Articles on the Bosnia Conflict



Bosnia-Herzegovina Journal #12:
The Roma of Kosovo
By Peter Lippman
January 11, 2013

2012 Journal index

Journal 1: Sarajevo. September 25
Journal 2: Tuzla. October 11
Journal 3: Srebrenica. October 13
Journal 4: Bratunac, Višegrad, Elections. October 26
Journal 5: Krajina - Banja Luka. November 6
Journal 6: Krajina - Kozarac, Prijedor. November 12
Journal 7: Guilt, Responsibility, and Politics. November 20
Journal 8:Travnik, Mostar, Animal Farm. December 13
Journal 9
: Activism in Sarajevo, Return to Srebrenica, Prijedor Revisited, December 19
Journal 10:
Krila Nade; The Missing; Tycoon Arrested; March 1st Coalition, December 26
Journal 11: Macedonia and Kosovo, January 2, 2013
Journal 12: The Roma of Kosovo, January 11, 2013
Journal 13: A Visit to Germany, January 29, 2013

Previous journals and articles

To contact Peter in response to these reports or any of his articles,

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In mid-November, while in Kosovo, I had the chance to meet with Džafer Buzoli, local activist for the rights of the Roma of Kosovo. It happened that I was on my way to Germany to speak for the Society for Threatened Peoples. Since I was stopping in Kosovo, the Society recommended that I meet with Džafer, who represents that organization in Kosovo. There, he monitors conditions for the beleaguered Roma population, most of which was displaced during and after the 1998-99 war.

It was good to meet Džafer and talk to him, and I will share his thoughts here. Our meeting inspired me to compile this report, starting with some background about the Roma in Europe, as follows: some general history; what happened in Kosovo in the late 1990s and the expulsion of the Roma from there; the treatment of displaced Roma; and conditions for the Roma back in Kosovo today.


Where human rights and standard of living are concerned, the Roma are at or near the bottom of society in every country where they reside in Europe. Discrimination against the Roma populations and the forced migration of their communities have been as common in the last couple of decades as they ever were. Compounding these injuries is the widespread racism against Roma, something I would compare to the racism against African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos that exists in the United States. That is, that racism is both an attitude and a systemic problem.

The image of the Roma, so often tied up with the word "Gypsy," is something that is romanticized and trivialized. If the essence of racism as an attitude is to generalize a given population as less human than oneself, then evoking the Roma as "wanderers," "exotic," and a host of other insulting categories is just as racist a practice as any other.

ani Rifati, Kosovo Rom and activist leader of the organization Voice of Roma, says it better:

"I won't play you a sad song on my violin. I do not have a bandana. I do not have a golden tooth. I do not have long hair or a golden hoop in my ear. I am just trying to speak up for my people:
to tell you about their suffering and the persecution they've endured throughout the centuries
to ask you to fight against ignorance, prejudice and stereotypes
Simply put, as a place to start: please call me Rom."
Voice of Roma and its Facebook page.)

So, for starters, I propose that we recognize that the word "Gypsy" is an insensitive word, and that we avoid it - or if it must be used, that we put it in quotation marks. I also suggest that we let people who name their stores, bands, or other outfits using the word "Gypsy" know that they are employing a denigrating term that calls up a caricature of a people who have just the same hopes, needs, and ambitions as everyone else.

Here's more on this from Šani: "The first basic step in separating myths and stereotypes from facts and authenticity is in the use of our terminology. Rom means a human being, person or man in the Romani language. The Roma do not call themselves Gypsies. Historically, the term 'Gypsy' came from the mistaken assumption on the part of Anglo-Europeans that Roma originated in Egypt. In fact, the Roma are a distinct ethnic minority, distinguished at least by Rom blood and the Romani, or Romanes, language, whose origins began in the Punjab region of India. Their migration began in the 2nd century, when they traveled through the Persian Gulf, Egypt, and Turkey, eventually spreading all over Europe. While Roma are Europe's largest ethnic minority, they remain the least integrated and the most persecuted people of Europe today. .Using the word "Gypsy" is not only inaccurate but perpetuates the continuation of stereotypes that portray Roma as beggars, swindlers, and thieves."
Breaking "Gypsy" Stereotypes.)

