3
Dec

Flyers With Hate Speech against the Roma

BELGRADE – The police are working to find out who was responsible for creating flyers with hate speech against the Roma in Serbia, and the Republic of Serbia will not tolerate any form of discrimination, the Serbian Ministry of Interior (MUP) said in a statement on Monday. MUP made the statement after the organization ‘Srbska akcija’ (Serbian Action) placed leaflets in the mailboxes across Belgrade over the weekend that contained hate speech against the Roma national minority, and these leaflets were distributed in other cities as well. “The police are making their best efforts in cooperation with the competent public prosecutor’s office to find and identify the persons responsible for creating and distributing the flyers of the organization ‘Srbska akcija’, which openly call for violence, lynching and hate speech against members of the Roma nationality,” the Ministry of Interior said. The ministry also said that the police would protect the freedom and security of all citizens regardless of their ethnic, political, religious or any other orientation. The flyers, signed by the organization ‘Srbska akcija’ (Serbian Action), fed into Serbian citizens’ mailboxes, contain hate speech against the Roma minority and open calls for violence and lynching. The views expressed in the leaflets, stating that “spreading of wild Gypsy settlements,” which constitute “inhuman neighborhoods” and which, by their moving to clean neighborhoods, can only bring “unbearable stench, quarrels, fights, and rising crime rates,” represent not only an affront to human dignity, but also a serious form of racial discrimination, which is prohibited by law, said Serbia’s Commissioner for Protection of Equality Nevena Petrusic on Monday. 

 

27
Nov

Roma Students in Special Needs Schools

Amnesty: Czech Republic continuously places Roma pupils in special needs schools

[JURIST] Romani children are continuing to be placed in special needs schools by Czech authorities, despite a European Court of Human Rights [official website] decision [text], Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported[text] Thursday. The case was decided over seven years ago, and involved a group of primary-school Roma children who were placed in schools for children with mild mental-disabilities in the Czech Republic. The court ruled that placing these healthy children in such schools was discrimination. Romani children are over-represented in such chools, even with parental consent safeguards imposed by the government. According to AI Romani children who attend mainstream schools are not treated much better. Many are segregated into “Roma only” schools or classrooms with lower educational standards and are bullied and disenfranchised by peers, teachers and administrators. AI contends discrimination through segregated education is unlawful and leads to limited education and future employment opportunities, trapping Romani children in a cycle of exclusion and marginalization. The European Commission [official website] announced it would initiate proceedings against the Czech Republic for breaching EU anti-discrimination legislation. The Czech Republic is reforming education with the Czech School Act, which aims to include children with special needs into mainstream education, although critics argue state action has been sluggish.

International rights groups have consistently campaigned for improved human rights for the Roma [JURIST report] people living in Europe, now at a population of 10-12 million. Notably, in April 2013 AI issued a press release similar to Tuesday’s report urging the EU to end discrimination against Roma communities throughout Europe. That same month a UN rights expert called for EU member states to do more to ensure basic human rights for the Roma people in Europe, recalling that the UN Human Rights Council [official website] “made nearly 250 recommendations to almost 30 countries concerning the situation of Roma communities.” In January 2013 the European Court of Human Rights condemned [JURIST report] Hungary for segregating Roma students and wrongly placing them in remedial schools.

9
Nov

Can’t wait to read the next installment

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely read, June 9, 2014
By
This review is from: Lions and Gondolas (Destiny’s Consent Book 2) 
Found this and its prequel in the “little free library” box near me. Being a resident of Venice (albeit temporarily- for school) and also someone who plays Roma music and has spent time among them in Serbia and Macedonia, I felt this was really well done. Such an enjoyable yet thought provoking read! Can’t wait to read the next installment!
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9
Nov

Entertaining Storytelling Deftly shaped by A Beauty of Language and Heart

5.0 out of 5 stars Destiny’s Consent (books one and two), September 14, 2014
 This review is from: The Gypsy’s Song & Lions and Gondolas(Destiny’s Consent) (Paperback)
In the historical fiction settings of the Rom Gypsies wandering Europe and of a Rom gypsy family finding a new home in 1920’s Venice, California — we meet a range of characters at once familiar and mythic. The tales of Destiny’s Consent are ultimately spiritual journeys, even as we learn about Rom gypsies and Venice history in a colorful spectrum of culture and society. This is entertaining storytelling deftly shaped by a beauty of language and of heart.
The Gypsys Song small
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9
Nov

If you love Venice Beach, these free spirited characters…

final-cover-web “If you love Venice Beach, these free spirited characters will warm your heart and enrich your consciousness.

