- No adequate reaction from the EU Commission to racist statements against Roma by its representative
- Join our call for Mr. van der Linden’s removal by either electronically signing the protest by pressing HERE
(takes 40 sec) or by replying to this letter with your name, address and eventually position/organization. (it may be possible if you are behind a firewall to have an error when trying to send the electronic version)
On the very day of Enlargement, when the reunification of the European continent and of its citizens was to be celebrated, the Dutch TV broadcasted statements by one of the European Commission's Ambassadors which make the European Union's promise of non-discrimination and equality among its citizens look like an empty shell.
Mr. van der Linden, Head of the EC Delegation to Slovakia, proposed the forced separation of Romani children from their parents in order to resolve the "Roma problem". Romani children should be brought up in boarding schools where they would be continuously exposed to "the system of values which is dominant in our society", Mr. van der Linden said. In order to break the likely resistance of the parents, Mr. van der Linden proposed to offer them financial incentives. The result would be a new generation of Roma, that "will fit better into the dominant society, they will be able to truly contribute to the growth of the economy of the dominant society."
These statements are unacceptable, not only as they are in breach with fundamental international Human Rights conventions such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the EU's own basic principles. They are also unacceptable, because they clearly express the idea to eradicate the Romani identity and culture through the brain-washing of Romani children and their alienation from their parents and community.
The European Union and the Commission as its executive arm have long been telling the accession countries of Central and Eastern Europe that they need to safeguard and respect the rights of their minorities, including the Roma. Today, it looks as if the European Union is actually sharing the same approach towards the "Roma problem" as it has been done by socialist governments in Central and Eastern Europe and their post-socialist successors consisting of either forced assimilation or exclusion.
This is why a clear sign is needed from the side of the European Commission that Mr. van der Linden's views are not in line with the philosophy of the institution he represents and that this kind of statements is neither tolerable, nor tolerated.
The European Roma Information Office has asked the President of the European Commission, Mr. Romano Prodi, to remove the Commission's Ambassador to Slovakia from his post. So far, there is no official reaction from the Commission to this request. Statements made by the spokesperson of Romano Prodi during the Commission's press briefing on 14 May, make us however believe that Mr. van der Linden will not face any major consequences for his undue talk. Accordingly, Mr. van der Linden was simply requested not to give any longer interviews "on this topic". Mr. van der Linden's racist statements were played down as "an unfortunate choice of words in an interview which was otherwise quite good and talked about important things we [the European Commission] are engaged in this respect.".
It is now upon us, Romani and non-Romani Human Rights activists and citizens concerned about the respect of basic freedoms, to make clear that there is no such a simple escape out of statements that express a strong racist bias and assimilatory intents towards Roma. Generations of Roma have become victims of assimilatory practices; an estimated between 228 000 to 500 000 were killed in the name of the purity of blood and culture during the Second World War.
This is why we kindly invite you to sign our protest. It will be sent to the President of the European Commission, Mr. Romano Prodi, with copies going to the Delegation in Bratislava.
Mr. van der Linden needs to be sacked and apologies need to be addressed to the Romani communities throughout Europe. We are supposed to be citizens with the same rights as any other citizens of Europe.
For more information please visit our website: http://www.erionet.org/Fresh.html
European Roma Information Office