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Civic Nation Unity in Deversity

Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities

Discriminatory Practices Against Minorities

According to the National Council for Combating Discrimination in 2013 it received 13 complaints about discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (in 2012 - 3, 2011 - 8), 38 complaints about discrimination based on language (43 and 10 complaints respectively) 11 complaints about religious discrimination (5 and 5), and 61 of complaints about discrimination based on ethnicity (49 and 33). The total of complaints connected to discrimination based on xenophobia accounted for about 15% of the total number of complaints about discrimination.

The groups that suffer the most from discriminatory practices in Romania on the basis of xenophobia are basically two national minorities: Roma and Hungarians. In Romania, almost 2 million Roma (9% of the population) reside. About 80% of them live in poverty; almost 60% live in isolated communities without access to basic public services. 23% of Roma households do not have access to clean water, live in unsanitary conditions, have no approved documents on the property (for non-Roma, this figure is 10 times less). 24% of Roma men and 36% of Roma women are illiterate, 15% of young Roma did not attend school. According to surveys of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights 13% of Roma women stated that they felt discrimination when looking for work. According to surveys conducted in 2013, 11% of Roma were unable to obtain necessary medical care (compared to 5% for non-Roma). According to a study published in the beginning of 2014 49.3% (according to other sources 55%) of Roma had no health insurance (with non-Roma, this figure amounted to 14.7%). Discrimination in the labor market leads to the fact that the number of unemployed Roma in 2011 accounted for almost two-thirds of employable population, with an overall unemployment rate of 7.4%. Roma are almost never employed in the civil sector. A significant number of Roma do not have identity documents or birth certificates.

Despite the availability of the order of the Minister of Education published in 2007, which banned segregation at schools, it is still present toward Roma children, when teachers group them in the back of the classroom or in separate classrooms from Romanian students, ignoring them during the learning process. Because of funding cuts the number of kindergartens where Roma children were prepared for school was reduced. There was a dramatic reduction in the number of “school mediators” who helped Roma children adapt to school.

Cases of forced evictions of Roma were also recorded. On April 29th 2013 several Roma families were evicted in Regina (Mures). On the 5th of August 15 Roma families were forcibly evicted from the village of Craiova in Baia Mare. They were informed about the eviction only on the 1st of August. They were not provided with compensation. It was attempted to deny Roma the construction of new homes. The ban was lifted only after the intervention of local NGOs. While new houses were constructed the evicted had to spend from about two weeks to a month in the open. At the same time, they were not able to obtain the documents for new homes, paving the way for new evictions. This was a continuation of the events of 2012, when more than 500 Roma were deported to the territory of the abandoned chemical plant.

On September 27th and 11th October more than 100 Roma were evicted from their homes in Eforie Sud. At the same time, the local authorities did not wait for the end of the adjudication of complaints of forced evictions from the Roma. They have also not been given alternative accommodation; many were not able to save their possessions. Deportees were placed in a dilapidated school building. At the same on September 27th, the Deputy Mayor threatened them with murder if they did not come out of their houses.

Despite the decision of the Supreme Cassation Court of Justice of Romania that evictions of Roma in Cluj-Napoca were illegitimate, the local mayor's office made no effort to remedy the situation and a half thousand Roma live next to the city dump. The situation in Baia Mare and Piatra Neamt did not change.

In 2014, courts continued between the evicted and the municipality. The court of first instance ruled that the settlement was illegal, but local authorities appealed this decision, and in October 2014, the second court decided to send the case to the district court. The situation in Baia Mare and Petra-Nyamets did not change either.

According to Roma NGOs, the police leadership prefers to cover the employees responsible for acts of violence against the Roma. Authorities have not taken any significant steps to ensure that the principles of non-discrimination are supported by the police or research reasons why complaints against police officers that are not investigated.

In September 2012, Romania signed an agreement with France on the deportation of Romanian Roma families from France to Romania, thus becoming an accomplice in the deportation of Roma.

As for the Hungarians, they mostly complain about the inability to achieve autonomy and get jobs in civil service. Despite the fact that in Harghita and Covasna regions more than two-thirds of the population is Hungarian, the vast majority of senior positions in the administration is occupied by the Romanians. In particular, in Covasna more than 90% of judicial and prosecutorial officials are represented by Romanians. The same goes for police and tax authorities.

On February 2nd, 2013 the new prefect of the Covasna County Dumitru Marinescu who was appointed by Bucharest government defiantly left the official ceremony in Shepshisentdёrde (Romanian Sfântul Gheorghe) in the Covasna County. He demanded the removal of the so called “Székely flag” (the flag of the Hungarian minority) from the city hall. The actions of the prefect were taken as an insult by Romanian Hungarians. On February 7th Romanian prefect of the Hungarian Harghita County imposed a fine of 4 thousand Lei to the mayor of the town of Chikmadarash (Romanian Madarash) for posting the Hungarian national tri-color flag at the City Hall. The conflict, which is a clash of two nationalisms, was resolved at a meeting of the Romanian President Basesku and Hungarian Prime Minister V. Orbana at the summit of EU leaders in Brussels on the 8th of February.

In October 2013, a teacher at a school in Covasna prohibited Hungarian students to wear ribbons, painted in the national colors of Hungary. After this incident, a group was created on Facebook, which included incitement for violence against Hungarians, while one of the students who wore ribbons was threatened with death.

