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Bulgaria continues to mislead the international partners that constructive solution of the Gurmen case is sought

September 08
12:22 2015

On 11 August 2015 the Ministry on Regional Development (MRD) published a statement regarding the execution of the demolition orders for the only homes of the Roma families from Kremikovtzi settlement of Martchevo village, Gurmen municipality. According to this statement the National Agency for Construction Control (NACC) prolonged the term for the execution of the orders until 31 August 2015, because no alternative accommodation is secured for the affected persons by the local administration.

On 26 August 2015 officers from Gurmen municipality visited Kremikovtzi settlement and proposed to the Roma families to sign declarations regarding their need of alternative accommodation. The form of the declaration has been accepted by the Gurmen municipal council on 27 July 2015. On the question of the Roma families what alternative accommodation is in fact proposed, the municipal officers answered that they “still do not have this information and this is to be decided later”. The Roma informed the municipal officers that they cannot possibly answer on proposal, which is in fact not made. As a result the municipal officers prepared protocols, according to which the Roma refused alternative accommodation.

Right after that the mayor of Gurmen Minka Kapitanova publicly called on the villagers in Gurmen municipality to accept the Roma in their houses for free, as the municipality cannot secure other alternative accommodation. The villagers from Gurmen answered this call breaking the windows of the building of the municipality and declaring that “they do not want the Roma in the village, and at the same time the mayor want them to accept the Roma in their homes”.

The information that the Roma families from Gurmen refuse alternative accommodation is the next lie of the Bulgarian administration, including on the highest level. The Gurmen municipality does not propose accommodation to the Roma, and apparently has no idea where can possibly accommodate them. This information is just an attempt to deceive the Bulgarian society, the media and the international institutions.

On 28 August the Equal Opportunities Initiative Association renewed the request to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for imposing interim measures regarding the houses, which demolition have been postponed on 13 July 2015 on the basis of the first request for imposing Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court. The renewed request has been sent after the NACC published information on its web page that the new term for execution of the orders is 31 August 2015.

On 31 August the MRD published press-release on the web page, according to which all demolition orders issued regarding Roma houses in Gurmen will be executed and additional press-release stating that prolongation will be granted for two houses only, in conection with the correspondence with the European Court of Human Rights regarding these two houses. According to the press-release the execution of the rest of the orders was to be proceed according to a schedule, defined by NACC, on the basis of information provided by Gurmen municipality regarding alternative accommodation proposed to the affected families.

On 2 September 2015 notices have been sent to 5 families from Kremikovtzi settlement according to which the houses were scheduled for demolition in the period 7 – 11 September. The notices were not served to the families, but put on the front doors of the houses instead. One of these five families legally owns the plot on which the house is built.

On 3 September 2015 Daniela Mihaylova, in her capacity of legal representative of the five families, sent a letter to the mayor of Gurmen, demanding information of the “proposed” alternative accommodation and informing that the affected person have never received such information and never refused alternative accommodation. This letter is not answered up to date.

On 4 September 2015 the European Court of Human Rights sent a letter answering the renewed request for imposing interim measures from 28 August 2015. The Court informed that the responding Government sent information according to which the demolition of the houses in question is postponed until 30 September 2015 for identification of alternative accommodation and following this information the Court is satisfied and is not imposing interim measures.

On 7 September 2015 the NACC demolished 6 houses in Kremikovtzi settlement – the five whose owners were sent notices on 2 September, and one of the two houses, which demolition has been postponed on 13 July 2015 until 30 September 2015 because of lack of alternative accommodation secured. The family from the sixth house has been informed for the demolition on the same morning – 7 September 2015. This family consists from two parents, two minor boys (one with severe disability) and a new born baby girl.

We hereby state that we see the actions of the administration for demolition of the only homes of the Roma from Kremikovtzi as unjust and discriminatory. These actions violate Bulgaria’s obligations under the European Convention for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. We believe that these actions are taken with the aim to gain political dividends in the upcoming pre-election campaign in Bulgaria, and to motivate the voting of the nationalists in Bulgaria. Both local and national authorities in Bulgaria failed to fulfill their obligations to consult the local Roma community in Gurmen on alternative options and to save them from turning to homeless. The Roma from Kremikovtzi have been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. Many Roma, between them children with severe disabilities were left on the street and made homeless.

We remind that from 2006 and until now Bulgaria has been found in violation of Roma housing rights by three international bodies- the European Committee on Social Rights, the European Court of Human Right and the UN Human Rights Committee. These institutions found that Bulgarian internal legislation does not answer international requirements on human rights. The Bulgarian Government however did nothing for improving the internal legislation in compliance with international standards. It also did nothing in terms of taking actions for long term and civilized solution of the problem with the Roma unlawful constructions in Gurmen and all other Bulgarian municipalities where segregated Roma settlements exist.

 

National coalition Intellect

Information released by Equal Opportunities Initiative Association

 

For further information:

Daniela Mihaylova, legal representative of Gurmen community, +359 888 515 992, equal_opportunities@abv.bg

Ognyan Issaev, + 359 898 527 829

Liliya Makaveeva, + 359 899 132 029

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