Gipsies in Australia
ROMANO SINTI UNITED COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
OF QUEENSLAND INC.President - Yvonne Slee
Secretary - David Slee
Treasurer - R. K. JeuckenAn organisation for the advancement of Sinti
and Romani people in Australia.Inc. Number: IA36508Our Media Friends
Cairns Sun Newspaper
ABC Radio North QLD
Quest Newspaper QLD
Wow FM Radio Adelaide
Messenger Newspaper Adelaide
ECR Radio Melbourne
Ethnic radio station, 4EB98.1FM
Redcliffe Radio Broadcasting 99.7
To read more about Mrs. Yvonne Slee click on the linkTHE INTERNATIONAL ROMANI UNION
IN CONJUNCTION WITH
THE INTERNATIONAL ROMA EDUCATION ORGANISATION PRESENTS
AN INTRODUCTION TO ROMANI HISTORY AND CULTURE
A 15 minute PowerPoint slide presentation narrated by Yvonne Slee
to introduce Romani history and culture to school age children
Click on the button to see the brochure (167kb PDF)AnnouncementsUN's Toxic Shame
(Click picture to watch the report)Roma have been violently persecuted across Europe throughout history, but now Roma living in UN refugee camps in Kosovo are being persecuted by neglect.
On the 26th April, 2009 the popular SBS TV program, Dateline reported on the plight of the refugees in Mitrovica, where many children are sick and have dangerously high lead levels in their bloodstreams.
A couple of YouTube clips from Alembic.tv filmed at the Conway Hall concert in London for the 'Coming and Going' DVD which was part of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month 2008.Click the picture to read some news about Romanies
in Perth in the Ethnic Communities Council newsletterClick the picture to download Issue 2 of Australia's Romani newsletter (PDF 380 kb)Watch a 2 part video of the exhibit on YouTubeThe Romani Cultural, History and Traditions exhibit
held at the
Ethnic Communities Council Hall, Perth, WA
October 2009Like Water/Sar o paj edited by Hedina Tahirovic Sijercic.
This is a first all women anthology - Through poetry, eight women write about their feelings and views of Rromani life.
Besides Hedina Tahirovic Sijercic- Bosnia and Herzegovina, co-authors are: Yvonne Slee - Australia, Rasa Lee Sutar - USA, Lynn Hutchinson, Julia Lovell, Sarah Barbieux, ThaÃ¯s Barbieux and Gina Csanyi - Canada.
Translations into Rromani language were done by Hedina Tahirovic Sijercic and Ronald Lee
Cover illustration: Lynn Hutchinson - Canada
Back cover poem: Mario Ines Torres - Mexico
For further information contact Yvonne email@example.com or Hedina Hedina45@aol.com
The book will also be distributed in Australia early 2010 as it really deserves to be in the public eye, especially for groups on equality and human rights.
Click on the Romani flag to listen to an interview by Yvonne and Dave Slee on the Romani Radio Program in Perth WA with an Indian couple about similarities between Romani and Indian culture, religion and language.
The Romano Sinti United Community Org. has entered the Premier's Multicultural Photographic Awards competition with 3 photos depicting Romanies and Romani involvement in Queensland society.At-glance: Who are the Roma?
20 August 2010. Source: Szilvia Malik Game, SBS Radio
There are no official numbers, but it is estimated that 10 million Roma live in Europe and they represent the poorest people group on the continent. There are estimated to be about 25,000 Roma living in Australia. The President of the Sinti-Romani Organisation in Queensland, Yvonne Slee, explains their origins.
"We originate from India. In the 11th century groups of Indians were taken out by Mahmud of Ghazni the conqueror, and he took the people out, he took the gold, he took jewels, he burned down temples and he did that over 30 years.
Many of us were taken out of there and ended up in Afghanistan for a while because that is where he went and then after the army was defeated by the Seljuks we ended up in Anatolia where we stayed for 200 years and that is where we crystalised into our own culture.
The words that we use now, our language still has a lot of Indian words, Hindi mixed with Greek words.
And then we went on further westwards into Europe, because the Ottoman Empire encroached on Anatolia and so we were pushed out again and we had to go further, into Europe".
Ever since the Roma arrived in Europe they have suffered discrimination and everywhere they have settled, they have ended up with inferior social status, education, employment, wealth and political power.
During the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of them were burnt in the gas chambers by the Nazi Germans.
David Diaz-Jogeix is Europe's Deputy Program Director for the human rights group, Amnesty International. He believes European states are not seriously trying to break the Romas' cycle of discrimination and poverty.
"The Roma people are the largest minority in Europe, but it is not just a matter of numbers.
It is a matter of severe and entrenched discrimination that the Roma people have been subjected to in Europe," says Mr Diaz-Jogeix.
Mr Diaz-Jogeix believes that a tendency of many Romas to live in caravans has given rise to negative impressions about their lifestyle, and has contributed to their marginalisation.
"The great vast majority of the Roma people are not nomads.
