Roma in Ukraine: Joining the fight against Russia’s invasion while facing prejudices

 Every fourth Roma in Ukraine is fighting against Russia while their displaced families are facing discrimination and prejudices according to preliminary data in a new survey.

“Fighting together in the trenches has become a unifying factor in the war-torn country,” Zeljko Jovanovic, director of the Roma Initiatives Office, told The Brussels Times. He expressed cautious optimism that the common suffering and struggle for Ukraine’s independence will bring about a change for the marginalized Roma minority after the war.

Roma fighters gained prominence in the beginning of the war when they managed to seize a tank from the Russian occupiers near Kakhovka in the Kherson region.One in four of the respondents in the survey reported that their family members were currently serving in the armed forces, the territorial defence or in volunteer formations. The figure is taken from a sample of interviews during December 2022 – January 2023 with internally displaced Roma in Ukraine.

“The Roma have an unwritten law never to fight, not to take up arms at all,” one of the respondents in the survey said.

“But here in Ukraine, we are defending our own country. I also believe we are creating our own history – Ukrainian and Romani. We have our own Romani flag, and after I have finished my service, I’m going to open a little war museum so people will know that Roma also defended Ukraine.”

There are no reports that Roma in Russia has been drafted into the Russian army. In past wars, Roma had been fighting on both sides, Zeljko Jovanovic said and referred to the wars in the Western Balkans after the dissolution of Yugoslavia. “Despite their sacrifices, Roma soldiers and their families and communities were often subject to discrimination.

 The article is taken from Brussels Times, below is the link :

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