• July 22, 2019
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A game of killing Roma: Inhabitants of Vilnius Roma camp targeted

A computer game company used live targets in an advertisement for its product – people living in the Vilnius Roma camp. The situation has already caused an uproar in the society – the Department of National Minorities and the Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights have condemned said actions and announced that they would turn to appropriate authorities. The European Foundation of Human Rights also plans to take steps, while Roma organisations express their regret over society’s lack of awareness.

In the photographs advertising the computer game, one can see a weapon aimed at real people – children, women, and old people living in the camp.

“Using the images of Roma living in the Kirtimai district as targets in their games, the computer game company not only violates all ethical standards, but also the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania and the international law,” announced the Department of National Minorities on Facebook.

“The Department will address this issue with responsible institutions. We do not doubt that the office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, the State Data Protection Inspectorate, the Prosecutor General of Lithuania, and the Police will not stay idle”, said the statement.

“As the European Foundation of Human Rights, we will include this case in our reports and statistics. We already know that the police and the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson will be informed, so we will not duplicate these actions. We also report such crimes to the OSCE statistics as hate crimes because in police reports they are often not classified as such,” informed the EFHR lawyer, Ewelina Dobrowolska.

The president of the Baltic Region Association of Roma Women, Vaiva Poškaitė-Tomaševič, reminded in her interview with ZW.lt that the Lithuanian parliament had recently adopted a resolution to add August 2nd to the list of commemorative dates as the Roma Genocide Remembrance Day.

“In this context, it is particularly painful – we can see a very clear incitement to hatred here. In the advertisement, photos of real people have been used. These are legal matters, and a request to the General Prosecutor’s Office to initiate a pre-litigation inquiry has been made. The authorities should take care of this,” said Poškaitė-Tomaševič.

“We encounter discrimination in our work every day. The word ‘tabor’ [Roma camp, TN] is associated with evil, and only few people know that in fact, ‘tabor’ used to mean something completely different. In Lithuania, as well as all around the world, there are thousands of honest, decent, cultured Roma, it is a pity that people do not know, see or hear them – they only see those who are not good people. And it is a pity that the whole nation experiences discrimination and hatred,” added the director of the Roma women association.

We also talked about the issue with the chairman of the Lithuanian Roma Community (Isztwan Kwik, ed.), he also expressed his pain and disappointment that such things are possible, that the lack of human awareness is so widespread. “However, we hope that the society is becoming more and more conscious and that similar situations will not happen again, no matter towards which nation – whether it’s Roma, Lithuanians or anyone else,” concluded Vaiva Poškaitė-Tomaševič.

In an interview with lrt.lt, the manager of the gangsteriai.lt website, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the company does not offer games of shooting Roma people.

“We have hired an ad manager who posted misleading pictures online. We have already terminated this person,” said the representative of the portal.

On Monday afternoon, the General Prosecutor’s Office announced the start of an investigation into the scandalous advertising.

Translated by Marta Bednarczyk within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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