Alliance Taskforce took part in largest Roma Genocide Remembrance Initiative
Auschwitz, 2 August 2013 – The world’s largest Roma Genocide Remembrance Event “Dik I na Bistar / look and don’t forget” took place on 2th August at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum. It was organized by the ternYpe International Roma Youth Network. More than 400 youths from over 20 countries participated at the youth commemoration at the site of the former so-called “Gypsy camp”. The great number of participants underlined the growing importance of Roma youth movements fighting against prejudices and stereotypes and striving for official recognition of the 2nd August as an international day of remembrance for the victims of Parrajimos (Roma genocide). The Taskforce of the “European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion” of the Council of Europe and the Council of Europe Youth Department participated at the commemoration event, demonstrating their strong commitment to the Roma cause.
In the course of the event, Mr. Zoni Weisz, survivor of the Romani Holocaust, shared his experiences with young Roma and non-Roma participants. Zoni Weisz escaped the deportation of his family to Auschwitz in May 1944. He recounted the terrible hardships Roma had to endure while imprisoned in Birkenau: “On this beautiful, sunny day, we cannot imagine how it was for our people in the barracks seventy years ago. Today we are standing on the very ground where so many of our loved ones were murdered. We still cannot comprehend what it means!”
After visiting the Auschwitz museum in the morning, the young participants moved to Auschwitz-Birkenau to commemorate the victims of the night of the 2nd August 1944, when 2.897 Roma from the “Gypsy camp” were poisoned in the gas chambers. “We are here once again to learn what happened in the past, but not only to learn, but to not forget”, said Amaro Drom, member of the International Roma Youth Network ternYpe at the beginning of the commemoration ceremony.
Knowledge and official recognition of the extermination of Roma during the Second World War are still very limited, especially among young Europeans, including many Roma. This is why ternYpe International Roma Youth Network organizes the world’s largest Roma Genocide Remembrance Initiative in Krakow and Auschwitz from July 30th until August 4th, 2013. The initiative received high level support with a patronage from Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and from the Polish Government. The Council of Europe is one of the key donors.