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“Allow us to live in dignity” – calling an end to forced evictions in Romania

By Barbora Cernusakova and Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s EU team

Hundreds of people, the majority Roma, live in a long-standing settlement close to a landfill and a chemical waste dump in Pata Rât, on the periphery of Cluj-Napoca, the third largest city in north-west Romania. More than 70 families, most of them Roma, were moved here to inadequate new housing units, two and a half kilometres from the closest bus stop and far from schools, health services and jobs, after they were forcibly evicted in December 2010 from Coastei Street in the centre of the city.

Florin Stancu was not at home when the municipality announced the eviction, 48 hours before it happened. “I was in Italy for work and I received a phone call to come as soon as possible, because they are demolishing our homes. I took a plane from Rome and arrived at 11pm on 16 December 2010. Everybody had packed. They were told that at 5am the municipal police will come. Whoever had packed would be moved normally. Whoever had not would be moved by force. I asked: ‘Why are you moving us in the middle of the winter? Why are you sending us there with the garbage?’”

The forced eviction remains a source of deep trauma for the inhabitants. “It was minus 20 degrees, we were moved to a room of 16 metres squared, which we are now sharing with 10 persons. All of us sleep on the floor. We share the bathroom with 40 people,” Elena Greta, one of the women affected, told Amnesty International.

On World Habitat Day, more than 100 people took part in an action in front of the Prefecture – the extended hand of the government in Cluj county. The action was co-organized by Amnesty International and local NGOs Amare Prhala, Fundatia Desire and the Working Group of Civil Organizations (gLOC) , along with representatives of affected communities. Elena, Florin and many other people who were previously forcibly evicted or are now facing threat of forced eviction were there to call for an end to forced evictions, decent housing for all and laws that will protect them.

 

To the sound of drums, Roma people and others affected by forced evictions and lack of adequate housing wrote messages on large cardboard houses: “Stop forced evictions!”, “We want decent housing!”, “We don’t want to live with garbage!”, “Allow us to live in dignity!”, “Habitable houses for all”, “Stop racism!”

To the sound of drums, Roma people and others affected by forced evictions and lack of adequate housing wrote messages on large cardboard houses: “Stop forced evictions!”, “We want decent housing!”, “We don’t want to live with garbage!”, “Allow us to live in dignity!”, “Habitable houses for all”, “Stop racism!”

Local activists collected hundreds of signatures in support of Amnesty’s international campaign calling on the Minister of Regional Development and Tourism to bring Romania’s housing law in line with international human rights standards. We called for a law that will protect people from forced evictions and will hold the local authorities in Cluj-Napoca and other places in Romania accountable for housing rights violations.

Participants held photographs of communities facing the threat of forced eviction around the world, as a gesture of solidarity.

Ernest Creta, who was also forcibly evicted last December from Coastei Street, said, “We are here today so that what happened to us will not be repeated to others. The law should be for everybody and should be respected.”

Join our campaign, bring an end to forced evictions in Romania! Take action here: http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/protect-right-housing-new-romanian-housing-law