from the Roma people themselves concerning the damage that these forced evictions and repression have done to their people, quantifying the number of victims and the public health problems suffered by those evicted in view of an apology and appropriate compensation and - first of all - an end to the ethnic persecution that has been going on for far too long."
May 15, 2011