People looking for sources of income and cheep living conditions settled down right near the landfill starting with the end of 1960s and carried on informal labour (waste selection) since then. Today approximately 250 persons are living within this neglected and life threatening territory in 50 improvised barracks. They were told that they were tolerated and they should be merciful, as if this was a “humanitarian act” of toleration on the side of authorities and sanitation companies towards them. Their precarious labour (unsecure, unprotected, life and health threatening, and underpaid), involves no costs for those who exploit it, likewise the substandard housing conditions in this unsecure and informal settlement does not involve any public or private investment on the side of institutions.
Starting with the end of 2002, the mayors’ office has relocated on this street – one by one or in small groups – families evicted from other parts of the town (Byron street, NATO block of Gheorgheni, Hangman’s House, Cipariu Square, the basements of blocks in Mănăștur, former working class neighbourhoods, etc.). With the approval of authorities, circa 50 wooden houses and plastic container houses were provided by a foreign charity, religious organizations in 2004 and 2005. Today, more than 130 families live on Cantonului street, which hosted only 5 families at the beginning of 2003. Above those settled here by authorities, over half of the families established there informally and “voluntarily”, some of them from outside of Cluj, many through various underground networks, many being prisoners of street economy.
DALLAS – PRIVATE NEIGHBORHOOD
It grew into an informal settlement since the end of the 1960s when the first five-six families settled on the site of the oldest garbage dump of the city. Nowadays circa 320 persons are living here in 70 barracks, including old and new, out of whom 18% declared that they were born here, and 10% that they lived in Dallas before 1990. A community centre running pre-school educational activities is providing care for children. A patron-client-like financial and social dependence mingles the community together, while there is a fine line between security and support provided by a Dutch charity organization and between exploitation directly administered by grassroots petty entrepreneurs, former workers of the garbage dump.
NOUL (NEW) PATA RÂT
An area created by the municipality’s “social housing” project dedicated to the families evicted from Coastei street in December 2010. The modular houses are placed at about 800 meters from the landfill and 200 meters from a former pharmaceutical waste deposit. Out of the 76, mostly Roma families, 40 were offered alternative housing far below the acceptable standards (one room of 16 or 18 square meters given for one family with up to even 12 members, sharing one bathroom of 6 square meters with other three similar rooms). The rest of the families were informally given small pieces of nearby land with the cynical invitation to build their houses as they usually do, i.e. “illegally”. They foster their sense of solidarity due to being collectively evicted and as well as due to shared attitudes by which they delimit themselves from the older residents of Pata Rât.
THE PHENOMENON OF ROMA GHETTOIZATION IN ROMANIA
The formation of poor urban neighborhoods on the geographic peripheries of localities where the majority of inhabitants are ethnic Roma impoverished by socio-economic neoliberal policies.
In many cases these neighborhoods are informal settlements and are situated nearby polluted environments.
In many cases these vicinities are formed as a result of the non-interventionist policy of authorities (lack of inclusive development strategies, or adequate social housing programs), and/or of measures administered by them (forced evictions, relocations) directed against the dispossessed.
The formation and maintenance of such disadvantaged housing areas violates several universal and special human rights, and results into cumulated disadvantages inherited across generations (right to education, decent work, housing, and health care services; right to life; children’s rights; women’s rights; rights of persons with disabilities; Roma rights as human rights; right to non-discrimination; right to equal opportunities).
These neighborhoods are not only geographically isolated, but are also lacking access to public transport, and capacities to participate on the city’s societal life and to benefit of developmental programs.
Beginnings of activism against Roma ghettoization in the city of Cluj-Napoca
Association Amare Phrala and Foundation Desiré
Petition Against Roma ghettoziation in the city of Cluj, 14 April 2010
The online cause Against Roma ghettoziation in the city of Cluj, 15 April 2010
Roundtable discussion on The Roma community from Pata Rât and housing rights, with the participation of the Civic Alliance of Roma from Romania, Association Amare Phrala, ENAR România, Foundation Desiré, Romani CRISS, Asociation for the Emancipation of Roma Women, “Castel Banffy” Volunteering Association, and the vice-mayor of Cluj-Napoca, 12 May 2010
Proposal to the Cluj-Napoca City Hall regarding a Protocol of collaboration, 24 May 2010
Report on the housing condition of Roma communities from the Pata Rât area, towards the Cluj-Napoca municipality, Cluj county Prefecture, Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism, Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection, and to the Romanian Presidency, 20 September 2010.
Despite of these petitions against evictions and residential segregation, in December 2010 all the families living on Coastei street were evicted, their homes were instantly demolished, and they were relocated nearby the city’s toxic landfill, into improper homes sharply isolated from the city, by this increasing the number of the inhabitants of the Pata Rât area to 1500.
