Appeal to help 17 families in danger of losing their only homes in Voivodinovo, Bulgaria

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Dear Friends,

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee appeals for your help in saving the homes of 17 Roma families from the village of Voivodinovo, near Plovdiv, South-East Bulgaria. The families are in danger of losing their only homes as a result of forceful demolitions.

The calls to demolish the Roma houses was preceded by a criminal incident on 6 January 2019, in which two Roma from the village of Voivodinovo beat an army officer. The two men were later detained by the authorities.

The same day anti-Roma protests demanding that all Roma houses in the village are demolished were organized.  Local residents, nationalistic groups and army personnel from the Bulgarian Army took part in these protests. A number of retaliatory threats were addressed to the entire Roma community from the village.

In response to public pressure, Maritsa Municipality proceeded to immediately demolish three houses in blatant violation of the law.  It also started a procedure to demolish the remaining 17 Roma houses as illegal.

At no point during the procedure that unfolded in the middle of winter were any of the inhabitants offered alternative accommodation. The evicted families and their children are currently living with relatives in Plovdiv and in several remote villages in extreme poverty. Some of the people have stopped working and their children have stopped attending school in Voivodinovo.

At present, the BHC is providing legal assistance to all 17 families in danger of losing their homes. The cost of the first stage of the court proceedings in Plovdiv - including legal fees, court taxes, and court expertise – is going to be at least 5,317 EUR – an amount that we do not currently have.

We appeal for your support to help us save the only homes of people subjected to discrimination only on the basis of their ethnic belonging!

If you want to donate to help us provide legal assistance to the affected families, you can do it on the following bank account:

Bank: UniCredit Bulbank
IBAN: BG47 UNCR 7630 1005 0868 16
BIC: UNCRBGSF
Reason for payment: VOIVODINOVO
Recipient: Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Raised: 100 EUR
Goal: 5,317 EUR

The donated amounts will be reported at the end of each week until the target amount is reached.

Krassimir Kanev,
Chair of BHC