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Chronology for Roma in Romania

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Roma in Romania, 2004, available at: [accessed 18 February 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Dec 22, 1989 Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu is overthrown by the National Salvation Front (NSF), a group of former Communists, dissidents, intellectuals, students and army generals who declare Romania a parliamentary democracy.
Jan 28, 1990 Pro-government demonstrators call opposition demonstrators "provocateurs" and "Gypsies." Note The term Gypsy is often used as an insult in Romanian society. This continues throughout the period covered by this chronology and will not be further noted unless otherwise noteworthy.
Apr 18, 1990 Hundreds of Gypsies attend a conference in Bucharest to pick parliamentary candidates for the upcoming May 20 elections. 8 Gypsy parties including the Democratic Union are running in the elections.
Apr 18, 1990 The first Romanian Gypsy newspaper, Satra Libera (Free Camp), begins publication with a startling caricature of a Gypsy slave girl breaking out of her chains on the front page.
May 14, 1990 Gypsy chief and Romani representative to the United Nations Ion Cloarba demands compensation from the Romanian government for the families of dozens of Gypsies beaten to death or shot by police during the Ceausescu regime as part of his campaign to appropriate their gold. A recent law decreed that the stolen ancestral gold jewelry can now be reclaimed from the national bank of Romania. Cloarba also claims hundreds of Gypsies were tortured and their houses burned down during the period of systematic persecution. He further states that prejudice against the Roma in Romania is the worst in Europe.
May 16, 1990 More than 5,000 Romanians, 80% of them Gypsies, have migrated to East Berlin in the last few weeks in hopes of cashing in on East Germany's pending free-market unification with Germany and due to ethnic persecution.
May 18, 1990 The president of the National Peasants' Party is attacked by a band of rock-throwing Gypsies.
May 20, 1990 The NSF wins parliamentary elections with an overwhelming majority. None of the Gypsy parties wins any seat but a Gypsy is given one of the seats reserved for Romania's ethnic minorities.
Jun 13 - 18, 1990 Anti-government protests take place in Bucharest. Many Gypsies participate. The government uses vigilante coal miners to violently suppress the crowd and the miners beat up Gypsy men and women and steal their ancestral gold jewelry as police stand by and watch. A mob of Gypsies later attacks a police station with clubs, knives and hatchets. Gypsy homes are singled out for racially motivated attacks in ethically mixed neighborhoods in what some call ethnic cleansing. Many Gypsies are arrested and held without charge. There are allegations of torture of the Gypsy prisoners by police. The coal miners receive little or no punishment for their actions.
Jul 1990 Police crack down on black marketeers many of whom are Gypsies. Many of Romania's economic problems are blamed on the Gypsies by the Romanian media in this context. Note Romanians, including the media and several political parties including the ruling Salvation Front blame many of Romania's problems on the Gypsies. This continues throughout the period covered in this chronology and will not be further noted unless otherwise noteworthy.
Oct 1990 More than 1,000 Romanian villagers burn a Gypsy village to the ground. Swift flight by the Gypsies prevents casualties. The villagers say they were provoked by unrestrained rampaging, stealing and looting by the Gypsies. The final provocation was when a Romanian tractor driver was stoned by Gypsy youths.
Nov 26, 1990 Some 270,000 Romanians, about 90% of them Gypsies, have crossed the border into Poland in order to earn a living this year. Most are allowed to stay for only 90 days at a time. It is estimated that 39,000 to 70,000 are currently in Poland.
Jan 1991 In a poll, 41% of respondents in Romania think that the Roma should be poorly treated.
Mar 29, 1991 The Romanian Gypsy presence in Poland continues.
Apr 9, 1991 After a Gypsy s arrested for the murder of a Romanian villager, about 3,000 villagers burn down the homes of members of his clans. The clan in question, known as "Bear Trainers," was said to be responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime in the village, even compared to other Gypsies (who were not attacked). Note The purpose attacks such as this one are usually to drive the Gypsies out of town.
