DurDe (Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism Initiative) and the Sıfır Ayrımcılık/Zero Discrimination Association called for a struggle against the discrimination of Roma on April 8, International Roma Day.
Sezgin Kaplan read the press release prepared by rights organizations that assembled today on Tünel Square. The release stated, ‘April 8, International Roma Day, is an important opportunity to celebrate, albeit once a year, to the cultural heritage of Anatolia. Today is also a day when we should emphasize the importance of unity and solidarity in our struggle against discrimination, and create awareness regarding the problems, persecution and discrimination Roma suffer in all spheres of life’.
Kaplan said that the Roma are one of the largest ethnic groups in Turkey and live across all parts of the country, adding that they were also among the most disadvantaged groups, suffering the most discrimination. Kaplan pointed to shelter, employment and education as the fields where discrimination had reached undeniably grave levels.
Unemployment rate stands at 85%
The statement said that the unemployment rate in Roma communities stood at an average of 85%, and that impoverishment was one of the greatest obstacles before the participation of Roma to social life as equal citizens. Rights’ organizations taking part in the meeting also emphasized hate speech and discriminatory discourses targeting Roma: “Discriminatory discourses and hate speech against Roma, circulated also by the media from time to time, leads to the further exclusion of Roma,” and recalled the attempted lynching against Roma that took place in Selendi in 2010. The statement also referred to the various problems Roma faced because of urban transformation policies.
Sezgin Kaplan also responded to a question about Özcan Purçu, candidate in the general election for the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in 5th place in the İzmir 1st electoral zone, and the first Roma parliamentary candidate in history, saying, “Efforts towards the parliamentary representation of Roma are of great significance.”