In any discussion of the Roma, a number of different names of Romani communities come up: Sinti, Ashkali, "Egyptians," and many more. Some of these names came from the outside, either as a result of political manipulation or ignorance. Others arose organically over the generations because they are what people call themselves. Some Roma do not call themselves Roma, but are looked upon as such by outsiders. Some Western bureaucrats and other outside commentators have referred to the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians of Kosovo as "RAE." While hoping to be fair, I will stick with the name "Roma."

It should be noted that, contrary to the stereotype, the vast majority of European Roma have lived in settled communities for many generations. And there are communities of Roma who have for the most part ceased speaking the Romani language, but they still hold to Romani traditions. There are others who have partially assimilated - for example, some Roma in Kosovo have gravitated towards an Albanian identity.


Any discussion of Roma history in Europe should note that the biggest disaster in that history was the World War II Holocaust, in which the Jews were not the only victims. This history, as so much with the Roma, is usually forgotten. Genocide was committed against the Roma as well; Roma communities throughout the lands occupied by the Nazis were forced into ghettoes, and many of these people were sent to concentration camps or simply murdered where they had lived. Others were subjected to long imprisonment. It is difficult to cite accurate figures, but one report holds that of Europe's pre-war Roma population of one million, approximately twenty percent, or around 220,000, perished. (See
Genocide of European Roma, 1939-1945.)

Since World War II Roma have struggled to integrate themselves into the economies of the countries in which they live, while proudly upholding their traditional cultures. This has been an uphill battle. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, an estimated 50,000 Roma live at the margins; in any given municipality it is common to hear that perhaps one percent of the Roma population holds a steady job. Bosnia ns do not generally openly admit racism towards the Roma, but neither do they bother to hide it. Once, in 2000, I had been in contact with a Romani organization in Sarajevo, and I mentioned their struggle to improve their conditions to a human rights activist in a completely different field, off in central Bosnia. He commented to me, "You know, they don't really even care whether they have toilets in their homes."

The situation is worse in central Europe, in such places as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania, where the Romani population is much larger. In those countries discrimination is at times organized, and there are periodic incidents of violence against the Roma. Just last August a thousand neo-Nazis descended upon a mixed Romani and Hungarian village in western Hungary, shouting at Romani inhabitants, "You are going to die here." (See
Hungarian anti-Roma marches.) In the same country, in the northern village of Rimóc, it was determined last month that nearly all of the people who were being fined for bicycling infractions were Roma. (See Fined for being Roma.)

A particularly notorious violation of Roma rights took place in France in 2010, when President Sarkozy ordered Roma from Bulgaria and Romania - that is, fellow EU citizens - to leave the country. Repeated police raids on Roma communities resulted in the eviction and expulsion of nearly fifteen thousand Roma from France in 2010 and 2011. Sarkozy's law permitted French authorities to expel people from the country if they were suspected of immigration simply for the purpose of "benefiting from the social assistance system" (See
France: One Year On, New Abuses against Roma.) Last year, after Sarkozy was replaced, the French government took steps to ameliorate the abuses against the Roma, but much damage had been done.

While human rights abuses against the Roma occur on a wide scale in various parts of Europe, the EU itself has taken a stance in favor of the rights of the Roma, and has attempted to promote more favorable policies. An article by the Roma Education Fund reports that the European Commission is working to help with integration of the Roma thus: "The social and economic inclusion of Roma is a priority for the EU and needs the commitment and joint efforts of national and local authorities, civil society and EU institutions. The European Commission is committed to taking the necessary steps to improve the situation of Roma people and their social and economic integration in society. On 7 April 2010 the Commission adopted a Communication on the social and economic integration of Roma in Europe (IP/10/407; MEMO/10/121) - the first ever policy document dedicated specifically to Roma. It outlines an ambitious programme to help making policies for Roma inclusion more effective and defines the main challenges ahead."

This same article notes, "There are between 10 million and 12 million Roma in the EU, in candidate countries and potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans. Roma people living in the European Union are EU citizens and have the same rights as any other EU citizen. A significant number of Roma live in extreme marginalisation in both rural and urban areas and in very poor social-economic conditions. They are disproportionally affected by discrimination, violence, unemployment, poverty, bad housing and poor health standards." (See
Frequently Asked Questions on the European Roma Population)

In early 2005, eight European governments (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, and the Slovak Republic) launched the "Decade of Roma Inclusion," in a bid to promote national action plans that would help end discrimination against the Roma populations in their respective countries. However, in the same period, evictions of Roma were ongoing in the UK, Lithuania, Albania, Greece, Ireland, Kosovo, and Italy. (See Roma Evictions Erupt Across Europe.


