"The only light is the light of the candle whose flame is swinging in the wind in our tent"


There is corner of Europe where having a slightly darker shade of skin is enough to risk being kidnapped, tortured, raped, killed... enough to have your house burned down and all your belongings taken away. 

This corner is Kosovo, the only place in Europe where the Roma used to have houses and jobs and lived peacefully with their neighbours; where they could study at school in their own language and where they even had a minister in the government.  

Thanks to the war we stepped so lightly into, our allies have cleaned Kosovo from "Gypsies" with a pogrom which has no precedents since the times of WWII. 30,000 NATO soldiers have done nothing to prevent this genocide.  

Thousands of families lost everything in a few days; those who survived went to Serbia - a country suffering from an embargo and which already hosts one million refugees; to Montenegro or Macedonia - countries on the brink of civil war. A small nucleus stayed in Kosovo, besieged in camps and ghettoes: going shopping or to hospital means risking their lives.  

Many borrowed money at an interest rate of ten per cent a month to get on boats belonging to mafiosi from our and other countries, in order to cross the Adriatic. Not all came across alive, and those who did often live in hair-raising conditions in camps.  

Cheerful imaginings about the "Gypsy soul" should not allow us to forget the words of those who are still down there - the Roma mothers of a camp called Stenkovac 2 in Macedonia; words we pass on to you as we received them:  

"Mothers all over the world, as we are writing this appeal to you, our hands are frozen, the only light is the light of the candle whose flame is swinging in the wind in our tent.   

Instead of heat from the stove, our children's hearts are warmed only by our motherly love and our hopes for a better future. Mothers all over the world, please help us, help our children in these, the worst times in our lives. 


More about the expulsion of the Roma and of the Jews from Kosovo. 

Photos by Theo Fruendt.

The first picture shows Jasemina and her daughter in a UNHCR camp right next to the highly polluting and smelly Obilic II power station. For weeks, UNHCR just delivered beans, sugar and flour. Almost every child was sick, but the Albanian doctor refused to treat them.

Copyright © 2000 - This appeal can be reproduced freely as long as the original source of the mothers' appeal is quoted: 
Roma Community Center "DROM" Kumanovo
Lokalitet Serava prizemje 7a
91300 Kumanovo R.Macedonia