ODIHR Director Gísladóttir praises efforts to promote awareness and recognition of Roma and Sinti genocide in WWII, stresses more can be done

WARSAW, 2 August 2017 – Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), praised efforts by countries in the OSCE region to promote greater awareness and recognition of the genocide against the Roma and Sinti people during the Second World War, including increased attention to educating youth about this horrible crime at the hands of the Nazi regime.

“It is our responsibility to the hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti murdered by the Nazi regime to ensure that the victims of this horrible crime are remembered, and not just on this day,” the ODIHR Director said, on the anniversary of the liquidation of the “Gypsy family camp” at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944. “Commemorating and educating about this tragedy not only helps ensure that we do not forget those who perished. Teaching about the past, including about the Roma and Sinti genocide, is also crucial to addressing the prejudices that underlie the intolerance, discrimination, racism and violence these communities often face today.”

While recognizing the efforts by OSCE participating States in commemorating the genocide within the context of the Holocaust, Gísladóttir stressed that more can be done.

“The opportunity remains for those countries that haven’t done so yet to join efforts to commemorate this tragedy and to teach about the genocide, in line with the commitments they have made as OSCE participating States and as part of broader efforts to improve the situation of Roma and Sinti,” she said.

An estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Roma and Sinti perished under the Nazi regime, with at least 23,000 murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

As mandated by the 2003 Action Plan on Improving the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area, ODIHR promotes official recognition of and teaching about the Roma genocide. As documented in the Teaching about and Commemorating the Roma and Sinti Genocide: Practices within the OSCE Area, published by ODIHR in 2015, seven OSCE participating States officially commemorate the Roma and Sinti genocide on 2 August, while a larger number commemorate the Roma and Sinti victims on International Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January.

Article at http://www.osce.org/odihr/333571