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by Jean-Arnault Dérens, journalist

Slovenia: Chasing out the Roma

Translated Tuesday 5 December 2006, by Patrick Bolland

The whole of Dolenjska, a small region in the northeast of Slovenia, is in a state of quasi-insurrection. The people living in the villages of Ambrus and Mala Huda, in the commune of Ivancna Gora, have put up barricades to stop a Roma family, violently expelled from Ambrus on 28 October, from coming back to one of their villages. (1)

The whole conflict started a week ago with a brawl. Immediately, the people of the village launched what is looking dangerously like a pogrom, chasing out the Strojans, a Roma family, 25 people in all, with many children among them. The Strojans had to sleep in the woods, before being relocated in a reception center for migrants in Postojna. The mediator of the Republic of Slovenia, Matiaz Hanzek, saw that this was a complicated legal dilemma: How can an angry crowd just expel citizens from their home.

The issue got even uglier when a proposal was made to relocate the Strojan family in the village of Mala Huda. Three hundred inhabitants of this village got together screaming “We don’t want any Roma here!”. They set up barricades on the road, controlling all movement in and out of the village, and demanding identification to pass through the village.

While this affair is in the newspaper headlines every day, Prime Minister Janez Jansa only intervened last week, by attacking the media “which are talking too much about this affair” and also repudiating Mediator Hanzek, accusing him of “national treason” because he presented information to the European Council about this problem. Some 10,000 Roma live in Slovenia, where they are victims of racism and discrimination, which the Roma face throughout Europe.

[translator’s note]

(1) The Roma are commonly (and disparagingly) known as “gypsies” – see L’Humanité in English article 431 for more information.

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