The Gypsy life

They are called the Roma, Gypsies, Travelers. In Swedish, they are Zigenare.

And in a registry maintained by the police in southern Sweden, thousands of their names are listed and labeled “Z,” according to a series of articles in Dagens Nyheter, better known as DN. The newspaper broke the story several weeks ago, and has kept it aflame ever since in a series of articles, one almost every day. The police might be registering Roma perhaps here in Stockholm as well; in Skåne, they are tracking them by name, age, marriage, all sorts of relationships.

Even two-year-old children.

My Swedish is too poor to understand everything fully, but I’m getting the gist: in Skåne, a region that is something like a state that contains Sweden’s most racially tense city of Mälmo, the police have been maintaining a registry of every Roma from age two to octagenarian. The news reports say they have every person’s marriage, birth, relationships to others in the community, whatnot, listed.

The newspaper has run some quotes from Roma people in the registries, talking about how the Nazis tracked their parents before they escaped to come here to Sweden — where everyone is supposedly equal.  Roma have been tracked here in Sweden for over a century, but to do so in modern times, post World War II, seems particularly … Ah, I am speechless. What can I say?  Stupid, insensitive, cruel and racist, at the very least. Inhuman and inhumane, backward and criminal, perhaps.

And of course they are being tracked elsewhere as well — go read the headlines from this past week about the teenaged girl and her family expelled from France, the family in Greece accused of kidnapping a blond child, and so on.  The New York Times reported that there are 11 million Roma living across Europe.  That’s bigger than Sweden’s population.

Here in Sweden, the DN stories have been tough to read.  Infuriating. This one in particular makes me so unhappy: — you can plug it into Google Translate for a rough English version. A 33-year-old man whose family has been in Sweden since the 1800s struggled for a while:  he committed crimes, but finally dealt with his ADHD and his outsider status. Today, he is employed, successful, married to a Swedish woman — she is in the registry, and so is their two-year-old son Charlie.

Here’s a translation of one quote from him:

I had fought to get myself into Swedish society, but for what? When I heard that my child is in the registry, I felt that everything I’ve done is worthless.

The federal government held a hearing on 24 October to discuss the fallout from the Roma registration.  Sverige Radio tweeted the event

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