This wonderfully written novel combines two topics which fascinate me—-bohemians and Venice Beach. As the first book in the “Destiny’s Consent” trilogy, it’s an entertaining and enjoyable read. I was immediately transported to the magical world of Los Angeles at the early part of the 20th century. The women in this novel are strong and empowered, and their gypsy culture is colorfully described, making you feel like a participant in every vivid scene.

 Patricia Nolan Stein

20
Oct

For the Roma Gypsies: Life under the Far-right

A commentary on Gypsies

A Roma child plays on a swing in a slum outside Ozd, an industrial town northeast of Budapest.

Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party, which is accused of being anti-Semitic and racist, took control of the town after an election campaign in which it promised to issue an ultimatum to the Roma minority – follow our rules or leave town.

The town of Ozd, with a population of 35,000 people, is the biggest prize won by Jobbik in a nationwide round of municipal elections in which it increased the numbers of City Halls it controls from three to fourteen.

The town of Ozd, with a population of 35,000 people, is the biggest prize won by Jobbik in a nationwide round of municipal elections in which it increased the numbers of City Halls it controls from three to fourteen.

Though still a long way behind the ruling centre-right Fidesz party, in the elections it overtook the Socialists to become the second biggest opposition party.

OZD, HUNGARY. REUTERS/BERNADETT SZABO

 

 

Ozd’s new mayor, 27-year-old David Janiczak (left) took a walk around the main square, receiving congratulations from townspeople.

Ozd’s new mayor, 27-year-old David Janiczak (left) took a walk around the main square, receiving congratulations from townspeople.

He said he would crack down on crime and poverty on behalf of all residents, whatever their ethnic background. Yet the programme on which Janiczak ran in the election is explicit in singling out the Roma community.

The manifesto, posted on the Jobbik internet site next to a photograph of Janiczak, states: “We think there are two ways to solve the Gypsy question…The first one is based on peaceful consent, the second on radical exclusion.”

“Our party wishes to offer one last chance to the destructive minority that lives here, so first it will consider peaceful consent. If that agreement fails, then and only then the radical solution can follow.”

OZD, HUNGARY. REUTERS/BERNADETT SZABO

 

 

Interviewed on Monday outside his new office in City Hall, Janiczak used much more measured language about the Roma than his election manifesto.

Interviewed on Monday outside his new office in City Hall, Janiczak used much more measured language about the Roma than his election manifesto.

“Conditions are horrid on the outskirts of town where most Roma live,” Janiczak told Reuters.

“We need to create jobs and enforce order for Roma and Hungarians alike. The voters trust we will do that.”

OZD, HUNGARY. REUTERS/BERNADETT SZABO

 

 

In Ozd, unemployment is endemic. Around a quarter of the city's population are Roma, and most of them live in dire poverty, relying on state welfare payments.

In Ozd, unemployment is endemic. Around a quarter of the city’s population are Roma, and most of them live in dire poverty, relying on state welfare payments.

Conditions are so bad that for some in the Roma community, fear about the persecution Jobbik might bring is mixed with hope that a radical new party might do something to improve their lot where all others have failed.

OZD, HUNGARY. REUTERS/LASZLO BALOGH

 

 

"Like most Roma we are afraid what might happen to us, because the news was always that some people wanted us dead and they would ship us off in trains like Hitler did with the Jews," one local woman, Szilvia Orosz, told Reuters.

“Like most Roma we are afraid what might happen to us, because the news was always that some people wanted us dead and they would ship us off in trains like Hitler did with the Jews,” one local woman, Szilvia Orosz, told Reuters.

She was speaking in the centre of one of the town’s toughest Roma slums, which has no water or sewer system.

“But if this kid Janiczak can act the way he talks about work, honour and peace, and gives us long-term employment, then there won’t be racial discrimination.”

However, many of the people who voted for a Jobbik mayor said they did so at least in part because Jobbik had promised to tackle what the party describes as “Gypsy crime.”

OZD, HUNGARY. REUTERS/BERNADETT SZABO
 

Bernadett Szabo

 

PhotographerBernadett Szabo

13
Oct

The Roma or Gypsies: The Most Unwanted People

(MENAFN – AFP) With bulldozers at their doorstep, beginning to tear down their homes,
it is hard to imagine life could get worse for the Roma of Miskolc, Hungary’s
impoverished third-largest city. But for Gypsies, it can seemingly always get worse.
 eviction notice
 But with the far-right Jobbik party possibly about to win the Miskolc mayorship in local elections on Sunday, it could.

