The planning of forced deportations is a relapse into the worst time of the persecution of the "gypsies”

German-Kosovar agreement on the return of refugees signed

The signing of the German-Kosovar agreement on the return of refugees has evoked sharp criticism from the Society for Threatened Peoples STP (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker, GfbV). The chair of the German section of the STP, Tilman Zülch, described the decision of the German government to deport the 10,500 Romany refugees from Kosovo, who are living in Germany, as "a deliberate blow against this group of victims of the Holocaust”, which is "oriented on the widespread antizyganism in the general public”. Zülch's words:

"With the planned forced deportation of 10,500 Romany refugees to Kosovo, among them well over 3,000 children, the federal and provincial ministers of the interior are relapsing into the worst time of the "gypsy” persecution after the end of the war. This merciless policy in oriented on the widespread antizyganism in the German and European population and is a deliberate blow against this group of victims of the Holocaust. For 35 years - until 1979/80 - "gypsies” in Germany were fair game for the police and other authorities. The federal ministries for the family, under the leadership of both CDU and SPD, drew their advice from scientists who were oriented on racial biology. Even the authorities of huge cities like Hamburg and Munich under social democrat or Christian democrat governance continued to use the "Gipsy files” on matters of this minority persecuted by the Nazis.

Immediately after the NATO intervention in 1999 in Kosovo I witnessed on the spot the failure of the soldiers and security forces of the western countries, when 70 out of 75 settlements and estates were destroyed or burned down by Albanian extremists. This was the worst gypsy pogrom since 1945. The members of this minority were attacked, mishandled, tortured, raped, abducted or killed. About 120,000 of the 150,000 Romany fled from the country. Those who remained were often cooped up in camps surrounded by barbed wire, which were nevertheless threatened or even attacked at night. The NATO troops did not protect the threatened Romany people, although they were able shortly before to secure the return of a million Albanian refugees. Responsibility for this failure is in part due to the government of Schröder and Fischer.

The Society for Threatened Peoples has ascertained:

The refugee children who were born or who have grown up in Germany and are now threatened with forced deportation speak German as heir mother tongue, often with a regional accent. For their integration teachers, social workers, ministers of religion, Christian communities, refugee councils, human rights activists and many other citizens have worked hard and achieved a great deal for their integration both in material and practical terms.

German laws have not given the Romany refugees from Kosovo even the possibility of medium-term planning in their lives. They have not been allowed to work, nor have their children been able to start any training courses. Children with physical or mental handicaps were not even taken on in workshops for the handicapped.

These persons seeking protection have not been allowed to leave their own districts. The forced inactivity – often for many years – has driven many into depression and hopelessness. Thus a vicious circle has been produced. Only a few can profit from the new regulations concerning the right of residence.

Contrary to the status report of the Foreign Office the situation of the Romany minority in Kosovo is according to human rights organisations, but also according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the Council of Europe and the OSCE dreadful: violations of human rights against Romany are frequent but are not reported to the police. Unemployment in the case of the Romany is almost 100%. Employment quotas laid down by law for minorities are disregarded. The nutrition of most Romany children is totally inadequate. Provision for schooling is insufficient. Proper medical care is also unaffordable for those returning. The elderly and the very sick are in a hopeless situation. The death rate is exceptionally high.

In the light of this unbearable situation and remembering the persecution and mass-murder of the Sinti and Romany by the Nazi regime we call on the German government and the provinces to establish a contingent solution for the approximately 10,500 Romany refugees from Kosovo and so to set a sign of good will for this existentially threatened minority. In this connection we should like to draw attention to the exemplary solutions for the other communities like the 200,000 Jews and the two million Russian Germans from the states of the Russian Federation and in recent months for the reception of 2,500 refugees from Iraq, who have come mainly for religious reasons.

It lasted almost 35 years until the continuing and unnoticed suppression and persecution of the Sinti and Romany in Western Germany was made known by the STP from 1979 to the middle of the 80s, the renewal of their citizenship of thousands of Sinti survivors from East Prussia and Silesia was secured, Chancellor Schmidt and President Carstens were moved to recognize this part of the Holocaust and the first compensation in the form of pensions was achieved. These moves were supported by personalities like Simon Wiesenthal, Indira Gandhi and Simone Veil. In this connection the Central Council of German Sinti and Romany was founded.”

Tilman Zülch will be glad to provide further information at politik@gfbv.de.