Commemoration in the Federal Council: Ramelow criticizes antiziganism

Status: December 17, 2021 2:54 p.m.

Federal Council President Ramelow sees antiziganism as an ongoing problem. In a memorial event, he called for better participation for Sinti and Roma, for example in state bodies.

In a memorial event, Federal Council President Bodo Ramelow remembered the murder and deportation of Sinti and Roma 79 years ago. He complained about the antiziganism that has persisted in Germany to this day.

Ramelow, who is also Thuringia’s Prime Minister, called for a “change of perspective” and better participation structures for Sinti and Roma. The occasion of the event was the anniversary of the so-called Auschwitz Decree. This ordered the deportation of Sinti and Roma on December 16, 1942.

“Specific Form of Racial Hatred”

The German Sinti and Roma were largely abandoned in the Holocaust, stressed Ramelow. “Just as the Jews were abandoned.” Even the churches did not intervene at that time “although they were members of their own Catholic Church”. Ramelow recalled that under the National Socialists more than half of the German Sinti and Roma were murdered, in Europe that was more than half a million people.

Even after the war, Sinti and Roma continued to be stigmatized and discriminated against, emphasized the left-wing politician – both in the Federal Republic and in the GDR. Ramelow spoke of stigmatization and racist criminalization: Sinti and Roma had been denied victim status and reparation for a long time – until 1982 – “on the grounds that they were persecuted for purely crime-prevention reasons”. One must be clear about “that antiziganism – just like anti-Semitism – is a specific form of racial hatred”.

Reference to NSU investigations

Broad empirical surveys have proven antiziganism even today, for example in municipal administration, school books and the police. With this in mind, Ramelow called for better opportunities for Sinti and Roma to participate – in particular by sending representatives of minorities to state bodies such as broadcasting councils and state media authorities.

He called for the recommendations of the expert commission set up by the federal government to be implemented, which, among other things, would provide for the appointment of officers against antiziganism. Another problem is the discrimination against Roma in asylum policy.

In recent German history – in the NSU investigations – there was an “antiziganistic reflex”, said the Thuringian Prime Minister. The DNA trace, which could be found everywhere, was interpreted by the police as an indication of “traveling people”. But later it turned out that the gene trace came from an employee of a packaging company for cotton swabs. And right-wing terrorists created new victims like in Hanau, said Ramelow.

Sinti, Roma and other minorities are “an important part of the diversity in our country and they belong to us,” emphasized Ramelow. “They have lived among Germans as Germans for many centuries. The crimes against them were crimes against our fellow citizens. We think of the victims with sadness.” Germany must “contribute to the outlawing of antiziganism in all of Europe”, so his appeal.

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