Amnesty International published a report on April 8 with the title “Europe: “We ask for justice”: Europe’s failure to protect Roma from racist violence.” The report pinpoints the violent racist attacks against Roma all over Europe and particularly in Greece, Czech Republic and France.
“There has been a marked rise in the frequency of anti-Roma violence in Europe in the last few years. The response to this alarming phenomenon has been woefully inadequate. It is unacceptable that in modern-day Europe some Roma communities live under the constant threat of violence and pogrom-like attacks,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director. “On many occasions law enforcement agencies are failing to prevent racist attacks and ensure that hate motives are properly investigated and perpetrators brought to justice. The fact that racist attitudes remain entrenched in many police forces is more often denied than addressed,” said John Dalhuisen.
According to the report, in Greece there are 250,000 to 350,000 Roma that have been at the receiving end of discriminatory treatment for generations.
During 2012 and 2013 a barrage of pogrom-like attacks against a Roma community took place in Etoliko, a village in western Greece.
Irini who is a Roma, told Amnesty International her experience of an attack that took place on January 4, 2013. Irini reported that 70 individuals threw Molotov cocktails, stones and wooden planks at their homes: “When I saw them coming, I grabbed my children and locked us up in the house. My children were crying, screaming… I was frightened. Looking out of the window I knew most of them, we grew up together. They threw a glass bottle from the window and set the house on fire.”
Six houses and four cars were firebombed or damaged by the attackers that day. Several Roma told Amnesty International that they felt betrayed by the police. One said: “I could see just two policemen from inside the house… They were just staring and asking people to stop. They did nothing more than this.”