On 28 November 2017, within the framework of the IHRA Plenary meeting in Bern, the IHRA Committee on the Genocide of the Roma hosted a discussion with eight organizations representing Roma in Switzerland. Participants included representatives of the following organizations: Verein Romano Dialog, Rroma Foundation, Roma Visionen Konkret Association, Association of the Swiss Sinti and Roma, Roma Jam Session Art Kollektiv, and Association J.M.S (Jenische, Manouche, Sinti).
The discussion during the meeting focused on education about the Holocaust and genocide of the Roma, and the relationship between this history and topics such as racism, and stereotypes against Roma in the media and in the public arena.
Over the course of several hours, IHRA experts exchanged ideas and engaged in a meaningful debate with the NGO representatives on projects and initiatives aimed at deconstructing stereotypes, and combatting antigypsism and hate crimes.
“The awareness-raising work must continue, and not just for the Roma”, stated one of the Roma organization representatives at the end of the meeting, while others expressed the hope that the project proposals touched on in the meeting would lead to concrete changes regarding education about the genocide of the Roma in Switzerland and also the situation of the Roma in general. Plans for future cooperation with IHRA experts was outlined and representatives of the Roma organizations expressed willingness to contribute documents and materials to supplement Swiss teaching curricula with elements on the genocide of the Roma.
The Committee on the Genocide of the Roma aims to raise awareness about the genocide of the Roma under National Socialism and against this background seeks to increase the commitment of the IHRA to inform, educate, research about and remember the genocide of the Roma throughout its 31 Member Countries. The Committee also seeks to draw attention to the continuous prejudice towards Roma before, during and after the Second World War as well as to demonstrate the link between the history of discrimination and persecution and the present situation of the Roma. As the IHRA is chaired by a different country each year, the Committee acts to convene local representatives of organizations focusing on Roma issues in each country where meetings are held. During the meetings in Bern, the IHRA decided on an organizational strategy which includes raising awareness and understanding of the Roma genocide and its consequences as part of its overall objectives.
In 2016 the Committee coordinated two key publications relating to the genocide of the Roma The Genocide and Persecution of Roma and Sinti. Bibliography and Historiographical Review by Ilsen About & Anna Abakunova, with over 1400 titles (2016) and Roma Genocide: Overview of International Organisations working on historical and contemporary issues connected to the genocide of the Roma (2016). In 2017 a conference inititated by the Committee on the Genocide of the Roma was held in Vienna, with the aim of identifying gaps in research on the genocide of the Roma.
The IHRA unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research worldwide, and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.