In May, the city council -“ which, like Hungary’s parliament, is run by Prime Minister
Viktor Orban’s right-wing Fidesz “- voted to demolish 13 areas inhabited
predominantly by Miskolc’s 20,000-strong Roma, or Gypsy, community. 
The wrecking
machinery arrived in August. So far only around a dozen homes have been razed —
but this is just the start. 
“We have nowhere to go, we will be left homeless,” Eva
Molnar, a 50-year-old Roma whose respiratory problems mean she can’t work, told
AFP as she clutched an eviction letter giving her until October 20 to vacate her home.

The area where she lives, squeezed between a derelict communist-era metalworks and a
football stadium slated for an upgrade, is quiet, since many of her neighbours have
already left. 
“They’ll not be happy until we’re all gone,” Molnar said.

The municipality says Miskolc, home to 168,000 people, should be made more “liveable”
and rid itself of slums that are “unsuitable for normal life”. One Fidesz officialcalled the
Roma areas “hotbeds of crime”.  
Many local residents support the move. “About time,”
one shopper at a bus stop told AFP. “Slums have no place in Miskolc.” The mayor
claims that 35,000 signatures have been collected in support of the demolitions.

“The Roma have to leave Miskolc as around 70-80 percent of Hungarian society simply
doesn’t not want to see them or have anything to do with them,” Mihaly Simon of the
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union rights group told AFP.

         Nowhere to go 

Four years after Orban was elected, and despite his promises to improve their misery,
the European Union member state’s Roma trail in practically every indicator from living
standards to health, as they do throughout eastern and central Europe. 
Under Orban,
51, who has been accused at home and abroad of eroding democracy, many Roma —
who comprise eight to nine percent of Hungary’s 10 million population — have been
forced into “workfare” schemes, doing menial work in order to continue receiving
welfare payments.

But not all of the properties in Miskolc are tumbledown shacks or Hungarian versions
of the favelas of Brazil. Many are one-storey houses — lots of them crumbling, but
some of them well-maintained. 
And where Miskolc’s Roma are supposed to go is unclear.
Several nearby villages have warned they have no money to provide work or benefits
to any newcomers, and are collecting petitions opposing the “export” of the poor.

“It’s barbaric, there were no impact studies for this, nobody spoke to the Gypsies,”
Gabor Varadi, head of a local Roma political grouping, told AFP. 
“The council is spending
billions of forints [millions of euros (dollars)]… on the new football stadium instead of
social housing for poor people,” he said.

    ‘Deviants’ 

A few of those being evicted in Miskolc — those with indefinite-term leases — are being
offered money or flats elsewhere, but Jobbik’s candidate in Sunday’s election, Peter
Jakab, says he will scrap even this if elected. 
Jobbik, which won 21 percent of the vote
in general elections in April, sparking alarm throughout Europe, says it will flatten the
houses immediately and force the Roma to cover the demolition costs.

“They knew when they signed the lease that it would expire one day, that the owner
might kick them out,” Jakab told AFP. 
Jobbik, which has sought to soften its image in
recent years, still says it wants to stop “Gypsy crime”, create ghettos for Roma
“deviants” and create a rural “gendarmerie” of the sort last seen in Hungary before
World War II. 
The local elections are expected to see Orban’s party remain firmly in
control. 
But nationwide, Jobbik is forecast to more than double its control of
municipalities, from 12 currently to around 30.

13
Oct

A Film: The Rom ‘Gypsies’ in the WWII Holocaust

Film A-People-Uncounted_500

The Holocaust that resulted in the deaths of millions of European Jews during World War II is well known. However, fewer people are aware that several other groups of people were targeted for elimination by the Nazis, including the Roma, often referred to in the English-speaking world by the misnomer of “gypsies.”

A People Uncounted: The Untold Story of the Roma aims to make up that deficiency in public knowledge. Director Aaron Yeger draws on a variety of interview subjects, including Holocaust survivors, historians, activists, musicians, artists, and average citizens, each of whom has a story to tell about how their Roma ethnicity has shaped their lives. Sadly, prejudice against the Roma lives on—one woman insists on being seen in shadow because she doesn’t want to harm the career of her son, a successful professional, and Roma today are the ethnicity most often singled out for discrimination in the European Union.

Yeger also covers, briefly, a history of the Roma, with an emphasis on the ill treatment they have suffered over the years in Europe. It didn’t start with the Holocaust, but reaches back at least to the 1400s, when several countries expelled Roma from their borders. They received this treatment periodically, by (among others) the Hapsburg dynasty and England’s Henry VIII.