Over the last century Kosovo has been marked by periodic conflict between the (erstwhile) Serbian regime and the majority Albanian population, with Serbia holding the upper hand until the regime's defeat and expulsion at the hands of NATO in 1999.
And as in the rest of Europe, over the decades the Roma in Kosovo were at the bottom of society, subject to discrimination from both directions. Many Roma adopted the Albanian language and gravitated towards the Albanian culture, sometimes taking on Albanian surnames. To some extent the fact that in this region the two populations shared a common religion, Islam, facilitated this assimilation.

In the 1990s, under the increasingly harsh Milošević regime, many Roma tended to identify with the Albanians in their struggle for independence. However, to their great misfortune during and after the 1998-99 war, Roma were caught between two parties in a fight that was not really theirs. Romani men were sometimes abused, and sometimes drafted to fight, both by the Serbian side and by the Kosovar Albanian side. It happened that relatives even found themselves looking through their gun sights at each other.

In 1998 and during the 78-day NATO intervention in the spring of 1999, as many as 800,000 Albanians were driven out of Kosovo. In an attempt to rid Kosovo - then a province of Serbia - of a large proportion of the Albanian population, Serbian forces destroyed hundreds of their villages, and killed at least 10,000 Albanians.

It was the disaster of the Kosovo Roma community that its members were caught in an impossible position, not only during the war, but afterwards as well. Immediately upon the end of the NATO intervention, hundreds of thousands of Albanians came streaming back from exile to their (often destroyed) homes. For the first time since Serbia took over the province upon the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, Albanians had relative freedom and self-determination in Kosovo, and they were bound to use that self-determination to set up a new state that was free of Serbian domination. Unfortunately, there were Albanians who wished to take revenge for their brush with genocide, and these people were not particular about their targets. Those Serbs, Roma, and other minorities who did not flee Kosovo immediately were at risk.

Revenge attacks by Albanians were widespread. It is hard for me to know whether the attacks that occurred were the result of a policy by Albanian leaders, or simply the actions of criminals who had no regard for law, order, or the rights of the minorities. It was my impression at the time that the latter was the case - that a criminal element took advantage of the chaos to make profit. I personally witnessed Albanian gangsters taking over apartments owned by non-Albanians in order to rent or sell them. I heard that they were even taking over apartments owned by Albanians who had not yet returned. As possible motivations, presumably a mixture of revenge and profiteering played into the attacks on the Roma.

I personally found a near-unanimous belief among Albanians that Roma had collaborated with Serbian forces during the war. This belief apparently contributed to the subsequent mistreatment of the Roma. On the other hand, I believe - based on what I saw and heard - that, while Albanians may have held enduring prejudices against the Roma, most Albanians, having survived a brutal war, just wanted to move ahead peacefully and get on with their lives.

In 2010 Human Rights Watch reported, "The armed confrontation of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) with Yugoslav government forces and Serbian police and paramilitary units, the subsequent NATO bombing and mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians by Yugoslav and Serb forces, and the wave of retaliatory ethnic violence by Albanians at the start of international rule in Kosovo in 1999, resulted in large numbers of RAE [Roma, Ashkali, and "Egyptians"] fleeing and being forcibly expelled from Kosovo. Many fled to elsewhere in the Balkans, mostly to Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. Others went to Western Europe, while some were displaced within Kosovo. [...]Roma have historically been perceived by some Albanians as 'Serb collaborators,' and were targets of retaliatory violence in the aftermath of the war.

"[...] According to UNHCR estimates, in 2010 around 22,000 RAE displaced persons remain in Serbia, around 4,000 in Montenegro, around 1,700 in Macedonia, and around 130 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are no reliable estimates for the number of RAE from Kosovo living in Western Europe, or for the numbers of RAE displaced inside Kosovo." (See Rights Displaced - Forced Returns of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians from Western Europe to Kosovo. Human Rights Watch 2010.)