In the autumn of 2013 it became known that in the Mures County, where the Hungarian population makes up about 40%, public institutions have no signs in Hungarian language. The mayor of the county center of Targu Mures prohibited the Hungarian community to publicly celebrate two major Hungarian national holidays in autumn.

In autumn it became known that there is a project regarding an administrative reform, in which areas populated by Hungarians should be combined into one region with a fully Romanian region, which would reduce their share in the total population of the new region to 40%. It will primarily negatively affect electoral possibilities of Hungarian parties.

In early November the authorities banned the realization of a referendum in the county of Mures on the establishment of a Hungarian autonomy. On the other hand, in February it was announced that the Board of Harghita County demanded hiring a manager at the hospital that must possess the Hungarian language. In the center of the county - Miercurea Ciuc – here are no nameplates on public institutions in Romanian. The local newspaper in Sata Mare posted an ad about hiring a salesman in a jewelry store who must be “necessarily Hungary”. The official website of the town Joseni (Gyergyóalfalu) only has a Hungarian-language version.

It is also necessary to bear in mind that the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, signed by Romania, is subject to only those minorities which are included in the Council for National Minorities of the country. Council for National Minorities (CNM) was established by the Decree of the Government № 137/1993. CNM is intended to function as an advisory body to the Government of Romania without being a legal entity. The Board is composed of three representatives from each of the 19 organizations officially representing national minorities in Romania. Thus, officially recognized ethnic minorities are Armenians, Bulgarians, Croats, Greeks, Jews, Germans, Italians and Hungarians, Poles, Roma, Serbs, Russian Lipovans, Slovaks, Czechs, Turkic-Muslim Tatars (Crimean Tatars), Turks, Ukrainians, Macedonians and Ruthenians.

Therefore Balkan-Roman people whose representatives live in Romania and whom the country's parliament declared as “Romanians” with the majority of votes on May 8th 2013 are not included in this group and that. But even before this decision these people were not recognized as national minorities in Romania. Thus, Aromanians, Istro-Romanians, Megleno-Romanians, Moldovans, Vlachs and others who speak their own languages, and in the vast majority of do not consider themselves as “Romanians” are not subject to the Framework Convention.

Also, all religious organizations other than the Romanian Orthodox Church are experiencing difficulties with the restitution of property confiscated during the communist regime. Restitution of objects belonging to the Greek Catholic Church suffers delays. Of 6723 claims for restitution to date 1110 (16.51%) were looked into. Of these, only in about 190 cases Greek Catholics received buildings or compensation for them.

Additionally, the authorities are working on monitoring and systematizing information about hate crimes.

As for the Hungarians, they mostly complain about the inability to achieve autonomy and get jobs in civil service. Despite the fact that in Harghita and Covasna regions more than two-thirds of the population is Hungarian, the vast majority of senior positions in the administration is occupied by the Romanians. In particular, in Covasna more than 90% of judicial and prosecutorial officials are represented by Romanians. The same goes for police and tax authorities.

On July 4, 2014, Romanian authorities refused to open Hungarian consulates in two Transylvanian towns – Oradea and Targu Mures.

On August 19, 2014, Foreign Minister of Romania said that authorities will be able to annul the agreement with Hungary if it will continue to support Romanian Hungarians.

On December 12, 2014, Covasna County Prefect Marius Popichev fined the Hungarian Civic Party (MPP) – one of the parties representing the Hungarian national minority – for the fact that Hungarian national anthem was played during the celebrations in Sfantu Gheorghe dedicated to the Treaty of Trianon. He referred to the decision of the Romanian government from 2001, according to which foreign national anthems can only be publically performed during the visit of an official representative of that state.

On the other hand, on August 19, 2014, Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania proposed evicting ethnic Romanians from Transylvania, who are not willing to live alongside Hungarians.

It is also necessary to bear in mind that the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, signed by Romania, is subject to only those minorities which are included in the Council for National Minorities of the country. Council for National Minorities (CNM) was established by the Decree of the Government № 137/1993. CNM is intended to function as an advisory body to the Government of Romania without being a legal entity. The Board is composed of three representatives from each of the 19 organizations officially representing national minorities in Romania. Thus, officially recognized ethnic minorities are Armenians, Bulgarians, Croats, Greeks, Jews, Germans, Italians and Hungarians, Poles, Roma, Serbs, Russian Lipovans, Slovaks, Czechs, Turkic-Muslim Tatars (Crimean Tatars), Turks, Ukrainians, Macedonians and Ruthenians.

Therefore, Balkan-Roman people whose representatives live in Romania and whom the country's parliament declared as “Romanians” with the majority of votes on May 8th 2013 are not included in this group and that. But even before this decision these people were not recognized as national minorities in Romania. Thus, Aromanians, Istro-Romanians, Megleno-Romanians, Moldovans, Vlachs and others who speak their own languages, and in the vast majority of do not consider themselves as “Romanians” are not subject to the Framework Convention.

On May 28, 2014, former Prime Minister of Romania Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu, confirmed that there is discrimination against immigrants from Moldova in the country. According to the politician, belonging to this country has long been a symbol of abuse.

In addition, all religious organizations other than the Romanian Orthodox Church are experiencing difficulties with the restitution of property confiscated during the communist regime. Restitution of objects belonging to the Greek Catholic Church suffers delays. Of 6723 claims for restitution to date 1110 (16.51%) were looked into. Of these, only in about 190 cases Greek Catholics received buildings or compensation for them.

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