Opinion: Horse-drawn carriage ban in Sofia would be institutionalised racism

Written by on November 7, 2017 in Perspectives - Comments Off on Opinion: Horse-drawn carriage ban in Sofia would be institutionalised racism

Sofia Municipality is preparing a complete ban on carts pulled by horses in Sofia. Restrictive measures already in place had produced “partial results”, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported.

The broadcaster said that police had held two wagons “and their crews” just yesterday. They had been transporting wood. Criminal proceedings had been initiated for alleged theft, since the people detained did not have documents which would have allowed them to collect wood.

Police Commissioner Doychinov was quoted in that BNT report, saying one of the problems was that the police did not know what to do with the horses and carts when “it has to confiscate them.”

Simeon Slavchev, a municipal councilor, said that the proposal of his working group was a total ban of carriages in the territory of the Sofia Municipality, inside of the ring, as well as on the Ring Road. One of the reasons the supporters of a ban are citing is security in traffic.

The words Roma or Gypsy were not mentioned, not once, even though they are the ones who use carts pulled by horses. Neither were the words poverty, plight or discrimination.

A ban on carts would have one undeclared purpose: To keep many Bulgarian Roma out of Sofia, mainly those who do not have any income, and who are already being discriminated in all walks of life. Stopping them from collecting trash or wood would take away the only source of income they have.

Confiscating their horses and carts is a scandal on its own. In order to purchase a horse, a poor Roma familiy has to collect material for a very long time and work a lot. The logical consequence of this kind of proceeding would be to confiscate all cars from drivers who park illegally.

An implementation of this carriage ban would be institutionalised racism, which would not go down well in Brussels either, especially now that Bulgaria is about to take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The task is not to get the Bulgarian Roma out of Sofia’s sight, or to deprive them of one of the very few sources of income they have, while taking away their horses, but the opposite: Not less, but more support is what the Roma minority needs, and not less, but more sources of income.

Besides, integration is the only way, even though it might be difficult. Yes, a lot of work inside the Roma community is necessary, but just as much outside. The wide-spread racism in this country, showcased directly and indirectly, like in this case, is scandalous. This needs to stop.

By Imanuel Marcus

Photo: Bulgarian Roma collecting waste in Sofia. By ‘20mm to Freedom‘.




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