The people live in towns, but the prejudice against them has resulted in no access to jobs, no access to education," he says. Mr Diaz-Jogeix says in many European countries, Roma children have been forced to attend segregated special schools or segregated classes where they study according to an inferior curriculum.
He says in some cases, they are even treated as "stupid" and "disabled".
"For example in Slovakia, the administration are treating the Roma different from the mainstream population and placing the children in school that are meant for people with mental disabilities," he says.
Angela Kocze is a former president of the Hungarian-based European Roma Rights Centre, which lobbies for Roma rights across the continent. From a Roma background herself, she currently researches Roma issues for the Institute for National and Ethnic Minorities at the Hungarian Science Academy.
Ms Kocze says the Romas' poor access to education has a ripple effect, resulting in bad employment possibilities.
"There are several human rights reports which pointed out that Romani children are facing serious obstacles in the educational system.
They are not able to get into high school, especially those who are coming from a segregated area, and they were attending segregated schools. And if we can see the statistics that approximately half million Roma are living in Hungary now and only five percent of the Romani schools' pupils were able to get to high school. I mean compared with the non-Roma students, which 70 percent of them were able to go to high school, so there is a huge discrepancy," she says.
The often unemployed Roma tend to live in segregated, substandard housing, and face much lower life expectancy than that of non-Roma. Forced evictions have left thousands of Roma without homes Europe-wide.
Romas are also often perceived as criminals. But according to the United Nations Development Program, many of the crimes committed by Roma can be linked directly to poverty - like stealing of crops. Recently, the Second European Roma Summit took place in the Spanish city of Cordoba.
Mr Diaz-Jogeix from Amnesty International, who was present at the event, says he was disappointed with the absence of European government representatives promising political action. "The agenda of this year's conference looks at the exchange of best practice among member states of the European Union.
However Amnesty International would have liked to have a far more political leadership from the European Union, reminding the obligations of the member states not to put specific categories of people subject to discrimination for example in the areas of health, in the areas of education and subject to force evictions in many countries in Europe," he says.
The Roma in Australia face different hardships to their kin in Europe. Here they are not discriminated against, and in fact are barely even recognized. That's a situation that Yvonne Slee, from the Sinti-Romani Organisation in Queensland, is trying to change this, through running education courses about the culture of her people.
"It is misunderstood, sort of stereotyped, you know not understood as a culture, they sort of see us as a Hollywood gypsy and we do not seem to get the right acknowledgment for our culture here and it is very hard to get it across.
People do not understand, so we have to do, like I do, cultural exhibits to educate or to do talks at schools to make them understand what culture we are, otherwise we get overlooked often and it is, well quite, we get left out again, our kids get left out again that way as well," she told SBS.
Read more at SBS World NewsWe donated a book pack of 3 Romani booklets, 2 Romani books and a Romani brochure to the library at the local university. They were pleased to have them and we in our organistation offered to take part in the living library. Also, we met some beautifully dressed Indian dancers there as the uni was having a multicultural day.
Fresh approach for Romani inclusion
The Artists' initiative against Romaphobia is a new approach in which we, the Romanies from Australia, are also taking part in. It has become a world wide united initiative as Romanies live all over the globe and all our brothers and sisters can work together. As a Romani writer I joined after being called upon and I believe that this will be doing something over in Europe to get them to understand our culture and include us and not exclude us anymore. So many Romanies coming together. Europe can observe with this initiative talented, creative, hardworking Romani people.We want fair treatment and the same rights as others in the countries we live in. Taking part are Romani film makers, painters, poets, Romani writers, Roma and Sinti media people, Romani academics, screenwriters, researchers, Romani orchestras, musicians, photographers, translators, actors, cartoonists, a director for films etc. and many more. http://artists-for-roma-net.ning.com
Torn Away Forever by Yvonne Slee
To buy the book email firstname.lastname@example.org
In this book, written in the traditional Gypsy style of family biography, Yvonne Slee gives us a collection of stories about her ancestors who lived in Germany in the twentieth century. She begins with her great grandfather, called August, "torn away" from his Gypsy relations to be adopted into an uncaring family with a viscious stepfather. Running away at 15, August finds employment and friendship amongst Gypsies who teach him how to survive, and eventually marries a German woman and raises a family, including Elsa,Yvonne's grandmother. They adopt a disabled Gypsy boy called Freddy. As a half-Gypsy, with dark skin and long black hair, Elsa experiences racism at school, where her plait is cut off during a lesson by a spiteful classmate. She finds solace playing with friends in a nearby Gypsy encampment. Conditions in Germany during First World War force Elsa's mother to go to the woods to pick berries and nuts, while August hunts for animals. In the 1930's, Elsa notices ethnic families being taken from their homes to be "rehoused." Each time a truck appears in the street, her mother grabs Freddy and hides at the home of a friend, while August disappears till the danger passes. Eventually, Freddy is snatched away by the authorities and put in a home for the handicapped. The family eventually discover the dreadful truth - he has been sent to a concentration camp and gassed. Elsa marries an anti-Nazi called Willy, who is called up during the Second World War. After he is killed at the front, Elsa is left to bring up their young children alone. Almost arrested for being non-Aryan, she is rescued by an acquaintance, and lives out the rest of the war living on food she gathers from the forest. Surviving bombs, semi-starvation, and the destruction of her home, Elsa lives to the age of 80. Despite its sad theme, the book has many lively incidents. Elsa is almost gored by a bull, narrowly escapes drowning, and uncovers a butcher's pet-stealing scam. Yvonne Slee writes with compassion about a family surviving the Holocaust and war.