I was in Kosovo at the beginning of the war in the spring of 1998, and I returned immediately upon the end of the NATO intervention in July of 1999. Here is an excerpt from a report that I wrote at that time:

I went to a collective center for displaced Roma at Kosovo Polje, on the outskirts of Prishtina. Approximately 8,000 Roma moved into a high school in this town in late June when they left Prishtina and other nearby localities under pressure from returning Albanians. The Roma were about to be moved from the school to a nearby tent camp set up by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Some UNHCR moving vans and some KFOR soldiers were placed at the entrance. There were around two hundred Roma sitting outside the school building, with piles of bedding, cradles, and other belongings waiting to be loaded. The women and children had already left.

As I walked onto the school grounds, a Romani man was telling a KFOR soldier that two Albanian youths had just come up behind a fence and thrown rocks at the school windows. The KFOR soldier promised to look for them. I took the opportunity to introduce myself to the Roma and ask for an interview. We took two chairs and sat against a wall, and immediately there were a dozen curious Roma gathered around to participate in the interview. Two men explained to me why they and their families had left Prishtina:

"We came to Kosovo Polje because Albanians started threatening us as soon as they came back from Macedonia. They were entering our houses, stealing from us, and beating us. Their goal is the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, nothing else. We were driven out of our houses. We arrived in Kosovo Polje on foot in columns, on June 20th. Along the way we were mistreated and stoned by Albanians. Then people arrived from all over this part of Kosovo. There were around 8,000 people. Now about half of those have left for Macedonia, Montenegro, or countries in Europe."

One man described his experiences in Prishtina during the NATO bombing. He said, "We weren't able to go outside during the bombing. It was a big problem for those of us whose main language is Albanian. The Serbian police would ask us, 'What are you?' I would say, 'I'm a Rom, and my mother tongue is Albanian.' Then the police would say, 'No, you are Albanian, and you must have a green card' (identification card for Albanians). They treated us like Albanians.

"This conflict is between the Serbs and the Albanians," continued another man. "We are in the middle, the victims of both sides. The KLA has kidnapped Roma after the return of the Albanian refugees. Now we are moving to a new camp. There is dust there, and it is unhealthy for the children. We have told the UNHCR that we feel there is no future for us in Kosovo, and that we want to leave for a third country. We have received no answer from them about this. We are to live in the new camp for four weeks. What will happen after that, I don't know. Others will decide that."

I was asked for whom I was writing. One man said to me, "Many people have come and written different things from what they actually saw. They wrote that we were thieves. Deutsche Welle said in a broadcast that we are used to this kind of life. That's not true. We are used to living in houses. You should see the houses we used to live in, where we came from."

Local Albanians, in my conversations with them at this time, were nearly unanimous in their accusations of Roma involvement in various crimes. I would not be able to sort that out here, but it is clear that at this point, during and after the war, the Roma of Kosovo were in a dire position. Thousands of Roma left Kosovo along with the fleeing Serbs; in some cases they fled under attack. In Prishtina, I personally witnessed the burning of houses owned by Roma. There were reports of the abduction and murder of Roma in this period.


As the international protectorate was established, several camps for displaced persons were set up to receive those Roma who had not left Kosovo. A large number of Roma found themselves in four camps near Mitrovica in the north of Kosovo. They were out of the frying pan, but into the fire; these camps were terribly polluted by contamination from a former lead smelter. Tests in 2005 revealed that residents of the camps were subject to lead concentration levels upwards of twenty times the recommended tolerance, and for some children, exposure was far higher. (See Kosovo: The last lead contaminated refugee camp was closed.)

People in the camps were dying from lead poisoning, according to a report by Paul Polansky for the Society for Threatened Peoples. Women were suffering spontaneous abortions. The report states, "Despite repeated appeals to help the Gypsies [sic], especially those living in the three camps in the area of north Mitrovica, the UN did just the opposite. All food aid was suspended in 2002 saying it was time for the Gypsies to find their own supplies. In the Žitkovac camp the running water was cut off for up to six months at a time because the camp administer, Churches Working Together, felt the Gypsies were using too much water. In the end, the Žitkovac Gypsies had to walk four kilometers twice a day to get their drinking water. In all three camps, most of the Gypsies had to go through the local garbage cans to find their food.