Apr 16, 1991 A human rights organization reports that the Gypsy community of Romania was the target of 15 documented incidents of violence in 1990.
May 8, 1991 Riot police rescue 34 Gypsies from a Romanian village after peasants threatened to lynch them. The incident occurs when a clan or Gypsies who had been expelled from the village a month ago try to return.
May 17 - 18, 1991 Rural Romanians and Gypsies clash in the village of Ogreseni, northeast of Bucharest. The violence spreads to several surrounding villages the next day. Peasants clash with riot police who are trying to prevent them from burning Gypsy houses. By the end of the riots at least 40 Gypsy homes are destroyed.
Jun 13, 1991 About 300 villagers in Romania's Translvania region burn down 26 Gypsy homes after a stabbing. Note Thus far, no one has been penalized by the government for the continuous and often violent efforts by villagers to run the Gypsies out of town. In part, official action is due to a powerlessness by the police to stop these efforts as well as the erosion of their authority when they try to do so.
Jul 1991 A government report on racial tensions in the Romanian countryside says that "the majority of the population has often had to endure for long periods the aggressiveness of a minority group [the Gypsies] which does not respect the norms of social cohabitation." The report also notes that Romanians are "exasperated by the wealth of many unemployed Gypsies."
Jul 1991 The Democratic Union of Romani calls for the government to educate Gypsies in their own language. Note This demand is made throughout the period covered by this chronology and will not be further noted unless otherwise noteworthy.
Sep 1991 Several hundred Gypsies hold a conference in Hungary on the current situation of the Gypsies in Romania and Hungary.
Nov 24, 1991 Helsinki Watch, a human rights organization, reports that Gypsies in Romania have been the target of increasingly violent attacks since the 1989 revolution. It claims that Gypsies have lost their property, their security and any hope for a better future after the overthrow of the Communist regime. They also face discrimination in housing, employment and education.
1992 Several incidents of racially motivated violence against Gypsies are reported this year.
Feb 1992 The US State Department's Report on Human Rights in Romania for 1991 states that there exists both direct and indirect discrimination against Gypsies in the workplace. Gypsies tend to be given the most menial and low paying jobs and are excluded from educational and work opportunities that can lead to higher paying jobs. However, the report notes that the government has begun job training programs and experimental classes in the Romani language.
Sep 1992 Germany plans to deport the large number of Romanians, about 60% of whom are Gypsies (reports of the actual number of Romanians in Germany range from 43,000 to 135,000). It later signs an accord with Romania to facilitate this deportation and actually begins deporting Romanians in November.
Mar 18, 1993 Romania deploys riot police to the Argentinean embassy in Bucharest to prevent thousands of Gypsies from storming the embassy in hopes of gaining visa forms because of an immigration opportunity.
Mar 31, 1993 Following an anti-Gypsy attack, Gypsy leaders threaten to establish their own army if the government is unable to protect them.
Apr 1993 The Romanian government creates the Council for Ethnic Minorities to tackle the problems of the country's 14 minority groups.
Apr 28, 1993 In response to the problems caused by Romanians, many of them Gypsies, using Poland as a transit rout for illegal immigration into Western European countries, Poland tightens entry rules for Romanians.
May 2, 1993 Romanian Gypsy leaders call on the government to take a tougher stand against persecution against Gypsies and become more involved in supporting their economic and social integration. Note Demands similar to this one are made throughout the period covered by this chronology and will not be further noted unless they are otherwise noteworthy.
Jun 3, 1993 After a World Cup soccer loss, angry Romanians riot in Bucharest targeting Gypsies and Arabs.
Jun 24, 1993 An extremist group called "the Organization to Fight the Gypsies" is formed and plans a crackdown on Romania's Gypsy population.
Aug 9, 1993 Ivlian Radulescu is crowned "emperor" of the Gypsies which puts him in contention with Ion Cioaba who claims to be "king" of the Gypsies.