Independent of these threats to life and limb, Roma culture is seldom understood by those outside their society. Instead, stereotypes of dancing peasants and fiddlers or of thieves and scoundrels have been perpetuated in popular culture, and for many people, that’s all they know. One of the greatest services of A People Uncounted is to provide some images that contradict these stereotypes, and Yeger does this with his many interview subjects, who are forthcoming about their lives and goals. The filmmakers traveled to 11 countries to shoot A People Uncounted, which in itself is a tribute to the international nature of the Roma.

For a subject so potentially fraught with emotion, A People Uncounted is a surprisingly calm film, which is a good thing: Yeger’s case is so strong that it has no need to gin up the audience’s feelings. Stephen C. Whitehead’s cinematography plays a key role in conveying mood as well as fact, and he won the Robert Brooks award for best documentary from the Canadian Society of Cinematographers for his work on this film.

Extras on the disc include extended interviews with seven participants. | Sarah Boslaugh

 

14
Sep

The Holocaust’s Forgotten Roma Victims

 More than 500,000 Roma and Sinti were exterminated in the Nazis’ death camps—and it’s time to include them in the official history of the Holocaust.

 

 Sit for a moment and picture all the people you know and grew up with; include your Mom and Dad, siblings, grandparents, and extended family, all your friends from your neighborhood and from school. Do you have everyone in your mind’s eye? Good. 

Now imagine 75 percent of all those people … dead. Systematically murdered because they were related to you or similar to you.

It’s almost too horrifying to envision. However, this was exactly the situation at the end of World War II for hundreds of thousands of Romani survivors of the Holocaust who were targeted for extermination by the Nazis, because of who they were or to whom they were related—because of their ethnicity. (Romani people, also called “Gypsies,” a term considered derogatory by Romani activists, are part of a diaspora that began in India in the eleventh century.)

Between 500,000 to 1.5 million Roma and Sinti were victims of the Holocaust in various camps and in mass killings carried out across Europe. This year, August 2, International Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day marked the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the so-called zigeunerlager or Gypsy Camp, at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Notably, Romani activists increased their efforts to organize memorial ceremonies across Europe and were supported by international organizations, including bringing together more than 1,000 Romani people from across Europe for commemorations in Auschwitz and Krakow; respected journals and newspapers recounted the tragedy to their readers as well.

It is important for the world to recognize that Romani people who were killed by the Nazis and their allies were part of the Holocaust—its logic and its aim of a so-called “final solution”—and not a separate instance of genocide. Generations of school children have learned to call the results of the Nazis’ attempts at race-based exterminations by that name, “Holocaust,” and to infer that the Roma were not part of the same horrible policy enactments is not only historically inaccurate, but also implies that there was a different experience for Roma.

Not only were similar policy statements and pseudo-scholarship used to justify the killing of Jews and Roma on the grounds of “racial inferiority,” but all the Holocaust victims faced the same elite troops, were held in the same or similar camps, died in the same crematoria, and experienced gruesome medical experiments, mass starvation, and other violence. When we talk about the Romani victims of the Holocaust, it is without compromise that we refer to them as Holocaust victims, first and foremost.

The United Nations continues to dither about whether Roma and Sinti should be included in their annual Holocaust Remembrance ceremony.

It is our moral duty and right to preserve the memory of the Romani victims who lost their lives on this day and throughout the war. Thus, in memory of the victims, the signatories call upon governments, international organizations, museums, and commemoration ceremony organizers, as well as scholars, activists, and the media, to accurately refer to the Romani victims of the Holocaust and to reject the description of Romani victims of the Holocaust as being part of an isolated genocide.

On September 18, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USMMM) will hold a symposium to showcase new and emerging scholarship on Roma and the Holocaust. Roma and non-Roma scholars will present findings from their exploration of pre-war persecution and on the effects of the Holocaust on Romani communities in its aftermath. This is most welcome, and yet we are mindful that, while the USMMM is currently mobilizing scholars and allowing for more recognition of the Romani victims of the Holocaust, there is still no Romani representative—or two or three—on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.  Nothing less than full Romani participation in the direction of the Museum’s affairs by representation on its Board will allow us a true voice into the commemoration of our people’s past losses and sufferings.

Removing Roma and Sinti from Holocaust history by creating a separate genocide and by denying their voice in the Holocaust ceremonies signal a disregard for the memory and the dignity of the Romani people. Yet, the United Nations continues to dither about whether Roma and Sinti should be included in their annual Holocaust Remembrance ceremony.