"In the summer of 2004, WHO made a special investigation of lead poisoning in the three camps after Jenita Mehmeti, a four-year-old girl, died of lead poisoning. She was not the first. Up to that point 28 people (mainly children and young adults) had died in the three camps, but Jenita was the first one to be treated for lead poisoning before she died. New blood samples taken by WHO showed that many children, the most vulnerable to lead poisoning, had lead levels higher than the WHO analyzer could register." (See Roma Children Dying of Lead Poisoning, by Paul Polansky.


The camps were maintained for a decade, with one shut down in 2010, and another only in late 2012. Residents were moved to newly-constructed houses near Mitrovica.

Estimates of the Roma population in Kosovo vary wildly; I have seen figures ranging from 100,000 to 300,000. A more realistic estimate may be somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000. The Human Rights Watch report cited above estimated that the population of Roma remaining in Kosovo by 2010 was approximately 38,000. Meanwhile, compounding the many injuries to what was left of the Roma community in Kosovo, in 2004 widespread riots broke out among the Albanians, who were attacking remnants of the Serbian population, and targeting some Roma as well. More Roma left Kosovo at this time.


At least 100,000 Roma were exiled from Kosovo to the surrounding former republics of Yugoslavia, especially to neighboring Montenegro, Macedonia, and Serbia; many also ended up in central Europe, especially Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Scandinavia. Their living conditions in those places of refuge were sub-standard. They lacked employment and often ended up living at the poorest margins of the cities, sometimes on or near landfill. Many people lacked basic identification, and as such were not registered as refugees. A 2011 report for the institution of the "Decade of Roma Inclusion" noted that most displaced Romani children did not attend school. Most of the Roma are unemployed; if they have any work, it is off the books. (See Blindspot: Kosovo Roma and the Decade, by Mensur Haliti, January 2011.

Camps where Roma were settled often lacked medical assistance, hygiene, restrooms, and sufficient food supplies. Added to these ills has been the constant threat of eviction of Romani refugees in their "host" countries. Similar to the case of France mentioned above, host governments seem to have made a conscious policy of tormenting the displaced Kosovo Roma by forcing them to uproot regularly. The Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center protested evictions of Roma in Montenegro in 2003 and 2004. In 2006 advocates sued the Danish government for requiring whole families of displaced Roma to live in one-room shelters. And between 2009 to 2012, Roma faced repeated evictions from their temporary settlements in Belgrade.
Displaced Egyptians from Kosovo Face Eviction in Montenegro, Housing for Displaced Kosovo Roma in Montenegro, and

Families at Risk of Renewed Eviction.)

Besides the difficult conditions facing Roma refugees wherever they have arrived, another grave problem is the ongoing threat of forced deportation and return to Kosovo. Some tens of thousands of Roma live in Germany, and many only have "tolerated" status. This means that they are not accorded the civil rights of legitimized residents, and can be subject to deportation at any time. Roma have been reluctant to return to Kosovo because of the discrimination and violence mentioned above, and the fact that, most likely, unemployment and poverty await them if they do return.

The compulsive return of Roma to Kosovo against their will has become a widespread practice in several countries in central and northern Europe. The 2010 Human Rights Watch report estimated that between 1999 and 2010, over 50,000 Roma had been deported to Kosovo. It gave a figure of 12,000 holders of the "toleration permit" in Germany.

The same report noted that deported Roma arriving in Kosovo face serious problems of integration. Often their children, born and raised in another country, do not speak a local language. Families arrive without citizenship documentation enabling them to receive social assistance. Husbands or wives arrive without a spouse or separated from their children who have not been deported. It has been difficult for Roma to repossess property that they owned in Kosovo before the war or to reclaim employment that they previously had. Health care has often been unavailable to returnees. Some returning Roma have experienced threats or violence from Albanians, and have left Kosovo a second time.

Given these conditions, international human rights organizations have called upon the governments of Europe to refrain from deporting the displaced Roma, and to afford them decent living conditions. The response to this call so far has been poor, and abusive deportation practices have continued. For example, nighttime raids have been practiced in Germany, pulling Roma out of their homes without warning and sending them to the airport with one-way tickets. This treatment is much harsher than what Bosnian refugees in Germany received in the mid- to late-1990s.

