THE ROMAS OF ROME

ROME, ITALY JANUAR 2009-02-02

DURATION: 12 MIN 55 SEC

LANGUAGE: ITALIAN AND ENGLISH

SIZE: 2.74 GB (UNCOMPRESSED, DV-PAL)

SHOWS: DANCING ROMA CHILDREN IN A SCHOOL IN ROME, EVICTED ILLEGAL ROMA CAMP IN ROME, LIFE IN ANOTHER ILLEGAL ROMA CAMP LACKING FACILITIES, CONTRACT OF EVICTION OF CAMP CASILINO 900, HISTORICAL BUILDINGS IN ROME AND STREET LIFE, CAFÉ IN ROME, DAILY LIFE IN CAMP CASILINO 900 SHANTIES AND CHILDREN.

SOUNDBITES: ROMA CAMP RESIDENTS, MAYOR OF ROME, PROFESSOR AT UNIVERSITY OF ROME

SOURCE: SEQUENCE NEWS

RESTRICTIONS: NO SHARE

IN SHORT: In January 2009 the Roma community in Italy’s biggest camp, Casilino 900, approved the government’s plan to evict the area. The residents were promised a new camp and as the process is initiated in early 2009 it is clear that it will have a great impact all over Italy. Today there are 160 000 Romas in the country and the community is suffering from heavy discrimination and many live under very poor conditions. The recent dialogue between the government and the Romas are a first of its kind and few of the residents think twice before accepting the offers being presented. But at Rome University we meet Professor Marco Brazzoduro who says that the contracts are more than anything meant to meet the demands of the Italian voters. He is sure that what the Romas are agreeing to today will only worsen their conditions and at the same time assist the authorities in deporting those living in Italy without the necessary papers. And despite the contracts and promises made by the government the camp residents are worried. Outside Rome we meet scared and frustrated Romas who have lost all hope and fear that they will be thrown out of the country.

(00:00-00:) STORY The Holocaust Remembrance Day. In a school in the Italian capital Rome, Roma girls are dancing a traditional dance. But the event are alsoa pointer at the difficult situation the Roma people are living under today. The discrimination of the Roma is seen throughout Italy. And strict regulations has increased the hatred against the minority group. In the spring of 2009 a significant process will be initiated. For the first time the Italian authorities have started a dialogue with the Roma people. But is it a helping hand or just a strategy to get rid of them for good? A few kilometres away the last family is escaping from what used to be there home. First a warning, then came the police and evacuated the camp. ()

(SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) ASSAN ONORIU:”- The policeman arrived over there. Then they started to destroy our things. They broked the window, they ripped the covers from the roofs. I was afraid of everyone. I feard for my family, for my children. The police and army made me scared and I was worried for what they would do with my kids.” ()

Thirteen families lived here. When the military police arrived they had to leave there belongings and flee. Maybe to another camp, maybe to another country. Assan Onoriu has lived in Italy for six years. In Romania there are no job opportunities. But now he is ready to give up. ()

(SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) ASSAN ONORIU:”- I am said and afraid for both my kids because of thid. I don’t know what I will do. My doughter is nine years old and she speaks italian very well. But I can not fight against the police and we will go back to Romania now.

The camp is one of the latest to be evacuated by the Italian police. When Berlusconi came to power with his conservative party Forza Italia, the country initiated a persecution on Romas that are staying without permission. At the same time there are plans for all illegal camps hosting Romas to be evicted. Italy has since Romania entered the IU experienced a large wave of immigrating Romas. Today 160,000 Romas live here. Most of them have come from former Yugoslavia and Romania, and half of the them lack citizenship. And as the integration has desperately failed - the racism against the Romas has spread among the Italian population. In another illegal camp in Rome some of the small houses are still left intact. But the conditions are hard. Without running water Trandafir Narcisa has difficulties taking care of her eight children. And this winter has been hard on the family. ()

(SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) TRANDAFIR NARCISA:”- For me this is very difficult. I was raised to have a clean kitchen and nice bathrooms but that is not possible here. And in the winter this place is worse then a prison.” ()

In the house next door a pregnant women is preparing lunch for her daughter. She has earned the money for the potatoes by selling used fryingpans. But many other make there living of crime. It is a direct consequence of a failed integration but at the same time adds to the increase of prejudice among the Italian population. Hundreds of similar camps can be found outside cities all over the country. During the spring of 2009 the IU commission will come down hard on the Italian government. Criticism has already been voiced and there are demands for an immediate improvement. But many Romas feel that it is too soon to hope for anything. ()

(SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) TRANDAFIR NARCISA:”- The future? I see it as a black tunnel, since I can not see anything good when I look forward. I have all my children but I don´t have a possibility to offer them a good future.” ()

