Hindus-Jews-Buddhists have strongly condemned reported forcible eviction of Roma (Gypsy) families in Belgrade, the Serbian capital.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, Rabbi ElizaBeth W. Beyer and Reverend Jikai’ Phil Bryan; prominent Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist leaders respectively in Nevada (USA); issued a joint statement in Nevada today, saying that it is morally wrong to force families out of the homes that they have lived in for years. These affected Roma families were reportedly being moved to segregated metal container settlements outside city of Belgrade, which likely do not meet international housing standards.
Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, Rabbi Beyer and Rev. Bryan urged the European Union to intervene and stop mistreatment of helpless Roma families. Roma rights should be respected, and, they should be provided compensation for the destruction of their homes which they were forced to leave.
Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist leaders argued that Republic of Serbia needed to do more for its frequently maltreated Roma populace who reportedly continued to suffer from discrimination. Faith leaders say that Serbia and Belgrade officials must provide permanent housing solutions so that the Roma can raise their families with dignity. Eviction of Roma people appears to have become part of Belgrade's official stance and this is not the first time it has enforced its policy. Roma have been in the Balkans since 13th century and according to an estimate, number up to around 800,000.
Rajan Zed points out that many in this disenfranchised community reportedly live in Serbia in abject poverty in settlements, lacking basic services, such as plumbing and electricity. Roma face problems in accessing the healthcare system and education and there is an apparent lack of interest in resolving their issues. They are viewed as “others” and treated as lower class. Many Roma children do not attend school and those who do often face segregated schooling, reports suggest.
Rajan Zed, Rabbi ElizaBeth Beyer and Rev. Phil Bryan urged Serbian President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic to craft a well-defined, tangible policies focusing on health, education, housing, and employment to stop the cycle of poverty and discrimination. Serbia also need to urgently address the issue of statelessness of its many Roma people who reportedly do not have identity cards and birth records and thus suffer rejection day after day, they add.
These faith leaders also requested His Holiness Patriarch Irinej Gavrilovic of majority Serbian Orthodox Church to come to the rescue of the Serbian Roma. Rather than marginalizing Roma, this country which has so much to offer to the international community, should be more embracing of Roma brothers and sisters and work for their upliftment, Rajan Zed stated.