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have drawn attention to widespread incidents of racism such as arson attacks and harassment.  This is consistent with research carried out by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Wuppental which showed that over 37% of students admitted their prejudice towards Gypsies, who were at the top of their list of despised groups (Roma Rights Newsletter).

In a call for greater solidarity, one prominent Gypsy spokesperson makes a self-critical observation about the hostility of German Sinti towards Roma from Eastern Europe:  

This is part of the Gypsy misfortune.  The behaviour of some Gypsies towards others can be worse than that of non-Gypsies towards our race as a whole . . . The Sinti are much better off than the Roma, who have only recently arrived, and so regard them with contempt.  The Roma often live in tents and slums, some are thieves and beggars, and the Sinti shun them, not wanting to be identified with these brethren for whom they have no feeling because they have had no contacts.  To the Germans, however, both are simply Ziggeuner, the only difference being that some speak German and others do not.  

(Romany Rose quoted in N.B. Tomasevic and R. Djuric:  1989).

This dilemma of insider versus outsider is evident among Gypsies in all countries and is sometimes used by opponents as a divide and conquer tactic.  It makes it more difficult to challenge the intense public hostility towards Roma/Gypsies/Travellers.


Gypsy support groups in Greece draw attention to the marginalisation of Gypsies (Tziganes):  severe accommodation problems, lack of sanitary facilities, lack of education and high levels of illiteracy, negative stereotypes, restrictions on Gypsy trading, loss of cultural identity, and an underdeveloped political consciousness.  There are frequent reports in the Greek press portraying Gypsies as parasites, beggars, as being involved in fraud, or as drug-dealers.  There have also been reports of police raids on Roma settlements (e.g. Ano Liosia, 1996, 1997), destruction of personal property and illegal detention of some residents (see Roma Rights, Spring 1997).

Article 5(2) of the Greek Constitution stipulates that:

“all persons living within the Greek territory shall enjoy full protection of their life, honour, and freedom, irrespective of their nationality, race or language, or of religious or political beliefs.”

The Greek Civil Code guarantees civil rights to foreign nationals on the same basis as Greek citizens.  However, in practice there is widespread discrimination and a failure to introduce and implement adequate procedures to protect minorities, especially Roma. The co-ordinating committee of Immigrant and Anti-Racist organisations accuses the Greek government of being autocratic and xenophobic in its treatment of immigrants.  The procedures required for obtaining work permits (white and green cards) are very difficult for many immigrants to fulfil.


Travellers are widely acknowledged as one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Irish society.  Travellers fare poorly on every indicator used to measure disadvantage:  unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, health status, infant mortality, life expectancy, illiteracy, education and training levels, access to decision-making and political representation, gender equality, access to credit, accommodation and living conditions.  It is not surprising therefore, that the Economic and Social Research Institute concluded that ". . . the circumstances of the Irish Travelling people are intolerable.  No humane and decent society, once made aware of such circumstances, could permit them to persist".  ().  The ESRI also stated that Irish Travellers are "... a uniquely disadvantaged group:  impoverished, under-educated, often despised and ostracised, they live on the margins of Irish society" [ESRI, July 1986, Paper No. 131].

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