A few days ago, police evicted and razed a Roma settlement in Tirana. According to activists the inhabitants were left with nothing but what they could carry.

It must have been the hardest day in Ardiana life.

The nine year old Romni girl had to watch as police evicted her and her family from the home she spent her entire life in. Just a little later she saw the one place she knew best being razed.

Ardiana Duke and her siblings are scared of what's about to happen. (c) Brisilda Taco
Small children scared of what’s about to happen. (c) Brisilda Taco
Ardiana Duke watching the home she spent her entire life in being razed to make way for a road in Tirana, Albania. (c) Brisilda Taco
Ardiana watching the home she spent her entire life in being razed to make way for a road in Tirana, Albania. (c) Brisilda Taco

Ardiana’s home and a few others, all inhabited by Roma, are to give way to a road being built in Albania’s capital.

Their court appeals haven’t even been decided upon. According to Albanian law the eviction and the destruction of the settlements is illegal, human rights activist Brisilda Taco says.

Roma protest the destruction of their homes in Tirana, Albania, outnumbered by police. (c) Brisilda Taco
Roma protest the destruction of their homes in Tirana, Albania, outnumbered by police. (c) Brisilda Taco

Also, none of the families received proper notice that could have given them time to relocate. Police simply forced them out of their homes on February 19th.

According to the activist group „Aktivizmi Rom dhe Egjiptian„, they have received no compensation for their loss so far.

Last week some families were still homeless, living on the street next to the ruins of their houses.

This incident is not in any way isolated.

Open Discrimination

Roma often face open discrimination in all of the countries of the Balkans, including violence.

Literally tens of thousands live in slums in suburbs or less desirable locations in bigger cities such as highway brigdes, often without plumbing and water access, power is often obtained illegally for lack of money.

That their homes are razed is a regular occurence.

In 2012 Beograd’s „Carton City“, a Roma slum near the city center, had to go in order to embellish the city for the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest that same year. In Serbia, though, open racism against Roma is somewhat mitigated by the prominent role the play in the country’s music scene.

The situation for Roma is the most difficult in Kosovo. Many Kosovars accuse them of having collaborated with Serbs prior to the country’s (undeclared) war of independence in 1999.

Title photo: Ardiana watching as police are about to enter her home in order to evict the family. (c) Brisilda Taco