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European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture Serbia
Evropski Romski Institut za Umetnost i Kulturu Srbija
Majke Jevrosime 51, 11 000 Beograd
+381 11 6906139
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, from 09:00h to 17:00h
As ERIAC: European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture celebrated its first birthday in 2018, ERIAC learned of the interest of the Serbian Government in opening a branch office advocating and representing the ERIAC cause in Serbia and joining the international political, social and cultural alliance for the recognition of Roma leadership, and arts and culture. Meetings between Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, and Zeljko Jovanović, ERIAC Board Chair, commenced in 2018, in relation to the contribution of the Serbian government to the ERIAC mission.
The objective of opening new ERIAC branches is to extend – through the respect of the ERIAC founding principles – the single and unique mandate of ERIAC to the branch country and its region and to make a significant impact on the cultural recognition of Roma.
The process of establishing ERIAC Serbia is closely aligned with the ERIAC Policy on local branches, as well as respecting the original roadmap and schedule approved by the ERIAC Board.
The formal establishment of ERIAC Serbia was concluded in a timely manner, and according to the original schedule. In October 2019, ERIAC Serbia registered under Serbian legislation as an association. The statute and constellation of the founders – ERIAC Berlin Headquarters, Zeljko Jovanović (ERIAC Board Chair), and Timea Junghaus (ERIAC Executive Director) – guarantees the relationship of connectedness and dependency of the ERIAC branches upon the coordinating ERIAC Berlin-based headquarters.
In November 2019, ERIAC Serbia signed a lease agreement for office space with the Property Directorate of the Republic of Serbia (Republička agencija za imovinu Republike Srbije). The ERIAC office space is located in the heart of Belgrade, at Majke Jevrosime St. 51. The ERIAC office and art space occupy a total area of 137.5 m2, on the ground floor, with a street-access entrance, and a proper open space suitable for art exhibitions and events.
ERIAC Serbia opened at Majke Jevrosime 51 in Belgrade on 8 April 2021.
On the occasion of World Roma Day, in the context of an event on their new premises, ERIAC Serbia opened its doors to the media and representatives of state institutions and organizations, including the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Council of Europe, Regional Cooperation Council – Roma Integration and Roma Education Fund. All guests had the opportunity to view the new space, enter into dialogue with the ERIAC Serbia team, and share ideas about collaborative work and potential cooperation.
During these visits, two documentaries were screened: Romanistan Dialogue, produced by ERIAC, and Paper, Horse and Birds, produced by artist Zoran Tairović and supported by Open Society Foundation Serbia (OSFS). Media partners for the event were RTS, RTV, and Novi Magazin web portal.
The celebration of World Roma Day and the 50th anniversary of the First World Roma Congress hold special significance for Roma in Serbia and for ERIAC Serbia. Roma intellectuals from Serbia stand strong among the visionaries of the world Roma movement. From the very beginning, the Roma movement in Serbia has placed culture at the center of its activities, viewing culture as a cornerstone of activism for the equal status of the Roma community in society, as is befitting. This legacy reminds us that culture is an indispensable element of the constant struggle and aspiration of the Roma towards a better future.
ERIAC Serbia promotes the cultural values of Roma in Serbia through its activities, and opens their space for critical artistic review, for the exchange of creative ideas, the presentation of artistic achievements, and also for dialogue and development of mutual respect and understanding through expanding knowledge and a positive image of Roma. With the priority of promoting Roma arts and culture, and Roma identity, artists are offered the opportunity to present themselves through their own artworks. Institutional partnerships are crucial for the preservation and promotion of Roma identity. We look forward to a bright future with ERIAC Serbia.
Serbia Moves to Advance Roma Culture and Education; in an Effort Also Supported by the Open Society Foundations, the Council of Europe, and Germany
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, inaugurated the first branch of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) and the new headquarters of the Roma Education Fund (REF).
Speaking about the launch, President Vučić said: “The opening of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture and the Roma Education Fund in Belgrade shows how much effort Serbia is investing in preserving the Roma language and culture, quality youth education, and greater Roma participation in public life, fighting discrimination, and respecting social equality and human rights. In this way, we are creating a better future for all citizens, because a better life for Roma means a better life for Serbia.”
Alexander Soros, deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, welcomed Serbia’s unprecedented commitment:
“President Vučić has set a new standard for the Western Balkans—and Europe—by opening the first branch of ERIAC and helping the Roma Education Fund relocate to Belgrade. It is my hope that the other leaders of the region and Europe follow suit. My father George Soros and I have sought to advance Roma education, culture, Roma leadership, and economic entrepreneurship, and I am grateful that today we have greatly strengthened their effort.”
