Bulgarian Officials Ignite Anti-Roma Abuse, Defying #RomaAreEqual Movement
12 May 2016
Sofia, Budapest, 12 May 2016: After a road incident on 2 May 2016 in the Bulgarian village of Radnevo, three ethnic Bulgarians were injured in a fight with a group of Roma individuals. The Roma were subsequently charged with attempted murder. The incident sparked violent anti-Roma demonstrations by over 2000 people shouting racial abuse and demanding that the Kantona settlement be demolished. Police were injured in violent clashes as they held back crowds from attacking the settlement.
In the immediate aftermath Tenjo Tenev, the Mayor of Radnevo issued an order adopting immediate measures for the identification and demolition of “illegal constructions”. The municipality also published a petition in support of the demolition of “illegal constructions” in the Kantona settlement, which is home to approximately 1200 people, the majority of which are Roma. They have been living there for the past 20 years. The majority of the houses there are stable, but unregistered dwellings. The municipality has already identified and served demolition notices for three unregistered constructions belonging to the three Roma who were charged following the initial affray.
The developments in Radnevo are particularly worrisome given the rampant anti-Roma sentiment throughout Bulgaria. “The authorities should focus on securing the physical safety of the Romani community in Kantona and taking measures to de-escalate tensions, instead of further fuelling anti-Roma sentiment with their actions,” said the ERRC President Đorđe Jovanovic. According to Daniela Mihailova, chairperson of EOIA “The sudden rush to demolish Romani housing in the Kantona district creates the impression that the Municipality condones the anti-Roma protests and disturbances”.
In a letter issued yesterday the ERRC and EOAI urge the local authorities of the village of Radnevo and the Stara Zagora Regional Governor to undertake all necessary measures within their power to ensure the physical safety of the Romani community in Kantona and as a matter of urgency to de-escalate tensions, instead of further fuelling anti-Roma sentiment by their actions.
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