Conference | Roma Youth: Together for Emancipation and Empowerment

The role of history in the participation and inclusion of Roma young people
In the framework of the programme of the German Presidency
of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe


Online conference and public event
7-8-9 April 2021

on the occasion of International Roma Day
and the 50
th anniversary of the First World Romani Congress




***Find here the Agenda in ROMANES***




10:00 Words of welcome by BOGLÁRKA FEDORKÓ and DENIS DURMISH, hosts of the conference Musical introduction by Trio Reinhardt

10:10 Opening statements, with:
– IRINA SPATARU, Roma Youth Network
– BJØRN BERGE, Deputy General Secretary of the Council of Europe
– ANDREA UGRINOSKA, Chair of the Joint Council on Youth
– Ambassador MICHAELA KÜCHLER, Special Representative for Relations with Jewish Organisations, Issues Relating to Antisemitism, International Sinti and Roma Affairs, and Holocaust Remembrance, on behalf of the German Presidency of the Council of Europe
– TIMEA JUNGHAUS, European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture
– TATJANA ANĐELIĆ, Chair of the Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issues (ADI-ROM)


11:00 Roma history and culture – in the words of participants

11:15 Break

11:30 Learning Roma history and culture: elements for a common and diverse heritage, in break up sessions

12:30 End of the morning session
Optional streaming by ERIAC / Informal discussions and exchanges
14:30 Musical introduction by Trio Reinhardt
14:40 Transformative politics through arts and culture

– Music videos
– Round-table moderated by Ioanida Costache, with TIMEA JUNGHAUS, ROSEMARY CISNERO and DANIEL BAKER

16:00 Moderated discussion on the History of Roma Movement, with GRATTAN PUXON and THOMAS ACTON, participants in the First Roma Congress, moderated by NATALI TOMENKO


17:00 End of the afternoon session
18:00 Extra informal session. Live: Opening event of WORLD ROMA CONGRESS, 50th Anniversary Exhibition.



10:00 Musical introduction by Trio Reinhardt
10:10 Presentation of a youth statement on International Roma Day
10:15 Statement by JUAN DE DIOS RAMÍREZ-HEREDIA, president of Unión Romani
10:25 Change is Coming! Roma Youth Voices!
10:30 Voices of Roma Youth – How we want to see the future of Roma
Five break-out rooms in the same committees as in 1971:
Social and economic inclusion


– Language

– Antigypsyism
12:30 End of the morning session
In parallel: at 12:00 Casting of flowers in the water streams of Strasbourg, with SNEŽANA SAMARDŽIC-MARKOVIC, Director General for Democracy, Council of Europe Optional streaming by ERIAC / Informal discussions and exchanges
14:30 Musical introduction by Trio Reinhardt
14:40 Tasks and priorities for Roma Rights today – in break-up sessions:
1. Remembrance of the Roma Holocaust, with EMRAN ELMAZI (Documentation Centre of the German Central Council of Sinti and Roma) and GERHARD BAUMGARTNER (Documentation Centre of the Austrian Resistance). Facilitator: PETRA NEUMANN (Council of Europe)
2. Strengthening Roma Movements, with ATANAS STOYANOV (Roma Youth Voices) and ANDRZEJ MIRGA
Facilitator: IRINA SPATARU (TernYpe)
3. Access to Rights for Roma Women, with intersectional approaches, with LOIS BROOKS and DEZSO MATE Facilitator: ILDIKO CSANYA
4. Education as a fundamental right for all, with REDJEPALI CHUPI, Roma Education Fund (TBC) and OANA GAILLARD, CoE/EC Joint Project “Inclusive Schools: Making a Difference for Roma children (INSCHOOL)” Facilitator: OANA NESTIAN-SANDU (Consultant)
5. Resisting and combating antigypsyism and hate speech, with GILDA HORVATH (ERIAC) and JONATHAN MACK (Ternype). Facilitator: MUSTAFA JAKUPOV (ERGO Network).
6. Defending and accessing human rights / human rights education, with GEORGINA LABODA (Advisory Council of Youth) and SERKAN BAYSAK, European Roma Rights Centre. Facilitator: ANNA DÁROCZI (Phiren Amenca)
7. The impact of COVID 19 pandemic on Roma communities, with ISABELA MICHALACHE (ERGO) and NDI Hungary (tbc); Facilitator: STEFAN MANEVSKI (Council of Europe)
8. Access to cultural rights, with MIGUEL ÁNGEL VARGAS and MIHAELA DRĂGAN, Giuvlipen. Facilitator: DENISA TOMKOVA (ERIAC)
17:00 End of the afternoon session
Evening programme:
18:55 Family archives exhibition video (click to watch the video)
19:13 Discussion with Roma Armee Theatre Play Cast (click to watch the video)
19:30 Roma Armee Theatre Play 



