Representatives of European Churches have lamented the “contemporary discimination of the biggest minority group in Europe”, the Roma people, on the 75th anniversary of Roma Holocaust Day.

Driving the news

A press release from the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) explains that today, 2nd August, marks the date “when the so-called ‘gipsy family camp’ within the Auschwitz concentration camp was liquidated and some 3,000 persons were killed in 1944”.

“The day commemorates Roma, Sinti, Yenish, Kale and related groups that were systematically persecuted and killed during the Nazi time”, the press release recalls.

“It also serves as a reminder of the contemporary discrimination of this biggest minority group in Europe”.

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Go deeper

The CEC and the CCME call on Churches “to join commemorations, honour and pray for those affected by the Roma Holocaust”.

The day is also known as the Porajmos, meaning “devouring” or “destruction” in Romani language.

For the record

Dr Torsten Moritz, CCME General Secretary stated, “Remembering the Porajmos is an ongoing commitment for the churches in Europe”.

“Churches’ action today is significant, as exclusion and violence against Roma in Europe unfortunately is not a thing of the past”, added Moritz.

“Every week we learn about new acts of violence from groups spreading racial hatred, as well as systematic exclusion of Roma by public authorities. This is often accompanied by a rhetoric of hate and division by politicians, who call themselves Christians. As Christian churches we must underline: every human being is equal and created in the image of God”.

For his part, CEC President Rev. Christian Krieger said, “Remembering is not only a task of faithfulness to the past, it is above all a duty to the present and the future.

“This is because discrimination against Roma continues, churches must be vigilant, pray and act to defend the human rights of all people, especially the most vulnerable and stigmatised”.

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What’s next

The CEC and the CCME pledge in their note to continue their “socio-diaconal projects for and with Roma beneficiaries”.

They also encourage Churches and wider society “to work for justice for more than ten million Roma people currently living in Europe”.

The CCME plans to hold in the near future a conference on the theme “Justice for Roma – a challenge for churches”.

The event will be aimed at “giving visibility to the activities of Roma within churches”.

It will focus, among other themes, on “the problematic role played by churches in the exploitation and exclusion” of this people.

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