Monday, July 21, 2008

Roma Life and Death in Italy

Al Jazeera carried a report tonight that covered the drowning deaths of two Roma (Gypsy) children on a beach in Italy. I heard the reporter say that four Roma children had entered the water and wave swells caused two to drown.

This is a tragedy made worse by the fact that the incident hardly caused a stir among the Italian sunbathers. In fact, most of them just carried on enjoying themselves as the two dead children, aged 11 and 12, lay unattended for an hour.

A Mail Online article reported what an eyewitness said:

"The water was rough and no-one was in the sea but these four Roma children just rushed into the huge waves.

The beach was packed and people soon realised the four were in trouble because the children started screaming and shouting for help.

Some people went in and got two of them but the other two couldn't be saved and they were pulled from the water dead.

There (sic) bodies were left on the beach for an hour before being collected, just covered by a beach towel while people just got back to sunbathing and playing football.

It was very surreal there was this picture of a typical Italian beach with families enjoying the sun and then just metres away were the bodies of these two children. People were completely indifferent about what had happened."
The report also contained these disturbing pictures which is said to convey the often racist indifference that many Italians have toward the Roma in general.

May Cristina Ibramovitc (12) and Viola Ibramovitc (11) rest in peace.


Pictures and Story Credit

***UPDATE***(July 23)
Niteflyer provided this link to a comment by Liz Furke entitled Europe: Mobilising against 'Foreign Criminals'. Furke's comment covers anti-Roma sentiment, among others, and plans for deportations. A disturbing read that tells more about the attitude above.


Erica said...

Have we become such a heartless and immoral society that getting a sun tan is more important than a child's life?

What troubles me more is the first photo. These people are merely excusing the fact that there are bodies of two dead children right in front of their eyes.

I will continue to have faith in the humanity of others, but happenings like this makes me have second thoughts.

This is just deplorable.

Ridwan said...

Very well said Erica. The pictures are sickening. Where is the humanity?

Thanks for your comment.


Anonymous said...

eish. sometimes I think there's a particularly shameless kind of conservatism surging; a wave of vacuous ethics following the morality of the dollar so to speak.

Came across this:

In November last year Italy introduced a deportation policy "based on the collective punishment of all Romanian immigrants (read Roma)".

The notion of collective punishment is now under consideration by the Swiss as well - which means that the entire family of a 'criminal' under 18 (read 'foreign criminal') will be deported as soon as sentencing is passed.

Says the article:
"If such a law were passed, say civil libertarians, it would be the first such law in Europe since the Nazi practice of Sippenhaft - or kin liability - whereby relatives of criminals were held responsible for their crimes and punished equally."

There's something disturbingly pornographic about these images; as though the 'foreign criminals' have met a deserved fate for 'invading' the 'private' spaces of an elite leisure class.

On an empty beach on any other day, the story could've been one where the sea - as it does - took the lives of two young children. On a beach with bikini-clad, unfeeling voyeurs, it's a human tragedy.

peace, love & consciousness all round.

GiGi - The Shy Giraffe said...


that is so heartless and cold, i'm lost for words. where were the parent when this incident took place?

Eugene said...

The most brutal of racism.

I Love the Roma people. They have a deep and rich culture.

I used to want to visit Italy someday. That idea has now changed.

There again, I live in one of the most racist societies around, but I can't imagine something like that happening on any beaches here in the States.

Ridwan said...

*Niteflyer thanks for your comment and link. I cannot believe that Italy would want to punish the Roma so indiscriminately.

You are absolutely right though. There is a purging of those deemed
'undesirables'. And yeah it is the "vacuous ethics" of the age.

This is part of the Bush legacy.

Was it not the US who about 8 years ago who decided that 'undesirables' should be rounded up on suspicion alone?

Guilt by design.

I have also read that Italy is thinking about sending Imams who are anti-Israel out of the country.

Is this democracy? But where the Roma are concerned, where is the outcry?

Thank you sista for adding so much more to the discussion here.

