ROMA IN CROATIA TODAY (Romi u Hrvatskoj danas)
The papers on the round table held on June 26 and 27 1997
"We live without aim, we have no papers... we, Roma, are lost in time, but still, we live in the hope that our problems will be understood."
"True, Roma are waking up, in the past they were forgotten, avoided, this is why we talk about the awakening of Roma. These people feel the need for their emancipation, they are lokking for their place under the sun."
These are some of the thoughts articulated in the two day round table discussion tunder the title Roma in Croatia Today, held in Zagreb, July 26 -27 1997. The organiser of the round table was The Center for The Direct Protection of Human Rights supported by the Council of Europe, the OSCE Mission in Croatia and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The round table was divided into three thematic units: Education and Culture; Social Status; and Legal Status of Roma. Papers presented and transcriptions of the discussions cna be found and read in the booklet entitled Roma in Croatia Today.
The booklet is unique for several reasons. First, it is the first publication in the edition entitled Sources with the Center for the Direct Protection of Human Rights playing the role of publisher. Second, it will appeal to a wide circle of readers. Each thematic unit is introduced through theelaboration of certain theoretical premises (for example, the theme Education and Culture of Roma elaborates on the position of Roma in Europe, the specificity of their position in Croatia and on the conceptual posibilities for intercultural education of Roma in Croatia), followed by presentations based on research and/or direct experience. Next, the presentation of Mr Ante Klaric, Omudsperson of RH can be considered, from a human rights protection point of view, as one of the more interesting contributions. Mr Klaric stated:"... we are ready..., if needed, to assist and protect, in individual cases, even Roma."
Furthermore, since the Omubudsperson's Office had no complaints from Roma, Mr Klaric invited: "... communities and individuals to appeal to our Office if they feel their social, cultural or other rights are being reduced by the actions of state administration or if in the process of the realisation of their rights they are not satisfied with the actions of the state administration."
However, the most valuable contribution of the booklet is that it offers an insight into perceptions on the position of Roma in Croatia today by different actors on the social scene. Indeed, the actors were numerous and from different social and educational backgrounds - representatives of Roma; domestic and international human rights and humanitarian organisations; researchers; lecturers; and public servants). It is up to the diligent reader to find out if their perceptions were congruent or not.
If you would like to find out the end, or perhaps the beginning, of this part of this Roma story, you can join those who are reading or living it. The fact that 300 copies, out of 400 published, have been distributed so far, tells a lot about the importance of the topic.
Jasmina Papa Stubbs