“Bijelo Polje is a city of culture, we can freely say that culture lives in Bijelo Polje” said the director of “Ratković Poetry Evenings” Kemal Musić, who enabled Help to hold an exhibition of photographs “Human Rights through the lens of young Roma and Egyptians” in their prestigious city institution Risto Ratković House, whose authors are Roma-Egyptian (RE) high school students from Podgorica and Berane.
An exhibition was opened in Bijelo Polje on Thursday, February 18, and it will be possible to see it in this city for two weeks.
Kemal Musić emphasized that as a long-term journalist he visited a large number of RE settlements and was convinced of how difficult are conditions in which this community functions and how things change slowly, but he emphasized that he was especially “delighted by the joy of these photographs”.
“So, that difficult Roma life is only shaded through a few photos in this setting. But what this exhibition above all suggests is life, and life is a basic human right. “
Elvis Beriša from Help’s partner organization on this project – Roma youth organization “Walk with us – Phiren Amenca” emphasized that as part of numerous activities on the project “NGOs in action to promote and protect the human rights of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro “, this activity is especially dear, because the focus is on young people.
“The photos we can see in this important home of culture are the result of many months of work with young people and their views and human rights perspectives. This is especially important today when we notice that this distance towards this community is constantly growing, and young people from the RE population want to see things differently. So they did not show the bad life of the RE community but affirm what our community is currently doing and living – and above all, affirming education. We at Phiren Amenca believe that young people are the drivers of positive change in the community and we believe that change can only happen with education.”
The regional coordinator of Help, Klaus Mock, emphasized that he was very grateful to our host, Kemal Musić, the director of Ratković’s Poetry Evenings, who enabled us and young Roma and Egyptian activists the Risto Ratković House as one of the central cultural venues in Bijelo Polje to show photos taken by young people and show us the perspective of their lives.
“As there is still a big difference in the standard of living between the Roma and Egyptian communities and the majority population, I believe that the municipality of Bijelo Polje will give its contribution to help significantly improve the general situation of Roma in this municipality. Equal opportunities for citizens to engage in civic and political life are key to democracy. For that reason we in Help through EU-funded project “Civil Society in Action to Promote the Rights of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro” we support several Roma organizations that will become the main promoters of these rights.”
One of the activities we helped was the establishment of the Roma Cultural Club RoCK in Bijelo Polje. In front of this organization, Rozana Božović emphasized how important culture and identity are for Roma, which is why a cultural club was founded. As a sign of gratitude for the help in founding the club, but also for everything he did with Help in the past period and is still doing to help the RE community, Božović presented Mock with the first award “Roma Heart” which will be regularly awarded to individuals or organizations which contribute to Roma integration.
Aziz Diberi, in front of the Berane RE organization “Extended Hand”, was especially proud that two of the authors of the installation, young people from Berane and at the same time the authors of the rap song that deals with human rights.
“It is through this exhibition of photographs “Human rights through the lens of young Roma and Egyptians” that my young compatriots have shown that despite the fact that our starting positions are not the same, we can and do offer this society – the same as everyone else. As a man from Berane, I can say with special pride that two of the nine authors of this exhibition – Erdjan Berisha and Enis Zumberi within the project “NGOs in action to promote and protect the human rights of Roma and Egyptians” went a step further by recording the tail the song “Who are you to judge me” which deals with the human rights of our community. They say that art is always the best when it is engaged, and I think that young Roma and Egyptians have shown that best with these two examples. “
The exhibition “Human Rights through the Lens of Young Roma and Egyptians” is part of the program “NGOs in action to promote and protect the human rights of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro”, which is implemented by Help in cooperation with the partner Roma youth organization “Walk with us – Phiren Amenca”, with the financial support of the European Union, ie the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
It was opened for the first time in the Parliament of Montenegro on Human Rights Day on December 10, in the presence of the President of the Parliament Aleksa Bečić, who also opened the exhibition, and the Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro Cristina Oana Popa.
Eight high school students and one student of the final grade of primary school are the authors of the exhibition: Besart Krasnići, Daut Đukatani, Elmedina Jašaraj, Enis Zumberi, Erđan Beriša, Ersan Beriša, Jasmina Beriša, Muhamed Ahmetaj and Sadrija Krasnići.
The selector of the exhibition is a distinguished Montenegrin photographer – Dejan Kalezić.
The two authors of the photo exhibition, Erdjan Gianni Berisha and Enis Eni Zumberi, also did a rap song dealing with the human rights of Roma and Egyptians “Who are you to judge me” as part of the same project. The song was also mentioned at the opening of the exhibition.
After Podgorica, the exhibition arrived in Bijelo Polje, and we plan to present it in several other cities in Montenegro where we cooperate with RE communities.
The following are photos from the opening in Bijelo Polje:
On Friday, February 19, we also held a round table in Bijelo Polje where we talked with representatives of Roma NGOs as well as with the citizens of the RE population about the incusion of this community in the municipality of Bijelo Polje.
The challenges and problems faced by the RE community were also discussed with representatives of educational institutions and the Employment Bureau, as well as the Roma office that operates in the municipality of Bijelo Polje.
The citizens of the RE population especially pointed out the need for greater involvement of the Roma Office in providing assistance to the citizens of this community in exercising their rights in the public sector.
Šejla Pepić, a young Roma activist and our model of young and successful RE women, spoke about her personal experience, young educated Roma activists and how and in what way to become young to fight for their rights and against all forms of discrimination.
The following are photos from the round table: