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Roma Holocaust Day – learning from the past

Hundreds of thousands of Roma were victimised during World War Two. On Roma Holocaust Memorial Day, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights honours this day and calls on Member States to do more to end the antigypsyism that Roma communities across Europe continue to face in their daily lives.

Some 3000 Roma men, women, and children were killed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau on 2 August 1944. Roma Holocaust Memorial Day honours the thousands of victims and offers a chance to learn from the past to build a better future for today’s Roma.

The Roma are Europe’s largest ethnic minority. Yet they have long been persecuted. Antigypsyism today remains a problem in many Member States: 36% of Roma have been victims of harassment motivated by hatred and 41% have faced discrimination in the last five years. This is according to figures from FRA’s second minorities and discrimination survey of Roma across nine EU Member States.

The survey also points to little improvement over nearly a decade. Antigypsyism continues to be a formidable barrier to the implementation of EU and national policies to improve the life chances and living standards for Roma.

This underlines the need for Member States to improve and monitor the effectiveness of measures that seek to advance Roma integration and combat antigypsyism. Member States should also boost measures to combat hate crime and hate speech towards Roma. The atrocities of the past should be a constant reminder of the dangers of allowing hatred to go unpunished.

Member States should send a signal that persecution and discrimination towards Roma should not be tolerated across an EU that stands for respect, freedom and equality. Honouring Roma Holocaust Memorial Day signals Europe’s ongoing commitment to promoting and protecting Roma communities across the EU so that they are fully integrated in society.