Statement from the Roma Community Centre
September 10, 2012
BLATANT HATE SPEECH IN THE CANADIAN MEDIA TARGETING ROMA
Dear friend of Canada’s Roma community
Last week was a very sad time for us in the Canadian Roma community. Durham regional police held a press conference one week ago today (Tuesday Sept. 5) declaring that they have dismantled a “Roma organized crime ring” involving individuals from both Canada and Romania. Countless names and pictures of Roma suspects originally from Romania filled our television screens. After such clear and blatant racial profiling, the prevalent stereotypes of “Gypsies” being inherently criminal was certainly reinforced into the minds of the viewers. Latter the same day, media personality, Ezra Levant, delivered by far the most racist, abusive, hateful, misinformed commentary on live television that the Roma community has ever received in our Canadian history. The Sun Media News allowed this same type of hate speech targeting our community, as takes place in Hungary by the far-right media arm of the Jobbik “neo-Nazi” political party. Shame. To the best of our knowledge, this is absolutely unacceptable and not allowed in Canada – apparently, not. http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/canada/archives/2012/09/20120905-203437.html Please, see direct, shocking quotes from this racist diatribe, below.
No one can imagine how disappointing the news from the Durham police was to all of us Canadian Roma. We strongly condemn this type of behaviour in our community. However, the way that it was handled by the police and the media was extremely painful ad disappointing to our community.
We have worked very hard in trying to deconstruct “Gypsy stereotypes and raise awareness about Roma reality. This past year, we have made huge leaps and accomplishments in engaging Roma families in our HATE CAN KILL project, which has now been submitted to the Canadian Race Relations Foundation for its 2012 Awards of Excellence. Throughout the 8 months duration of this hate crime prevention project, we worked closely with our police partners, York Regional Police and Toronto Police Services. In total, through the Hate Can Kill Project we educated over 1100 Canadians, 800 Roma youth and their families, and 300 police officers. For the first time in our Canadian history, we had an incredible family event co-hosted by Toronto Police Services at the Toronto Police Headquarters, which approximately 30 Roma families attended on March 31, 2012, and now a member of the Roma community is a part of the Community Police Liason Committee for police division 11 where the Roma Community Centre is located.
Moreover, two weeks ago, two Roma youth went to Montreal to participate in the Canadian Council for Refugees Youth Conference – another first in our Canadian Roma history. With a task from their working group, these boys have returned to Toronto with the goal of researching and raising awareness about how the removal of healthcare for refugee claimants has affected their respective communities.
Lastly, this past few months, despite many deportations, a small number of Roma families have been granted refugee status in Canada. In 2011, 167 Hungarian Roma families were accepted as genuine refugees. I am positive, that 2012 will be an even better year for our community will much more support available, hence less withdrawls – and hopefully, more recognition at the Immigration Refugee Board as Hungary continues to reveal itself as a country full of racially motivated violence endemic discrimination and marginalization, and prevalent hatred all targeting the Roma minority. http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2012/08/hungarian-anti-roma-marches
I share this with you all because I want to exemplify how hard we are working – this community is working – at healing and educating our members, helping people understand and navigate our Canadian refugee system, and provide language support – all with the objective of helping people in successfully integrating and settling into Toronto, and being a part of and contributing to the broader Canadian family.
Unfortunately, our efforts are being undermined by the reaction by Ezra Levant in the Sun Media News (see below), to the Durham Regional Police Press Release and a document by the Canadian Border Services Agency (riddled with racist stereotypes, misinformation, and assumptions) is a blatantly racist document that only focuses exploiting stereotypes of criminality and parasitism of Canada’s social security system. On August 18, there was an article in the Globe “Federal government considers detaining Roma refugee claimants, report suggests”. The article indicated that an internal CBSA report dated January 2012 recommended the use of detention, including mass detention, of Hungarian Roma refugee claimants in order to deter them from applying for refugee status in Canada, should other measures not succeed in reducing their numbers. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/federal-government-considers-detaining-roma-refugee-claimants-report-suggests/article4487855/ Sadly, nowhere in any of these government reports or in any media coverage is there mention of the endemic discrimination, overt hatred, or racially motivated violence that continues to plague Hungary’s Roma minority.
Durham Regional Police’s Press Release http://www.drps.ca/internet_explorer/whatsnew/whatsnew_view.asp?ID=23391 was littered with racial profiling and stereotyping, and misinformation (Romanians require a visa to travel to Canada and are not likely to be refugees. They are one of the oldest segments of the Canadian Roma community, many of which were the first Roma to arrive in Canada (late 1800’s) after their emancipation from slavery in Romania (1300’s – 1862) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_Romania . Few Romanian Roma are newcomers. the Roma community condemn this criminality – but, hopes that it can be reported about without drawing upon racist stereotyping.
Below you will find the most blatantly racist media coverage that many have ever witnessed in Canada. This past week, many Canadians, with no prior connection to the Roma Community Centre or our community in Canada, have been writing to express their shock and outrage this this type of hate speech is taking place in our mainstream in Canada. Certainly, there has been ongoing exploitation of (“Gyspy”) stereotypes in the media in most articles that discuss the Roma situation in Canada, however this one is absolutely horrendous and hateful. It typifies the hate speech that has been ongoing in the public and media discourse in Hungary which has led to a situation of endemic hatred in that country and continues to fuel it. Levant is overly inciting the same hatred toward Gypsies in Canada, as he insists on calling us…a name that the Canadian media has desisted in using for the past decade since the RCC campaign to stop its usage.
