OSCE Urges Bulgarian Authorities to Halt Evictions of Roma

Society | July 13, 2015, Monday // 20:41|  views

Photo by BGNES

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has called on Bulgaria to immediately stop evictions of Roma and address the problem of anti-Roma rhetoric.

The media statement of the OSCE was issued several days after the European Court of Human Rights demanded the suspension of the demolition of two illegal buildings in the village of Garmen.

Responding to a motion submitted by Bulgarian human rights NGOs, on July 10 the Strasbourg-based court urged the Bulgarian government to halt the house demolitions until alternative housing was secured for the vulnerable claimants.

The appeal submitted by the Bulgarian NGOs drew attention to the fact that a number of minors, including children with severe disabilities, and a pregnant woman, would end up homeless after the demolition for July 13.

In a media statement issued on July 13, Michael Georg Link, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), called on Bulgarian authorities to immediately address interethnic tension and halt evictions in Roma communities.

“Roma families in the municipality of Garmen were forcefully evicted from their homes on 29 June and there are reports that evictions will continue this week. The evictions have taken place in response to a series of anti-Roma protests in Garmen, and in an atmosphere of strong anti-Roma rhetoric by some political parties,” he declared.

“Bulgarian authorities should halt any further evictions that put Roma at risk of becoming homeless,” Link said. “Such actions must comply with international standards and provide for adequate housing for those evicted.”

“Protests confirm the persistence of deeply-rooted prejudice and racism against Roma and Sinti in our societies. In Bulgaria, this is especially relevant in the light of violent anti-Roma protests in 2011,” Link declared, drawing attention to the serious problem of continued hate speech, extremism and violence against Roma across Europe.

“Politicians should lead by example and refrain from anti-Roma rhetoric to gain support from the electorate,” Link continued. “This is not in line with Bulgaria’s commitments to combat discrimination and promote equal opportunities for all citizens.”

In end-May, anti-Roma unrest erupted in the southwestern municipality of Garmen, with protesters demanding the swift demolition of illegal buildings housing Roma families.

The tensions escalated after a mass brawl over loud music.

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Tags: Garmen, illegal buildings, demolition, OSCE, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, European Court of Human Rights, Roma ghetto, homeless


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