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Hon. Alcee L. Hastings, Chairman
Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
December 19, 2008


Expresses Concern Over Violence in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Italy Against Roma

(Washington, DC) Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Co-Chairmen of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), issued the following statement on the groundbreaking of a memorial for Roma and Sinti victims of the Holocaust. The groundbreaking took place earlier today in Berlin, Germany.

“We welcome the groundbreaking of the memorial for Roma and Sinti victims of the Holocaust. The construction of this memorial is an important step in educating the public and international community about what happened to the Romani people during the Holocaust – persecution, forced sterilization, slave labor, and genocide – that will help counter the prejudice and bigotry against them.

“We remain deeply troubled about the anti-Semitic and anti-Roma manifestations that occurred throughout the year in the Czech Republic – most recently the escalating violence in Litvinov on November 17. Furthermore, we are disturbed by public discourse that describes Roma as ‘unadaptable’ – a description that figured prominently in the Nazi rationale for exterminating Roma.

“Additionally, we are concerned by the mob attacks in Italy that took place earlier this year against Roma. The Italian authorities must carry out transparent and credible efforts to investigate these heinous acts in Naples, Milan, and elsewhere, and prosecute the perpetrators. Similarly, it is our hope that Hungarian authorities carry out prompt and credible investigations and prosecutions of the two deadly bomb attacks that left four Roma dead in November.

“We hope that today’s groundbreaking will bring greater attention to the plight of Roma throughout Europe and for governments to do more to ensure they are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said Co-Chairmen Hastings and Cardin.

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.
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