The recent agreement can bee seen as a first step to the government listening to the criticism. In January 2009 representatives for the camp Casilino 900 signed a demolition contract. The agreement says that the authority will now build a new camp but all residents without legal documentations will be rejected. And as Casilino 900 is the biggest camp in Italy – what happens here will affect all other camps. ()

(SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) GIOVANNI ALEMANNO MAYOR IN ROME:”- This is politics of both legality and integration. At the border of this city there will no longer be people out of place, without a proper housing. But this includes only people with a clear mind of right and duties towards the society.Otherwise we will risk to have people who do not respect out laws, who are criminals and who will create problems to public order of our city. “ ()

The mayor of Rome, a liberal conservatist and a former member of the NEO-fashist party Social Movemnt, is proud of his strategy. He says that they now are approaching the goal of coming to terms with the population, which the authority view as a social alarm- and a threat to security. ()

(SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) GIOVANNI ALEMANNO MAYOR IN ROME:”- I belive that this problem is possible to solve if we spread the problem of the roma on this whole territory and not only in the cities. And that people with a legal status and stabil place to live are allowed to stay within our national borders.” ()

But other people claim that the Romas have now put themeselves in a trap. At the University of Rome we meet professor Marco Brazzoduro who is well familiar with the situation – is he worried about the future? ()

(SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) MARCO BRAZZODURO PROFESSOR POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE, ROME UNIVERSITY:”- They sained that they will be mowed, but thay don´t know were. And if there are moved very far from the city they will loose many working and social relationships. The people are full of prejudices against the roma. They consider them to be thieves, to be social disorder and they don´t want the roma in the city. So the mayor I think want to send this message to the people:: We send them outside the city and so you know you will be secure.” ()

To secure the safety in the country was one of Berlusconi’s biggest election promises. And the local authorities have been given extra power to resolve the problems with the camp residents. The Mayor of Rome has already started off strong. ()

(SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) MARCO BRAZZODURO PROFESSOR POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE, ROME UNIVERSITY:”- His will is to expell as many roma as possible. And this is the real illigality of the public authority,because one should know that the majority of the roma have been staying here in Rome for 20,30,40 years. So I think that that one person who been staying here for so long should be given not only the permitted stay but also the citizenship.” ()

Wich Roma residents that will be allowed to stay has for long been unclear. Italy´s attempts to banish IU citizens has been stopped by the IU commission. The body has instead extended their demands on Italy to include that all Roma children born in the country are to be given citizenship. For those holding an employment the outlook of remaining in Italy looks a bit brighter. But few Romas are registered full time workers, instead many of them lack even the most fundamental of documentations – a citizenship. ()

In central Rome you find the historical evidence of the city’s glorious past. But the bitter truth of today is that Italy is a country in crisis. And a majority of the Italians support their government’s strategies. ()

It is lunch hour in the middle of the city. Maria Luisa works as a family lawyer. She disagrees with the government but wants to see a solution. ()

SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) MARIA LUISA FAMILY LAWYER:”- I think that this is a problem indeed, but not because I think roma to be dangerous but because the entering of Romania in the EU was to quick and we were not ready to recive those people without limitations.” ()

SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) MARCO GUARINO BARISTA IN ROME:”- It is not that I don´t like them. I just don´t like there way of living.because they do not work and they do crime. The previous government said they would give something to the roma. But they did not give them anything and just left them livie like beasts in the nomad camps.” ()

SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) MAN LIVING IN ROME:”- In my opinion i am not a racist but those people when they come to Italy they have to respect our laws our rules. Thay have to try to assimilate our culture, our ordinary way of life, They should not annoy other people.” ()

Inside the wall the fear is also big. But different. 22 year old Halida Rizvanovic does whatever she can to survive together with her five children. (SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) HALIDA RIZVANOVIC:”- We suffer to live in this way and we also don´t like it. But we must keep on going and try to resist.” ()

The police frequently search the camp for criminals and illegal immigrants. ()

(SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) HALIDA RIZVANOVIC:”- We are very afraid. And when we sleep we are also afarid and wake up early. Every time we see the police coming we think that they will take us away. We are very afraid, We want to go somevhere but we din´t know were to go.” ()

And as she awaits the eviction her fear is growing. She left former Yugoslavia seventeen years ago . But as many other Romas she lost her citizenship during the war and she is now certain she will be deported. ()

(SOUNDBITE)(ITALIAN) HALIDA RIZVANOVIC:”- Now we are very afraid because thet say that those without recidence permit cannot go to the new camp. They will need to go back to their own countries. We are very afraid.”