Romani (Gypsy) culture and social issues.

Should the West Open
Its Doors to the East's Roma?

NO: Asylum Can't Replace
Improvements at Home

By Jonas Widgren

As Arthur C. Helton rightfully points out, any person, Romani or not, deserves refugee protection "in cases where they are forced to cross national borders because of a well-founded fear of persecution," because that is compulsory international law enshrined in the 1951 Geneva Convention. As such, hundreds of thousands of Roma from Central and Eastern Europe have been granted refugee protection in Western countries over the past decades. Roma were among those who fled the communist regimes in countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Romania in the 1980s and thousands were granted refugee status or were allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds.

YES: Romani Refugees Deserve
International Protection

By Arthur C. Helton

One day last April in the Bulgarian village of Sredno Selo, a mob cornered five Romani men and accused them of stealing two calves the previous day. The angry villagers immediately resorted to vigilante justice, tying the five to a fence near the town hall. Members of the mob, estimated at up to 120 people, took turns beating the Roma. The spectacle lasted for two hours before police finally appeared and transported the five victims to the hospital. The Bulgarian newspaper Demokratsiya described the event as "the just outrage of the people."

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