The Fund of Development and Support to Romany Traditions Files Open Letter to Lukashenka to Condemn Racial Discrimination in Belarus
To President of the Republic of Belarus Aliaksandr Lukashenka
From the Fund of Development and Support to Romany Traditions
Not having much hope that my letter will reach You, I have to apply through mass media.
In December 2003 the founder of the Fund of Development and Support to (further referred to as Fund) filed the documents for registration to Vitsebsk Regional Executive Committee. The founder, Hrakhowskaya Vera Anisimawna, Rom, 23 Years worked at Vitsebsk Carpet Factory. Among the filed documents there was the warranty letter of Vitsebsk Exploitation Societ of Housing Resources with the guarantees to conclude the agreement with the Fund concerning the rent of a building in Davatar Street after the registration. There were three empty building in the street. The Fund was registered on 1 March 2004 in accordance with the filed documents. I want to emphasize that the Fund was established only for giving material and social support to Romany. After the registration the rent agreement wasn’t concluded because the building was allegedly lent. We were also advised to wait as soon as another room could become free. We agreed to it, though that building was smaller than the previous one.
In May 2004, after one more application to the exploitation society of housing resources, we were directed to Vitsebsk City Executive Committee – that’ how our misadventures, that have lasted for eight months already, started.
At first we were told that the executive committee permitted the rent. Later we were told that they were late with the documents and that another executive committee would for sure give us the permission. Finally, we found that the documents didn’t get to the executive committee because its establishment wasn’t agreed with the board of ideology and propaganda of Vitsebsk City Executive Committee and as a result the regional executive committee didn’t have the right to register it. We answered that the regional executive committee simply didn’t consider it as necessary to apply to the board of ideological work of the city executive committee on our case and were directed to the head of the mentioned board. As a result of the talk he approved the initiative. At the same time we found that the case concerning the legality of the registration of the Fund was filed from the city executive committee to the regional executive committee and in some time everything would be solved. To our telephone call the head of the board of public utilities Prakop Pavel Uladzimiravich answered that the Fund was registered correctly and the city major, Mr. Drazdow, is against the existence of such organization in Vitsebsk. Prakop P.V. promised that the report that there were no grounds for refusal in rent with signatures of Alenskaya and Yaravikow would be filed to the major. When we phoned to Mr. Prakop again, he said that in a private talk the major said he wouldn’t stand such a Fund not only with the address in the center of the city, but anywhere in Vitsebsk at all.
This is a violation of our constitutional right to association and looks much like racial discrimination. If it is the state policy, executed by Mr. Drazdow, it is, to put it mildly, not very correct. If it is the personal attitude of the short sighted official to Romany Diaspora -- we think that such attitude of the local authorities of Vitsebsk contradicts to the statements of the country’s President A.H. Lukashenka concerning the status of national minorities in the republic.
Some people applied to us on the eve of the Parliamentary election and the referendum, asking to take part in political actions. We had to emphasize the non-political nature of our activity. On the other hand, it will be hard for us to remain non-political if the attitude of the local authorities to the Fund in general and to Romany in private doesn’t change.
We, Romany, aren’t used to whining and have always solved our problems on our own. My husband (already passed away), Malafeyew Siamion Piatrovich – participant of World War II, was rewarded with the medal of Glory, one of the stands of the museum of World War II in Minsk is devoted to him. My fate was ruined by the war – I was a captive in Germany when I was teenager and had to work for Germans. The people weren’t divided into Romany, Russians and Belarusians during the times of that slavery and during the war either… It is terrible when LOCAL AUTHORITES divide people into the first class and the second class ones nowadays.
We hope for Your support in solution of this problem.
With respect, the founder
Of the Fund of Development and Support to Romany traditions