10:00 Words of welcome
Musical introduction by Trio Reinhardt
10:10 Roma youth today: Diversity and empowerment, introductory notes by:
10:30 An agenda for Roma youth participation and combating antigypsyism, presentation of the study of the Council of Europe by MARGARETA MATACHE, director of the FXB Center Roma Program, Harvard University
10:45 Roma youth in action for empowerment: Dikh He na Bister / Roma Youth Voices / PECAO / ARCA / Romani Fairytales Slovakia / Social Teahouse and Ani Kovacheva from Bulgaria
• 11:15 Breakup up sessions/workshops on an agenda for Roma youth empowerment
1. Roma youth participation – MARIETTA HERFORT, Phiren Amenca
2. Combating antigypsyism and anti-Roma racism – CARMEN TANASE, ERGO
3. Remembrance – IRINA SPATARU and EMRAN ELMAZI, Ternype
4. Roma Identity and Fashion – TIMEA JUNGHAUS, ERIAC
5. Writing our own schoolbooks: The Council of Europe Recommendation on History Teaching – ANNA MIRGA, ERIAC
6. Youth Policy and Youth Work – PIA ŠLOGAR, Advisory Council on Youth
12:30 End of the morning session
14:00 Continuation and conclusion of the morning workshops
14:30 Presentation of the outcomes of the workshops
15:00 Conclusions and reflections on the conference, by SIMONA TOROTCOI, rapporteur of the conference
15:30 Closing session with:
– GEORGINA LABODA, Roma rapporteur at the Joint Council on Youth
– BERILL BARANYAI, Youth rapporteur in ADI-ROM
– ROMANI ROSE, Central Council of German Sinti and Roma
– ROLF MAFAEL, Permanent Representative of Germany
– HARRY ALEX RUSZ, Permanent Representative of Hungary
– SNEZANA SAMARDŽIC-MARKOVIC, Director General for Democracy, Council of Europe
16:15 Closing with a musical touch with Trio Reinhardt
16:30 Evaluation



Council of Europe – Roma Youth: Together for Emancipation and Empowerment


Roma history, remembrance and youth participation

It is widely acknowledged that remembrance of gross human rights violations, such as the Holocaust, is more than just learning about the past: it is learning from the past so that it is not repeated. This prevention function is coupled with restoring a sense of dignity and justice to the victims and to their families and communities.

The Holocaust of Roma refers to the extermination by the Nazi regime and its allies during the Second World War of at least 500 000 Roma, Sinti, Yenish and members of other communities labelled as “Zigeuner” (Gypsies). The importance of learning about the Roma Holocaust has been recognised by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in a recommendation on the inclusion of the history of Roma and/or Travellers in school curricula and teaching materials:

Teaching about the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazi regime and its allies as well as other acts committed against Roma and Travellers across Europe could be an effective tool in combating all forms of hatred, discrimination and prejudice, as well as radicalisation, Holocaust denial and revisionism (…);

The work on remembrance of the Roma Genocide has been actively pursued by Roma youth organisations and movements, notably through activities commemorating 2 August as European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day. The personal need to understand one’s past and history is understandably more important in the case of a community, the Roma, whose history is largely ignored and generally side-lined by mainstream history. Remembrance and knowledge about the Roma Genocide is becoming even more important in current times of increasing history distortion and Holocaust denial as well as rising antisemitism and antigypsyism. The promotion of the teaching of Roma and Traveller history and the Roma Holocaust is one of the priorities of the current Council of Europe Strategic Action Plan for Roma and Traveller Inclusion (2020-2025).That Roma young people acknowledge the importance of learning about their history in order to grow up confidently as young Europeans is evidence that identities do not have to be constructed in opposition to other identities or in self-defence. A community that is aware of its history and culture is more likely to look at the future with confidence. The Council of Europe supported young people to learn about the Roma Holocaust namely through the former Roma Youth Action Plan, and the former Thematic Action Plan for the Inclusion of Roma and Travellers (2016-2019). Fostering Roma identity through various strategies and actions has been central to the work of the Council of Europe with Roma youth. Mainstreaming the history of the Roma people has been one of the approaches.