ERIAC aims to dispel prejudice and encourage Roma pride in its role in European history and culture. ERIAC is a joint initiative of the Council of Europe, the Open Society Foundations, and the Alliance for the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture. The German government hosts ERIAC’s headquarters in Berlin.
Timea Junghaus, ERIAC Executive Director:
“For centuries, the Roma have contributed to the artistic and cultural heritage in Serbia and the entire region. Yet these contributions have often remained invisible. The establishment of ERIAC’s first branch is a historic milestone. It paves the way for ERIAC Serbia to become a leading stakeholder, promoting Roma cultural inclusion in the vibrant mainstream cultural scene in Serbia and the region.”
The same building also houses the Roma Education Fund, an organization working to increase the access of Roma children to education.
Redjepali Chupi, Interim Director of the Roma Education Fund (REF):
“REF wants to create a future in which everyone can develop their full potential and creativity. I am thrilled to welcome ERIAC into our community here in Belgrade. Together we are creating a powerful inner core, aimed at countering stereotypes and prejudices about our community.”
ERIAC SERBIA promotes Roma arts and culture in Serbia and the entire region, making a significant impact on the cultural recognition of Roma. Located in the city center at Majke Jevrosime St. 51, the ERIAC SERBIA office and art space occupy a total area of over 130 m2 on the ground floor, with a beautiful open space suitable for art exhibitions and events.
World Music Day is celebrated on June 21 every year, on the first day of summer. On this day, all musicians, both amateurs and professionals, celebrate music and represent all musical genres and a variety of musical practices. Free concerts are a common practice in 120 countries that mark this holiday. Concerts are organized in halls, schools, amphitheaters, concert halls, parks, on the streets, and it is an opportunity to present less popular musicians to a wider audience. The goal of World Music Day is to provide free concerts throughout the day, and then the public areas are full of live music and participatory music creation. The National Theater in Belgrade, as one of the most representative and most important cultural institutions in Serbia, celebrates World Music Day with concerts every year.
The Roma have made and are making a great contribution to world music art. With their creation, they marked their musical creativity and left a special mark of Roma culture on the world music scene. That is why the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture Serbia, in cooperation with the National Theatre in Belgrade, wanted to celebrate World Music Day. On that occasion, a half-hour concert of opera arias was organized. The concert was held in the premises of the European Roma Institute of Arts and Culture Serbia, on June 21, 2021.
Performers at the concert were:
Works by Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Giordani, Gilles Masne and Vicenzo Bellini were performed at the concert. The Protocol of Cooperation between ERIAC Serbia and National Theatre was signed after the music performance.
You can see biographies of the artist in links below:
On the night of the 2nd August 1944 about 4300 Roma men, women, and children – the remaining prisoners of the so-called “Family Camp” (Zigeunerfamilienlager) in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp were killed in gas chambers. They are among hundreds of thousands of victims of the Roma Holocaust, killed by the Nazis and their allies.
In memory of these innocent victims and all Sinti and Roma who suffered horrific fate during World War II, August 2nd is commemorated as the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day. In 2015, the European Parliament adopted a resolution officially declaring August 2nd as the European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day; and since then the date has been adopted in many European countries.
With the rise of separation rhetoric, hate speech, and hate crimes, it is important to recall those dark moments in our history and learn from the lessons of the past. Roma Holocaust is still not a widely-known historical fact – it is rarely taught in school and is not part of the canon of Holocaust education. Beyond remembering the victims of the past suffering, we must not forget that today too many Roma face discrimination and are victims of hate speech and hate crimes in Europe. This is a day of remembrance, but also a grim reminder that we must not remain silent and fight against racism and anti-gypsyism in contemporary society.
The European Roma Institute of Arts and Culture Serbia (ERIAC SERBIA) together with Opre Roma Serbia and the Roma Education Fund (REF) are hosting a commemorative event to mark the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day. The main event which will take place in the gallery space of ERIAC Serbia in Belgrade will feature the screening of the documentary And You God Survived, followed by the discussion between Ljuan Koka, the documentary’s screenwriter, Milovan Pisari, director of the Centre for Applied History and Holocaust expert, Bajram Haliti, Roma scholar and Roma Holocaust expert, Jelena Krivokapić Nikolić, lawyer and activist of the Opre Roma Serbia and Redjepali Chupi, director of the Roma Education Fund. In parallel, Opre Roma Serbia is organizing a screening and panel discussion as the main event in Leskovac and other local communities in Serbia.
