Gold 2015 / People / Culture (Non-Pro)

Empire Roma

  • Prizes
    Gold in People/Culture
  • Photographer
    davide palmisano

Macedonia was established as an independent state in 1991 recognizing the Roma in its Constitution parity with other minorities of Albanians, Turks, Vlachs, Serbs and Bosnians. The recognition of the Roma language has followed, since 1996, the opening of four elementary schools for education in the Roma language as an optional subject. The official journal of Å uto Orizari, the municipality of the capital Skopje absolute majority of the Roma population and municipalities before the world recognized this ethnic group, became the first official publication of its kind to use the Romani language; since 1990 Roma representatives usually sit in Parliament Macedonian national. Roma inclusion in public life in Macedonia and the protection of the rights of citizenship has not, however, break your prejudice against the Roma living in Macedonia, sometimes politically manipulated by the government to deal with, for example, to the secessionist forces of the Albanian minority numerically more significant and generally more prosperous economically. This, in fact, has always distracted the government from implementing measures to address the serious problems of income and economic gap between the Roma and the rest of the country's population. Over the years, it is also a growing mistrust on the part of Roma to their political leaders, often considered corrupt opportunists or placed at the service of the ruling party to pursue their personal interests at the expense of the community that has instead seen in years away via increasingly impoverished; increased confidence was, rather, placed in the initiatives taken by the European Union, in the implementation of measures to safeguard the rights of minorities that must be met before that Macedonia will become an EU Member State. In all European countries, EU and non-members, are initiated political integration of the Roma, but overcoming discrimination and prejudice can only pass through efforts aimed at the development of knowledge and democratic participation, protection of minorities and their direct involvement in the early stages of decision-making and implementation. In this sense, the Roma people reflects the difficulty in identifying leadership necessary to conduct social mobilization campaigns, where large portions of the population still remain under educated and excluded from intercultural dialogue. In implementing the constitutional framework agreement of 2001, launched in an attempt to prevent a potentially catastrophic armed conflict between Macedonian Slavs and Albanians, and aimed at ensuring that the ethnic structure of the workforce in the public administration of Macedonia reflect the ethnic composition of the population , there was a significant increase in the percentage of public positions occupied by Roma, however, despite the increase, are still seriously under-represented. The enclave of Roma Å uto Orizari, today the largest concentration in the world of the Roma, is a unique example of a system of segregation undertaken by Macedonian officials, on the basis of a lack of economic opportunities and civil society organization, low levels of education , high levels of corruption, and a local government does not meet the needs of the community. Å uto Orizari arose after the 1963 earthquake devastated much of the medieval quarter of Skopje, and the government then chose a free grazing on the surrounding hills, for the construction of an original group of shacks and provide shelter to the displaced Roma. Over the years, Å uto Orizari has been recognized as one tenth of the capital city and grew gradually as a labyrinth of brick houses; now houses a permanent 20,000 Roma, as many homes, the latest and greatest often incomplete, only occasionally host Roma who emigrated here invest their savings. At full capacity, in the summer months, the population doubles than usual, formed mostly by anything lieutenants who live by their wits, apart from the government subsidy of social minimum (30 euro per month). The residential neighborhoods today include some government buildings, shops and restaurants, two mosques, a soccer field, a sprawling landfill, a free clinic gynecologist and a bustling market, the largest in all of Macedonia, which attracts many customers also belong to other ethnicities given the prices. According to officials of the municipal administration the actual number of inhabitants reaches 30,000 considering that many of them, including the Roma refugees from Kosovo, do not have registration documents; registers, also, a continuous arrival of Albanian exiles, attracted by the economic advantages associated with the very low standard of living, resulting in increased tensions interracial. Unemployment is obviously rampant, the subsidy is perceived by 90% of the residents, which integrate the most selling goods at the market, collecting for the sale of scrap glass, metal, paper and especially plastic; as well as many illegal activities (begging, drug dealing, prostitution). Å uto Orizari today is a paradox for the Roma people: on the one hand, it is a source of pride since it is the only municipality in the Roma majority of the world, and the only jurisdiction where the Romanes is the official language, but on the other hand is in its essence a ghetto, devoid of any significant resource for its economic development, suffering from chronic problems of employment and no revenue. The town is almost entirely residential and public spaces are now shared with the adjacent municipalities, the most ethnic Albanian majority, and in the absence of a tax base you can not have municipal services: the ability of the existing sewer system is insufficient , some areas have no water service, garbage collection is partial and only recently regulated; until last year there was a distribution of electricity, that was acquired illegally, while today it is administered by the public will give up because many residents simply unable to pay their bills. The costs of firefighters, lighting and road maintenance and for the football field, should be financed from the municipal budget, but unable staff employed to collect the waste has been borne by the city of Skopje, as much as the services police and schools, were charged to the state budget; always the state took over the charge of the construction of the new school soon realized, the first in the world in Romanes language courses provided since 2016 in high school / high school, technical economics and medicine and professional, yet already seen as the 'latest attempt to ghettoization, where today are several hundred students commute between the district and the schools of the Macedonian capital. Å uto Orizari today is the place where many Roma still prefer to reside but practically everyone calls in a humorous and mocking, with the term "Sutka" (SHOOT-kah), a Slavic word that literally means "a joke". It only remains in the hands of a few enlightened members of the community, young volunteers, small business owners, theater artists or musicians, the responsibility for change, in the form of cultural revolution.