News

“Roma Memory” Exhibit Premiere at the European Commission

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January 27, 2016

Beginning January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, our exhibit “Roma Memory” will premiere for the first time at the European Commission in Brussels. After our years of research on the Roma genocide in partnership with Yahad – In Unum, we are very excited to bring to light the stories of victims and survivors of the Roma genocide through this exhibition.

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Father Patrick Desbois, President of Yahad – In Unum
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Costel Nastasie, Manager of Yahad’s Roma Project and President of Roma Dignity
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Costel Nastasie, Nicolae Caldarar (Roma survivor) and Serban Catalin

Roma Dignity President Costel Nastasie Teaches at the Jan Karski Institute for Holocaust Education

July 14, 2015

Roma Project Coordinator Costel Nastasie was very pleased to be invited by Director Rev. Dennis McManus to participate in the The Jan Karski Institute for Holocaust Education at Georgetown University on July 14, 2015. Costel Nastasie conducted the first presentation on the Roma genocide at the Institute.

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Costel Nastasie presenting on Roma history at the Jan Karski Institute for Holocaust Education.

Roma Dignity President Costel Nastasie Participates in the European Parliament’s Holocaust Commemoration

January 27, 2015

Recognizing International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, Roma Dignity participated in a moving ceremony at the European Parliament in Brussels. Roma Project Coordinator and Roma Dignity President Costel Nastasie spoke at the ceremony and lit one of the six candles in honor of victims of the Holocaust. The day featured tributes from several distinguished speakers, including President of CEJI (A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe) Baron Alain Philippson and Former European Parliament Vice-President Antonio Tajani.

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Roma Dignity President Costel Nastasie lights a candle in honor of Holocaust victims.


International Roma Delegation visits Roma Dignity Center

October 1, 2014

On October 1, the Roma Dignity Center received the members of the Roma Integration Study Tour at our Brussels office. This study tour was part of the TASCO (Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organizations) Project. It was undertaken in order to raise awareness on the obstacles that Roma communities face in European society.

The delegation was composed of 25 representatives of Roma NGOs from across the European Union, and their field visit to the Roma Dignity Center proved to be a fruitful one. Our team members delivered an informative presentation on Roma history and presented a documentary film on Yahad’s work on this subject. As stated in the Award for Roma Integration 2014 Handbook: “We firmly believe that this form of education [through the Roma Dignity Center], which includes concrete tools against the strain of isolationism, and in providing aid for the insertion of the Roma people into society and into the labor market, that we can provide a strong answer to the questions posed by the integration of Roma communities in Europe.”

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Conference at the Roma Dignity Center

May 2014

In May, Yahad’s Executive Director Marco Gonzalez, Yahad’s Research Director Patrice Bensimon, and Yahad’s Project Manager on the Roma Nastasie Costel led a conference in partnership with the Roma Dignity Center in Brussels. The conference focused on Yahad-In Unum’s latest research on Roma victims, particularly in the Republic of Macedonia. During a recent research trip to Macedonia, a Yahad team learned through the interviews they conducted that though the Roma were not deported in Macedonia as in Romania, they were subjected to humiliation, discrimination, forced labor, and at times, extermination.

On June 20, there another conference was held at the Roma Dignity Center on the subject: “Why do we know so little about the persecution of the Roma during World War II?” Speakers included Ethnologist Alain Reyniers and Writer Lydia Chagoll.

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Inauguration of Roma Dignity Center in Brussels

November 4, 2013

Inauguration Centre Dignité RomsRoma Dignity and Yahad – In Unum have founded the first research and documentation center on the persecution of the Roma in Eastern Europe during World War II. The inauguration took place on November 4, 2013.

The Roma Dignity Center is a unique tool for education and remembrance, situated in the heart of Brussels, Belgium. It provides the public access to a collection of video interviews conducted by Yahad-In Unum in Eastern Europe of witnesses and survivors of the deportations. Information collected by the organization from Soviet, German and Romanian archives will also be available.

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Costel Nastasie

Many personalities and representatives from European and international institutions along with Roma organizations attended the inauguration. Among those who participated in marking this significant initiative: Livia Jaroka, Hungarian European Parliamentarian, Aleksandros Tsolakis, member of the ‘Roma Task Force’ of the European Commission, Matthew Clouvel, Deputy Consul General of France, Basma Ben Amar of the Impulse Fund for Migration Policy of the city of Brussels, project support, Miranda Vuolasranta from the Justice Branch of the European Commission, Kossara Petrova of the Citizenship Program of the European Commission, Violeta Naydenova European Open Society Policy Institute, Professor Alain Reyniers of the University of Louvain, Newfoundland, Gabriela Hrabanova of the European Roma Grassroots Organizations Network, Marta Pinto of the European Roma Information Office and Ina Van Louy of the citizen education program of the Jewish Secular Community Center.

In his speech, Aleksandros Tsolakis expressed the hopes raised by the work of Yahad and Roma Dignity, describing it as “a small light in the darkness.”

Livia Jaroka sadly noted the lack of documentation on Roma history: “When I made your acquaintance and learned of your project, a great peace came into my heart. You work for justice and I thank you.”


Roma dialogue on the Porajmos

May 2012

Roma Dignity and Yahad – In Unum helped organize the beginning of a dialogue among members of the European Roma population about the fate of their people during the Holocaust. An initial meeting, held in Brussels on May 3, marks the first step in an awareness campaign being undertaken by members of the Roma community. A particular target is the younger generation of Roma who have had little exposure to the history of the Roma Holocaust or the “Porajmos.” Support for the conference was provided by the office of the Mayor of Brussels.


“The genocide of the Roma people in the occupied Soviet territories” as a topic in the seminar “Writing the history of the Holocaust”

April 2012

The seminar “Writing the history of the Holocaust” held its session on April 18 on “The genocide of the Roma people in the occupied Soviet territories” at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.


European International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 2012

Participants at the European Commission-sponsored commemoration on Roma and the Holocaust.

“Commemorating the forgotten Holocaust of the Roma,” was the title of a conference held last month in January by the European Commission, ERIO, Roma cultural history organizations and the European Economic and Social Committee. With representatives of Roma communities from throughout Europe in attendance, Yahad – In Unum presented a new film, “The Roma Road,” which includes extracts of testimony from Roma survivors of mass deportations in Romania during World War II. Father Desbois was joined in the presentation by Costel Nastasie, President of the association Roma Dignity with whom Yahad – In Unum has partnered in its research on the fate of the Roma during the Holocaust.

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