The National Assembly for Wales’ Cross-Party Group for Gypsies and Travellers led a vigil on the steps of the Senedd on Thursday 26 January 2017. The Cross-Party Group was supported by South East Wales Racial Equality Council (SEWREC), Bridges, Travelling Ahead, Romani Culture and Arts Company, Unity Project and Gypsy/Travellers from across Wales.
SEWREC’s Gypsy Champion produced a beautiful book with a tree growing out of it and hand prints forming the leaves. The book contains a series of numbers, representing the estimated number of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller victims who were murdered under Nazi persecution.
Each of the partner organisations worked with the children in their Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities to produce the hand prints. The children wrote statements about the Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 theme, How can life go on? from their perspective.
Tom Tom, a Gypsy Traveller, explained the significance of the book:
‘Sprouting from the book is a tree. The tree is strong, resilient and it is always growing. I think that is a good representation of how Gypsies are today.’
Julie Morgan AM, Chair of the Cross-Party Group highlighted the importance of the vigil:
‘Sometimes it is forgotten Gypsies were also involved, so although we are commemorating everybody, this event particularly highlights the fact that probably 750,000 Gypsies died and so this event has been organised by Gypsy Travellers to make that commemoration.’
Tom Tom, also commented:
‘I think it is nice to hold it here because it shows that the Assembly Members and the people who are chosen to represent our community are made aware how many Gypsies and Travellers died in the Holocaust.’