A struggle for Romany recognition


On May 19th I had been invited to the Victoria Theatre/Victoriateatern in central Malmoe to experience En Resandes Paus/A Vagrant’s Pause. It was arranged by Christian Glasnovic and RGRA, i.e. The Movement The Street’s Voice and Face. It was hosted by Christian Glasnovic, music producer at RGRA, Rasmus Snögren, who’s a RGRA-youth leader and Dusan Marinkovic, a Romany youngster and hip-hop artist in Malmoe. You find more information about them on http://www.rgra.se. The evening was beautiful and when I arrived some Romany teenage-boys in handsome suits were standing outside the theatre together with Rasmus Snögren. It was dress-code, suits for the men and dresses for the ladies. This was an evening to commemorate the Romany struggle for recognition, but also to party. Inside I saw some families who had placed themselves by tables at the back of the salon and I discussed the Romany situation with a couple of middle-aged men. One of them explained that he had an illness, but that he was neglected in the health-care system and he was convinced that his Romany identity was a contributing factor. That saddened me a lot. More and more people arrived, people in all ages, families, handsome men and beautiful women. Felicia Fredriksson who’s organisation leader at Victoriateatern was preparing things as usual.

The Victoria Theatre opened up its doors originally on September 9th 1912. It was built by the architect Axel Stenberg and until the beginning of the 1920’s it was a salon for silent movies. When the silent movies disappeared and the sound-movies came instead more movie theatres opened up, and Victoriateatern had a tough time surviving. Around 1945 they changed the direction and the theatre became an arena for comedies and revues. So it was for about ten years. In the mid-1950’s Victoriateatern once more became a movie-theatre, but the competition was tough and they had to shut down in 1974. The year after the building was threatened by plans of tearing it down. However in 1976 the theatre building was occupied by some left-wing artists, among them the singer Mikael Wiehe. In 1981 Victoriateatern opened up once more with its present agenda and has so far survived the last 32 years. Now Victoriateatern is a place for music shows, films, theatre plays and stand-up comedians. You find their programme on http://www.victoria.se and you may also reach Felicia Fredriksson at felicia@victoria.se.

En Resandes Paus was a nice show and I enjoyed it. I took a seat by a table and discussed with some women and men nearby. It was interesting and also another Swedish guy who was involved in these issues sat opposite me. Dusan Marinkovic presented the evening well. He’s only 15 years old, but already a famous person in town. You see him in one of the photos below to the left together with a couple of friends. You also see the salon where we were.

On October 18th 1997 14-year old Dusan Marinkovic was murdered by Serb Neo Nazis in Beograd. The skinheads had seen him when he was going out on his street to buy some soda. They didn’t know the boy, but they killed him. Dusan’s death became a symbol for the Romany struggle against the discrimination. 18 days later the killed Dusan’s sister gave birth to an infant boy whom she Christened Dusan. Now he’s 15 years old and lives here in Sweden. At the age of 12 Dusan started rapping and bit by bit he has become a household-name. It was also when the new series of killings of immigrants here in Malmoe had started in 2010. Dusan began reading what he could of the other serial-shooter called the Laser Man, John Ausonius, in the early 1990’s who had shot immigrants in the Stockholm region. In the evening of November 6th 2010 the Malmoe Police arrested Peter Mangs, the Malmoe equivalent of John Ausonius. Dusan was frightened as was his parents. Dusan said: “I thought that the police didn’t do enough. Even today I believe that they would have looked more for the killer if Swedes had been threatened”. Dusan lives in the southern suburb Lindängen and he also participated in an exhibition at Malmoe Museum. In co-operation with RGRA Malmoe Museum last autumn wanted to highlight the fact that it was 500 years since Romanies first came to Sweden in 1512. According to the sentence “Nothing about us without us” there was the exhibition called Muri Romani Familja, which lasted October 12th 2012 to January 27th 2013. There was material from activists, musicians, painters, photographers who depicted Romany life. Dusan was one of them. The others were Alisa Didkovsky, painter from the USA, Elena Nazare, photographer from Romania, Laura Halilovic, filmer from Italy…and the Malmoe Youth Central.

As the Sunday evening progressed music was played on stage, saxophone, accordeon, drums, horns, clarinette. Many people were dancing, and so was I a bit. The food was good, lots of food and the atmosphere was positive, warm and welcoming. Everyone enjoyed. I liked it a lot, but had for various reasons to leave a little early. As I left Behrang Miri came running after me and said: “Anders. You should know that Dusan venerates you a lot. Take care of his love for you, Anders.” I told Behrang Miri that I will, and I also said that I know what Dusan is doing and that this boy’s voice must be heard. I also renewed my suggestion to Behrang Miri that he and I ought to have lecture together sometime. Behrang and I are different from each other, have different perspectives and skills, different political ideologies and religions, but the fire inside of us is very similar. As I left I heard Behrang Miri say: “Never loose your fire, Anders”. Don’t worry. I won’t.

Anders Moberg, May 22d 2013



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