Moldovan Youth Speak Out Against Anti-Romani Sentiment
29 October 2003
More than fifty non-Romani youth participated in an essay contest held during the first half of 2003 by the Chişinău-based non-governmental organisation Youth Branch of the Helsinki Citizen's Assembly of Moldova, the theme of which was "Roma Are My Friends". The main purpose of the contest was to encourage Moldovan youth to consider the problems faced by Roma in the country and to propose possible remedies to such problems.
The winner of the contest, 12-year-old Valentina Starashiuk of Chişinău, suggested that more emphasis be placed on Romani contributions to Moldovan society as one way to fight racism. "Roma made a great contribution to our culture. Why not to inform people about that instead of publishing negative articles about Roma, that they are thieves and criminals, etc.? Many Romani talents have made our small country famous throughout the world."
Other proposals included the founding of a special state body responsible for the improvement of the situation of Roma in terms of housing, education and health, and the creation of curriculum on Romani language and culture. It was further proposed that the Moldovan government facilitate the formation of a Romani civil society capable of addressing human rights violations against Roma.
Winning essays are to be published in September 2003 in the Moldovan edition of the international youth magazine "The Collage", available on the Internet at: www.yhca.org.md. Information on the human rights situation of Roma in Moldova is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: www.errc.org.
(Youth Branch of the Helsinki Citizen's Assembly of Moldova)