Friday, August 03, 2007

Bosnia's Forgotten Victims

The Roma are the largest minority group in Bosnia, yet their suffering during the war has largely been underreported and left untold. An in-depth and fascinating article by BIRN’s Saida Mustajbegovic focuses on the plight on the Roma, during and after the war.


Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor said...

Most Roma people identify with Bosniaks (or I assume, with other ethnic groups they live in). Roma and their culture needs to be strengthened and protected. They remind me of Bosniaks under Yugoslav state who were "irrelevant" and pushed into assimilation; and the problems that Bosniaks faced during Yugoslav days were regularly pushed under the carpet. That's why I feel sorry for Roma, because they are still vulnerable and need to be protected.

Kirk Johnson said...

Do the Roma in Bosnia really identify with Bosniaks? My experience with the Roma in Bulgaria is that they tend to live rather segregated lives. How much of this is due to cultural and institutional discrimination versus how much of it is voluntary, I have no idea.

Shaina said...

I think just based on what I've read and not based on any first hand knowledge, that most Roma do identify as Roma, but religious wise, like much of the Balkans there is a great deal of diversity within the Roma community. In the Balkans there are Muslim Roma, Orthodox Christan Roma and even an increase of Romani belonging to various Protestant denominations.
Therefore, I think ethnic wise most Roma identify very strongly as Roma; and not as other ethnic groups but when it comes to religion, there is a great deal of diversity as there is diversity in the religion. From the article I got the impression that during the war the Muslim Roma identified with the Bosniaks, especially in areas of eastern Bosnia where both Bosniaks and Muslim Roma were being expelled /killed by the same forces.
Anyways, it is a very interesting subject and of course I'm sure that there is a great deal of diversity of opinion on it.

Shaina said...

ETA: By identify with I don't necessarily mean that they consider themselves to be Bosniak, Serbs, Croats.

The article mentions the lack of an accurate demographic count of the number of Roma in Bosnia, and a high number of Roma who declared themselves members of other ethnic groups; mostly seemingly as a result of fear of discrimination.

cindy said...

i'm not sure if the Roma feel affiliated with any side as they rather stay away from the mainstream society. i live in the czech republic now and can see that the people's disdain attitude to them is almost the same as in croatia and bosnia.
I got into an argument with a friend of mine (czech) about behavior/manner/culture sensitivity. When he yelled at me that I should travel more to learn about culture, I yelled right back "What do you know, I know more about culture than you nationalist European and gypsy hater." (:-). Later I asked him if he was mad, but he said, "No I'm not b/c it is true." ;-D