The Romani Elders

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The Romani Elders

The European Roma Cultural Foundation (ercf) is an independent non-profit foundation registered on the 2nd of August, 2010 in Budapest, Hungary. The new body operates under an independent budget provided by the founder and the founding director of ERCF. The European Roma Cultural Foundation, the operational and fundraising body, exists to strengthen and widely promote the role of Roma arts and culture in the enlarging Europe (and beyond) as a way to fight against negative stereotypes and hostile attitudes towards Roma communities.


Ágnes Daróczi(HU)

Intellectual and activist

„State of justice ceases to exist at the first house of disadvantaged settlements, of poor regions.”

„I have to make the decision whether I remain a scholar or organize wooden fuel aids during winter. Up until now thirty people were frozen to death, and in Borsod county’s small villages one could easily get into prison for stealing some wood. How could bear it surrounded by books?”

„Providing dignity for our children – that could be the only sensible message of a coursebook, whereas regarding its subject matter, factual knowledge. Not only what the cronicles preserved and can easily be edited, but also what we maintained in our culture.”

„Establishing a proper cultural institution for Roma would unburden the Hungarian budget without harming the minority’s right for self-representation and labour and housing – those are our priorities as well. We could also say: the offspring has grown up and demands voice in shaping his/her life.”

„We put together the two words—Roma and universitas—because our aim is to create the new Romani intelligentsia, a small mass of well educated persons who never forget where they come from, never forget the community they belong to and for whose benefit they have, of course, to work.”

„I would like to ask you not to treat us as special. Be good patriots and loyal democrats. Give us an insitution, money and the opportunity because we could fight against the ever-growing extreme right-wing and the more and more racist morale. Indeed, with the power of culture.”

Ceija Stojka(AT)

Writer, Painter and Musician, Survivor of the Holocaust

"I was born into a family of Vlach Roma, who followed a traditional nomadic life. I was the fifth child of my parents who had six children altogether. Near a small village my mother said: The time has come! an in half an hour I came into this world. They bathed me int he cold runnel. It was May. There was a lot of Gypsies with us and they celebrated my birth for five more days. The next day I was baptized. This is something very important for the Roma.”


“The crematory was in front of us. The chimney was smoking day and night. But my mother kept telling me: Never talk about this Ceija, do not talk to anyone about this crematory. Say it is a bakery, and they are baking bread for us every day.


„I am afraid that Europe is forgetting its past and that "Auschwitz is only sleeping. Anti-Gypsy threats, policies and actions worry me greatly and make me very sad,"


"If the world does not change now, if the world does not open its doors and windows, if it does not build peace -- true peace -- so that my great-grandchildren have a chance to live in this world, then I cannot explain why I survived Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Ravensbruck,"


"I was born into a family of Vlach Roma, who followed a traditional nomadic life. I was the fifth child of my parents who had six children altogether. Near a small village my mother said: The time has come! an in half an hour I came into this world."

„I always try to portray my feelings and memories. I want to show my own world to the people. It is important to understand that, we are all human beings and art allows us to live and exist. Art can demonstrate and connect us„


Hans Caldaras(SE)

Artist and activist

"I would not in any way excuse or defend the Roma who are criminal; they must atone for their crimes, of course. But to condemn an entire people as thieves and bandits, is in itself a criminal act and is a violation of the Geneva Convention and the current EU rules regarding Europe's citizens; namely, that every human being has the right to be treated fairly and judged as an inividul on their own merits.” (

"Hitler and his followers succeeded in carrying out a Holocaust of Jews and Romani people (Roma and Sinti),in a country where the majority of German people were generally 'well-meaning' good parents and animal lovers. Faithful, conscientious an humane people watched the Roma and Jews being taken away on trucks and trains to the death camps in Poland, but did not, by-and-large, protest. Hate propaganda had successfully promotet a vicious racism towards them, orchestrated by Hitlers' media 'prophet' Joseph Goebbels. Today we can see similar trends in France, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia and elsewhere, where the Roma are now conveyed to nothing but alternative 'extermination camps' to live under death threats and an alienation that leads to impoverishment, while people look on with indifference.” (

"Every country must take their responsibility for their own romani inhabitans, nobody should have to flee to another country to ensure their human dignity. This „witch hunt” of Europe's Roma must be stopped before it goes out of control.” (

Nicolae Gheorghe(RO)

Intellectual, activist

“I grew up with the idea I am a cigan, I wanted to get rid of this identity I was taught to be Romanian (…). I rediscovered my identity (...). I want to die as a Human person.”


“Being Romanian no longer meant being a citizen of the Romanian State who is integrated into the social development and feels bound to it. Rather, one suddenly was confronted with terms such as blood, heirs and ancestors. I however had a hard time stating that my predecessors had been Dakers or Romans. I knew that it wasn’t true and that it made me differ from other Romanians. My predecessors were Gypsies. I grew angry and started to ask: Who am I really?”


