Bulgarian Roma Hold Silent Vigil as Protesters Gather

Society | October 2, 2011, Sunday // 19:01|  views

Roma from the Adzhisan Mahala neighborhood in second-largest Bulgarian city Plovdiv gathered in a silent vigil against hate and racism Sunday.

At the same time, some 5,000 football fans and students gathered in the central square downtown in protest against what they see as government inactivity against crime.

Both gatherings were provoked by last week’s events in the nearby village of Katunitsa, in which a local ethnic Bulgarian youth was killed by Roma.

The perpetrators were allegedly instigated by local Roma clan leader Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, who has gained notoriety for reputedly engaging in criminal actions such as bootleg alcohol production, human trafficking, extortion and vote buying.

The tragic incident in Katunitsa has provoked angry protests across Bulgaria, during which racist anti-Roma slogans were shouted and property was destroyed.

The Sunday protest in downtown Plovdiv went down peacefully, in spite of the presence of organized fans from local teams Lokomotiv and Botev.

Protesters requested more resolute actions against crime and called for a step down on the part of Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev.

The major slogan of the event was “We Will Never Forget, We Will Never Forgive.” Another slogan asked the rhetoric question “For How Long Will We Keep on Breeding Social Parasites.”

At the same time, people gathered in the Roma neighborhood were carrying signs reading “Peace,” “Security,” and “Bulgaria, Homeland for Everyone.”

Saturday similar parallel events were carried out in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, with thousands of youths marching along major central boulevards, as the National Security Council was sitting summoned by President Georgi Parvanov to react to the violence of the past week.

At the same time, Roma children were giving flowers to passers by in downtown Sofia, in a self-styled 'Roma Pride.'

Yet another protest was held in Sofia Sunday, in which supporters of the Order, Law and Justice (RZS) party requested the resignation of Minister of Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov because of mismanagement of the situation.

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Tags: RZS, Boris Velchev, Botev, Lokomotiv, sofia, Georgi Parvanov, violence, racist, Roma, Plovdiv, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Kiril Rashkov, Tsar Kiro


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