Sweden’s white paper on the abuses and rights violations against the Roma will have a positive effect on Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Sweden published on March 26 a white paper on abuses and rights violations against the Roma during the last century. The white paper is significant since it is the first time that the Swedish government has published and acknowledged Sweden’s long history of discrimination against the Roma minority. Should Finland follow Sweden’s example?

If sociologist and economist Gunnar Myrdal (1898-1987) pointed out that “discrimination breeds discrimination,” contrarily positive concrete steps that challenge discrimination help undermine it. Myrdal referred to this type of knock-on effect as cumulative causation.

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Despite the white paper, discrimination against the Roma is still very much alive in Sweden. Migrant Tales reported last week that a Roma wearing her traditional dress was escorted out of the hotel’s breakfast room. The woman was an invited speaker at the event where the white paper was announced.

In Sweden, compulsory sterilization of the Roma took place between 1934 and 1974.

Already in the middle ages the Roma, which are the biggest ethnic minority in Europe with 6 million members, European states enacted laws that were specifically designed to marginalize and victimize them.

Writes the European Roma Information Office (ERIO): “In fact, a number of heads of state legalized the killing of Roma and anti-Gypsyism became widespread amongst the generation population across the continent. The long-held and socially ingrained prejudice
against Roma, culminated in the destructive and violent ideologies of the Nazi’s in the Third Reich…Along with numerous other
communities, the Roma were classified as Untermenschen (subhuman creatures) by the Nazi regime, and between 220,000 and 1.5 million Roma were systematically exterminated in the Holocaust.”
While the number of the Roma has been smaller in Finland than Sweden, today numbering about 10,000, greater official recognition pf the wrongs committed against the Roma in Sweden, effective anti-discrimination legislation and the role of education on cultural diversity play key roles in not only improving the lives of the Roma in this country but other minorities and migrants.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said a Roma official in Finland. “But there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”

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