Eviction Notices Sent: Plovdiv Preparing to Demolish Roma Homes

Written by on February 24, 2017 in Bulgaria, Latest, Minorities & Justice - 2 Comments

Bulgaria’s second largest city, Plovdiv, is getting ready to demolish homes inhabited by members of the Roma minority, yet again. In Stolipinovo, one of the largest Roma slums in Europe, located in the outskirts of Plovdiv, 45 families have received notes from the municipality, warning them that their houses will be pulled down within 30 days. This affects 30 homes in Ulitsa Banderitsa. According to publications abroad, among them derstandard.at, Plovdiv is not providing surrogate housing.

Non-governmental organizations have tried to talk to the municipality, but so far all attempts were blocked. One of the NGOs, which is trying to help, is the Austrian “Plattform für Menschenrechte” (“Platform for Human Rights”) in Salzburg. They cooperate with the local “Roma Foundation Stolipinovo”. Instead of trying to work with the NGOs on finding a solution for Roma who will be without homes within days, Plovdiv has announced more evictions notices for Bulgarians of Romani descent in the Stolipinovo slum. Out of the 367,000 inhabitants of Plovdiv, 86,000 are part of the Roma minority.

NGOs say that by evicting Roma families and destroying their homes, the city of Plovdiv does not do anything unlawful, since the houses in question were built on municipal land without permission. But this applies to some 90 percent of all houses in that quarter. In the past, the municipality has never complained about these particular houses, but quite the opposite: Plovdiv even built water, wastewater and electricity connections for them. While there does not seem to be any legal issue, there definitely is a moral one.

Other towns, such as Parvomay, located east of Plovdiv, provided options for Roma evicted from their homes. But Plovdiv, the city which will be European Capital of Culture in 2019, does not even want to negotiate. This might not constitute a problem from the perspective many non-Roma Bulgarians, but it certainly does in the point of view of NGOs, western European governments and possibly even potential visitors of the soon-to-be Capital of Culture. In short: This does not look good, because it isn’t.

Roma families who received those eviction notices believe the real reason is racism. The Austrian news site derstandard.at quotes an inhabitant, saying this: “We are supposed to go, so that there won’t be that many Roma in the neighbourhood. To them, we are not a good sight, since we are dark-skinned.” Non-Roma inhabitants, who live close by, complained of noise and dirt. 

By im.

Photo: Roma slum in Sofia, by Imanuel Marcus.

 

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2 Comments on "Eviction Notices Sent: Plovdiv Preparing to Demolish Roma Homes"

  1. Regionfree February 25, 2017 at 12:16 AM · Reply

    Why is it that people who don’t wish or try to conform with local laws and culture always use the racist card. Most so called ” white people” spend hours in the sun, risking skin cancer, just to become dark skinned.
    Work hard, buy a block of land, apply for all the necessary building permits, build a house, spend the rest of your life paying it off and then tell me if you’re being racist for resenting people around you who think they are smarter then you and can get all that by doing nothing.

    • Admin February 25, 2017 at 3:34 AM · Reply

      Thanks for your comment! We re-quoted a Bulgarian of Romani origin, who accused non-Roma Bulgarians in his neighbourhood of racism. Whether he has a point or not: He is not the only one who voices that accusation. Several NGOs, E.U. organisations and even governments have criticized wide-spread discrimination against Roma in certain countries, including this one.
      Thank you for reading an commenting.

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