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Bigger World Issue: IHF Slam Demolition of Roma Houses in Sofia as Ethnic Cleansing
08/31/2005 10:07 PM
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The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights condemned the demolition of Roma houses in Sofia, initiated by municipal authorities and upheld by the state administration.
An official statement of the IHF said the "widespread" demolition of a number of Roma houses in one of the regions of Sofia has left hundreds of Roma families on the street.
The IHF dismissed the justification of the Bulgarian authorities, according to whom these properties are "illegal".
"The problem of mass unauthorised construction in Sofia and in other parts of Bulgaria, however, has existed for years and is by no means confined only to Roma communities. The Framework Program for Equal Integration of Roma in Bulgarian Society, adopted by the Bulgarian government in 1999, requires legalization of the Roma neighbourhoods and of the property in them. Several Bulgarian governments, however, failed to implement the Framework Program in practice."
"This is ethnic cleansing, an extreme form of an institutional racial discrimination", said Krassimir Kanev, chairperson of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee.
The IHF appealed to the Bulgarian authorities to stop demolitions of Roma houses and to compensate those of them whose houses had already been demolished.
It also urged the government of Bulgaria to start implementing the Framework Program for Equal Integration of Roma in Bulgarian Society. The IHF invited the Prosecutorīs Office, the District Governor and the other competent authorities to investigate the demolitions, to bring those responsible to justice and to make their findings public.
It also appealed to the European Commission to condemn these practices and to make clear to the Bulgarian authorities that they are incompatible with the Bulgarian membership into the EU.