PACE Concerned by 'Anti-Roma Wave' in Bulgaria

Society | October 3, 2011, Monday // 20:36|  views

Photo by BGNES

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has expressed its worries about what it described as a "wave of anti-Gypsyism" in Bulgaria.

The PACE statement comes after over the past 10 days Bulgarian cities saw numerous protest rallies (which, however, rarely featured more than 1000 protesters) over the so called "Roma issue", i.e. the status of the Bulgarian Roma communities, which many ethnic Bulgarians see as "privileged" in fields such as taxation, law enforcement, social benefits for reasons having to do with "minority integration policies".  

The wave of protests was triggered by an incident in which associates of Roma boss Kiril Rashkov, aka Tsar Kiro, ran over and killed a 19-year-old Bulgarian boy, Angel Petrov, in the village of Katunitsa near Plovdiv.

During the protests, far-right groups attempted pogroms on Roma quarters ultimately foiled by the police, which, however, led Roma groups to arm themselves in anticipation of attacks.

"The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights is gravely concerned at the recent country-wide eruption of racist hatred and threats directed against the Roma in Bulgaria. Many Roma fear for their children's and their own safety," states the legal and human rights committee of PACE.

The committee calls on the Bulgarian authorities at all levels to do their utmost to protect this vulnerable minority from attack and urges them "to strongly condemn and prosecute acts of anti-Gypsyism. They must, in particular, react firmly to racist discourse by public officials and tackle hate speech vis-?-vis the Roma."

"Corruption and crime must be fought regardless of the ethnic origin of the perpetrators," the PACE declaration adds.

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Tags: PACE, parliamentary assembly, Council of Europe, CE, Roma, Katunitsa, Plovdiv, far-right, protests, protest rallies, sofia, Tsar Kiro, Kiril Rashkov, racist, racism


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