20.10.2017 Manifesto - For the creation of a European Foundation for the Memory of the genocide against the Roma people!
Soon, the pig farm built on the site of the former concentration camp will be destroyed. The fetid smell that inevitably envelops visitors will have disappeared. The stele placed on the mass graves will be moved. A memorial will be built.
More than seventy years after the end of the Second World War, the site of the former camp for Roma people at Lety, in the Czech Republic, will finally be treated with the dignity it deserves.
It was anything but easy to achieve: only thanks to an exceptional mobilization of European civil society, Roma and non-Roma together, have the Czech authorities and private owners finally concluded an agreement for the purchase of the pig farm with a view of its destruction.
If this constitutes a historical victory, the issues that have shaped Lety as an European symbol still persist all over the continent: the lack of knowledge and research concerning the genocide against the Roma people; the racism and discrimination that are in many respects the continuation of persecutions; the social marginalization that has been continuing for decades; the ignorance concerning the diversity of Roma cultures and histories.
As the Lety case demonstrates, it is only through a determined and unified commitment from civil society and institutions that the history of persecution of the Roma people, of which the genocide was the culminating point and which perpetuates until today, can be put to an end.
This is why we call for the creation of a European Foundation for the Memory of the genocide against the Roma people!
First, it will have to promote historical research. The funding and publication of research, the collection of testimonies, the constitution of archives and the organization of scientific symposia will allow to better understand this history.
It will have to equally focus on the effective transmission of this history, to enlighten the consciences of today. This will be achieved through work of memorialization – construction of memorials, creation of exhibitions, organization of commemorations …, – as well as through an investment in education, with its inclusion in school curriculums and the trainings of teachers.
Moreover, it will contribute to the fight against racism, discrimination and social exclusion, which are not disconnected from the persecutions of the past. In this context, support for civil society will be fundamental in order to change attitudes, to carry out awareness-raising activities, to lead mobilization for the respect of equal rights and dignity and to build coalitions for solidarity, working at the most grassroots level.
It is important: the Foundation will have to be truly European, and not for example divided into multiple national foundations.
Indeed, it is on the whole continent that the Roma people are confronted with the same issues, as it is on the whole continent that the genocide was perpetrated against them. Additionally, strengthening Europe and democracy is the only perspective of hope for addressing these issues. Thus, by its European nature, the Foundation will be one of the institutions capable of contributing to this democratic reinforcement.
The size and origin of its budget clearly represent a key element. The mechanism we propose is simple, and already attested.
The annual budget of the Foundation will be constituted by the interests of its initial capital. The latter will consist of the sum of the reparations that the States and companies involved in the genocide will pay. Indeed, the reparations for the victims of the genocide against the Roma people are lacking to this day. The States and companies concerned will have to face their responsibilities and give reparations to the victims or their descendants, or instead transfer this amount to the Foundation, to constitute its initial capital.
For the historical victory at Lety to be followed by others, and to leave the history of persecution and discrimination in order to project ourselves towards a future at the heart of which is dignity, the European Foundation for the Memory of the genocide of the Roma people must be created.