Sep 20, 1993 Two Gypsies who are accused of killing a Romanian are lynched and another Gypsy and a Romanian are killed when 500 angry Romanians and Hungarians riot against Gypsies in Transylvania and burn down 13 Gypsy houses.
Sep 28, 1993 Romanian Gypsies blame authorities for encouraging anti-Gypsy hatred and demand legal action against the killers of three Gypsies in last week's ethnic clashes.
Sep 29, 1993 Gypsies withdraw from the Council of National Minorities in protest to last week's killings.
Oct 15, 1993 It is reported that an extremist group called the Gypsy Skinners is planning a campaign of violence against Romania's Gypsies. Romanian police say there is no evidence of the existence of such an organization.
Nov 12, 1993 Amnesty International accuses Romania of preparing to expel Gypsies from the Transylvanian village where 3 Gypsies were killed last September. The Romanian government denies the charges.
Dec 30, 1993 France prepares to deport about 200 Romanian Gypsies.
May 25, 1994 The UN committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights accuses the Romanian government of allowing discrimination against the country's population.
May 29, 1994 About 300 villagers burn down nine Gypsy houses in northwest Romania after 2 Gypsy youths are charged with the murder of a 69-year-old shepherd.
Jan 8, 1995 About 200 angry farmers in a southwest Romanian village burn down the homes of two Roma after a village brawl in which both villagers and Roma are injured. A 20-member police force summoned from a nearby village is able to prevent attacks on four other homes.
Jan 16, 1995 Dimitru Bidiia, a Roma leader, says that his community will start a "civil war" unless the government takes measures to prevent local conflicts between Roma and villagers.
Jan 19, 1995 UPI reports that since the fall of Romania's Communist government in 1989, there have been 37 inter-ethnic clashes in which six Roma have been killed and dozens of Roma homes burned.
May 12, 1995 Romania's Gypsy "Emperor" Iulian Radulescu begins a hunger strike in protest of the government's decision to label Roma in Romania as "Tigan," a term Roma consider racist. The government has done this in order to stop using "Romani" as the official term because it could be confused with "Romanian. "
May 22, 1995 Amnesty International reports a nationwide pattern of police failure to protect Romania's Roma minority from racist violence.
May 23, 1995 About 100 Roma demonstrate in Bucharest against the government use of the term "Tigan" to describe the Roma. They view the term as racist.
Jun 8, 1995 Minority group leaders in Romania, including some Roma leaders, receive mail bombs.
Jul 13, 1995 The European Parliament approves a resolution condemning discrimination against the Roma in Romania.
Jan 24, 1996 More than 1,000 villagers in southern Romania have threatened to lynch a 200-member gypsy community following the stabbing death of a Romanian. As the angered mob headed for the house of the suspected murderer, police forces took position to defend the gypsy community on the outskirts of the village. The murder suspect and his family fled the town along with 40 other gypsy families. (Source United Press International, 1/24/96)
Feb 27, 1997 Ion Cioaba, the self-proclaimed King of the Gipsies died at the age of 62. (Source The Daily Telegraph, 2/27/97)
Mar 6, 1997 The self-proclaimed emperor of the world's Gypsies Iulian Radulesco announced on Thursday the creation of the first gypsy state in Tirgu-Jiu, in southwest Romania. Radulescu, who declared himself "Iulian I" four years ago, told a press conference he has signed a "decree" proclaiming a poor district of Tirgu-Jiu "Cem Romengo," or state of the Romanies. "This state has a symbolic value and does not affect the sovereignty and unity of Romania. It does not have armed forces and does not have borders," Radulescu added. He said he had asked Romanian authorities to recognise the Gypsies' "right of ownership" to this land. (Source Agence France Presse, 3/6/97)
