Turkey’s first Roma deputy calls for solid action against discrimination on Roma Day
CİHAN photoTurkey’s first Roma deputy, Özcan Purcu, has drawn attention to discrimination against Roma citizens, citing problems in education, healthcare and equal access to the job market. The deputy asked for “proof of love [for Roma people]” on International Roma Day, marked on April 8 each year, by taking efficient political action, instead of uttering “vain words.”
“I have received many complaints like, ‘We filed a job application but they said they wouldn’t hire a Roma,’ ‘We went to the hospital, they made us wait only to turn us away without an examination,’ or ‘They make our children sit at the back row in classrooms,’” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy has told Turkish online news portal bianet.
“In order to solve these problems, which are common in every field, we need to increase the number of educated Roma people working within the bureaucracy,” Purcu said.
The deputy also said he was involved in a joint study being carried out by Mersin University and the Mediterranean Roma Federations Association, which showed that most teachers working in predominantly Roma neighborhoods asked to be reassigned after only one year.
“This is a very serious problem. Teachers working in schools where most students are Roma should go through special education in order to end discrimination in schools,” he argued, adding that he personally visits school principals or governors when people call him with complaints about the education.
Deputy asks for action plan as “proof of love”
Purcu also asked for tangible steps to be taken to fight discrimination against Roma people, hopefully in the form of an action plan in addition to a strategy on paper.
“The [Justice and Development Party] government was supposed to announce its Roma Strategy on April 8. They also held a meeting with me, but there is no word on its outcome,” he said, criticizing the AKP for carrying out the process too slowly. Purcu claimed the CHP could complete the task in three days.
“In general, the government keeps saying, ‘we love Roma people.’ But if you love from the heart, you need to prove it, vain words are not enough,” he said.