**Hola Gigi. Thanks for looking in sista and commenting.

As I read this story and watched it on Al Jazeera it was said that the two are related but not sisters. They are desperately poor and like Roma elsewhere in Europe sell trinkets, beg, and are considered transient.

They are the 'enemies' of the state in state, not wanted, and racistly oppressed.

In the US the word "gyp" is often used without knowing that it refers to the so-called Gypsies (Roma) and their supposed tendency to steal.

Thanks Gigi. Trust you are well up there on the beautiful 'Island'.

***Brother Eugene thanks for your comment brother. Peace to you in Coos Bay.

I too am disgusted by this story and the racist behaviour of the sunbathers.

I agree that this would not have happened on most beaches in the US, if only for the lawsuits that may follow.

Still, there is a distinct hatred in those pictures. I absolutely see what Niteflyer means when she says that they are "pornographic".

May those poor kids rest in peace.

I also hope that more people will pay attention to what is happening to the Roma in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

Thanks Eugene.

Peace and struggle to all of you.


Eugene said...

Now, one musn't forget, the Vatican Crime Organization signed a treaty with the Italian fascist leader, Mussolini in order to assist the fascists into power in Europe. They then signed a treaty with the Nazi's in 1933. This, of course, was followed by the Death Camps, the most popular for the Vatican Crime Organization (located within Italy) being Jasenavoc. Not only did these "death camps" kill Jews, but also some 1,500,000 Roma and Sinti. Now with the racist laws they are trying to pass, like the anti immigrant laws here in the states, F**K ITALY! I know that is a generalization, however, I have yet to hear anyone in Italy speaking out against this type of behavior. I assume there are, but I haven't heard them.

Shus li said...

These photos just do not compute. Even if a dead fish washed up on shore, the people on the beach would give it some attention.

I can't believe my eyes.

And I'm so sorry for these families.

Ridwan said...

Thank you for your comment Shusli. You are right sista.

How can anyone be so close to dead children and not even seem to be bothered.

The children and the Roma are dehumanized on purpose, African are treated similarly especially those who are marked as "illegal".

Like you said on your blog, there are no illegals.

**Eugene I have looked but I see no reaction in Italy. Maybe someone else knows and can tell us here.

I thought about what to do a little last night. Do we stop buying Italian goods?

How does one organize a reaction?

I think of our Boycott Australia petition. Good people stood up and added their names (about 176 over damn near 6 months).

Many others did not join. Some wrote to tell me that they thought the petition futile.

Others would not put their name down in the age of really big brother.

Truth is that Aboriginals are almost invisible in occupies Australia and outside most folks don't really care.

The same is true for the Roma. I mean the Czech Republic routinely places Roma children in schools for the so called "retarded". They also build walls around Roma neighbourhoods.

In Bulgaria the authorities have relegated the Roma to making a living collecting trash. And they are routinely harassed all the time by police.

The average Roma man can be arrested many times a year for trumped up charges. The point of harassment is to press the Roma to leave.

The world is hardly listening. The US and its glitterati will poke around Darfur and ignore the Roma.

Even as I write Obama is speaking in Europe (Germany). I wonder if he will mention the Roma?

Or will he relegate them to the lessers like he does the Palestineans?

Peace sista and brother.


Dione said...

I'm sorry to hear about this, however I don't appreciate anyone saying to F Italy. It is wrong to condemn an entire nation for the acts of a few people, just as it is the same ignorance that condemns all Muslims for the acts of 911.

Italians are my people, they are my mother's people and rest assured we are not a bunch of thugs or terrorists. We do not all accept the Vatican, we do not all believe that the pope smells like a rose you know.

Eugene said...

Some people were killed in the beaches of New York. They drowned because of rip tides and undertows. In the photos you don't see folks casually walking by, you don't see sunbathers staring at dead bodies.

Ridwan said...

*Thanks for your comment Dione. I saw a report somewhere that says 'ordinary' Italians are embarrased and moving to put a kinder face on matters that relate to the Roma and so called

I hope that the government will follow suit and act with more dignity and fairness to those who are not deemed Italian enough.

Still your point that all Italians should not be lumped together is well taken and important.

Life is more complicated.