Mar 27, 1997 Over 50 Romanian Gypsies from the encampment near Szczecin [northwestern Poland] which was dismantled yesterday have been deported to Ukraine. The Romanian Gypsies travelled to Chernovtsy in Ukraine, whence they are to travel to Romania. They were escorted by the Border Guard and policemen throughout the whole of their journey within Poland. Seventy-two Romanians without any documents were left behind in Szczecin. Some children born in Poland are not entered in the documents of their parents. Consequently they could not have crossed the border. The Romanian embassy is, within three months, to clarify all the doubts associated with the identity of those who have been detained. (Source BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 3/27/97)
Aug 3, 1997 Gypsies from across Europe gathered at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp complex to condemn nationalism and mourn the mass murder of Gypsies by the Nazis during World War II. The annual ceremony recalls the August 2, 1944, gassing of about 3,000 Gypsy prisoners, mainly women and children, who had been held in a special compound of the extermination complex in southern Poland. The ceremony also commemorates many hundreds of thousands of Gypsies killed elsewhere by the Nazis in what has been called a "forgotten Holocaust. " (Source The Washington Post, 8/3/97)
Aug 7, 1997 European Union officials and Gypsy leaders urged Romania to clamp down on discrimination and violence against Gypsies, cited by the EU as a hurdle to the country's membership bid. The European Commission's recent report on EU enlargement highlighted concerns over treatment of Gypsies in east European countries seeking admission. Romania, home to one of the largest Gypsy communities in eastern Europe, was passed over for early entry, because of its poor record in dealing with its Roma population. (Source ANP English News Bulletin, 8/7/97)
Apr 22, 1998 An Amnesty International report that showed that between March 1997 and January 1998 police were responsible for the fatal shootings of 25 people. Victims included thieves fleeing the scene of crime, violent deaths in prison, and fatalities brought about by police torture or beatings. Amnesty also said police failed to protect the Gypsy community from racial attacks, and were often tardy and biased in investigations of such violence.
Jul 1998 Forty-seven Roma seeking asylum, all from the Arad region of eastern Romania, were smuggled into Ireland in freight containers. They spent 48 hours in the container before being discovered by gardai at Rosslare. In the last year Ireland has been bombarded by a constant flow of Roma seeking asylum. (Source The Irish Times, 10/23/98)
Aug 26, 1998 The Roms' Party (PR) which represents the Romanian gypsy community in parliament are planning legal action against the country's outspoken ultra-nationalist leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, after he said Gypsies should integrate or be interned. (Source Agence France Presse, 8/26/98)
Oct 23, 1998 A Romanian gypsy woman who applied for asylum in Ireland was rejected by the Department of Justice even though she had never been granted an interview. (Source The Irish Times, 10/23/98)
Nov 10, 1998 A delegation of Romanian Gypsies is to travel to the United States in February to seek a proportion of the Holocaust compensation obtained by Jewish groups. The 1.25 billion dollars which is to be paid by two Swiss banks belongs to Jews. But they are going to give 10-12 percent of this sum to the Gypsies of Europe also persecuted in the Holocaust. Roma delegates are seeking a compensatory payment of about $610 for each of the 3,000 Romanian Gypsies who survived being deported to Nazi concentration camps. The Romanian delegation si also seeking a return of 500 kilos of gold, half of the amount supposedly stolen from Romanian Gypsies during WWII, from the Romanian government. (Source Agence France Presse, 11/10/98)
Feb 28, 1999 In the Romanian town of Sibiu, the Romas symbolically put Adolf Hitler on trial. The dictator was found guilty and sentenced to death. His effigy was then hung from a beam. By charging Hitler, "the model of all ethnic cleansers" with persecution, deportation, mass murder and genocide, gypsy leaders hope their actions will call attention to their plight. Hitler is being tried by a traditional stabor, or tribal tribunal, in accordance with Roma tradition. Stabor law has a long tradition in the region, but it is not recognized by Romania's legal system. It has jurisdiction over all Roma, but now it is only used to settle disputes within the gypsy community. (Source The Sunday Herald, 2/28/99)

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