“Roma politics must be dealt with in relation to general human rights; it must be related to common values and moral codes and must not focus on an exclusively ethnic or national problem. I thus prefer a course of action that doesn’t pass by international human rights standards nor their according institutions and organisations.”


“There is governmental reluctance in condemning publicly, in a clear and unequivocal way, the overt violence and the expressed hostility conducive to violence against Roma persons and against the Roma population as a whole.”


“I would say that the treatment of Roma persons in the every-life might serve as a sort of ‘barometer’ measuring the state of democracy and the transition to democracy in a variety of countries. The public treatment of Roma issues might equally serve as a test-case for  the building of democratic institutions, of the rule of law and for the consolidation of the civil movements and associations. This is especially the case in the recently emerged democracies in the central and eastern Europe where is living the majority of Roma population of the world.”


“We are people without any ethnic territory on kin-state of our own. One consequence of this reality is that our cultural identity and our status as a distinct ethnic minority were hardly recognized in the public life.”


“Having neither territorial boundaries under control nor territorial claims, the Roma issues are not perceived in the national and international politics as rising ‘security issues’ and as such not so much attention is given to them in the bi-lateral and/or multilateral inter-governmental negotiations dealing with the situation of minorities. Being not recognized as a people, and eventually as a national minority, sometimes the very ‘human condition’ was and is still frequently denied to Roma persons and communities, as is the case in all racist thinking and practice.”


“The political thinking and acting of Roma persons, communities and associations are rather going toward the ‘Human Dimension Solution’of their problems and of their relations with the surrounding people and local communities amidst they living, in the sense that the Human Dimension of the CSCE is stedingly involving as an interlinked component of the democracy building and security arrangements in Europe. This ‘solution’ is challenging us to rethink the existing, enduring practices of administrating the civic and the human rights in direct connection with clear-cut territorial units and with related clear-cut, homogenous, eventually ‘cleanse’ identities (local, ethnic, etc).”



Romani Rose(DE)


“How minorities are treated is the measure of democracy and social values as well as the condition of EU membership.”

"That money cannot just be allowed to leak away, or what is even more surprising, to not be drawn on at all. The only possible interpretation in that case is that these countries do not intend to change the state of our exclusion from society."

"The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia have never thoroughly come to groups with their shared responsibility for the crimes committed against Jewish and Roma people."

"Unfortunately, it was too late for many of the Holocaust survivors who would have loved to have been there. That generation is dying out."

"In many countries, however, a large number of Roma are exposed to massive discrimination and, in a situation that is in any event characterized by terrible deprivation, suffer more than other people by being excluded and disadvantaged. Refugee families who leave their country because of persecution and racist violence - as is happening now in Kosovo - must be given appropriate assistance, not least by the OSCE. The same holds true for the comparatively small number of people who have long been stateless. This is the only realistic policy and the only one that has a perspective.”

Rosa Taikon(SE)

Silversmith and activist

“Life shaped us, and it has made me humble. (...) I remember to this day the ice on the canvas. ”

“I am very happy to receive this prize (governmental gold medal “Illis quorum meruere labores” for her achievements as a silver smith). Not only is this a prize for me, but for all the Roma everywhere.”

“It has always been about human rights, you see. That they should apply to us Roma too. That we should have the same right to make us a decent living like everybody else, with housing, employment and education. We were not there, it must be known!”

“I am very grateful for the work done, but 20 years? If a baby borns today will not be treated equally unless it becomes an adult? Should a 20-year-old wait until 40? I'm impatient, you know. How long will this continue?”

“I am worried. Are we going back to the 1930 - and 40's? We see Roma in the Balkans, where they may live with their children on toxic slag heaps. I see the Buchenwald and Auschwitz in front of me in those countries. Enough of racism.”

„No one ever asked us why the Gypsy people has always lived on the fringe of society nor how this way of life has affected the structure of the Gypsy family. Like ostriches people buried their heads in the sand. They did not want to see or hear; they did not want to face the facts. It is so much simpler and so much easier on the conscience to believe that the Gypsy people consists of the 'picturesque' survivors of a nation that specialists who are no more than charlatans dare to criticize with rash judgments and prejudices, using such expressions as ’They don't want to live in houses’, ’They must be as free as birds’ or ’They are always happy, singing and acting’."

Sandra Jayat (FR)

artist, Honorary member

“Remember, Zingarina never shows her tears when she is sad. She is recovering and she dances.”

”If you do not know where you go, never forget where you came from.”

”I wish I had the power to transform into wild grass to grow freely”

”Do not hide your origins, do not forgot your traditions because they support your freedom and I am proud of the journey.”

”We are not savages, but civilized people of another civilization. We are neither superior nor inferior to the rest of humanity. We are different, that's all!”
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