Report on visit to the village of Jabuka - Women in Black

„We dont need anything just that we have our freedom“
- Report on visit to the village of Jabuka –

Dream ..

Dream ...
That one day on the red mountains of Georgia
Sons and daughters of slaves
And sons and daughters of slaveholders
Sit together
At the table of brotherhood and sisterhood.
Dream ...
That one day my four children
Live in the country
In which hey will not be appreciated
By color
But in fact what kind of people they are.
(Martin Luther King, 1929-1968, U.S.A,fighter against racial segregation, the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1964.)

Activists of nongoverment organisations Praxis, YUCOM, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, Banat Roma Women's Network, Civil Right Defenders, Reconstruction Women's Fund, and Women in Black, artists Rena Raedle and Vladan Jeremic and independent human rights activists Rastko Pocesta have on July 30, 2010 visited to the village of Jabuka near Pancevo, in which Roma population lives under conditions of complete isolation from the beginning of June this year, when it came to racially based attacks on Roma.

Specifically, June 10th, after the murder of D. S. (17) a boy of Serbian nationality, which has been commited by, Roma boy B. J., began the "protest walks," which grew in to violence and the spreading of racial hatred against Roma, which lasted two days uninterruptedly. It was not until the third day there was a reaction of state bodies, municipalities and police. After such experience of complete defenselessness, fear of new violence and distrust of the Roma population of Jabuka in institutions are completely justified and understandable.

It is frightening fact that, despite the soothing statements of the authorities, to this date the condition has not changed. Those who should protect them do not acknowledge their fear and deny the existence of any danger. However, in an interview with Roma families in Jabuka, we have learned the following:

„Night we fear the most“...

Roma families still live in fear of new attacks, in conditions of limited freedom of movement, house arrest, left to them selves. Offensive slogans like "Mother of Gypsy fuck you" and calls to lynch them shouting at as passing by, and graffiti like "kill gypsy" occasionally appear in the streets of Jabuka and web sites , causing reasonable fear of new violence. Feelings of fear so that the newly created state, in the words of one respondent, "worse than war" . From the tenth of June, a young Roma and Roma have no social life, do not go out to discos and women are reluctant to go out and buy bread.

The nights are still a source of great fear: "We are sitting together, after two at night we are going to sleep, sharing and holding our fears with each other. Now we're together just us Roma ..." Final uncertainty and stress have caused, to all the women with whom we talked are daily drinking tranquilizers.

Mother of boy who committed murder says "I have mine son, but she, the woman, doesnt have hers. I have nothing to ask her, but she has to ask me ". Parents of boys who committed murder to this day do not sleep in the village, they have regularly reported two telephone threats to the Police, but the culprits have not been identified.

"When they hear we are from Jabuka, no one wonts to give us work."

Special discrimination is done in the field of employment law. People are losing jobs and fail to find a new, lossing the ability to feed their families. The young father of six of his children says he does not dare to go beyond Jabuka and seek work, because he is afraid that his family will be left without protection.

„... if it goes in September in the first grade, i will sleep in front of the school ......“

Parents interviewed witnesses to be afraid to send their children to the correctional exams, and the closer the first september is, the fear increases. This situation can only worsen an already catastrophic situation of the Roma population in the educational system. According to data from 2009, in Serbia is about 80% of Roma functionally illiterate (do not know to read and write), 13% had completed primary school, 7% high, and only between 0.1% and 0.3% have higher education . Roma women, among discriminated women, have most difficult position.

...“worser the war“ – continuense of war with other means

Other graffiti in the village, like "Tadic, you will have a plot next to Djindjic" and "Legion - Serbian children" which testify about continuum of violance and about thats its the last in the line of violence ,is only the consequnce of violence towards "versity" which has happend in the last twenty years. In a climate of hatred, fear and mistrust, repression of the people is greater than the repression of the state. The situation at Jabuka is a consequence of the widespread culture of denial and non-recognition of facts. For violent offenders are not guilty but the victim, as well as those who have denounced violence and openly declared. A woman who went to the drinking water in the park was attacked because she spoke to the media: "How did you come by water now and say you're at risk ..."

"I can guarantee with my life that Roma are not threatened ... they eat salami and do not go to work ... "

Rather than pointing out the discrimination that the Roma population is exposed to in Jabuka, even from local government representatives Jovan Lazarevski, a member of the Council of Local Communities Jabuka, we heared that Women in Black and other non-governmental organizations "roam the village and spoil excellent good neighborly relations" . It is because of this attitude we remind representatives of institutions that situation on the ground shows the opposite - that more than 45 days, despite an atmosphere of insecurity and fear, with Roma families in the Jabuka none from representatives of state institutions talked with them. Amongst the population in Jabuka, according to people interviewed, there are no longer relations, the Roma living in complete isolation, so that, at least, it is outrageous to accuse the civil society for the demolition of good-neighborly relations.

"It is for my children, this will last a hundred years ... sell this and go away"

At the same time, all persons with whom we talked, are thinking of selling their home and moving from Jabuka. Women have told us the following: "I worked for what I have, for some it is a grave and to me its a paradise, but i want to sell it" .

In the village on August 2nd will be held "village celebration" St. Elias,to the Roma was told by the representatives of the police, that they are recommended to stay in their homes, and not to provoke, and we ask ourselves by what. By theirs existence? Mother with whom we talked is living behind gates of 3 meters hight, and the next two days, to the celebration, all her savings will be given to the family of her son, she believes that he "deserves" greater security then her, who is already old, purchasing a gate of 5 meters, to ensure the upcoming "celebration."

The fight for human rights of minorities depends on the majority groups, and that are we, on us lies the responsibility to prevent such things. As activists and activists of civil society not only to denounce discrimination, we are fighting against its denial, taking concrete actions to create space for testimony about their experiences of fear of those who do not have the opportunity to be heard.

The report is based on notes from the meeting of all those who have been in Jabuka, writen by Goran Lazin, Milos Urosevic, Natasha Lambić and Staša Zajović, the Women in Black.

In Belgrade, July 30, 2010.

Copyright, Committee for human rights Negotin