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Friday, 7 January 2011


A law that allows the Interior Ministry to expel Roma people from Turkey as it deems necessary, referring to this group as “gypsies” in its text, will be abolished, State Minister Faruk Çelik has announced. In a meeting he held with representatives of more than 20 Roma associations from all over Turkey at Justice and Development Party (AK Party) headquarters yesterday, Çelik said the Roma were highly dignified people who were also sensitive about Turkey’s unity. He said legislation that was first passed in the 1930s urgently needed to be amended. He recalled that the AK Party had removed an article from the Public Works Law of 1934 that stated: “Those who have not shown allegiance to Turkish culture, anarchists, nomadic gypsies, spies and those who have been expelled cannot be accepted as immigrants to Turkey.” He said a similar provision that left it to the will of the Interior Ministry to expel “gypsies” was to be removed this week. “I know the Roma are proud to be citizens of Turkey and to be in Turkey under this flag. They are people who are in love with this country, this flag and the country’s unity. That’s why expressions humiliating the Roma were removed from relevant legislation in 2006,” he said.

The government launched the Roma initiative in late 2009. A government-sponsored workshop was held on Dec. 9, 2009 to address issues facing the Roma community. Representatives of Turkey’s Roma community in Ýstanbul, Edirne, Kýrþehir, Artvin, Van and several other cities, 120 people in all, attended the event. A report was drafted listing the Roma community’s demands from the government following the workshop. In an unprecedented meeting, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan met with nearly 10,000 Roma in March of last year as part of the Roma initiative. Çelik said the government is determined to continue with the Roma initiative and to address problems faced by them. AK Party Deputy Chairman Salih Kapusuz also delivered a speech during the meeting and said the AK Party government has been exerting great efforts to abolish discrimination and misconceptions in the society about the Roma and other disadvantaged groups. “A Turkey where everyone is a first class citizen and where past mistakes have been abolished is our target,” Kapusuz said. Meanwhile, a group of Roma was in Parliament yesterday and listened to Prime Minister Erdoðan as he delivered a speech during his party’s parliamentary group meeting.

Today Zaman