Shoah library brands government’s stance on traveller communities ‘shameful’

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Shoah library brands government’s stance on traveller communities ‘shameful’

Dr Toby Simpson of the Wiener Holocaust Library hits out at the Conservatives after Home Secretary Priti Patel's contentious remarks this week

Priti Patel addressing the Conservative conference in Manchester (Credit: YouTube)
Priti Patel addressing the Conservative conference in Manchester (Credit: YouTube)

The head of London’s leading Holocaust library and gallery has slammed the Conservative Government’s perceived attack on the gypsy, Roma and traveller communities as “shameful”.

It follows Home Secretary Priti Patel’s launch, on the last day of parliament, of a consultation for a new law allowing police officers to remove vehicles “suspected of trespassing with the intent to reside”.

The move has been blasted by critics as “specifically aimed at travelling peoples,”making it “clearly and deliberately discriminatory,” with historians among those left warning about the danger of attacking vulnerable minorities for political purposes.

Just two weeks ago, the Wiener Holocaust Library in London opened its newest exhibition, titled ‘Forgotten Victims: The Nazi Genocide Against the Roma and Sinti,’ and those behind the new showing say ministers need to learn from history.

Speaking to Jewish News this week, director Dr Toby Simpson said: “It would be a shameful mistake for politicians to ignore the terrible consequences within living memory that have resulted from the marginalisation and criminalisation of the gypsy, Roma and traveller communities.”

He said the current exhibition “documents the extreme persecution of the Roma during the years of Nazi genocide” and “shows that discrimination and prejudice remain widespread across Europe to a shocking degree, with Britain no exception”.

The House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee recently reported persistent failures to tackle inequalities faced by gypsies, Roma and travellers in a range of areas, including health and education.

Asked about Patel’s plans, Simpson said: “Crackdowns are not an effective way to resolve deep-seated social problems; the history of the Roma genocide shows how dangerous this direction of travel can be.”

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