Roma activist and intellectual Nicolae Gheorghe: in memoriam

The late Roma activist Nicolae Gheorghe gives an interview to a journalist.
The late Roma activist Nicolae Gheorghe gives an interview to a journalist.
Nicolae Gheorghe, who has died at the age of 66, moved from being an assimilated Romanian to an avid Roma activist. He said of himself: “I was taught to be Romanian…I rediscovered my identity…I want to die as a human being.”

After attending military school against the wishes of his parents, he graduated in philosophy and sociology and soon began working on Roma issues. After 1989, he was appointed an expert on minorities for the new government, and thereafter founded a leading Roma rights NGO before becoming advisor to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on Roma and Sinti Issues.

"Nicolae Gheorghe was an inspiring as well as an inspired person," said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. "His ability to link international debates on the Roma with the reality of Roma communities on the ground brought a vital element to projects working to improve Roma people’s lives that had often been missing. His courage, knowledge and wisdom will be sorely missed."

Acknowledging the widespread discrimination faced by the Roma throughout the European Union, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency set up a multi-annual Roma programme running from 2012 to 2020. The project focuses on the areas of employment, education, housing and health, and works closely with Member States to develop methods of monitoring the progress of Roma integration policies in these fields.