A Roma community living near the town of Amfissa, Greece has been calling for justice following the hit-and-run murder of a 13-year-old girl. However, despite their cries for help, no one seems to be paying attention, and no international media coverage has surfaced on the hate crime.
According to a Greek newspaper, the incident occurred sometime after 8 P.M. when a 34-year-old local butcher drove to the Roma camp and fired his shotgun from inside the car. According to witnesses, the attacker missed his intended victim, a 35-year-old Roma man also living at the camp, and hit the 13-year-old girl, leading to her death. Following the incident, the victim’s mother told reporters she had witnessed the entire event:
“ I was here, he got a gun and killed my girl. I say my girl dead, dead.”
The suspect abandoned his vehicle following the murder and has been on the run since then, with no lawyers reaching out to the police to negotiate his surrender. An employer of his, who was also in the truck at the time, has since been arrested and charged as an accomplice.
So where is the outrage? Simply put, there doesn’t seem to be any, despite the horrors Roma people have had to endure throughout the years from very early times, but particularly after the Holocaust, all across the globe.
According to a report issued by Amnesty International in 2011, “systematic discrimination is taking place against up to 10 million Roma across Europe.” The organization has documented the failures of governments across the continent to live up to their obligations.
In 2007, European Union officials censured both the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2007 for forcibly segregating Romani children from regular schools. European police officers in multiple countries have been accused of police brutality against Roma people. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, noted that:
“Today’s rhetoric against the Roma is very similar to the one used by Nazis and fascists before the mass killings started in the thirties and forties. Once more, it is argued that the Roma are a threat to safety and public health. No distinction is made between a few criminals and the overwhelming majority of the Roma population. This is shameful and dangerous”.
Roma people have long been victims of assault and violence, especially throughout European countries. On multiple occasions, attackers have also sought out whole families in their homes or whole communities in settlements, and it has become very clear that no Roma person, whether they are small children, elders or adults, is ever safe and protected from hate crimes.
The community was also victims of the infamous Roma genocide, also known as the Porajmos, organized by the Nazis during the Holocaust. They were classified as “enemies of the race-based state”, thereby placing them in the same category as Jews. Between 220,000 and 500,000 Romani were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during that time, but some historians estimate the death toll as being around 1.5 million.
The violence and hate directed towards the Roma community, even today in the 21st century, is yet another piece of evidence proving that racism is very much alive, even in the most developed and “forward-thinking” countries. The murder of the 13-year-old Roma girl that occurred just a few days ago may not have been discussed as much as it should have been immediately after it took place, but not anymore. I encourage you to learn more about the Roma people and join the conversation. We should not be tolerating racism any longer.