As a result of Levant’s hate speech targeting our community, the RCC has been in contact with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and is currently writing formal complaints to the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council, the Canadian Media Association, the Canadian Ethnic media Association, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
The Canadian Roma community would be immensely grateful to anyone who will take the time to also write formal complaints about this unacceptable racist language targeting a specific group in our media. This is something that needs to be eliminated now. Surely, any other ethnic, religious, or racial group in Canada with adequate resources would respond in a swift and severe manner had they been the subject of such a publicly hateful, demeaning, and racist diatribe.
The Source with Ezra Levant (Sun News Network)
Segment: “The Jew vs. The Gypsies”
Wednesday, September 5 @ 5pm
URL with embedded video: http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/canada/archives/2012/09/20120905-203437.html
Quotes from Ezra Levant:
“These are Gypsies, a culture synonymous with swindlers. The phrase Gypsy and cheater have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb. He gypped me! Well the gypsies have gypped us too.”
“And they [gypsies] come here to gyp us again, to rob us blind, as they have done in Europe for centuries.”
“Let me stop before you start blowing your hate crime whistle at me for saying Gypsy or gypped. See, political correctness and euphemisms like calling them ‘Roma’ instead of Gypsy or as the BBC calls them ‘Travelers,’ well the point of that is to obscure the truth. They’re Gypsies and one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging. Sorry, it’s true!”
“Gypsies aren’t a race, they’re not a religion, they’re not a linguistic group. They’re the medieval prototype of the Occupy Wall Street movement. A shiftless group of hoboes that doesn’t believe in property rights for themselves – they’re nomads – or for others. They rob people blind. Now the scourge has come to Canada through fake refugee claims.”
“Look at this list of suspects released by Durham police. Gypsy after gypsy after gypsy. They gypped their way into Canada and now they’re gypping the rest of us. Look at this, Dinarca Caldaras, wanted for steeling two cars, money laundering, theft, fraud. Gypsy. Look at that, not on her own, as part of a criminal organization. We’re used to biker gangs, we’re used to the Hells Angels, the Mafia. They’re not races or religions, they’re cultural groups, subcultures, deviant groups that chose to steel for a living. Look at this! Ovidio Calderas, criminal organization, fraud. It’s not all non-violent, no way, as I told you on Friday, in Italy, Gypsies are charged with murder at least 6 times more frequently than their population would suggest.”
“For Gypsies it [crime] is a family affair, in fact, women and children are the best at it because we liberal Canadians or Europeans would never expect a child or a mom or both working together.”
“Every last one of them [suspects] is a Gypsy. Just some of the 5000 who’ve gamed our system and our causing a Made in Europe crime wave on our streets.”
“Street gypsies have four particular [theft] strategies.”
“Just in case you’re not clear about this [Durham regional police clip], they’re talking about Gypsies. [Another clip from Durham regional police]. ‘Roma’ you know cops can be politically correct. ‘Roma’ is the name of a kind of tomato as you know, but that’s what some people call Gypsies. You can call them whatever you like if you’re arresting them, that’s fine by me.”
“239 charges, 29 people that we know about so far. There are 5000 of these Gypsies here!”
“They’re gypping us. Sorry, that’s a word for a reason, they’re thieves! And women and children, their own wives and kids, are the main tools of it!”
“Steeling is part of their family-crime organization. Being a Gypsy isn’t like being Black, or being Gay, or being a woman or even Romanian, where many Gypsies come from. Just like being from Sicily doesn’t make you part of the Mafia. Being a Gypsy is a positive choice, like being a Blood or a Crip, like joining the Cosa Nostra. For centuries, these roving highway gangs have mocked the law and robbed their way across Europe. Now, because of our broken refugee system, they’re here in Canada in the thousands. And they’ve brought the Gypsy Crime Wave with them. Yeah, no thanks, I’m not interested in calling them ‘Roma’ or ‘Travelers’ or having a Human Rights Commission investigate where we as a society have done them wrong, maybe dispatching social workers (laughs) the social workers will just have their wallets stolen. I want to dispatch cops and send the bad Gypsies to Hungary on the next plane. Just warn the flight attendants (chuckles) not to wear any jewelry on the flight!”
Unsurprisingly, Levant has publically declared that Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is his “favourite” member of parliament.
WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT
1. We can contact the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council
“HOW TO MAKE A COMPLAINT:
Your Concerns Are Important
If you see or hear something that concerns you, this is what you should do:
1. Write down the following information.
1. the name, date and time of the program
2. the name or call letters of the broadcaster
3. a short summary of what concerned you
2. Let us know.
Send us the details within 28 days of the date of broadcast. We will investigate your complaint further.
The Complaint Form found on our website makes it easy for you to submit your complaint.
The CBSC’s offices are in Ottawa. You can write to us at our address. You can alsosend in your complaint via fax or email.
For more information concerning the Complaints Process, see the related Making a complaint FAQs section.”
3. EXAMPLES OF BROADCAST STANDARDS DECISIONS
Here is a press release: ‘Derogatory Ethnic Term Unacceptable, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council’
Another press release: ‘Abusive Comments on the Basis of Sexual Orientation Unacceptable, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council’
Roma Community Centre
Roma Community Centre
2340 Dundas St. W., Suite G20
Office: (416) 546-2524
Cell: (416) 561-0770
facebook group: Toronto Roma Community Centre
The Roma Community Centre is committed to Celebrating Romani Culture, Successful Settlement, Promoting Human Rights, Community Developing Initiatives, and Cultivating Community Partnerships.