Bulgaria Must Ensure the Safety of its Romani Citizens
29 September 2011
Budapest, 29 September 2011: The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) sent a letter to Bulgarian authorities today, raising concerns about the anti-Roma violence and protests taking place across the country.
Following the death of a young man who was hit by a vehicle on the night of 23 September in Katounitsa, south-east of Plovdiv, a Romani family was blamed and targeted by local residents. Anti-Romani protests erupted, spreading to many Bulgarian cities in the subsequent days. The public demonstrations have involved racist chants, the destruction of property, attacks against police and attempts to enter Romani neighbourhoods. Roma are reportedly afraid to leave their homes in some areas due to panic about the widespread insecurity.
Calling for calm, the ERRC supported the vigorous investigation and prosecution of anyone responsible for the murder of the young man. The ERRC also urged Bulgarian authorities to undertake further measures to reduce the tension and end the anti-Romani protests in Bulgaria. The letter called for police and prosecute to investigate all crimes committed promptly and impartially, and to ensure that racial motivation is considered.
ERRC Executive Director Dezideriu Gergely added: “We regret that far right groups are collectively blaming all Roma for one tragic murder and call on those responsible for the murder to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At the same time, we call on the Bulgarian authorities and police to act immediately to protect Romani citizens who fear for their safety.”
For further information contact:
ERRC Media and Communications Officer