Janna Eliot. London, UKFrom our Romani colleagues in Poland, Europe. An artistic, colourful video expressing our Romani culture authentically through art, pictures and traditional songs.
TVG-9 GIPSYROAD - KUSHTY CHAVIES (Ederlezi)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMHS7EMRS6EThis is an outline of an interview that was recently recorded in the studios of 3CR Community Radio, Melbourne with presenter Hsin-Yi Lo for the Accent of Women program on Tuesday 4th January 2011, 8.30am AEST.
I began by talking about Romania and how Romanies are treated there with an explanation of the discrimination they endure and how their settlements get knocked down and that there are no jobs for Roma and in the schools the white people don't want to see Roma children attending them. I talked about France and what I thought of the Romanies being expelled, which is so racist and heartless. Then the interviewer asked me when the prejudice against Roma started. I said it stemmed from wrongly written material about our culture done by outsiders who never bothered to ask us anything and just wrote their books. Poor assumptions and stereotyping us did Roma so much harm and spread many misconceptions. She asked about India, our old beliefs and the army who took us out etc... I also talked about living without any identity papers, not having a place in the territorial European countries and being shoved from place to place and country to country. The interviewer commented that the nomadic life was forced upon us. I said yes it was, a far cry from the fanciful life that people pictured us living. We were discriminated against and even though we had our trades, the Europeans only wanted us for so long before forcing us to move on. I said that even today, Roma get very little help, like welfare etc. Also she asked about the many Hindi words in our language. She asked why we're often seen wearing colourful clothes. I said they wear colourful clothes in India and we still do, it comes from there. I talked about how Romani people were taken away in WW2 and killed in the holocaust and how my grandmother saw the area where she lived which was nicknamed Gypsy Island, emptied out by the Germans until there were hardly any Romanies left there. They were all killed and even after the atrocities of WW2 the Germans carried on discriminating against the Romanies that were left by putting signs in the windows of shops in the towns saying â€˜no Gypsies allowed.â€™ It just never stopped. She asked about Australia too. I told her how hard it can be for Romani kids being not understood so we have to carry on explaining our culture so we can be accepted. It's a constant effort. She asked about our Romani org and what it does. I explained the different things we do. Talked about the exhibits. She asked about the poem book Like Water and Torn Away. She asked about the Kosovo Roma living on lead poisoned land. I said it was just awful how those children have to live with lead in their bodies. I said some more things about our culture she wanted to know and about our spiritual side. I said we like cooking outside, being close to nature and about our belief in the Goddess which is the same Goddess as the Indian Goddess despite having had adopted other religions. We never forget where we come from.
Here is a podcast of the interview: http://www.3cr.org.au/aggregator/sources/2487
(I am also doing an interview for a project called 'Snapshots' - where they interview women from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds about their experiences of coming to Australia, why they've come to Australia etc.)
â€œO Rajah, I have been taught that we of the Deccan civilization should seek balance in our lives. Surely we have room for the soul as well as the material world. Yet their importance, one to the other, I think is not constant, but changes with the needs of men. In times of peace and prosperity, a certain amount of asceticism and concern with the afterlife may help to temper the corrupting influences of wealth and materialism. But even while our eyes seek the heavens, our feet should remain earthbound. Recall that the Muslim conquests took place at a time when our people were steeped in the supernatural. When the sultan's armies sacked our villages and killed and enslaved our people, little resistance was offered. Instead, the people took refuge in prayer and spiritual consolation, comforting themselves that the next life would be a better one."
"Let us not be alarmists," countered Amul. "We Madrans can not all carry swords and arm ourselves against phantom enemies. Then our neighbors will become suspicious and arm themselves, and a race will begin that can only end in a conflict that no one wanted in the first place."
"There is much in what you both say," mused the rajah. "But have we not had enough reason to be suspicious of the rana, Chandra, in our neighboring state of Madresh? He has placed troops along our common border, though the Madreshian army officers say they are merely engaged in peaceful camping-out exercises. Perhaps, and perhaps not. What is certain is that we lack good military intelligence."
Excerpt from the book â€˜The Willing Spiritâ€™ by Piers Anthony and Alfred Tella.
I met two Romanichals who were looking into their cultural background and they bought some of the Romani booklets I had on display. I gave info brochures out to others who read the display board. We joined in a Bollywood dance workshop too which was fun. The weather just held out till the festival finished at 3pm, and then the rain came.
Romani exhibit at the Coffs Coast Harmony Day festival 20 March 2011
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