Roma Slavery. Have you learned about that in school?

The Roma people came to Romanian territory in the 14th century as free people, but here they were enslaved for almost 500 years.

Have you learned about that in school?

The fist document stating the Roma slavery dates back to October 3rd, 1385. Slavery on Romanian territories lasted until mid-19th century when – due to the Enlightenment ideas of freedom becoming known in the Romanian society with the support of young noblemen who had studied in the West - Mihail Kogălniceanu, Vasile Alecsandri, Alecu Russo, Cezar Bolliac, Ion Heliade Radulescu and others talked about the retrograde characteristics of maintain the slavery and militated for its dissolution. On March 22nd 1843, the first law was adopted and it abolished the slavery among the Roma owned by noblemen in Țara Românească. Few years later, on February 11th 1847, as proposed by ruler Gheorghe Bibescu, a law was voted and all slaves owned by the Romanian Orthodox Church and public establishments were freed.

The freedom lasted for three months, as internal resistance of the ruling class and the intervention of the Otoman army reinstated the former leadership and, thus, slavery of the Roma. This ended only on December 22nd 1855 in Moldova and on February 20th 1856 in Țara Românească. The Roma people in Basarabia became free in 1861.

In 2011, as per law no. 28, the date of February 20th became the National Day of Abolition of Roma Slavery in Romania.

(Source Roma people in Romania. Romani CRISS)

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