Appeal for solidarity and action against the “social housing project in Pata Rât of Cluj-Napoca municipality, 10 January 2011
In order to enable complex actions against ghettoization, the Association Amare Phrala and Foundation Desiré, sustained by other activist and academic supporters of the cause, at the end of January 2011 created the Working Group of Civil Society Organizations (gLOC – Grupul de Lucru al Organizațiilor Civice).
► Residential, school, occupational and social desegregation
Empowerment of people affected by social exclusion
► Equal and non-discriminatory treatment on each domain of life, including family, schooling, labour, housing etc.
Social inclusion by acting on the structural causes of marginalization
► Active citizenship and participation
Social justice for all
► Promoting the creation of adequate conditions under which everybody might make use of his/her right to decent housing and life regardless of their social statute, ethnicity and gender.
gLOC is an informal network of organizations and people built on some basic principles; it assumed a transformative role in Cluj: promoting volunteer work for social causes; generating solidarity, raising social awareness and sense of accountability across different social categories, and in particular among institutional stakeholders regarding social marginalization, exclusion, and racism.
► Transforming an invisible and neglected phenomenon, the socio-territorial exclusion and ghettoization of ethnic Roma, into an issue of the public agenda that necessitates civic and political solidarity across ethnic groups, political parties and social categories
Raising social awareness and shared responsability among the majority population about the causes, manifestations and consequencies of social marginalization and exclusion
► Capacity building of local public and private institutions to tackle social exclusion by using participatory mechanisms of governance, and by planning and implementing integrated programs on the behalf of the socio-territorial inclusion of marginalized groups, among them Roma
Transforming the exclusionary public discourse and practices on poverty, marginalization, forced evictions, and racism
► Promoting evidence-based policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
Supporting community initiatives and projects within and across Roma and non-Roma groups, including the creation of grassroots organizations.
Me Som Rom – Camau Te Givav Pakivales/ Sunt Rom – Vreau să trăiesc în demnitate/ Roma vagyok – Méltóságban akarok élni/ I am Roma – I want to live in dignity, 19January 2011 (one month after evictions)
March for Social Justice, commemorating one year of forced evictions, 17 December 2011
Și noi aparținem orașului/ We also belong to the city – within the two day-long event PataRât 2012. Roma pushed to margins, 17-18 December 2012 (commemorating two years from forced evictions)
17 December 2010
76 families are forcibly evicted from Coastei street by the mayoralty. Over 250 persons are moved into the “necessity social homes” constructed by the City Hall in a geographically isolated, socially segregated and polluted environment. 36 families are not provided with any homes after being evicted in heavy winter times.
20 April 2011
The Working Group of Civil Society Organizations, in particular its institutional founding members, Association Amare Prhala and Foundation Desiré, submit a Notification to the National Council for Combating Discrimination regarding the forced evictions from Coastei street and the housing and social conditions in Pata Rât, where they have been relocated.
Activists and researchers gathered under the Working Group of Civil Society Organizations are supporting the actions of European Roma Rights Center for preparing the file of the legal case (collecting people’s testimonies, reconstructing the history of administrative measures).
Members of the Working Group for Civil Society Organizations are testifying on the legal case on the behalf of evicted persons.
The Cluj-Napoca County Court decides that the Mayor’s decision to forcibly evict around 300 Roma in December 2010, to a site adjacent to the city’s waste dump, was illegal.
The Directorial College of the National Council for Combating Discrimination ascertain on the base of unanimity that the relocation of Roma from Coastei street near the city’s landfill was an act of discrimination, and established a contravention fine of 8.000 RON to the mayoralty and recommended to solve their situation.
The Romanian Orthodox Church places the so-called foundation stone on the former Coastei street from where 76 families were evicted five months earlier. Many victims of eviction, supported by local activists and academics participated on the religious ritual in a sign of protest.
The Working Group of Civil Society Organizations promotes the case „Together we will succeed”at the first International Marathon of Cluj-Napoca on the behalf of the victims of forced evictions from December 2010. Supportes were running for their case. Children belonging to the affected families were running on Children’s Marathon.
June and July 2011
gLOC supports the legal actions of Romani Criss on the behalf of families living on Cantonului street, under the risk of being evicted by the National Railway Company
gLOC reveals the complicity of Cluj mayoralty in the Cantonului case
gLOC appeals the National Railway Company and Cluj municipality to find a mutual agreement regarding the property issues on the land from Cantonului street
gLOC supports the case of families from Cantonului street under the risk of evictions, by collecting 500 signatures for a Petition presented at the International Romani Arts Festival running in Cluj-Napoca
Actions in the frame of TIFF International Film Festival
Supported by the local Foundation Desiré and by Association Romano ButiQ from Bucharest, a group of actors from the Association dramAcum worked with 15 children from the Pata Rât communities and put together a spectacle based on their life stories. The show was presented within the Day of Diversity program run within the framework of the International Film Festival (TIFF), Cluj.
