When speaking about Roma and their organization, then it is thought that Roma are not organized therefore thay are in a bad situation, as you may see it in today`s day. However, when seeing otherwise, we may see that Roma were always organized but not as other countries as they have never owned a land/country. In every exodus and jorney roma were walking on groups and these groups show their organized migration. Every group had its leader and the leaders of the groups were always in a harmony. The struggle for life made them separate in smaller groups because great groups could not find food to survive. Everywhere they gone, Roma had their leaders who were called as Beg, Grof, Prince etc. these titles indicate their relation with certain countries. Names were taken based on countries they lived and cooperated with.
As for example the title of Beg indicates that this title was used at the time of Ottoman empire and was called as Cingene Sancak Beg. The Qingene Sancak Beg, was the Beg (leader) of all Roma in a place called Rumeli. This indicates that Roma were organized and had their Beg as Ottomans had their Begs. This irganization with Ottomans indicates that Roma were organized well, because Ottomans did not catch them as slaves but as a organized nation who together with Ottomans took part in wars. Many Roma were Muselems (left, believers, known), this shows that the Begs responsibility was to organize these Muselems and their occupation which was to clean the streets before the war, to regulate the graves and to tell Ottomans where should they attack. The Muselems were not paying any fees, as other nations were paying annual fee.
This connection-relation was made between Qingene Sancak Beg and was called as named in Ottoman language "Kanunnâmei Kıbtıyânı Vilâyeti Rumeli" in 937/ 1531 or as named in Turkish language "Rumeli Eyaleti Çingenelerin Kanunnamesi". The Qingene Sancak Bey or as called by Ottomans ”Mir i Kiptiyan” ruled amongst Roma and its duty was to collect the investments, regulate the security and gathered Muselems who were sent to army.
However, even before the above mentioned period (1531) Roma were organized. Even if we dont know how, based on Bayrako- Sanjako (flag) that was given to Prizren Roma from Turkish Seljuks in 1227, we may see that Roma were organized even by the aspect of army because in this period Sanjak-Bayrak (flag) was given to Roma of Prizren - Kosova as good soldiers who supported the Seljuk Turkish. In the cassette as told by Prizren Roma – Terzimahala, they tell that in Konya, the capital of Seljuk Turkish, Roma were invited to receive a award as good fighters and people who gave support. Here they were given a big Bayrako-Sanjako (flag) and a small one, saying that the smaller one was given by the guard of St. Davids grave. In the flag is written in arabic language the year when the flag was given. The flag even today has its special day and that is of 24th of May when this flag is exposed or on the closest date on Saturday, where a great ceremony is organized. More on this day will be written separately.
When seeing such organization as army on those years, then we surely know that they were even before organized well and such organization was inherited en today’s day.
However after Ottomans were defeated Roma remained on the places where they settled and lost the security they used to have. Since then, Roma were treated badly by everyone. Although Roma wanted to remain in one place, in their houses, after the loss of Ottomans, they couldn`t have do it and many Roma lost their houses and remained on the streets. Now it was more difficult to be organized. No one wanted thatm and no one trusted them. Everything they used to organize with Ottomans, now they had to organize with other countries where they remained. Roma were separated in many countries and every country had its own rules.
The unity of Roma in Rumeli places was destroyed. Every country knew Roma cooperated with Ottomans and now nobody wanted them.
It is very important to investigate the Rumeli places as they are very important for Roma. The word Rumeli derives from Turkish word Rum ili, which indicates the places of Romans (Byzantines) which were very broad and the capital was the Constantinople, today’s Istanbul in Turkey. All European ands that were lost by Romans from Ottomans were called Rum ili and the word Rum was blended into RUMELI. The entire Balkan was called Rumeli although before even people from Anatolia- Turkey (11. and 12. century) were called Rumeli.
More or less it is known that Roma at the time of Seljuk Turks and Ottoman empire were always organized, we have explained this in our above writing, but it is not known how were they organized at the time of Romans and this investigation may find out how did Roma arrive in the places of Romans or it may be that Romans found them at the places they concurred.
The flag in Prizren is an argument that Roma were organized fighters in 1227 and were the citizens of Prizren- Kosovo then we must investigate even the Seljuk’s archive in order to find out how and why this relation was established.
