Racist Assaults on Roma in Bulgaria

10 July 2002

On April 16, 2002, five Romawere hospitalised following an attack on fifteen Roma, including women and children, by a mob in Pazardjik, in central Bulgaria, according to a press release by the Sofia-based non-governmental organisation Human Rights Project (HRP). HRP field investigation found that at around 5:30 PM the same day, the fifteen Roma were returning home following a religious ceremony when five or six people got out of a jeep near the police school, approached the group, and began assaulting them with bats, chains and metal "knuckle dusters" with sharp points, while yelling verbal insults. Several other persons reportedly joined the attackers in beating the Roma all over their bodies, while several other people, attracted by the cries of the Roma under attack, came and helped them fend off the attackers. HRP reported that the assault lasted for approximately 10 minutes. According to HRP, Atanas Mihailov, 18, Metodi Andonov, 20, Angel Georgiev, 22, Assen Assenov, 32, and Josef Assenov, 16, went to the central hospital of Pazardjik on foot following the attack. While in hospital, Atanas Mihailov, Metodi Andonov, and Assen Assenov obtained medical certificates, according to which Atanas Mihailov reportedly suffered laceration wounds to his head and his buttocks and bruising on various parts of his body. Metodi Andonov reportedly suffered a laceration wound to his head, swelling of the left eye and bruises all over his back. According to his medical certificate, Assen Assenov received surgery for a wound to his head and suffered laceration wounds to his nose and his cheek. The HRP press release stated that the victims recognised one of the attackers. HRP also reported that on April 17, 2002, the attacked Roma filed complaints at the local police station. As of July 16, 2002, according to HRP, no charges had been brought against anyone in connection with the case. 

Mr Assen Assenov, after being beaten by a mob in Pazardjik, Bulgaria, April 16, 2002.
Photo: Human Rights Project

Also according to HRP, on February 2, 2002, six youths, including four Romani boys – Hristo Georiev Asenov, Dimitar Georgiev Mihaylov, Dimitar Angelov Shekerov, and one unnamed boy – and two non-Romani girls – Ralitsa Kirilova Stoencheva and Stefka Petrova Pepechkova – were attacked and two of the Romani boys were shot, by three assailantstravelling in a car in the town of Pazardjik in central Bulgaria. According to HRP, the youths had entered a garageto repair their vehicle, when the attackers entered through the back entrance of the garage. The youths reportedly ran away, but the attackers allegedly jumped into a small bus and chased them. HRP reported that, as a result of the attack, two of the Romani boys, Dimitar Mihaylov and Dimitar Shekerov sustained bullet wounds in their legs. Dimitar Mihaylov also reportedly suffered a bullet wound to the head. Following the attack, the two boys were reportedly hospitalised for their injuries. On February 8, 2002, HRP reportedly informed the District Prosecutor's Office in Pazardjik and the Regional Police Department of the incident. As of July 17, 2002, HRP was unaware of any investigation undertaken by the police in connection with the attack.

(Human Rights Project)


Challenge discrimination, promote equality


Receive our public announcements Receive our Roma Rights Journal


The latest Roma Rights news and content online

join us

Find out how you can join or support our activities