Bulgarian Roma Children Hand Out Flowers, Smile amidst 'Ethnic' Tensions

Society | October 1, 2011, Saturday // 16:52
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Roma Children Hand Out Flowers, Smile amidst 'Ethnic' Tensions On October 1, Roma children distributed at key junctions in the capital Sofia their drawings and essays to mark the first ever Roma Pride event in Bulgaria. Photo by BGNES

Roma boys and girls have been handing out flowers and smiling on Saturday to passerbies during the so-called "Roma pride'' in downtown Sofia.

"We are here to prove that stirring ethnic hatred makes no sense; let other people tell what should and should not be displayed in society,"Mariana Vankova from the Bulgarian National Network for Children said, as cited by News.bg.

The event's organizers, including representatives of the Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance "Amalipe", a Roma NGO, pointed out the Roma pride parade had been scheduled long before the recent ethnic tensions erupted in Bulgaria.

Ethnic Bulgarians have also joined the initiative, the Bulgarian National Radio has informed.

Already on Wednesday the Center for Inter-ethnic Dialogue and Tolerance "Amalipe" vowed to answer to clashes sparked by discontent of residents of the southern village of Katunitsa with scores of children essays, drawings, and flowers.

Tensions in Bulgaria were sparked by the September 23 murder of Bulgarian youngster, Angel Petrov, 19, who was deliberately run over by a minivan, driven, according to witnesses, by one of the relatives of notorious Roam boss from Katunitsa, Kiril Rashkov AKA Tsar Kiro. The murder led to massive protests of the ethnic Bulgarians in the village, where Tsar Kiro's mansions are located. They culminated Saturday night into the burning of Rashkov's properties by football hooligans from Plovdiv, which is near to Katunitsa, and by football club fans from the capital Sofia and the southern city of Stara Zagora.

From Monday to Thursday night, protests followed in many major Bulgarian cities, including the capital Sofia. Nearly 350 people in total were arrested by the police after the two nights of rallies that involved what has been perceived as ethnic hatred.

Bulgarian authorities have frozen Rashkov's assets and property while he is investigated on tax evasion charges, the revenue agency has confirmed. Interior Ministry Chief Secretary Kalin Georgiev told the morning broadcast of Nova TV channel Wednesday that Rashkov, AKA Tsar Kiro, has been arrested. On Friday the Regional Court in the town of Asenovgrad decided to keep Rashkov behind bars.

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Tags: Roma, Roma Pride, Katunitsa, Kiril Rashkov, protests

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