We saw above, when we have talked about Romani exodus, that Roma who had the title as Grofs, Princes were not wanted in Europe alluding the these Roma who were saying to come from the small Egypt were called as Turkish spies, then we must investigate the relation between Turkish and those who were before Seljuks. After the given flag indicates that Roma were Shia Muslims at the time, this can be seen by the writing on the flag in Arabic language, and in Europe were known as Ishmaels, then should be investigated the Roma organization at the time of Fatimids empire (909-1171) who amongst other ruled in Egypt and Syria, places where Roma immigrated from towards the Balkans.
As Rom were paid soldiers of Seljuk empire, it is good to investigate how were Roma organized at the time of Selahudin Eyup (1137-1193), as it is known that Selahudin in his army has recruited nomads to whom he did not pay anything except the land and the goods they were taking from the places they entered, they were taking for themselves and at the places they settled were keeping the security and were collecting fees as Ottomans were doing.
This investigation is very important because the arrival of Roma in Europe by different groups, where they did not want to integrate as locals, may be true connection between countries from where they took the security papers for traveling in different countries to inform them.
Be that as it may, this is a long investigation process that requires a great organization, therefore let us get back to the way Roma were organized after the failure of Ottoman empire.
Many Roma after the failure of Ottomans (definitely 1922), when talking about Rumeli, left their houses seeking life in different places and countries, who were still organized but now in smaller groups mainly only by their family. Such Roma lived nomadic life but those who remained to live amongst different nations had a very difficult life. Many Roma have hidden their identity and were assimilated but a great number even after a difficult life kept the Romanism and thanks to such Roma we today speak Romani language. It is important to know that Roma at the time of Ottomans had the right to speak in their language and to celebrate their tradition and were never expelled or killed just because they were Roma as it was done in Europe as told in Romani exodus and Holocaust. It is known that many Roma in the time of Ottomans were assimilated, especially the wealthy ones, however it is also known that Roma who lived under the rule of ottomans, today speak Romani language and such Roma today “fight” for Romani emancipation. Here we do not mean a small number of Roma, but some millions.
Until 1939 although there were made different efforts to organize the Roma from Balkans and other places called Rumeli, there was no success. After 1939, as the Second World War started, Roma could not be organized as they were wanted all over the place to be killed, as we told at the part of Holocaust. Second World War started and ended with very difficult unorganized life.
On the other hand, Roma who haven’t lived under the rule of Ottomans or those who did not live in Rumeli, they were in a very difficult situation (see Romani exodus) and their organization was made very difficult.
The first effort organization effort at the national level was made on 1878 when Yozef Raynhard invited many Roma from Italy, Spain and Russia in a place called Konstat near Stuttgart – Germany to establish the Romani Organization who will fight for Romani interests and would allow Roma to walk freely and to do trade. But such organization was not allowed by German Government. After one year, such efforts were made in Hungary, but there as well did not succeed.
After 1922 after the October Revolution that took place in Russia to destroy the Kingdom of Russia and to form Union of Russian Social Republics, where Roma also took part, was given a possibility to open different associations and the “Saromengo Yekhipe” – “The Union of All Roma” was established. In this period, which slowly started to quench, since then many programs for Roma were opened, Romani writings, school in Romani language was opened, and many other things that were important for the unity of Roma and emancipation. Different efforts for Roma union were made by Roma from Romania until the Second World War. In 1933 an organization called Union of Romania Roma was established, but has quenched with the arrival of the war.
As well as in Poland, Roma in (1937), from self-appointed kings, Kviek family, asked for African land to create the country of Roma.
Such small or great efforts were made in other countries as well but had no success as the Second World War was very difficult for Roma, expected to be cleansed by the Nazi Germans.
Many years after the Second World War (1959), when Roma were free to declare themselves and to ask for their rights, many associations were established who helped to preserve the Romani culture and Romani emancipation. In many countries such organization has developed even more, as for example in France, the Ionel Rotaro, who fleed from Romania, gathering the Roma, appointed himself as Romani king and wanted to have the Legislative role requiring land in Lion-France and in other places. This ”Romani king” cooperated with other Roma in other countries and were issuing-selling Romani passports and other papers issued by the state. So was planed to establish the Roma country, intended to be called as Romanistan.
