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Roma Identity and Inherent Human Rights: Empowering the Youth

8 August 2023

In a bid to foster a sense of pride in Roma identity and promote fundamental human rights, twenty-five Roma girls from all over Bulgaria engaged in enlightening workshops and seminars. The sessions centered around “Roma Identity and Culture” and “Human Rights, Anti-discrimination, and EU Democratic Values.”

The journey into Roma culture commenced with a poignant flower-laying ceremony in the river, where the girls paid solemn tribute to the memory of over 500,000 Roma lives lost in the death camps during World War II. Guided by Raycho Chaprazov, they explored the symbolism of April 8th, the First Congress of the World Roma Union, the significance of the Roma flag and anthem “Dželem, Dželem,” and the remarkable movement of the Roma people from Mother India to Europe and America. In addition to delving into the Roma’s historical journey, Raycho Chaprazov unveiled the rich cultural achievements of the Roma community and their invaluable contributions in preserving and enriching cultural and traditional values. The succeeding discussions introduced the participants to eminent Roma figures known both in Bulgaria and globally, alongside insights into the earliest editions of the newspaper “Drom Dromendar” and the magazine “O Roma.” A pivotal resource in conveying the history and culture of the Roma was “The Roma Path” – an educational tool designed for multicultural environments, first published in 2009.

Led by Hristo Hristov, the session on “Human Rights and Discrimination” enlightened the girls on crucial human rights documents, with a particular focus on the “Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union” from 2016. Split into five groups, each team examined a specific section of the Charter. Discrimination in its diverse forms was exemplified through historical instances from the USA and Bulgaria, highlighting discriminatory attitudes towards the Roma community, perpetuated by high-ranking officials, police, and politicians in our country. Hristo Hristov also presented instances of anti-Roma discourse emanating from the highest echelons, including parliament and various Bulgarian authorities. This impactful session triggered lively discussions among the participants, fostering heightened sensitivity and intolerance towards hate speech and discrimination against the Roma in Bulgaria.

For more information and updates on the Arete Youth Foundation’s work, please visit their website.

This content is a guest post from one of our partner organizations about their work as part of our ‘Minorities, Accountability, Rights, Independence and Organisational Development’ (MARIO) programme. Learn more >

MARIO is funded by the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (2021-27) of the European Union (ref: 101091387).