Roma young people themselves consistently express their concerns and demands more vigorously and thoroughly. They have moved toward establishing more national and international organisations and networks. They also took leadership to connect with other campaigns, for example, commendably steering the Roma movement to participate in the European campaign on recognising and remembering the Roma victims of the Holocaust and the Roma resistance. 

The Council of Europe has recognised the role of remembrance and memorialisation as a moral right that also helps young people to embrace and respect their Roma, national, and European identities equally. It has engaged in creating educational materials on the right to remember and in organising commemoration events to develop a stronger sense of a collective Roma identity around the memory of the Holocaust. The Council of Europe promotes the integration of Roma into society and knowledge about the history of the Roma Genocide is an integral part of this process. The most visible, participatory, youth-led initiative on remembrance so far has been Dikh He Na Bistar. The campaign was initiated by TernYpe and included the Council of Europe’s work on the Remembrance of the Roma Holocaust such as: “Right to Remember” manual, the data base on the Roma and Sinti Holocaust, the fact sheets on the Roma Holocaust4, as well as online tools and gatherings of thousands of Roma (and non-Roma) youths from all over Europe and beyond to mark August 2 (Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day) and May 16 (The Roma Resistance Day). Yet, some European countries have yet to recognise and commemorate the Roma victims of the Holocaust.

Some still believe that we should not talk about the past, but they don’t understand that this was our history, it is part of who we are, and we need to know it. Elvis Beriša, Montenegrin Roma activist

The policy of the youth sector of the Council of Europe aims at enabling young people across Europe to actively uphold, defend, promote and benefit from the Council of Europe’s core values. Combating discrimination, fostering promoting social inclusion and participation must be a central task to any youth policy. This obviously includes young people from Roma and Travellers communities. Partnerships with Roma youth organisations and networks play a central role in this work.

A recent study on Roma youth participation concludes that in Europe, policies have yet to mention and address systematically and continuously the needs of Roma youth. To date, targeted policies, standards, and programmes specific for and with Roma youth have almost never been developed and implemented at the local, national, and European levels. National and European institutions have avoided or neglected recognising and including the specific history, needs, and challenges of Roma youth in mainstream policies and measures. This neutral, “one fits all” approach in policies and recommendations targeting a very diverse spectrum of European young people have ignored and denied the reality of racism and historical and structural inequalities faced by Roma youth and other racialised young peoples.

To ensure inclusive policies, Roma young people must be included in youth and Roma policies and programmes in all stages, from design to evaluation. Moreover, to be effective and trustworthy, policies, including youth policy ought to incorporate anti-racist and social inclusion measures.

The Joint Council on Youth intends to further support the participation and inclusion of Roma young people in policies and programmes. The Covid-19 has impacted the effective policies of meeting and working together.This conference partly remediates this by associating a wider audience of Roma and nonRoma stakeholders in the youth and human rights fields to the task of addressing persisting factors discrimination and fostering the participation of Roma and Traveller young people based on equality and dignity.The conference is organised by the Youth Department and the Roma and Travellers Team of the Council of Europe in the framework of the German Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. It is prepared and implemented in co-operation with the
European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) and in close association with Ternype, the European Roma Grass Roots Organisations NetworkPhiren Amenca and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.


Aims and objectives of the event

The conference aims at strengthening the knowledge of Roma and Traveller history, culture and identity as a factor enhancing social inclusion and participation of Roma and Traveller young people. Its specific objectives are:

• To support cooperation among Roma and non-Roma youth leaders by meeting, interacting and learning about the role of Roma history and culture in shaping the identities and perceptions of Roma youth in Europe today
• To support the dissemination and usage of Council of Europe standards and educational resources, in particular the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the inclusion of the history of Roma and/or Travellers in school curricula and teaching materials, the handbook “Right to Remember” and the role of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture therein
• To motivate participants and their organisations in their work as multipliers on education about Roma and Traveller history, culture and identity as well as Roma Holocaust Remembrance
• To reflect and about and propose action regarding expressions of antigypsyism today such as online hate speech, Holocaust denial and misrepresentations of history
• To collect and disseminate experiences and expectations about promoting the participation and inclusion of Roma and Traveller young people
• To celebrate Roma cultural diversity and associate young people and youth organisations to the celebrations of the International Roma Day (8 April) and the 50th anniversary of the First World Romani Congress, held in 1971 in Orpington, Kent, United Kingdom


Media coverage


Tagesschau: “Roma Youth Conference” at 11:50 https://www.tagesschau.de/multimedia/video/video-847281.html 


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