Such efforts for establishing the Roma country and to play the role of a country were made in many other countries but such unreal intention was never to be realized.
Knowing that such ideas can not be realized, then Roma wanted to be recognized as citizens of the countries where they lived, so they were planning to establish the unique organization that would fight for Roma rights. For such organization, wise and intellectual people were needed to lead such organization.
Initially Roma intelectuals require by their countries to establish Roma associations who would work for Roma emancipation and at the same time preserve their culture. With the establishment of such associations, countries enabled Roma to be well organizaed in local level.
It wasnt easy to require something that Roma did not have. Requiring such thing means entering the politics and nobody wanted another politics except that of the country. We will show an example how in Prizren- Kosovo in 1969 was required to establish a Roma association.
In this period Prizren – Kosovo was part of ex Yugoslavia and on that time was ruling Socialism lead by the communist party.
The first three Roma intellectuals of Prizren: Nusret Seharsoyi-professor of Albanian language, Ibrahim Elshani-professor pedagogue, Shaban Berisha-lawyer, in 1969, require from the Prizren municipality to appoint a meeting for opening the Romani association where the Romani culture and tradition will be preserved. As these three intellectuals tell, under the desk where they set, small microphones were installed and recorded everything what was being said.
This indicates how diffucult was at thet time to require something and how deeply one should have thought before saying something.
At the time the association Durmish Aslano was established in Prizren and such associations were opened in other places of ex Yugoslavia that were implementing their activities in local level but were also cooperating in national level (cooperation with other republics who had close relations with Yugoslavia).
As the cooperation between these associations was established, then it was required Roma to be organized at international level and on the initiative of Slobodan Berberski- Roma from Yugoslavia, the International meeting was organized in London on 08-12th April 1971. and in this first Roma Congress took part delegates from 14 countries and they were: Czecho-Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary (émigré), France, Germany, Spain, Britain, USA, India, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium.
At the first International Roma Congress whose leader was appointed Slobodan Berberski, important decisions were made, some of them are:
•April the 8th to be International Roma Day
•Romani anthem to be the song Gelem Gelem
•Roma flag (two colors, green and blue and in the middle red wheel.
•None of the dialects is better then the other – all Roma are brothers
•To establish cooperation between Roma and India …
•All the names as: Gypsi, Cigan, Majup, Gitan Zigoyner etc. were defined as depreciating and the nation must be called with its real name as, Roma…
Five commissions were established to work in different fields:
•War crimes (Holocaust)
Since the First International Roma Congress to date a total of eight conferences were organized and after all the efforts put by the Roma delagates and the cooperation with International Organizations, Roma did not reach that level of organization in the World.
More on Romani Congres, decisions and cooperation with International Organizations was wrotten by Dr. Rayko Juriq (Seoba Roma – Migration of Roma) and Jean-Pierre Liegeois in the book ”Roma in Europe”.
When seeing al this before our eyes, we ay see that, even if the International Organizations guaranteed on papers Romani development and integration this was not done as it was thought and written. This was seen on the war of eks Yugoslavia and when the NATO (1999) attacked Serbia, that time, nobody thought that amongst conflict groups Roma were thouse to remain between two fires and before the eyes of international Organizations Romani exodus took place. Here was seen that the IRU had no power to prevent this exodus and here was also seen the interest of international Organizations towards Roma.
Then here arises the questions, why these Romani Organizations are established when having no legislative power and function?
In Europe there are around 12-15 milion Roma and this number is even greater in other countries then those of EU, and knowing that Roma live in all these EU countries, why shall Roma not have any legislative function in EU.
Every EU country in its reports advocates relavant problems of Roma and not raising Romani problems leaves Roma in difficult situation. Roma are described as those who do not want to work, theves, are asocial people etc. but they do not tell why is this situation as such and true are their reports.
For having a beter picture about Roma in EU then the EU must issue a decree to every EU country for opening Roma offices in their countries. The representatives who will work in these offices will cooperate with the government of the country and will issue a special report about the situation of Roma in that particular country of EU. By doing this we may know the real situation of Roma and know who is responsible for Roma integration or non-integration.
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