Present security situation for Roma in Kosovo.

After talking to several friends today in Kosovo, I can say that the previous post about the immediate threat to Roma was overstated.

Things are indeed very tense, with what my friend described as a “very very big pressure” on the Roma not only in Kosovo but in Serbia and Macedonia as well, for a perceived collaboration with Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia. Most Roma wish to remain neutral on the issue of independence, or are opposed, in view of the threatment they have received in post-war Kosovo. However, Mr. Hadji Zulfi Mergja, leader of the Roma Party of Kosovo, signed the independence documents, and thus has implicated all of the Roma in his alliance. “He only received 200 votes, but you can never explain these things to Serbs,” my friend said.

Many Roma were told not to attend work at international agencies last week, which aggrevated fears about the situation. However, entering the second week after the declaration, it seems that these were precautionary, as many have returned to work without incident. The bomb threat in Laplje Selo which police, KFOR (NATO’s local forces), and other special forces were called in to investigate did nothing to calm tensions, either, but no bomb was found.

The friend with whom I spoke emphasized that the position of Roma in Kosovo continues to be insecure and unsustainable. “If we stay here like this, we have no future, no prospects for my children. If it continues like this, there is nothing that we can do.” He was, however, enthusiastic to talk about the English classes Voice of Roma has been holding in anticipation of our arrival, and very excited about the classes we are starting up when we arrive in April.

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