Humanity in Action Senior Fellows Participate in EU-Funded Study Trip on Roma Participation and Anti-Roma Racism in Bulgaria

May 28, 2013 | roma, european union, bulgaria

A group of Humanity in Action Senior Fellows from Germany traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria to participate in a study trip examining Roma participation and anti-Roma racism in current Bulgarian society. This visit was a part of the EU-funded network “Adult Education Strategies to Overcome Group-Focused Hostility in Europe.”

The study trip, which took place from May 21 to May 23, focused on developing and evaluating strategies to counteract anti-Roma racism in Bulgaria. During their time in Sofia, the group met with prominent Roma leaders in the NGO and public sector as well as with representatives of all six projects partners: Jachad Jewish Youth Organisation (Hungary), Edith Stein Society (Poland), Center for Citizenship Education (Slovenia), Unión Romaní (Spain), Minority Studies Society Studii Romani (Bulgaria), and  Humanity in Action Deutschland e.V. (Germany). The goal of the workshop was to address the question: “What are the political, economical and social contexts of Roma participation and anti-Roma racism in current Bulgarian society?”

With this question in mind, the group discussed topics such as institutionalized anti-Roma racism as a political rather than a social issue. Orhan Tahir (Civil Society in Action) criticized the EU practice of labeling all Roma as a “vulnerable group” as discrimination. He argued that instead of working towards equal political participation, EU measures are almost exclusively taken in the social sector, leaving the question of political participation unanswered.  Tahir advocated for the ethnic mobilization of the Roma minority as a strategy to gain equal political participation according to European minority rights standards. In another forum with Rumyan Russinow, (Roma Public Policy Advocacy Center) the group discussed the segregation and de-segregation of Roma students in the Bulgarian school system since 1990.  A presentation by Elena Marushiakova (Chair of Studii Romani) advocated the importance of strengthening Roma identity through adequate public representation of Roma culture, folklore and history, while a group tour of the Roma neighbourhood Fakelteta, led by Roma leader Dimitar Georgiev, facilitated a discussion of the labeling and “othering” of the Roma.

To learn more about "Adult Education Strategies to Overcome Group-Focused Hostility in Europe," please click here.

Latest News