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International Roma Day 2018

My name is Rafael Saavedra. I live in Brussels where I work for the United Nations Human Rights Regional Office for Europe.

On 08 Apr 2018

For me, International Roma Day is an opportunity to celebrate and reclaim Roma culture and history. It is also an opportunity to draw attention to the consequences of anti-Gypsyism, which is a specific form of racism against the Roma, and to combat it.

International Roma Day is a symbolic day for the Roma emancipation movement. Its origin can be found at the Roma Congress of April 1971 in London, where for the first time the Roma from different countries came together to promote the recognition of their culture and history and to claim the rights of which they had been deprived for many years. That day, in London, we also inaugurated our blue and green flag. It depicts a city without borders because it has blue sky and green fields. We also created our anthem which has sad lyrics recalling the victims of the Nazi persecution.

We, the Roma, arrived in Europe many centuries ago, yet today we still suffer direct discrimination from some parts of society, institutions and governments. For several years, the movement of Roma organisations, supported by international organisations like the United Nations, has been working to achieve greater equality, to end school segregation of our children, the continuous forced evictions that we suffer in different countries of Europe, and the high rate of extreme poverty suffered by the vast majority of Roma families ...

We have to keep working to demand the full enjoyment of all human rights for our people. We will continue our struggle every day. Because every day is 8 April for us. Thank you. Opre Roma.