Romanian Roma Threaten Church With Lawsuit Over Role in Slavery

Romania's main faith organisation, the Orthodox Church, has disputed claims that the country's Roma suffered exclusively from slavery in past centuries, after being threatened with a lawsuit.

Dorin Cioaba, the self-proclaimed king of the Roma in Romania, told the Conference of European Roma on Wednesday in Sibiu that he will file an international lawsuit if the Romanian Orthodox Church does not recognise its involvement in the enslavement of the Roma between the 15th and 19th centuries in the Romanian Principalities.

But a Romanian Orthodox Church spokesman, Victor Banescu, on Wednesday responded that Roma and Romanians suffered together from slavery, which was abolished in the Romanian Principalities in 1855, and said the Church should not be singled out for exclusive responsibility.

"It is unfair to select only a certain category of facts, such as 'slavery of the Roma', and to apply this judgment key to only one institution, the Romanian Orthodox Church," said Banescu.

"For 167 years, since the Roma were enslaved, the Orthodox Church has done nothing and has never publicly apologised and continues to cover up this topic […] We have publicly and through various projects requested the Church to provide documents [about the enslavement of the Roma]," Cioaba told the online portal Turnul Sfatului.

Cioaba also announced the start of construction of the first International Roma Museum that will be built in Sibiu.

In 2016, on the 160th anniversary of the emancipation of the Roma in the Romanian Principalities, the head of the Church, Patriarch Daniel, called for an honest investigation of the enslavement of the Roma in the Romanian Principalities, which must take into account the international context, not only the local one.<...

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