I will leave other details about this distressing situation to Džafer's words below. But for people interested in the problem of deportation, I recommend the film Uprooted - RAE communities' perspectives on Western Europe's Repatriation Policies.

Not all is hopeless. While the displaced Roma struggle in their host countries or, deported, try to adjust to changed circumstances back home, there are initiatives and organizations trying to help. The Kosovo Foundation for Open Society advocates in the EU for the rights of minorities in Kosovo. RomaReact fights stereotypes about the Roma. The Roma Education Fund promotes education in Romani communities. The Society for Threatened Peoples monitors the state of human rights for the Roma in Kosovo. And Voice of Roma, based in California, works to educate the public about the rights of the Roma, and presents Romani culture and traditions in order to fight stereotypes. See below for some pertinent links.


Džafer Buzoli lives in Kosovo and works there for the Society for Threatened Peoples. He monitors and reports on the state of human rights for the Roma in Kosovo, and advocates for their improvement. I met with him in mid-November and he brought me up to date on the situation of the Roma.

Džafer told me, "At the end of the NATO intervention, there were some 8,000 Roma who found themselves in the area of Mitrovica. [During and after the war, Mitrovica became a divide city, with the northern part controlled by Serbs, and the southern part controlled by Albanians.] At that time, the UN established four camps for the displaced Roma in lead-polluted areas, in North Mitrovica. There was lead dust in the soil and the water. People lived there for ten years, until 2008 and 2009. Then they were removed to a French NATO base. But it was not clean.

"In ten years, around 90 Roma died from lead poisoning. Now some Roma have returned to the south Mahala [traditional Roma neighborhood in the section of Mitrovica controlled by Kosovo Albanians]. Most of the others fled to Macedonia, Germany, or Switzerland. The Roma in Kosovo are no longer living in the polluted camps, but in that area where they now live, there is still lead dust in the air."

Q: What is the population of Roma in Kosovo?
A: "In the 1991 census it was around 220,000. Now it is around 33,000.

"There is an agreement with the EU, whereby Kosovo is willing to receive all its citizens back. But, unfortunately, this is equivalent to a green light to deport them from their host countries. Roma are being sent back to Kosovo without support. They are being expelled from Germany and other countries."

Q: What obstacles are there to return for the Roma?
A: "It is difficult. If they are coming back from Macedonia, Serbia, or Montenegro, then there is a support package for their return. But if they are coming back from Europe, there is no support. And it is a problem when the children do not know the local language.

"In Germany, in advance of sending Roma back to Kosovo, the German government does not undertake any research, for example, as to whether the people being returned even have a place to live; whether they have a family or other people to receive them; whether there is health coverage for them in Kosovo; and what kind of treatment generally they will receive in Kosovo. Conditions in Kosovo for returning Roma are such that some come back, and then they leave again after two or three weeks.

"In the period after 1999, many Roma left Kosovo and this became a 'role model' for others. So people were selling their houses. Then, if they were returned from Germany or elsewhere, they would find themselves without a place to live. For example, there is a returned family in Shtime near Suha Reka, that is literally without a roof over their heads."

Q: What is the situation for Roma children in school?
A: "There has been a kind of segregation. The Roma children are placed in the back of the classroom. However, now that situation has been improving as a result of the state's educational strategy."

Q: How is the process of return to Mahala South developing?
A: "The way that return management is taking place is not good. People are being returned to apartments where, before, they lived in houses. The people do not like the apartments, even though they are new and decently built. And there were only a few houses built, just a symbolic number.

"We want to make sure that everyone, all the Roma in Germany who are potential targets of deportation, are informed about the possible scheduling of their return. To date, this has not been happening. For example, there was one man who had been in Germany since he was six months old, and he lived there until he was twenty. Then he was deported to Kosovo.

"There is a lawyer working for the displaced Roma in Germany, but he does not have the necessary information about potential deportations. People simply do not have advance notice about their deportations. If they had this, it would help them to avoid bad treatment by the police. There are times when the deportations happen and people are not even allowed to collect their belongings. Recently there was a girl, about sixteen, who arrived in Kosovo with her family. She was still wearing her pajamas, and she was obviously traumatized by an eviction in the middle of the night.

"There is no economic development taking place in Kosovo, and there is little or no work here for the Roma. Some of them collect scraps. It is easier for the people who live in villages (there are mixed villages of Roma/Albanians), where at least they can plant a garden.

