Apr 14, 2014
This article is from the April 11th, 2014 edition of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.
According to a report by Amnesty International, the level of violence against the Roma people has significantly increased in Europe. In countries like Greece or the Czech Republic, far-right groups are the ones carrying out the attacks, backed by the complicity of the police. The report also singles out France and the police harassment organized by its government.
Like the Jewish population was during the economic crisis of the 1930s, the Roma today are the visible targets of the far-right groups that have grown, mainly in the European countries most affected by the economic crisis.
In Greece, a party called Golden Dawn has spewed forth hatred and violence against immigrant workers in general and against the Roma in particular. The Amnesty International report comments that the police, when they do intervene, more often arrest the victims than they do the attackers. It also states, “the fact that racist attitudes remain entrenched in many police forces is more often denied than addressed.”
In the Czech Republic, the report notes that, “throughout the summer and autumn of 2013, Czech far-right groups staged a series of anti-Roma protests in dozens of towns and cities across the country,” with a “systematic harassment of Romani communities.”
Finally, Amnesty International denounces the attitude of the French police. According to the organization, the majority of the 20,000 Romani living in France constantly face threats of deportation and police harassment. It also rightly cites the odious declarations about the Roma made by the Minister of the Interior at the time, Manuel Valls, in September 2013. In these declarations, he stated, “these populations have extremely different lifestyles from our own,” and are, “destined to return to Romania or Bulgaria.”
In France, the crisis has not yet taken on the severity that it has in Greece and other countries. But if it worsens and if there is not a conscious response on the part of the working class, it is possible that far-right groups will become bolder, starting by testing their strength against the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the population like the Roma. They will do this all the more forcefully to the extent that they can count on the leniency or even the complicity of the police, as they do in Greece and the Czech Republic. These far-right gangs will also turn their violence against workers’ organizations or against workers on strike when the bourgeoisie needs it.
The current propaganda against the Roma is disgusting, whether it is spewed by the well-heeled and well-dressed politicians of the traditional Right or by supposedly left-wing politicians like Manuel Valls. These political leaders, wanting to flatter the most reactionary prejudices, are preparing people's minds to accept racist violence and paving the way for the Far Right.