IHRA, EC speak out on Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day

Ahead of Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day on August 2, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and members of the European Commission have issued statements marking the day, which commemorates the genocide against Roma people by Nazi Germany and its allies during the Second World War.

Dr Kathrin Meyer, Secretary General of IHRA, said that Roma Genocide Remembrance Day is a hugely significant day to remember Roma victims of the genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany.

August 2 marks the date in 1944 when the last remaining inmates, thousands of men, women and children, of the so-called Gypsy camp were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“The lack of knowledge and, often neglect, of this genocide has contributed to long-standing discrimination that many Roma communities still face,” Meyer said.

In March 2020, Germany assumed the presidency of IHRA and has made the adoption of a working definition of anti-Roma racism a top priority and has engaged member countries and Roma organisations to reach consensus on the definition as soon as possible.

“As enshrined in the 2020 IHRA Ministerial Declaration, the IHRA is committed to preserving the historical record of the Holocaust and recognising the specific racism faced by the Roma people before, during and after the Second World War is a key part of this,” she said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice-President Věra Jourová, and Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli issued a joint statement marking the day.

“Today, we pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Roma victims of the Holocaust.

“We consider it a moral duty to acknowledge and remember all those who suffered under the Nazi regime: among those people were the Roma. Remembering their persecution reminds us of the need to tackle the challenges they still face today and which are too often overlooked.

“Europe has a duty to protect its minorities from racism and discrimination. We must replace anti-gypsyism with openness and acceptance, hate speech and hate crime with tolerance and respect for human dignity, and bullying with education about the Holocaust. Above all, we must promote diversity as a wonderful gift that makes Europe strong and resilient,” the joint statement said.

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