"As to our work here, we collaborate in advocacy with the respected people in the local communities. Those respected people are rich, but they are passive. We are working to train the youth to be more active. We have written letters of protest about local conditions, but there has been no response."

Referring to the present international force in Kosovo, Džafer said, "KFOR is now composed of 15,000 troops, and it has been reducing its number. If KFOR were to leave, then many remaining members of the minorities would leave. The ICO [International Civilian Office] has left, and that was the only body that was advocating for the minorities.

"We have to be optimistic - but not too optimistic."


Amnesty International (enter "Roma")

European Roma Rights Centre - International legal advocacy center

Human Rights Watch (enter "Roma")

Kosovo Foundation for Open Society - Prishtina-based minority advocacy organization

Rroma Foundation - history, book reviews, links, reports

RomaReact - Interactive multimedia site for news and advocacy. I strongly recommend the flash mob video at the front of this site!

Roma Education Fund - Hungary-based educational foundation:

Society for Threatened Peoples Humanitarian project

Press releases:
   Germany must ensure detox measures for Roma refugees from camp 'Osterode'
    [Berlin memorial] must be an initial step to establish a European integration project for Romani peoples

The Society's work in Kosovo:
   Empowering Roma Youth in Kosovo (Includes footage from Kosovo. In German)

Voice of Roma, California-based advocacy and cultural association. Facebook page



Silent Harm, Verena Knaus et al. Silent Harm - A UNICEF-sponsored report assessing the situation of the psycho-social health of children repatriated to Kosovo. In cooperation with the Kosovo Health Foundation, 2012.

Dossier of Evidence: Lead contaminated camps of internally displaced Roma, Ashkali and Kosovan-Egyptian families in North Mitrovica, Kosovo, Society for Threatened Peoples, July, 2009

Memorandum of the Society for Threatened People: Lead Poisoning of Roma in IDP Camps in Kosovo

Until the Very Last Gipsy Has Fled the Country: The Mass Expulsion of Roma and Ashkali from Kosovo, Society for Threatened Peoples International, Human Rights Report No. 21, September 1999


Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora
Oxford University Press, 2012
by Carol Silverman, Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Folklore at the University of Oregon.
"Romani Routes provides a timely and insightful view into Romani communities both in their home countries and in the diaspora."
-- Companion site for book
-- Article: University professor shows folklore is more than just fairy tales


In recent months I have covered the campaign of the "Glasaću za Srebrenicu" organization and its political heir, the March 1st Coalition, introduced in my last report on Bosnia. In the last few weeks, the Dodik regime in the Republika Srpska has responded aggressively to its delayed defeat in the Srebrenica municipal elections and to the perceived threat of the March 1st Coalition. In Srebrenica, the District Prosecutor (based in Bijeljina) has been hauling activists to the police station for interrogation, and conducting some night-time raids in search of other activists.

The Prosecutor and other RS officials, all the way up to President Dodik, have alleged that the activists had pressured those who voted for Mayor Ćamil Duraković to register their residence in Srebrenica and to vote there; there have been insinuations that the campaign paid people to do so. In the course of all this repression, there has been no mention of the real electoral engineering and malversation, which I witnessed, of people being brought in from Serbia to vote against Duraković, using very flimsy identification papers or none at all.

As part of this campaign of repression, RS inspectors have informed a Srebrenica student association that
it  will be subject to a tax inspection.

Meanwhile, in recent days Dodik and other high RS officials have repeatedly announced that the March 1st Coalition shall not be allowed to do on the scale of the RS what it did in Srebrenica municipality - that is, to assist the displaced former inhabitants of that territory in returning and voting where they please. The right to do these things is guaranteed in Annex 7 of the Dayton Constitution, but Dodik et al, who swear by Dayton, also effectively swear against its full implementation. On top of everything else, Dodik recently accused unspecified "foreign sources" of financing a rebellion meant to destroy the RS.

As I wrote before, the March 1st Coalition is a campaign to watch and to support. For those who read Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, the Coalition recently opened up its Web site.

And while I'm mentioning Web sites, see also the site of Hikmet Karčić's organization, Ćuprija (mentioned in an earlier posting), and  Ćuprija's Facebook page.

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