Today there was an item that was picked up about around 200 Roma people being rounded up around about Lille. It was posted on SFN but appears to have attracted little attention. That is tragic.
Call them Roma, Sinti, Kale or Romani and if one really must Gypsies, Gitanos or here in France Manouches or Tsiganes and pejoratively Romanichels or Gitans, but it all comes to one thing. They are an eternally persecuted people. In France Manush, Kalderash, Lovari and Sinti tribes have been either in and out of or permanently in France for centuries. There are probably half a million of them, whereby most have been sedentarised - made to settle, but often in 'settlements' or neighbourhoods. During the Second World War they were as persecuted as Jews but that part of a gruesome history is all too often overlooked.
Now we are reading about 'newcomers' from Eastern Europe being rounded up and deported. Where to and why? If people imagine that they 'belong' in Romania because of the similarity of the name of people and country, then that is a mistake. Their origins are almost certainly India as geneticists have proved and also linguist have been saying for at least a century. They probably left a couple of thousand years ago and moved westward. They were and are a nomadic people. What has never fitted in Europe was their culture, language, appearance and the fact they travelled. Myths grew up around them as pickpockets, thieves, kidnappers, evil magicians, enchanters and numerous other malevolent accusations that demonised them further. Because they often had no other means of supporting themselves they begged and still often do. When they have worked, for instance in agriculture, they have always proven themselves hard working and skilled. So too with the many handicrafts and trades they have performed.
In the modern world they are unwanted if they travel, unable to enter into welfare systems, enjoy the benefits of education and medecine many of us take for granted. In every respect they are marginalised and oppressed. A few tens of thousands still travel in Europe and do not really belong in any country. Where they have been given nationalities that does not mean the countries want them. It is some of those who were effectively fenced in by the so-called Iron Curtain around Eastern and particularly Southeastern Europe who are largely on the move again. They are more or less shown the door in countries where they were forced to stay for several decades. Now they are being moved on again. It is not just France, but we have just heard about France so that is the example we have know about and may well be hearing more about in the near future.
It astonishes me that after all we should have learned about injustice and inhumanity over the centuries, with the twentieth century so fresh in memory, that we are still 'cleaning up' after some of the worst events and that this still happens. It is not so much that it happens that shocks me any longer but the needless violence that is employed when their camps are raided. The story was put up on SFN but where were the comments or responses? I am so often disappointed in our species because of the way we bandy the word humanity around to describe ourselves collectively but turn our heads too often in the face of its other face - inhumanity. My wish is that we all learn to think and think again and carry our humanity with pride and end this kind of shame.