One person has been killed in an attack on a Roma camp in western Ukraine late on Saturday night. A masked group armed with cudgels and other weapons targeted the camp on the outskirts of the city of Lviv. A 24-year-old Roma died of stab wounds, while four others - including a 10-year-old boy - were injured.
It is the latest in a series of attacks on Ukraine's Roma community. In April, the far-right group C14 burnt down tents in a Roma camp in the capital Kiev and chased women and children.
In a joint letter earlier this month, four human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch warned against the increase in attacks by far-right groups on minorities in Ukraine. They said that authorities had "failed" to respond to most incidents, leading to "an atmosphere of near total impunity that cannot but embolden these groups to commit more attacks".
The Roma face discrimination in many countries, with the UN describing them as being "among Europe's most excluded groups". Italy's right-wing populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said that Roma with no right to remain in Italy would be deported, but "unfortunately" those with Italian citizenship would have to stay.
The last Ukrainian census in 2001 estimated the Roma population to be around 40,000, although rights groups say the figure could be as high as 260,000.
The figure of six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their Axis partners during World War Two is well known and rightly so. But not so well known is that another 5 million ‘non-Aryans’ were starved and murdered by the Nazis. These comprised Slavs, the disabled, homosexuals and political and religious dissidents; including around 220,000 Roma; which amounted to almost a quarter of the total Roma population of Europe at the time. The perpetrators, and their apologists, in the current atrocities in Ukraine and Italy should remember their countries’ shameful role in The Holocaust. ‘Never again!’ were the words scrawled on the makeshift signs put up by the survivors of the Buchenwald death camp when it was liberated in April 1945. ‘Zero Tolerance’ is a contemporary phrase that should be invoked to stop the slippery slide into a similar nightmare today.
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