Saturday, June 28, 2008

A plea

Pliable at the Overgrown Path has a powerful and moving post about the current horrific plight of the Roma in Italy, in which he also describes the origins of Bartok's Romanian Dances and links to this article from yesterday's Independent. Here in the midst of happily multicultural London, it's horrifying to think that such inhumanity is taking place so nearby.

Not that we have a leg to stand on. Less than a decade ago there was an influx in London of Roma from eastern Europe - Slovakia or Romania, I think - who were seeking to escape the persecution and discrimination they'd been experiencing there. They used to beg on the Underground and elsewhere and the tabloid press laid into them with full complement of teeth and claws. After a year or so, they vanished. Presumably they were deported - back to the persecution that will always do its utmost to prevent them from escaping their deprived situation.

Here is a history of the Roma from the Patrin Web Journal.

Whatever happened to that old-fashioned notion that human beings have human rights? Hungarian Dances, which features a Hungarian Roma-descended heroine, has been contracted by publishers in Hungary and Romania as an anti-racist novel, but I wish it could have proved less timely.

As a tribute to the musical achievements of the Roma, here is the astonishing Roby Lakatos playing Hejre Kati, one of the most famous Gypsy melodies that dates back to the legendary violinist Janos Bihari, of whom Lakatos is a descendant.