Angela Merkel: Don’t change your course of humanity!

An open letter to Chancellor Merkel

Mrs. Merkel: Young Roma refugees who were tolerated for years must be able to stay! Photo: UN Photo/Aliza Eliazarov

Dear Mrs. Chancellor,

For me, it was very interesting that – last Tuesday in Berlin, on occasion of the 70th birthday of the Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose – you emphasized the fact that the “history”, art, and culture of the ethnic minority, which is often discriminated against, is an integral part of our “common society”.

Your statement has encouraged us to ask you to stick to your course of humanity – your decision to accept about one million refugees and displaced persons during the past year – with regard to the Roma minority as well.

There are plans to follow through with a mass deportation of many refugees who were tolerated here for many years – including about 4,400 Roma refugees from Kosovo and their children who grew up here. This is inhumane, and I hope this is not your reaction to the criticism regarding your magnanimous refugee initiative, or to the growing popularity of the AfD.

The parents of the affected refugee children were forced to leave their homes in Kosovo after the German government (under Schröder/Fischer) and the other European countries decided to start an intervention against the Serbian army in 1999. The signatory experienced in person how, after the war, nationalist Albanians expelled about 100,000 members of the Roma minority, while German Bundeswehr soldiers who were part of the NATO security force KFOR watched idly. 70 of 75 Roma villages and neighborhoods were looted and destroyed. Today, there are only about 8,000 Roma living in the area. Most of them don’t stand any chance on the labor market; they have trouble with medical care, and their children are discriminated against and marginalized in schools. Hardly any of the destroyed houses have been rebuilt.

Given the dismal situation of these Roma refugees and their children, them losing their status as being tolerated in Germany would come up to being expelled again. For us, it is an unbearable thought that the Children – who were born and raised in Germany – and their parents might soon be on the run within Germany, trying to hide from the authorities and the police. Germany is their home! They must not be expelled! For years, teachers, social workers, and youth workers have been doing their best to ensure their integration. They have de facto become German children.

Also mindful of the persecution and extermination of the Roma by the Nazi regime, we are now calling on you and our federal government to give the tolerated Roma refugees from Kosovo a home here in Germany. We appeal to you to ensure that the refugee children and their families can be naturalized quickly, similar to the Russian-German and the Jewish emigrants. Millions of German children, women, and men became victims of flight and expulsion after 1945. Their fate should be a warning to us not to expel these Roma children again.

Many thanks – and best regards!

Tilman Zülch

President of the Society for Threatened Peoples International