Helsinki Criticized for Roma repatriation

Nevada, Nov 26, 2010 (Washington Bangla Radio) Hindus have strongly criticized reported repatriation of about 40 Roma from Helsinki (Finland) and sending them to Romania.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was simply inhuman to continuously crack down on poor Roma. What happened to the borderless Europe, he asked.

Helsinki appeared to be following the footsteps of France President Nicolas Sarkozy by forcing the Roma out of the country, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued.

According to reports, last year also City of Helsinki dismantled few Roma camps without providing alternative accommodation, while there were similar camps/shacks within the Helsinki city limits occupied by Finnish derelicts and homeless alcoholics. In August this year, eviction notices were reportedly served to Roma camps in Helsinki without providing alternatives.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, in a statement at the 12th session of Human Rights Council in Geneva on September 15 last year said: “Regarding access to housing, direct and indirect discrimination against Roma, Sinti and Travelers and/or forced evictions are known to have taken place in a number of countries, including Finland…”. She further said, “…more must be done to end such discrimination.”

Rajan Zed pointed out that it was 2010 and many Finland restaurants, stores, and other licensed premises still reportedly refused them entry. Replying to a telephone survey in the past, some employers reportedly admitted that they would not want to hire a Roma even if he/she had the qualifications for a job. Prejudicial treatment occurred even though the Finnish Penal Code, through an amendment adopted in 1995 [sections 11(8) and (9)], criminalized incitement to racial hatred and racial discrimination. The Criminal Code at Article 47(3) also provided for punishment of discrimination in employment.

Zed stressed that Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which represented about 80 percent of the Finns, should also come out in support of the cause of this distinct ethnic and cultural group of Roma, because religion taught us to help the helpless.

Rajan Zed further said that Roma maltreatment in Europe was like an undeclared apartheid. Roma reportedly regularly faced social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, etc.

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