The flea market in Neubaugasse is the stage for an intervention by Roma Kombinat. By means of various media and materials – among them postcards and posters, stickers, shirts, catalogues, CDs/DVDs and all sorts of "public statements" – they confront the visitors with the racism faced by Roma and the history of their persecution.
Now, as before, there are pogroms in Europe: life-threatening conditions are ubiquitous for Roma. The discrimination is, however, barely perceived or indeed increasingly seen as "normal". Racist and anti-Roma concepts, slogans and symbols – from "gypsy blood" to Nazi slogans against Roma – are still being used and propagated without consequences.
A critical example of unperceived racism is the concept developed by the Austrian association European Neighbours, STOP Bio Knoblauch Romanes (Organic Garlic Romany) – according to its self-description, a "sustainable eco-social project of the future", which is supposed to create jobs for Roma in Europe through the cultivation of garlic, while at the same time however, reproducing racist clichés.
So we are told for example: "With 'Organic Garlic Romany' we support the creation of jobs for Roma in their homeland, as well as their willingness and ability to work. To grow garlic is a meaningful activity – as opposed to undignified begging!" (quote from State Councillor, Christian Buchmann, Graz).
Against this background Roma Kombinat provides information about the campaign and promotes its own counter-campaign, STOP Organic Garlic Romany.
During the panel discussion Roma Strategy = Deportation Free? at the Depot, activists from Roma Kombinat reflect on more than just the Europe-wide discrimination against Roma. The "Roma Industry" also comes under discussion: often the Roma themselves do not possess the necessary resources to apply for national or EU-subsidised projects. In their place external NGOs assume this role. As a consequence, the self-organised Roma are always confronted by this inequality in their striving for self-empowerment.
Thoughts are free seeks to create awareness of this and stimulate discussion and critical argument. As Roma Kombinat explains, the aim is "to break through the silence, to uncover racism and at the same time combat the growing discrimination against Roma."
Marika Schmiedt, Filiz Demirova and Georgel Caldararu from Roma Kombinat discuss the Europe-wide discrimination against Roma and the "Roma Industry"
Moderator: Tina Leisch
27.9., 11.30 hrs: Preview
Information about the campaign STOP Bio Knoblauch Romanes (STOP Organic Garlic Romany)