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.