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As a matter of fact this discussion is no discussion but rather a kind of comment on what happens in the field of human rights. I will comment regularly and invite you to comment as well.

What did happen recently? Thomas Hammarberg, former Commissioner of Human Rights of the CoE and ERRC (European Roma Rights Centre) will be given the Stockholm Human Rights Award 2012 on 26 November. I sincerely hope that both laureates, Mr Hammarberg and Mr Dezideriu Gergely (Director ERRC) will profit from this opportunity to say a few words about colleagues human rights activists.

The Bulgarian Roma activist Malin Iliev died after a bomb attack that took place last July. Other activists are in custody or run risks to end up in prison (Roberto Malini, Italy, Toma Nikolaev, Bulgaria). Others live in exile now (Viktoria Mohacsi, Hungary) or suffer from serious threats.

Rewards are useful. They encourage activists to continue fighting for justice, but the only award really needed, is implementation of rights! Praising the methods should not guide us away from the aims.

The day before yesterday, 2 October 2012, I met Mrs Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. I informed her about Khetanes and gave her my visiting card. World Artists Initiative "Khetanes" needs support at all levels and I do my utmost to realize this support. Alone, however, I won't achieve much. All of you are needed.

Today is World Animal Day. It makes me think of the Facebook Causes I am invited to join by one or more of my Facebook friends (many of them being Roma!). I am invited to sign for the sake of whales, dolphins, elephants, stray dogs, cats and labaratory animals... It hardly happens that I am invited to sign for the sake of Roma. Isn't that strange? Time has come to wonder whether Causes save the world.

Maybe Causes are just a diversionary tactic. They make us feel that we have a say in the matter by clicking a button. It is better than looking away but worse than real commitment. It is the cheapest coin in the collecting-box, a drug for our conscience rather than a boost.

I love whales, dolphins, elephants, dogs, cats, apes, birds, all of them, but most of all I love a civilization that respects all creatures, understands the laws of the ecosystem and the importance of human rights to guaranty equal treatment. I am afraid, however, that there is not one single Cause to host all these issues. We have a website here, we have writers, poets, philosophers, film makers, composers and many other artists. We don't need Causes, we need actions that reflect our ideas and creativity!

Dear Els,

I totally agree!!!

All the best

Viola

UNITED E-NEWS 09/10/2012

New rules to stop EU funding for racist parties

Last month, the European Commission finally backed a proposal for new laws that intend to cut off EU funding for racist or xenophobic parties and their associated foundations. The proposal demands European political parties and foundations to register officially under EU law to get a new legal status that allows them to receive EU funding.

To obtain this new European legal status it is required to fulfil certain criteria and respect the values on which the EU is founded, namely "respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities". The part regarding minorities is a new addition that will leave far right parties struggling to receive this status.

The new regulations will also allow European political parties to get involved in the national campaigns and elections of their member parties. Moreover it would force parties to publish the names of donors contributing more than 1,000 Euros a year, while the annual limit on individual donations would rise from 12,000 Euros to 25,000 Euros. The new regulations also bring in sanctions (administrative and financial) for breaches of the criteria, including the values on which the EU is founded.

The introduction of a European legal statute for European political parties has been a long-standing request of the EU Parliament. However, this process only gained pace after the public outcry that followed the decision of the Bureau of the European Parliament to grant 289,266 Euro to the far right "Alliance of European Nationalist Movements" earlier in 2012. The Commission's adoption of the proposal was therefore welcomed by many MEPs. Hannes Swoboda, president of the "Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats" in the EU Parliament, stated: "It is time to stop to keep giving EU money to rightist and xenophobic parties that are systematically rallying against EU values and principles."

In 2012, 13 European political parties and 12 European political foundations were awarded almost 31 million Euro in total; including:
- "Alliance of European Nationalist Movements"(*): 289,266 Euro
- "European Alliance for Freedom" (**): 360,455 Euro
- "European Foundation for Freedom" (***): 243,811 Euro
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The good news is that starting from July 2013 the EU will stop funding far right political parties. Yet, isn't it shocking that Khetanes depends on volunteers' money and grants when it is fighting funded racism?

Yes, that is shocking, and also that they had given the money to the rightist extremists! To the law the only thing one can say is, better late than never!

MEMORIALS AND WARNING SIGNS

Today, 24 October 2012, the Berlin Holocaust Memorial for Roma and Sinti is inaugurated by German Cancellor Angela Merkel. Also present are President Joachim Gauck and some 100 survivors of the Porrajmos, among whom Zoni Weiss.

Only a few days ago 3000 Jobbik members demonstrated in Miskolc, the second large city in Hungary. Tamas Kormendi, one of the far right demonstrators, said: "These gypsies are like pigs and they like it. Well, they will not like it anymore if it depends on me."

One memorial in Berlin, 45 seats for Jobbik in the Parliament in Budapest... Cannot we turn memorials into warning traffic signs? We will need them all over Europe! And we need Cancellors and Presidents to inaugurate all of them.

Mentally ill Roma:

According to Prof. Géza Jeszenszky, many Roma are mentally ill, because in Roma culture sisters and brothers or cousins are permitted to marry each other or to have sexual intercourse. His statement on mental illness is made in the context of perpetuated poverty, widespread social problems and crime.

Please, see a page from the book "Post-communist Europe and its National/Ethnic Problems: a coursepack, Theme 9 'Minorities in Hungary: the issue of Roma (Gypsies). Minority self-government', p.273. Kairosz Kiado, Budapest, 2009

Author is Professor Géza Jeszenszky, teaching at the Corvinus University, one of the most prestigious universities in Hungary.

