State of the World's Minorities 2006 - Belarus
|Publisher||Minority Rights Group International|
|Publication Date||22 December 2005|
|Cite as||Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2006 - Belarus, 22 December 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48abdd8640.html [accessed 13 July 2014]|
The government of Belarus as well as general society engage in significant discrimination against Roma, who number almost 70,000. An unemployment rate of 93 per cent and low levels of education characterize the Roma community. Due to negative stereotypes Roma are not hired by other citizens. The police harass Romani women selling produce or telling fortunes in the marketplace, and state media and government officials portray Roma negatively. The Ministry of Internal Affairs' Department of Drug Trafficking has asserted that at least 50 per cent of all Roma are drug dealers. Roma children speak primarily Romani and Belarusian, which poses enormous problems in the Belarusian school system where the language of instruction is Russian. Parents often withhold their children from kindergarten in an effort to avoid assimilation. As a result, Romani children are linguistically behind in the all-Russian classrooms, and teachers and fellow students often assume they are lazy or mentally incompetent. While Roma are able to receive higher education in the few private educational institutions, they are often denied access to higher education in state-run universities. The Roma Lawyer's Group has petitioned the government to permit the establishment of a public Roma school in Minsk, where there are schools for Jews, Lithuanians and Poles.