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WARSAW, 31 July 2015 – Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), called today on OSCE participating States to focus on teaching youth about the Roma and Sinti genocide, in order to combat current forms of racism and discrimination against Roma and Sinti. The statement came ahead of Sunday’s 71st anniversary of the “Zigeunerlager”, or “Gypsy Camp”, liquidation at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“Seventy-one years after the liquidation of the ‘Zigeunerlager’, Roma and Sinti continue to face racism and discrimination,” Link said. “Through remembrance and teaching about the Roma and Sinti genocide, participating States can help to both ensure respect for the victims, and to counter current forms of discrimination, racism and exclusion. Education about the genocide needs to be a fundamental part of curricula across all OSCE participating States in order to overcome persisting ‘anti-Gypsy’ sentiments.”
The ODIHR Director said that the Roma and Sinti genocide remains a powerful reminder of the tragic results such racist sentiments can create, and that reports of anti-Roma marches and anti-Roma rhetoric used by public officials in some OSCE participating States underscore the need for those states to increase their efforts to counter these.
“Over the past year we have continued to receive worrying reports pointing to a rising level of hate speech and prejudicial remarks against Roma and Sinti by public officials, of forced evictions of Roma from their homes, and of instances of attacks against individuals and communities,” Director Link said. “Instead, it is the responsibility of these and all public officials to counter such statements, to end such practices, and to investigate and prosecute those responsible for such crimes.”
He said that education about the Roma and Sinti genocide for all students was important for countering anti-Roma prejudice and can make a particularly critical difference for Roma and Sinti youth.
“Ensuring a greater understanding of this catastrophic event from the past can help Roma and Sinti youth work today and in the future against racism, discrimination and violations of their human rights,” the ODIHR Director said.