Spanish Romani Neighbourhood Attacked
22 July 2005
According to the Huelva-based daily newspaper Huelva Informacion of January 18, 2005, on January 16, approximately one thousand Spaniards, including the Mayor and four other representatives of the local government, violently demonstrated in the Eritas Romani neighbourhood in the Southern Spanish town of Cortagena. On the morning prior of the attack, graffiti inciting racial hatred against Roma appeared on buildings and leaflets with racist remarks were handed out. The protest march, which, according to Huelva Informacion was organised by the Mayor Antonio Marín and other members of the town council, was reportedly supposed to end in Cortagena's main square, but many of the participants carried on to the police station where they shouted racist remarks and sprayed painted graffiti on the walls. Afterwards, the demonstrators reportedly carried on to the Romani neighbourhood without interference. According to Huelva Informacion, during the attack, which lasted approximately forty minutes, the demonstrators attacked several Romani homes while the families were still inside, cars and other personal property with fire and stones. The police reportedly confiscated two rifles from the demonstrators.
The violent demonstration was reportedly in protest of the alleged January 1 murder of a non-Romani person at the hands of three Romani men. At the time of the attack, the three Romani suspects were already in police custody. Cortagena's Deputy Mayor, Manuel Bago, was quoted by Huelva Informacion as having stated that the violent attacks had been carried out by small extreme rightwing groups which were under investigation by the police but that no suspects had been identified. According to the Internet based newspaper Europa Press of the same day, Mayor Marín had been charged with disturbing public order.
On January 19, Huelva Informacion reported that a number of Romani organisations have demanded the resignation of that Mayor Marín and that about twenty-five of the affected Roma were, with the support of Spanish Romani organisations, considering legal action against the perpetrators. As of July 1, fourteen of the affected Roma have presented formal complaints to the police, no one has yet been charged.