Attacks on Sinti and Roma in Germany Double, Reflecting Worsening Discrimination

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Over the past year, German authorities documented over 1,200 attacks on Sinti and Roma. Prejudice and discrimination are prevalent not only on the streets but also within government agencies.

According to the Antiziganism Reporting and Information Center (MIA), a federal agency tracking data, the number of attacks on Sinti and Roma in Germany nearly doubled in 2023, reaching 1,233 incidents, up from 621 in 2022.

During the report's presentation in Berlin, Romani Rose, head of the Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Germany, expressed deep concern, stating, "This causes us great concern against the backdrop of history."

Germany is home to approximately 150,000 German Sinti and Roma, with an additional 100,000 Roma migrants. Sinti and Roma were specifically targeted for extermination by the Nazis during the Holocaust, resulting in the deaths of approximately 500,000 individuals.

Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus of the Green Party described anti-Roma sentiment as a "sad part of everyday life" for affected individuals and urged society and the government to address it with the same urgency as racism and anti-Semitism.

Federal Antiziganism Representative Mehmet Daimagüler strongly criticized the police, who were a focal point of the report. Three out of ten "extremely violent" incidents documented in 2023 involved police, including one instance of police dogs being used on handcuffed detainees.

MIA Chair Silas Kropf called for fundamental changes within the police force to combat systemic discrimination. Daimagüler highlighted the underlying prejudice in police attitudes toward Roma and Sinti, which contributes to a lack of trust and underreporting of discriminatory incidents.

Kropf clarified that the increase in reported incidents may not necessarily reflect an actual rise in incidents, but rather improved reporting mechanisms such as online, mail, or telephone submissions in six German states.

In total, authorities recorded 50 violent attacks, 10 of which were deemed "extremely violent," along with 46 threats and 27 cases of property damage. Evidence of neo-Nazi motivation was found in 89 cases.

Kropf attributed the rising numbers to a rightward shift in society, political failure to confront anti-Roma discrimination, and entrenched prejudices within German institutions.

The study identified schools, residences, and government offices as frequent sites of discrimination. Roma monuments and graves have also been targeted, with recent incidents including the painting of swastikas on the home of a Holocaust survivor, and instances of racist chants and incitement.

Kropf urged the federal government to renew funding for MIA, established in October 2021, to gain a more accurate understanding of the scale of anti-Roma sentiment in German society.

Federal Antiziganism Representative Mehmet Daimagüler criticized the lack of public outcry over anti-Roma discrimination as "shameful," questioning, "Where is society's indignation?"