Professor Jeszenszky requires his student to use his book.

Complaints can be sent to:

Professor Zsolt Rostoványi, Rector of the Corvinus University

csminfo@uni-corvinus.hu

Office Staff:

Luda, Szilvia, Program Manager in-house programs:

szilvia.luda@uni-corvinus.hu

Strack, Szivia, Program Manager international programs:

szilvia.strack@uni-corvinus.hu

Losonci, Annamária, Secretary

annamaria.losonci@uni-corvinus.hu

A new info to G. Jeszenszky, he is also ambassador of Hungary in Norway with these e-mail addresses mission.osl@mfa.gov.hu; huembosl@online.no - there was a letter of complaint send to by P. Molnar, I. Hancock, F. Mugisha - all three Rafto laureates! So it might be good if we also send our complaints to that adresses.

Géza Jeszenszky (born in 1941 and author of the book "Post-Communist Europe and its National/Ethnic Problems") is a famous professor, who published many books.

He studied history and was one of the founding members of the Hungarian Democratic Forum.

From 1990-1994 he was Minister for Foreign Affairs and from 1998-2002 he was Ambassador to the United States of America, representing the government led by V. Orban. Later he started teaching again.

Currently he became Ambassador to Norway!

A key question in our reaction could be where professor Jeszenszky found the proof for his statement that the Romani culture promotes mental illness by allowing brothers, sisters and cousins to marry each other and have sexual intercourse?

 

A couple of days ago a Hungarian right-extremist yelled that Gypsies like to live like pigs. Tomorrow this extremist may refer to the mental illness that Prof. Jeszenszky describes in his book, a study book by a renown historian.....

 

More than 2 years have passed since our Artists Initiative started its website in October 2010. In those two years Romaphobia did not stop, the situation even worsened. Far right got a stronger grip on national parliaments and weak populist governments started adopting far right, whereas international authorities could not or did not dare to intervene. In Europe millions of citizens have no access to proper education, healthcare, housing and jobs. They are not only socially but also legally excluded. Justice, however, is not an exclusive product, available for some and beyond reach for others. Justice is indivisible and applies to all or to no one. If 70 people are in a warm, safe house and 30 are out in the street, justice turns into injustice.

 

This being said, we must admit that Europe allows injustice. Millions live in slums, hidden by walls and fences. Contrary to what racists believe, social inequality cannot be explained from ethnic inequality. Allegations like these remind of Hitler's racial doctrines, Dutch organizing apartheid or pioneers killing Native Americans. Throughout history mankind has distinguished superior and inferior people. The latter work as slaves, can easily be robbed or are excellent scapegoats. Sooner or later victims revolt and the oppression stops. Only, seldom completely. Discrimination returns like mosquitos: just a bit of water and warmth and they are back.  For this we have legislation, courts and tribunals, but their work is slow and their waiting-lists can be fatal.

 

Yet, the parallels with the past are clear. Like in the 1930s there is a global crisis with border-crossing problems. From this we could and should understand that borders have lost their meaning. Capital, trade, pollution, nothing is stopped by the customs. Instead of looking for a joint approach, however, there is a growing tendency to get on board of a national Noah's Ark. Instead of intensifying the process of cooperation, Europeans - in a sphere of pettiness – run back to their nation-states. These days the biggest lie is that homogeneous nations, surrounded by strong borders, can survive with flag and anthem, heroes and national team. Roma have no heroes, no team, no state and no borders, and thus their flag and anthem lack official weight. In present-day Europe most states are like a castle with a tiny guestroom. There are owners and "guestroom nations", minorities as we call them, often with minor rights.

 

What happened these last two months in 2012? In e.g. France, Italy, Romania or Slovakia the evictions continued. The EU Framework for national Roma integration strategies is likely to fail. Despite the European Commission's call for member states to apply more EU funds to programs aimed at integrating Roma, Hungary, Bulgaria Slovakia, Czech Republic and Greece, didn't do this. In Romania e.g. less than 10 % of the European Social Funds have been used in the past 6 years and only a fraction of that money went to Roma (source: Robbing the Roma, by Kalman Mizsei, Chair of the Making the Most of EU Funds for Roma Initiative of the Open Society Foundations). Last November Professor Jeszenszky, Hungary's ambassador to Norway, regretted that he had called Roma "mentally ill" in his university textbook, but he did not apologize nor withdraw the book. Nothing good occurred? Well, yes, in a concert to honor the EU Nobel Prize Winner, also a brass band participated, but the Roma musicians honored the EU as entertainers, not as full citizens. Let's choose another and maybe better example: "Just the wind", the film by Bence Fliegauf, inspired by the arson attacks on Roma families in Hungary, has been selected as the Hungarian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards. Promoting this film is a courageous step, but even more courageous would be Hungary's distancing itself from Jobbik's racism. Nevertheless, a good promotion will bring the film to Canada and increase the understanding there for Roma that fled from Europe.

 

The situation is bad, but there is no sense in resigning. Every single human being has the option to raise his/her voice in protest. On this website alone, on Khetanes, is space for thousands of members. I particularly appeal to well-known artists, that are still doing good business, having tours and making money. Their being well-off does not compensate their brother's and sister's misery. For them justice is indivisible as well. Moreover success is no protection. Quite a number of celebrities in the 1930s, Roma, Sinti, Jews, were affected by "Berufsverbote" or ended by performing in camps. Django Reinhardt hardly survived WWII… Let us join our various talents, the more we are, the louder we are.

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