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Roma for New Politics by Opre Roma Kosovonarrative

Opre Roma Kosovo is a community of Roma voices, friends and allies determined to empower and create unity among Roma communities to take part in public and political life in Kosovo. One of our concern is increasing the Roma voters in the municipal electionby breathing unity, power, raise our voice and be powerful.

Kosovo according to the last census in 2011, has 35,784 of Roma in Kosovo, which is about 2% of the total population, making us one of the smallest minority groups in the country. However, we all know there are more of us, which shall be confirmed in the new Kosovo census in 2022. There is also an undetermined number of community members who live as refugees or asylum seekers in other countries and may return to Kosovo in the near future. At the same time many Roma families are leaving Kosovo to find a better living in Western Europe. We cannot afford any moreto lose our people due to bad living conditions and treatment by the governments. We have to stand for our rights and better lives.

In Kosovo there are laws and legislations that have quotas (guaranteed seats) that shall be respected for each minority to be part of the municipal assembly. However, that does not necessarily ensure the fair and equal treatment of all Roma citizens in Kosovo.

Roma community in Kosovo hasbeen constantly lied to in all election campaign, be the central or municipal elections. This has led to a complete deterioration of the morals in our politics in which no one trust anyone to represent people’s interest.

We have been greatly disappointed by many unaccountable, unwillingand incapable politicians to produce change. This is not an option anymore. Our lives and future are devastated and out of our control. We know change is not easy but not impossible. We have to replace our disbelief in politics, build on the achievements and wisdom of our ancestors, use our collective voting power to demand change for our lives and future.We will not survive another decade of Roma illusion. We have to build confidence and confront the notion that we are hapless, powerless, and voiceless and that we need help from the outside. We have to engage in the democratic process of decision making. This is only possible if we make every vote count, if we act together, if we use our numbers smartly, if we use our knowledge and wisdom of our ancestors, if we work with pro-Roma politicians, and engage with our friends and allies. ”Our vote can make a difference if we act wisely and vote together”.

By voting or non-voting for politicians in elections and in absence of our deliberate political engagementbetween elections, we have been legitimizing their exclusionary politics of Roma. We need to move to the next stage. We have the power to decide who runs the country and our lives and future. We want to change politics and ways in which political choices are informed by knowledge supported by political skills for deliberate political engagement. Not all politicians are the same. We will engage with all those that have genuine interest and determined to bring about positive change in our communities. The new politics should be based on dialogue in which Roma are treated as equal political subject and maintain accountability of politicians to bring about substantive progress.

We want to have politics where those we elected are the people we can trust in their ethics and competence. We want politics where we vote not only in elections but have a voice after elections. We want politicians to come to our communities not before, but after elections, those who want better for Kosovo, better for Kosovar future and better for all people in Kosovo.

To make this happen, we must build on the achievements and wisdom of our ancestors. They always found hope where everybody else saw none. They have survived much worse conditions. Because of them, we are here. Today, our hope is our unity. The differences about where we live, what age we are, and what language we speak, how we pray, what gender we are does not matter. We are all Roma. We are in this together. Only together we are stronger, and only together we have a biggerchance for change. ORK can bring us together. That is our place for unity, voice and power. We are the most politically under-represented minority in Kosovo. If 10-20 years ago we did not see this, now we do. Now we know. This abuse is happening because they know our power. We are aware this is our power. We know we are many and that our communities are growing. Our number is growing and our educated children and youth are growing. Our power is growing. It is a question when we say it is enough. That is our decision, and the moment is now. For the sake of Kosovo, we invite all responsible political candidates believing in this new Kosovo politics to:
1. Support to prevent COVID-19 infection and vaccination
2. Support to recover our children’s education and our income
3. Support to find work and develop our own business
4. Fair conditions for personal civil registration and legalization of our homes
5. Protection from hate speech and physical violence and justice for the victims.