Today, we commemorate European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day and pay tribute to the thousands of victims.
78 years ago, on 2 August 1944, 3,000 Roma – mainly women and children – were brutally murdered in the dark of the night at Auschwitz-Birkenau. This terrible event is central to the story of the Roma Holocaust where hatred, exploitation and stigmatisation were milestones on the road to mass killing. Remembrance remains fundamental to honouring the victims and to ensuring that such crimes are not repeated.
Today, Roma communities still face antigypsyism in many parts of our continent. This is a specific form of racism, an ideology founded on racial superiority and which manifests itself in various and insidious guises.
The Council of Europe remains committed and active in the fight against discrimination, racism and antigypsyism. For example, in April of this year our member States adopted a Recommendation on combating hate speech, which provides guidance to national authorities and key actors on how to put in place a comprehensive set of legal and non-legal measures to address this long-term but fast-evolving challenge.
We are also preparing a capacity-building programme and tools to implement the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation to include the history of Roma and Travellers in school curricula and materials and our Observatory on History Teaching in Europe is helping to ensure that young people are taught fact-based history, including the story of Roma people and the tragedies that they have faced.
Taken alongside other, previous initiatives, the Council of Europe will continue to ensure remembrance and help every current and future generation to learn from the past. More than that, we are committed to ensuring that Roma people receive the respect and dignity to which everyone is entitled, now and always.