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Message by Dr. Ian Hancock
Hancock, Ian Francis

Message by Ian Hancock

Honorable Prime Minister, Madam Deputy Prime Minister, I thank you most profoundly for the opportunity to be a part of this Forum. It’s really a privilege and an honor, not just for myself, but for Roma. We are very grateful.

I want to emphasize again that we number in the millions. There are millions of Roma in the world and concentrated in Europe. There are more Roma than there are, for example, Danes or Lithuanians or Estonians. But we are a people without a nation, without a country, without a national base. And for this reason we don’t have the voice that other peoples have.

And we pay a price for this. And I have to express some disappointment that even at this Forum, which was created to tackle directly issues of racism and xenophobia, that still we seem to be an afterthought. We had to try very hard for the two minutes that I have now. We are not represented on the planning committee. We met a year ago and I think I gave the same message, and its been a year to think about this. And yet, here we are at the end with a voice only because we had to fight for these two minutes.

Nevertheless, I am encouraged because the will is there and I know that Sweden has a very special place in recognizing the situation of Roma, its treatment of Roma is exemplary compared with many other countries in Europe. We talked about this before. Yesterday at our session the suggestion was made that next year more time be devoted to the issue of the Roma situation.

When we were asking for a little time, now, one of those involved, one of the organizers said: It’s difficult, because you don’t have a country. But this is precisely why we have the problems we do. We don’t have a country, and we get overlooked. But you cannot overlook so many millions of people who are not gonna go anywhere. If the Roma situation is not addressed and dealt with through dialogue with us, we are here, and if the intention of this conference is to put the theory into practice, to put the discussion into practice, to make real change, if this doesn’t happen, then we will meet in a year and talk some more. And nothing will have happened. But I don’t want to see that. I want to see us leave here with the intention of applying what we have learned and making a real effort.
The film we saw yesterday was terrifying to me. And Roma are on the receiving end of that sort of aggression. And it has to stop, because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate. So I look forward to a move in the direction of more recognition and dialogue with Roma. And again, my profound thanks for the opportunity to be here. Thank you.
This message was transcribed from a tape recording.

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