Germany: Sinti and Roma protesters rally against removal of Berlin genocide memorial

Dozens of Sinti and Roma activists marched in Berlin on Saturday, to oppose the removal of the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism, planned by the German railway company Deutsche Bahn, as part of a train line expansion. Members of the Sinti and Roma community, as well as activists and supporters from left-wing organisations, defied the rain as they gathered at the memorial site, before marching towards the headquarters of Deutsche Bahn in Potsdamer Platz. «If our memorial goes away, we're also more vulnerable as a Roma community,» said Barica Emanuel, a young activist. Another activist pointed out that the proposals were «very ironic» given the role played by the predecessor of Deutsche Bahn in the transportation of the victims of the Nazis. To facilitate the planned expansion of the S21 subway line, Deutsche Bahn initially wanted the memorial to be dismantled and removed, but following complaints it requested the partial closure of the site to set up a construction pit directly where a water basin is. Last week, representatives of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, municipal and federal authorities, as well as representatives from the Deutsche Bahn, company met to discuss the situation but could not come to any solution. Further talks are expected at the end of June. The monument is dedicated to the memory of the 220,000 to 500,000 people murdered in the Porajmos — the Romani Holocaust. It was designed by the Israeli artist Dani Karavan and was officially opened on 24 October 2012 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the presence of President Joachim Gauck.

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