Empowering Roma Activists Through Human Rights Education
21 December 2012
Anca Sandescu: Since the European Roma Rights Centre was established, one of its key aims has been to empower young Roma through a dedicated human rights education programme. We believe that equipping Roma from local communities to stand up and defend their human rights is essential for the fight to stop discrimination against Roma in all European countries. The Human Rights Education programme is designed to strengthen the knowledge and skills of young courageous Roma who are committed to challenging human rights abuses.
One of our most successful activities is the ERRC annual Roma Rights Summer School, a 10 day long course focused on introducing human rights in theory and in practice. The Summer School is a venue where Roma, Travellers and Sinti from around Europe can meet and network to create a stronger and more powerful voice in the face of constant human rights abuses against their communities. This central piece of the ERRC’s Human Rights Education portfolio is accompanied by tailored human rights training courses in many European countries and a number of legal and non-legal internship and fellowship at our office offering more in-depth opportunities for professional development. ERRC Human Rights Education programming is now being enhanced with a strong focus on legal empowerment of Romani communities.
Many of today’s Roma leaders working internationally, nationally and locally to tackle discrimination and human rights abuse of Roma have been trainees or interns at the ERRC, including many of our staff members.
The Human Rights Education programme works towards creating a critical mass of Roma rights activists from the grassroots upwards to make systemic human rights abuse of Roma a dark page in history. Over the last 16 years, the ERRC has contributed to the capacity building of more than 500 activists at our Summer Schools and other training programmes, and has welcomed more than 300 interns and fellows to our offices in Budapest.
Pedro Casemerio Cortés: I think the human rights approaches is something that normally people do not give much importance because we do not have too much knowledge about them and we don’t know how to use. I think the best thing of this summer school is to know different people to know different experiences and now we are starting to know much better the different framework at European level regarding human rights.
Martin Gerard Warde: Being proactive and identifying human rights violations, being able to catalogue them and to research more into how we can tackle everyday things that are just go unnoticed. It’s great to meet people that have this burning desire to do something about human rights. It’s really comforting to know that there are other people with similar interests.
Marina Vasic: I think that mostly it will be raising awareness about human rights violations and selling these ideas about solutions and mechanisms that can solve problems regarding to Roma communities and human rights. The most important thing that I will take from this Summer School is this raising awareness and about human rights, about human rights violations and I am just informing others about potential mechanisms in regard of human rights violations.
Daniela-Simona Gamonte: I would say we have different approaches when we are talking about human rights and it was really interesting that we were given the possibility of expressing our own opinions in different cases of discrimination, in regards to Roma Rights, but also it was really interesting that we brought different topics when we are talking about human rights violation.
Anca Sandescu: Each journey starts with a single step and we are proud to have been a part of the journey’s of so many Romani activists over the last 16 years. We are inviting young, dedicated activists who want to make a difference in their own lives and in their communities to join us on the path to a human rights friendly future.