UN expert urges governments to crack down on hate speech and crimes targeting Romani and minorities

OHCHR

Roma Holocaust Memorial Day 2 August 2021

GENEVA (30 July 2021) – Roma around the world must not be made scapegoats of politicians, or demonized and targeted on social media, Fernand de Varennes, the UN special rapporteur on minority issues, said today.

“States must do more to proactively combat rising signs of intolerance and attacks against Romani and other minorities, particularly hate crimes and attacks on social media,” he said ahead of Roma Holocaust Memorial Day on 2 August.

“It’s tragic that almost 80 years after the Romani genocide during World War Two, minorities — particularly Roma in Europe and other parts of the world — are increasingly experiencing hate speech and are being targeted by politicians and others,” he said.

“We have seen what happened when members of the Jewish minority in Nazi Germany were portrayed as alien and antagonistic to the nation and German values and culture,” de Varennes said. “Today the Roma are again facing the same sort of divisive rhetoric.”

He called for greater public education about the Romani Holocaust, and said States must address the exclusion and discrimination faced by too many Roma today. They must also address hate crime in Europe and the high levels of hate speech demonising Roma on social media.

Roma Holocaust Memorial Day on August 2 marks the night in 1944 when around 3,000 Roma children, women and men from the ‘Gypsy family camp’ of Auschwitz-Birkenau were murdered in the gas chambers. It commemorates all the victims of the Romani genocide by Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II. While there is uncertainty over the exact numbers, between 25 and 50 percent of Europe’s 1 million to 1.5 million Romani were probably exterminated.

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