The festival organizers facilitated the participation of over 200 children from Pata Rât on a program for Children’s day run within the 2013 TIFF festival in Cluj-Napoca and its surroundings. Alongside with other volunteers, gLOC members supported the organizers in giving course to this event, in particular in facilitating collaboration with the communities.
The grassroots organization Community Association of Roma from Coastei initiated an educational program including a summer camp for children, and training on organizational development and human rights. Together with the European Roma Rights Centre, Foundation Desiré supported the implementation of this program and participated on its activities on voluntary bases. This was the event in the context of which people explicitly formulated the need of having a community house in their neighbourhhod, hosting similar programs.
Moments of transforming the idea into an actual house from August til its inauguration on the 1st of October 2013 – they could not have happened without the mobilizing and facilitation effort of Foundation AltArt, and without the enthusiasm, dedication and bodily work of community members and of the Community Association of Roma from Coastei. The action, framed by the syntagma “Pata Cluj – Napoca Rât” also had a role in featuring the segrated area in a transformative way in the urban imaginary: an agency embraced as part of the city on the bases of a shared responsibility.
Tens of persons and several organizations (including companies) from Cluj contributed, by donations, to provide the needed material conditions (construction materials, electricity, gasoline, computer components, furniture, heating stove etc). By November 2013 this large mobilization managed to connect the location to the internet. Due to this, the community house was called by some “Pata Rât IT Cluster”.
“Și eu sunt gunoier “ – performance and open letter towards authorities about the exploited and unsecure labour of garbage workers on the Cluj landfill, and their demand for a decent job, 23 March 2012
Public debate at Babes-Bolyai University: The Relocation of Roma and its Social Consequencies , 17 January 2011
Organized by Association Amare Prhala, Foundation Desiré, and the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work at Babes-Bolyai University. An open letter signed by the organizers and by the European Roma Rights Centre is addressed to the Romanian Presidency, Prime-minister, and Cluj-Napoca mayoralty.
Organized by the Working Group of Civil Society Organization, with the participation of international organizations (Amnesty International European Commission/ DG Regio, European Roma Rights Centre, Open Society Institute , United Nations Development Program), and representatives of Romanian NGOs and public authorities. On that very day the mayor signed a Memorandum of understanding with UNDP.
A set of public debates on the Social inclusion section of the Cluj-Napoca Development Strategy for 2014-2020, including a Strategic Direction for the Socio-Territorial Inclusion of Marginalized Communities from the Pata Rât area
Elaborating the Policy document on the Social inclusion strategy of Cluj-Napoca 2020: Cluj – inclusive city
A set of recommendations presented from the role of watchdog on the behalf of the Working Group of Civil Society Organizations, besides the “Preparatory Phase for Model Project: making the most of EU Fund for Sustainable Housing and Inclusion of disadvantaged Roma (explicitly but not exclusively targeted) in Cluj Metropolitan Area,” implemented by UNDP, Cluj Napoca Municipality with the support of North West Regional Development Agency (2012):
- Suggestions regarding the housing component of the integrated housing pilot project for disadvantaged Roma from Pata Rat (04.10.2012)
- Mission and objectives of the integrated housing pilot project for marginalized people from Pata Rat, including ethnic Roma (28.07.2012)
- · Suggestions for the integrated housing pilot project for marginalized Roma communities from Pata Rat, Cluj-Napoca (07.07.2012)
- · Synthesis on the proposals regarding the pilot integrated housing project (29.10.2012)
Other housing and development-related policy documents elaborated on the behalf of Foundation Desiré
- Integrated housing program for marginalized communities, including Roma. The case of Pata Rât, Cluj-Napoca. Recommendations to Romanian public authorities, January 2013,
- Bugetarea participativă – instrument al dezvoltării urbane incluzive, februarie 2013,
- Participatory budgeting and social inclusion, February 2013,
- Propuneri privind bugetarea politicilor locale de incluziune și coeziune socială și teritorială. Cazul zonei de locuire defavorizată Pata Rât, Către primăria Cluj-Napoca, martie 2013,
- Comunități marginalizate de romi și abordarea integrată a dezvoltării socio-teritoriale. Propuneri privind corelarea politicilor dedicate inlcuziunii sociale a romilor cu politicile mainstream de incluziune socială și cu planul de utilizare a fondurilor europene în perioada 2014-2020. Către Guvernul României, iunie 2013,
- Observații și propuneri de modificări în Planul de dezvoltare al regiunii Nord-Vest 2014-20, cu precădere în relație cu problematica incluziunii sociale, septembrie 2013,
- Prevenirea și combaterea evacuărilor forțate – instrument al eliminării marginalizării sociale. Document elaborat în contextul campaniei Amnesty International pentru oprirea evacuărilor forțate în România, octombrie 2013,
- Adrian Dohotaru
- Claudia Greta
- Cristina Raț
- Florin Stancu
- Enikő Vincze