President Klaus Iohannis sent a message on Monday on the occasion of the European Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual commemorative event organised by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, in which he says that further efforts must be made to educate on the Roma genocide.
"Every year, on 2 August, we pay tribute to the memory of half a million Roma children, women and men who were killed in Europe during the Holocaust. They were the victims of a brutal, dehumanizing regime that promoted racism, anti-Semitism, hatred and intolerance as state policies. Remembering is a fundamental dimension of life. In Romania, about 25,000 Roma were deported to Transnistria, with about 11,000 losing their lives. It is our duty today to bring forth their memory and ensure that such atrocities will not be repeated. At this point, the need for remembrance is more important than ever," Iohannis says in the message.
He points out that, in the context created by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is once again an alarming increase in racism, anti-Semitism and hate-motivated speeches targeting the Roma, especially online, and that the duty of political leaders is to combat these developments, to publicly condemn without hesitation any statement that incites hate, Agerpres informs.
"We must also continue our efforts to develop appropriate tools that allow us to protect our societies against these threats," Iohannis adds.
The president says that Romania has made important steps in the direction of taking on the Holocaust, combating racism and anti-Semitism and can now be considered a regional model, given that, in May 2021, the National Strategy for preventing and combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia, radicalization and hate speech was adopted. This allows better training for public officials dealing with this phenomenon.
President Iohannis also says that, at international level, Romania was one of the countries that supported strongly, in 2020, the adoption by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) of a working definition, which is not legally binding, of anti-gypsy/discrimination against Roma, a major project of the German Presidency of IHRA.
Moreover, Klaus Iohannis advocates the need to make further efforts on education on the genocide of the Roma, showing that young generations must know the truth about this tragic episode of European history.
"We must make sure that we educate young generations on this tragic episode of European history. Every society has this fundamental duty to make certain that new generations know and keep the truth alive. We support strengthened efforts to include the genocide of the Roma during the Second World War in educational programmes, as well as efforts to protect the last survivors. Europe is based on respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. Promoting cultural, religious and ethnic diversity is the best way to prevent conflicts and build peaceful democratic societies. As President of Romania, I reaffirm my country's firm commitment to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, promoting democratic values and condemning any racist act, combating discrimination, anti-Semitism, extremism, and racial or ethnic violence," Iohannis concludes.