Wednesday, July 23, 2008

picnic with gypsies & discrimation

Discrimination takes on all kinds of forms and is revealed in all kinds of places. I was shocked to read the following article on

It recounts how two young children Violetta (12) and Cristina (13) had drowned while swimming with friends at a beach. Their bodies were removed from the water and towels laid over their bodies while waiting for removal from the beach. You can see in the photo the sunbathers in the background happily enjoying their day despite the tragic loss of life right in front of them....

The photographer told CNN the mood among sunbathers was one of indifference towards the girls, who were Roma gypsies - a disliked minority in Italy.
Archbishop of Naples Cardinal Crecenzio Seppe wrote in his parish blog: "Indifference is not an emotion for human beings. To turn the other way or to mind your own business can sometimes be more devastating than the events that occur," CNN reported. The Guardian reports that "Italy is gripped by anti-Gypsy feeling."

“Since coming to office in May, Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing Government has appointed three special commissioners to deal with the Roma in each of Italy's three biggest cities - Naples, Milan and Rome. It has also ordered the fingerprinting of the country's Gypsy population, including minors, who make up more than half of the estimated 150,000 Roma in Italy,” it said. The newspaper quoted a survey showing 68 per cent of Italians want the Roma expelled, regardless of whether they hold Italian passports. Many Italians are openly hostile towards the Roma, accusing them of choosing crime over legitimate employment, and living in illegal camps instead of joining mainstream Italian society.

The British broadsheet quotes Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which also expressed astonishment at the behaviour of those on the beach: "While the lifeless bodies of the girls were still on the sand, there were those who carried on sunbathing or having lunch just a few metres away.” Earlier this month, the European Parliament demanded Italy end its plans to fingerprint thousands of Roma children calling the move a direct act of discrimination.

I find myself asking all kinds of questions when I read this.... how is it that life can seem less precious because someone is 'different'? How can Governments blatantly discriminate against a group of their own citizens? How can the death of a child ever not impact someone? What would it take for me to turn the other way to injustice and tragedy...and how can I make sure that never, ever happens.

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