Discriminatory Monument for Roma

Talking about the notorious monument for Roma-janitor is not stopping. Moreover, the comments around it halved. Comments on social networks are full of open discrimination. And representatives of the Roma community are trying to rationally explain why this monument outraged them.

The charges, which are heard from the mouths of “sofa hundred” on social networks about the reaction from activists to the monument, about the lack of respect for the profession of janitor, have no foundation. Nataliia Kozyr (project coordinator of Charitable Fund “Progress”) aptly draws an analogy with typical monuments in the world. Are there in the world any janitor monuments, for example in such cities as Madrid, Moscow for certain nationalities, or especially minorities? Only about our Mukachevo monument, it is stated that the monument is not just to a janitor, but to a Roma-janitor.

Andrij Gorvat (human rights activist, translator) as a representative of the Roma community was shocked by this event, and thinks that this monument not only discriminates but also kills desire to any further useful activity. He stated:

“Does it mean that Roma are only able to sweep the streets? When we went to school, we were scared by parents: “If you not study, you will have a wipers work. Now we got this monument as an award”.

Despite the really offensive monument, Andrij Horvat offers a civilized way to solve the problem: either the city officials state the person to whom this monument is established and award the diploma or put a tool with which the Roma really are associated instead of a broom.

The same says a former leader, the honorable baron of Mukachevo settlement, Alexander Balog:

“They can put a man with a violin, accordion, or as we weave a basket, but not a person with a broom”
He also stressed that the city government even didn’t ask Roma, what kind of monument they want.

Andrij Gorvat believes that setting up a monument is cynicism because the Roma expect another. For more than a year in the Roma settlement there is no water:

“For almost two years, there is no water in the Roma settlement. We get it through a plastic tube through which water is given twice a day. And many older women or disabled people have to overcome half a kilometer to get it. We do not need this statue, we need water. For that money they could have provided the water supply”

But the sculptor of the statue, Ivan Brodi has completely different vision in this regard.

He is confident that Roma have to enjoy it, because “it is perhaps the only monument in the world for Roma.” And he is right; this is the only monument for Roma, which discriminates them as people and mocks them. If somebody wants to show respect to the Roma minority, they would put a monument like in Germany, in Poland, in Hungary, in Volyn region. And then the author of the sculpture is trying to move away from the comment, and speaks about purely creative side. He says:
“I would be happy to create a new monument of Roma musician, if there is another patron. Current patron of the monument sees Roma like that”

Interesting words of artist Ivan Brodi make us think: “Let this monument symbolize really clean Mukachevo, and let it be cleared, from all who make our life dirty”. There is an interesting question, but who are these people? Clearly, these are no average residents of Mukachevo. Language of facts, as Natalia Kozyr pointed out, shows another layer of the population:

1. Firstly, Roma initiative on the creation of Self-Government Body of the Roma community has been blocked by the authorities for four months. The authorities offer Roma to solve their problems by themselves, while in reality doing everything so that they could not do it. Give the Roma more control and influence on their life!

2. The city program “The Roma population 2012-2015” ended; it was formal and rewritten every year. We submitted documents and proposed the creation of an expert working group form Roma representatives, who really know their problems and needs. There are already real achievements, which will help to improve the creation of a new city program for 2015-2018 years. We would like to share them. But local authorities gave a written response – a new Roma program is not on time.

3. You can read a dozens of responses to our information requests that we have received from government officials on issues of life and support of Roma under the program “Roma population 2012-2015”. For 4 years, almost nothing had been done.

“Let’s not be cynical – a monument was installed a few months before the election, that was just another sop for us”
, – the Roma activists added.

Iryna Myroniuk,
The Charitable Fund “Progress”

PS: The centers of legal information and advice that provide free legal aid to Roma people working with the support of the “Roma of Ukraine“, International “Renaissance” Foundation. To learn more about the activities of a network of centers, foundations and principles of work visit the website under “Legal Empowerment of Roma communities.” The views in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the International “Renaissance” Foundation and other civil, religious and political organizations and individuals.