Raise your voice for Roma: the EYE through my eyes
The European Youth Event – EYE 2016 in Strasbourg ended. On May 21-22 in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, more than 7000 young people from over 30 countries gathered to share ideas and discuss the Europe we all want to live in. It is difficult to describe the huge amount of positive energy and optimism which left in the air and in each of us after the closing concert of the EYE 2016. For two days the thousands of young people were discussing, debating, sharing ideas and establishing new friendships.
Young people were there because they care. We care about various issues. We care about green energy and fair trade. About climate change and TTIP. About transparent and effective public structures, youth participation, conflicts, refugees, human rights and social justice…The list is long.
The reason why 40 more young people and I were at the EYE 2016 was that we care for the voice of the Roma young people in Europe. From 17th to 23th May, Roma, Jews and friends took part in the training “Raise your voice for Roma”, organised by the Phiren Amenca International Network and the European Union of Jewish Students in collaboration with the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network and other Roma NGOs. During the training, the group was preparing for the exciting two days of the European Youth Event. We discussed the rising influence of the far-right parties in Europe and how young people can respond to that, the Antigypsyism and the Antisemitism, and the messages that we would like to bring to the European Youth Event.
Although small in numbers, we, Roma young people managed to be heard and seen. We had a Roma Quiz telling interesting facts about the Roma people in Europe and explaining what „Roma people“are, where they come from, pointing out some famous Roma and many other unknown facts. For the second time at the EYE the Roma young people had the campaign “Wall-Free Europe” which stands against all the physical and mental barriers and walls we have in our societies. On the opening of the EYE 2016, we made a living wall, standing next to each other, and being “bricks” from the wall. Then we destroyed the “wall”. We also had a paper-box-wall with a sign “Wall free Europe” where everyone could take a photo with hashtag “#voice4Roma”. Young Roma made hundreds of badges with a special badge-machine which were distributed among the participants of the EYE. Last but not least, we had two pannel debates and one workshop with approximately 300 participants where we raised again the issue of antigypsyism which needs to be recognised with specific policy answers and legislation.
To me EYE 2016 was a unique platform to raise the voice of young Roma among other young people and to establish partnerships between various Roma and non-Roma organisations. The next EYE will happen in 2018 but until then I am sure that we will have much more similar events with much more young Roma people. I just wanted to share this one with all of you and I am looking forward to reading your similar stories!
EYE 2016 Participant