1999- 2009 – Ten years already!
16 June 2009 – For the Roma from Kosovo, the 16th and 17th June, are a sad anniversary. It was indeed on these dates, on 16th and 17th June 1999, that Kosovar nationalists began to systematically attack the houses of Roma and other communities, forcing several ten thousands of Roma into exile. Hundreds of Roma were savagely killed, women were raped, sometimes in front of their husbands and their children. Hundreds of people are still missing today.
Ten years later, the rights of Roma are still being violated in Kosovo. The few thousand remaining Roma, out of a community which had more than 100 000 people, live in fear and under precarious conditions. Their survival depends largely on humanitarian aid and transfers from their family members abroad. Excluded from the labor market, they are also absent from public institutions with the exception of parliament where one local representative acts as an alibi. The constitution does not guarantee any particular rights to the Roma, and minority rights are not applied to them.
After having suffered ethnic cleansing and an exodus, the Roma community in Kosovo is today threatened by assimilation and may even disappear entirely which does not however prevent the governments of the host countries refugees to think about the forced repatriation of the refugees.
We call today for the public recognition of the ethnic cleansing of the Roma from Kosovo. The perpetrators must be brought to justice, the victims need to be compensated.
We also call for an urgent solution to the refugee problem. Refugees should have a real choice either to return to Kosovo or to stay in their host country.
Finally, we ask for the rights of Roma in Kosovo to be guaranteed in Kosovo, so that they can be free and equal citizens, and for racism and discrimination to be banned.