Following the screening, a moderated discussion will be held to address the following questions: What is the history of the Holocaust against Roma during World War II, and what are its ideological and social roots? How to increase the visibility of the history of genocide against Roma in public? How can we change the negative discourses about Roma that are predominant among the majority of society? What does it say about the youth’s susceptibility to new neo-Nazi ideologies and right-wing movements? What is the role of the education system in spreading knowledge and forming a more balanced view of Roma in society?
Guests at the screening will have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in the discussion. The event was also live-streamed on Facebook, allowing the local communities to participate in the discussion remotely.
17:00 – 17:10 Welcome
Bratislav Mitrović, Office Manager of ERIAC Serbia
17:10 – 17:40 Screening of the documentary And You God Survived
17:40 – 18:10 Panel discussion Roma Remember – Remembrance of the Holocaust
Ljuan Koka – the author of the documentary A ti bože preživi
Bajram Haliti – Roma scholar and Roma Holocaust expert
Milovan Pisari – historical researcher and Holocaust expert
Jelena Krivokapić Nikolić – lawyer and activist of the Opre Roma Serbia
Redjepali Chupi – director of the Roma Education Fund
Panel discussion moderated by Jadranka Ivković, Director of ERIAC Serbia
18:10 – 18:30 Reception
The documentary A Ti Bože preživi (And You God Survived) was produced by Radio Television Prishtina in 1988, directed by Seljami Taraku, and written by Ljuan Koka. Through the vision of a comic book artist, the film shows the suffering of Roma in the concentration camp in Jasenovac. The remastered version of the film was made in 2014 with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia. The film features Simon Wiesenthal, Milan Bulajic and Dragojlo Lukic, and Roma camp survivors Stjepan Nikolic, Joko Nikolic and Milan Djurdjevic. The testimony of the former detainee Stjepan Nikolić in the scenes from the trial of Andrija Artuković, the Minister of Justice in the Independent State of Croatia, is especially dramatic. Horrible stories of unprecedented brutality turn into a comic black and white world and send a clear reminder that we must build a better and more humane world. And that we must not allow to ever forget the suffering.
„And You God… survive
And be smart
When you create a ghost again.”
(Roma folk song)
Ljuan Koka was born in 1960 in Prizren. Screenwriter, journalist, author of several textbooks and books, a political scientist. He graduated from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade. He worked on comics in the period 1983-1987, as a screenwriter for Yu comic magazine. His most important comic series are: “Vorloh” and “Niti snova o moci”, “Shine on you crazy diamond” and “A Ti Bože preživi”. He had an extensive career as a media and socio-political worker, especially in the field of protection of national and ethnic minorities. He was a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia in the period 1993-2000. Author of a documentary film about the suffering of Roma in Jasenovac. Author of the first comic about the history of Roma “The Road of a Thousand Years” (2020). He lives and works in Belgrade.
Bajram Haliti – Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Business Studies and Law in Belgrade, journalist and publicist. He is the President of the Institute for European Roma Studies and Research on Crimes against Humanity and International Law. In 2012, he published the first drama in Serbian about the suffering of Roma during the Second World War in the ISC camps titled “Roma in the Hell of Jasenovac”. He is the winner of the plaque “Peace and Tolerance” for his contribution to the fight for peace, tolerance, and understanding among peoples and nations; plaques “for special merits and contribution to the improvement of the cultural and educational life of Roma, as well as for successes in developing Roma culture in the Republic of Serbia. Haliti is the author of several scientific papers on the suffering of the Roma during World War II.
Milovan Pisari – He received his doctorate in history in 2011 from the University of Venice. In his research, he deals with the Holocaust, genocide against Roma, anti-fascism, and the issue of the civilian population under occupation. He is the author of numerous articles in international professional journals, as well as publications and books on the suffering of Roma during the Second World War and the Holocaust. Since 2018, he has been one of the founders of the Center for Applied History, within which he develops programs and projects, acting as its director and historical researcher. He is currently a post-doctoral Fellow at Gerd Henkel Foundation.
Jelena Krivokapić Nikolić – Master of Law in the field of legal science and activist of the Movement for the Support of Roma in Serbia (Opre Roma Serbia). She has been involved in activism for more than 11 years. During her engagement in the Roma Forum of Serbia, she ran a legal counseling service and provided legal assistance to the Roma community. She is the author of numerous texts on the topic of discrimination against Roma men and women.
World Music Day is celebrated on June 21 every year, on the first day of summer. On this day, all
European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture Serbia
Evropski Romski Institut za Umetnost i Kulturu Srbija
Majke Jevrosime 51, 11 000 Beograd
+381 11 6906139
Open hours: Monday to Friday, from 09:00h to 17:00h