Hindus urge Croatia to urgently end maltreatment of its Roma people
Hindus have urged Croatia to end the maltreatment of its Roma population who reportedly live in apartheid like conditions.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Croatia should make an all out effort to do something “concrete and real” for Roma upliftment.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that Roma people in Croatia reportedly frequently faced social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, endemic joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, language barriers, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, anti-Roma graffiti, hate speech, appalling living conditions, prejudice, intolerance, violence, reduced access to healthcare, human rights abuse, critical underrepresentation in political and public administration arenas and judiciary, etc.
There were also other critical issues reportedly facing Roma in Croatia, like statelessness, segregation of Roma pupils, very low percentage of Roma students finishing elementary school (reportedly 10 to 25 percent), etc. Naturalization procedures for Roma should be simplified, Rajan Zed stressed.
Zed argued that reported Croatian neglect was trapping Roma in cycles of persecution and poverty. Roma issue should be one of the highest priorities of human rights agenda of Croatia and it must be undertaken as a matter of urgency.
Rajan Zed urged various religious leaders and organizations of Croatia, especially the majority Roman Catholic Church, to openly embrace and bless the Roma cause as religion told us to raise the voice for the helpless. It was a sin to watch the Roma suffer day after day for the last many centuries and not do much about it.
Zed further said that instead of reportedly continuing to marginalize Roma socially, this country of explorer Marco Polo and seven World Heritage sites should be more embracing of Roma brothers and sisters.
Talking about Croatia, Croatia National Tourist Board claims: “Songs extol justice and love, indeed a love for justice and fairness in whatever kind of love…”. Croatia should exhibit that love, fairness, and justice to its Roma minority also, Rajan Zed pointed out.
Meanwhile, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg, in a report after his recent Croatia visit, urged the “Croatian authorities to address failures of the justice system…” on the issue of human rights of Roma. The report further says: Whilst Roma have been present in Croatia for more than 600 years and are recognised as a national minority, the preamble of the Constitution does not expressly mention them among the ‘autochthonous national minorities’.
According to US Department of State Human Rights Report 2009 on Croatia: “Societal violence, harassment, and discrimination against Roma continued to be a problem”.