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Pushed to the Margins: Time to Stand Up for Roma

19/06/2013 00:36 BST | Updated 18/08/2013 10:12 BST

Five stories. Five tragedies. Each a tale of forced eviction. Each indicative of a much wider problem.

This is Romania. This is modern-day prejudice. This is the life of Europe's Roma community.

Today, Amnesty International publishes a new report called Pushed to the margins: Five stories of Roma forced evictions in Romania. The report follows the journeys of five people from three Romanian cities after they have been forcibly evicted from their homes and their resistance to relocation. It paints a very bleak picture.

Take the case of Claudia.

Old home Coastei Street in the western Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca. Forcibily evicted in 2010. New home Pata Rât, an area on the outskirts of the city known for its landfill and former chemical waste dump. New accomodation one small room. Flatmates include her family, her parents and her brother's family - all 11 of them.

She was given little warning and wasn't consulted fairly.

Further north in the Romanian city of Baia Mare, the city's mayor has been using anti-Roma propaganda. He oversaw the demolition of dozens of homes belonging to the Roma community in Craica. He then relocated 500 of those made homeless to a former chemical plant which had yet to be converted for human habitation.

Earlier he had authorised the construction of a 500-metre wall almost two metres high to isolate three blocks of flats from their surrounding neighbours.

But these are not isolated incidents. It's all part of a wider problem. Prejudice against the Roma community has become institutional.

The issues are out there, they are known. The European Commission has the power to intervene, but it has done little. I'd urge anyone near Bucharest to head to the University Square to visit Amnesty's 'House of Cards' exhibition.

'The House of Cards' symbolises the unsafe and inadequate housing conditions to which Roma communities are often relocated and will portray images and quotes from people who have been forcibly evicted.

The exhibition will include satellite images highlighting how Roma in Cluj-Napoca and Piatra Neamt are marginalised, as well as a petition calling on Romania's prime minister to end forced evictions and to protect the right to adequate housing in national legislation.