BUCHAREST — Romanian rights groups on Monday accused the northwestern city of Baia Mare of forcibly evicting hundreds of Roma and relocating them to a former chemical plant, where they said many fell ill.”
The mayor of Baia Mare observes the right to adequate housing by violating legislation and trampling the dignity of Roma inhabitants,” said the groups, including Roma rights organisation Romani CRISS.
Although local authorities had promised “no person or family will be moved by force”, local authorities pressured hundreds of Roma into leaving their homes on the outskirts of the city, the groups added.The Roma families were moved to a building belonging to Cuprom, a chemical plant that had been closed over pollution concerns, and several of them, including children, had to be taken to hospital after inhaling poisonous gas, the groups said.
“This extremely serious incident shows the authorities disdain of Roma rights,” the groups said.Mayor Catalin Chereches, a member of the ruling USL, denied the allegations.
“We have the written agreement of 60 families, or about 300 people, to move in the Cuprom building,” he told AFP.
He said the families would have running water, heating and free garbage removal under a three-year contract.
Chereches, who is running for a new term in June 10 local elections, also said no one suffered from poisoning, describing the incident as a “masquerade”.
“I am determined to go ahead with my plans regarding Roma integration,” he said.Chereches sparked a scandal last year when he built a concrete wall separating mainly Roma apartment blocs from a main road.
Several rights groups including Amnesty International criticised the move, and the national anti-discrimination council fined the mayor.