Coastei Street Evicted Roma – 4 Years Fighting for Justice, but Not Giving Up

Today marks the anniversary of the eviction of over 300 Roma from Coastei  street, in the heart of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. This video shows an event this week which commemorated the eviction. Here are the voices of some of those who were evicted and those organising the fight for justice. For the commemoration, the play “La Harneala” by La Bomba Studios was staged. This play shows the authorities dismissive attitude towards Roma trying to access housing in Romania.  

The Coastei street families were evicted in freezing temperatures, without proper notice, and then taken from their city. Some of the families were given poor quality accommodation on the site of the city rubbish dump; others were given nothing, and instructed to build something themselves on the same site. 

These families are facing into their 5th year living at Pata-Rat. It is located on the city landfill site, and local chemical industries also have permission to dispose of chemical waste here. The area is far from the city, and the bus stop is far from the area. Accommodation is in 18 square metres rooms. Each family has one room, and there is only one bathroom between four families. There are no proper cooking facilities, there is no hot water, and there is no private space for people. As one community leader said, everything stops where Pata-Rat begins; life is harsh, and it is a long distance for children to go to school, or for adults to go to the city to work. 

However, four years on, the community who were evicted from their city have not given in. They have organised themselves in a community organisation, and they fight the evictions through legal means. One year ago they won an important legal victory, and the authorities were ordered to provide suitable accommodation for these families. The decision was successfully appealed by the city administration, and the case returned to a different court; after a three year legal battle, it looks like the community will have to start their legal fight from the beginning again. 

The Romani families who were evicted in December 2010 have suffered many difficult times because of the eviction and subsequent isolation. However, their spirits remain unbroken, and they refuse to give up their fight for justice. The European Roma Rights Centre has supported this fight - we are proud to stand with the Coastei street community, and we are struck by the resilience and determination they have shown. 

The Community Association of Roma from Coastei together with other Romanian organisations, including the Desire Foundation and the Common Front for Housing Rights (FCDL), have sent a letter to the authorities, urging them to commit to a plan to desegregate the Pata Rat area and requesting reforms to effectively guarantee the right to housing. 

The ERRC has long advocated for Romanian authorities to address the exclusion of Roma in the field of housing, most recently by urging them to implement the recommendations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In this context, we urge the Cluj-Napoca Municipality to lead the way towards effective Roma inclusion by moving the Pata Rat Roma back to the city.

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gökçen
Media Coordinator
European Roma Rights Centre
+36 30 500 1324
sinan.gokcen@errc.org 

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