Racist attacks in Bulgaria

15 August 2001

Racially-motivated attacks on Roma continue to be reported in Bulgaria. On March 15, 2001, between 10:30 and 11 AM, Ms Mariana Marinova and her daughter-in-law Ms Maria Yordanova, who rent a house in the Mircho Draganov neighbourhood of Sofia, were visited by a man unknown to them, according to interviews conducted by the Sofia-based non-governmental organisation Human Rights Project. The man wanted to check the house for possessions that he claimed had been stolen from him. The two women let him look inside the house. As the man was not able to find what he was looking for, he demanded to look in the caravan next to the house where another Romani family lived. He was let into the caravan by the children of the family but he did not find anything in the caravan either, according to Ms Marinova and Ms Yordanova. Upon leaving, the man asked Ms Marinova to tell her landlord that he wished to speak with him, although he did not leave his name.

At about 4:30 PM on the same day, Ms Marinova and Ms Yordanova saw a red Lada automobile stop in front of their house and three men with wooden truncheons get out. Frightened, the women hid in a nearby pit. Their neighbours' children were playing in front of the caravan next to the house, and they saw what happened. Nine-year-old Stefan S. told the HRP that he saw the men and ran into the caravan to warn his sister Diana, who was taking care of their baby nephew inside. The attackers started breaking the windows of Ms Marinova's house. Diana came out of the caravan to see what was happening and she reportedly saw one of the men taking a white tube and a box of matches out of the car. The man poured the contents of the tube on the house and set it alight. The house was burnt to the ground, and all the possessions and documents of those who lived there were destroyed. The Human Rights Project contacted the Sofia District Prosecutor's Office urging the prosecution to open criminal proceedings in connection with the incident.

In another attack on Roma in Bulgaria, on February 22, 2001, a fourteen-year-old Romani schoolboy from the town of Kazanlak, in central Bulgaria, Assen Anguelov, was in the schoolyard of Chudomir school in Kazanlak with two other Romani schoolboys, according to interviews conducted by HRP. During the recess, four Bulgarian boys attending the same school, who reportedly associate with a local skinhead group, attacked the three Romani boys. Two of the boys managed to escape. The attackers, however, caught Assen Anguelov and beat him unconscious. He was reportedly taken to the municipal hospital in Kazanlak. As a result of the beating, Assen Anguelov suffered contusions to the head and a concussion; he spent five days in hospital and has since remained at home on doctor's advice. Mr Aleko Anguelov, Assen's father, has, according to Human Rights Project,filed complaints with the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Interior in Stara Zagora and the District Police Department of Kazanlak. He has also written a letter of complaint to the Director of the Municipal Department of Education, Sports and Tourism, who responded by requesting an investigation into the incident by the Regional Inspectorate of the Ministry of Education. The Human Rights Project has also filed a complaint on behalf of Assen Anguelov with the District Prosecutor's Office of Kazanlak.

(Human Rights Project)


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