Phiren Amenca International Network and its partners brought together around 300 young Roma and non-Roma young people from all over Europe to the European Youth Capital Cluj-Napoca, Romania between 12th to 19th of July 2015 to raise their voices against racism and discrimination towards Roma people in Europe in the event “So keres, Europa?! – What’s up, Europe?! Phiren Amenca Changemakers Movement”.
The project aimed to raise the voice of Roma youth on a European level, to create debate, reflection and common engagement of Roma and non-Roma youth activists, to strengthen an international structure of volunteers, and to raise the visibility of Roma youth self-organization among youth organizations.
Thematic workshops and special activities took place in Cluj Napoca, where participants had a chance to learn more about the situation of Roma in Europe, to learn and discuss about human rights, antigypsyism, as well as empowerment and activist strategies. The event created a space for activism and dialogue among Roma and non-Roma youth, it allowed the participants to share their local realities, to discuss about the needs and challenges of Roma youth, to reflect about the common cause and motivation for youth activism. Meetings with various Roma and non-Roma youth organizations gave insights into the local reality, and allowed to share practices of youth engagement.
During the event from the fourth day participants started their 48 hours actions, which were the core elements of the whole event-week. The topic of the actions were like Roma super heroes, school segregation, challenging stereotypes and racism through music, theatre, rhythm, graffiti or media, used art to raise awareness about the Roma Genocide or about our basic Human Rights. The results of the 48 hour actions were presented in the Roma Youth Festival in the European Youth Capital Cluj in the Central Park on the last day.
Stereotypes, racism and antigypsyism are actively part of our society, proved by the case, which occurred on the 17 December, 2010 in Cluj-Napoca, where 76 families were forcibly evicted without adequate notice by local authorities from Coastei Street in the center of the city. No consultation with the affected families took place prior to the eviction and no feasible alternatives to the eviction were explored. Forty of these families were relocated to inadequate housing conditions on the outskirts of the city (in Pata Rât), close to the city’s garbage dump and a former chemical waste dump, while the remaining families were left without alternative housing.
During this event, we wanted to bring attention to these cases in Europe, share the interests of the communities and show solidarity. Our participants together with the community from Pata Rat organized a Roma solidarity march „City for the people, not for profit”, which was dedicated to victims of the previously mentioned forced evictions, on 17 July 2015 with more than 500 people. The Roma Solidarity March „City for the people, not for profit” started from Pata Rât, the garbage dump area of the city of Cluj, which hosts, along with 1000 people from Dallas, the garbage dump and from Cantonului Street, 76 families who have been forcibly evicted on 17 December 2010 from Coastei Street. With this march, we commemorated four years and a half since that expulsion, which mostly affected Romanian Roma and we expressed that we cannot accept evictions, segregation, verbal and physical terror, limitation of fundamental rights and stigmatization to exclude Roma people in Europe in the 21st century.