THE MURDER OF THE 17-YEAR-OLD ROMA BOY IN SAMOKOV WAS ETHNIC BUT NO ONE WILL ADMIT THIS by Hristo HRISTOV The death certificate for Asparuh Ivov Atanasov, No. 1033/23.08.2007, issued by Irena Nikolova Bogdanovska, reads that the cause of death is “pulmonary and brain oedema with a brain trauma.” An ordinance by prosecutor N. Sigridova with Sofia Regional Prosecutors Office says that pre-trial proceedings have been initiated against unknown offenders under Art.115, para.1 of the Penal Code. It also says that a preliminary forensic conclusion No. 758/07 has been prepared. A crime scene investigation has been performed, as well as an autopsy, and court proceedings No. 131/07 initiated, according to Sofia Regional Police Directorate. The body may be interred. Hristo Nikolov, Public figure: Attitude toward Roma in Samokov Has Always Been Negative It is an absolute nonsense that the boy’s murder was not on ethnic grounds. Is this why Bulgarian boys con-
tinue to threaten our boys, as well as our adults, and even our children? The attitude of Bulgarians toward Roma in Samokov has always been negative. And these problems will go on because the Bulgarians are not afraid. This is why Roma want life sentences for the murderers. Ivo Atanasov Father of the murdered Asparuh: One’s Grandfather is Former Chief of Samokov Police People say that Asparuh choked on a sandwich. That is not true. What I know for sure is that Asparuh died at the first blow to the head with a metal knuckle-duster and kicking. We have serious concerns that the murderers are not going to receive an unbiased sentence. One’s grandfather is former chief of Samokov police. Another’s grandmother, Tzoneva M.D. is a well-known doctor. Her son and daughter-in-law, too, are doctors at the hospital. They are a rich family. Georgi Sirobanski’s father, known as Shamni, is a taxi driver. That man has beaten up a lot of Roma people himself. He is aggressive and very malicious. That is why his son is a murderer, too. OBEKTIV 1
My son was a meek and shy boy, and he had never done anyone wrong. He went to church with his friends. He was the best-looking boy in the neighbourhood. Now he is gone at the height of youth. We are collecting money to buy him a gravestone. He was our only child... Nothing can soothe the pain of losing him. He is not coming back but we will at least try to protect other people. This is why we want life for those murderers: because these boys will go on threatening and killing Roma people. This is not the only case in town. The night before they killed Asparuh, his murderers were with a group of 30-40 Bulgarian boys. People saw them in town. After the four of them split from the gang, they killed my son, and beat up other Roma boys. Now their followers are threatening Roma people with revenge. Is this not pressure? Is this not ethnic enough? Can we not answer with the same? If the state doesn’t do its job, no one knows what might happen. Trayko Yankov Momchilov, 14 One of the beaten friends of Asparuh’s: I Watched Them Beat Him to Death with Fists and Kicks Around 9pm on 21 August, Asparuh, Raycho, Sasho, Stoil and I went downtown for a concert. Several popfolk stars were expected for Samokov’s Festival. It turned out it was just rumours and we decided to go back home. Asparuh wanted to buy some pancakes, so off we went. There were no pancakes. Asparuh, Stoil and I bought ice-cream, and Raycho and Sasho got sandwiches. We sat on the benches to eat. After we finished with the food, we started again. A little before the VIP bar, I felt there were people behind us. I turned around to make sure. It was the four murderers. They saw me turn and watched me spitefully. Then I told my friends we’d better hurry, as these Bulgarians were looking at me nastily and might bother us. We quickened our step but the so did other boys (the Bulgarians). We never knew they had caught up. They attacked from behind. They knocked us all down; they kicked and punched us. Sasho and Stoil managed to tear themselves free and ran away. I ran shortly after them. I stopped about 20 meters away as I did not want to leave Asparuh and Raycho. I watched them being beaten with fists and kicks. Then Raycho wrenched himself out and it was only Asparuh. I stood there and watched him being beaten to death. When Asparuh’s body lay there lifeless, they left, happy that they’d beaten us up. While they were beating us, they never exchanged a word between themselves, or swear. They were wearing hooded sweatshirts. I did glimpse one’s face though and I can pick him out. They split my head open; I had a swelling, sores, and bruises on 2 OBEKTIV
my arms and legs. I am going to sue them. BHC has already committed to help protect me. Nikolay Vasilev, Clergyman and municipal councillor: If We Strike Back, Then What: It Will Be War! Evangelical churches denounce this sort of treatment of Roma people and discrimination. We have received many letters from around the country; our sisters and brothers cannot accept this fact that if you are Roma, you are not allowed to live. This is not the first case, there have been extreme situations like this before. It is true that the attitude of Bulgarians in Samokov toward our ethnic group is very negative. Intolerance is great. And facts will confirm this although you might think this too strong a statement. We are teaching people the teachings of the Bible. For twenty years I have been with the Evangelical Church, and such an attitude because of race, skin colour, or tradition is unacceptable. Our church is the largest Roma church in the Balkans. Almost all Roma people in the neighbourhood are practicing. Services are attended by 700-800 people. Our bible teaches us that we should live in peace with everyone. Bible teaches us that we should live at peace with everyone. And that faith and the Bible are not only for the Roma. But Bulgarians try to vilify this, too, insulting us that this is a Roma sect. This is a mistake, as there is nothing more precious than a person being pure and respectable both in the church and outside it; to be honest and to love his country and obey its laws. There are places in town where they will not allow Roma people in. Who has an interest in not letting Roma people in, and why? The ”Three Villas”, ”Luciano”, ”Sammy”, ”Samokovo” Pizza, the coffee shop at the bus station, and others. As soon as they see that it is Roma people, they say, ”It’s closed, or this is a private party, or members only”. The other trick is to double the prices for Roma, so that they don’t go in. Let’s say there are Roma people with no morals in public places or the street. Are there not such Bulgarians as well? A large proportion of my colleagues at the municipal council disapprove of this act. They offer their condolences. Unfortunately, neither the mayor, nor the council have made any official statement to this effect; possibly so as not to attach any importance to it. Why do you think the mayor will deny this is an ethnic murder? He does this because, if he admitted it, he would be adding fuel to the fire, and that with the upcoming elections he will be running for a new mandate. Therefore, to avoid losing Roma or Bulgarian votes, he has no choice but to try and deny that this is an ethnic murder. That, however, adds nothing to solving the problem.