Only 10 percent of the hundreds of millions of dollars made available by the United Nations for the survivors, and which the U.S. Government was given the responsibility of disbursing, was set aside for non-Jews, and none of that found its way to the Romani survivors. When the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council was established in 1980, no Roma were invited to participate, and as mentioned above, it has no Romani member today.

The experience of the Holocaust is an indispensable part of Romani history, a suffering that permeated Romani families’ identities, and solidarity, for generations. The policy of “racial extermination” actualized by the Nazis was a primary event in the history of human civilization, and, as our Romani Elders noted at the memorial to the Roma and Sinti in Berlin, was the result of “state policies that were justified through vicious theories, administrative criteria, and institutional practices based on blood right-based citizenship, the assumed hierarchy of fictive human races.” That such justifications are seen again today in marches, rallies, hostile actions, and speeches by Neo-Nazis and sympathizers in many European countries, and which once again find the Roma and Sinti and Jews in the crosshairs, should galvanize every well-meaning world citizen into a renewed commitment to remember with the highest standards of truth-telling and without regard to prejudices.

Before policy decisions can be made, it must first be determined who the victims are; removing Romani people from Holocaust history may result in further injustices to be committed against survivors and their families in the future.

This will not be tolerated.

Romani people have the right to accurately represent our own history and it is the responsibility of others, especially those with the power to influence, to acknowledge our place in history and to correctly describe it.

We believe that the accurate recognition of the Romani Holocaust and the representation of Roma and Sinti in Holocaust ceremonies are necessary steps that must be taken in a longer struggle for shifting the narrative on Romani people. Objective and true information about Roma and Sinti can lead to overcoming stigma and embracing Romani people as equal members of society, deserving of dignity and respect.

Signatories (alphabetical order):

Glenda Bailey-Mershon, The Foundation for Romani Education and Equality (FREE)
William Bila, Board Member, Roma Education Fund, Budapest, Hungary and Board Member, Roma Education Support Trust, Leicester, UK
Sarah Carmona, Post-Doc Researcher, Laboratoire IRMMC Université de la Manouba, Tunis, Tunisia, and 2015 Lillian Robinson Scholar, Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Montreal, Canada
Qristina Cummings, Descendant of Survivors
Gina Csyani-Robah, Founder, Canadian Romani Alliance
Ian Hancock, Director, The Romani Archives and Documentation Center and State Commissioner, Holocaust and Genocide Commission
Angela Kocze, Visiting Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University Research Fellow, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Sociology
Ronald Lee, Romani Author and Educator
Margareta Matache, Instructor, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University 
Nathan Mick, Vice President, StateBook International
Valeriu Nicloae
Jud Nirenburg, Board chair, National Roma Center of Macedonia and Chair, American Council for Romani Equality
Kristin Raeesi, Research Professional- Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska, Anchorage
Iliana Sarafian, PhD Researcher, University of London, UK
Marius Taba

 

7
Sep

Forgotten victims of Hungary’s Roma murders

Five years ago, six Roma Gypsies were murdered by far-right extremists. Half a decade on, authorities seem to have little interest in the surviving victims of the Roma Community.

 

Never could I have imagined that, says said Tibor Nagy. People attacking others and murdering at random. “That was a man hunt,” he says. Years later, horror and disbelief are still clear to hear in the 47-year-old’s voice.

On the evening of November 3, 2008, in the north-eastern village of Nagycsecs, far-right extremists set Tibor Nagy’s house on fire and shot at his family as they tried to flee. They murdered his wife Éva and his brother Jozsef. Although he, too, was injured, Tibor Nagy survived.

The murders of the Nagycsecs were the first in a series of attacks throughout 2008 and 2009, in which six Romanies were killed. Among the victims was a five-year-old boy. Another 55 Romanies were also injured. The last of the murders was committed five years ago on August 3, 2009. Three weeks later, four suspected right-wing extremists, who were known to the authorities, were arrested in the eastern Hungarian city of Debrecen.

Failure of the authorities

On the 5th anniversary of the last murders, the Hungarian public and above all the political elite have lost interest in the subject. The media rarely reports about the Roma killings. And as of yet, there has been no public commemoration to honor the victims, or any visit by state leaders.

After the murders, most of the affected families fell into a state of misery. Many of the victims were left disabled for life and with psychological illnesses.

Similar to the NSU murders in Germany, investigators were left in the dark for a long time. Initially they handled the murders as a simple crime, but later began to pursue the case as a crime of right-wing extremism. For a long time investigators were uncoordinated and Hungarian intelligence agencies withheld information about the perpetrators.

Burial of one of the Roma murder victims in Tatarszentgyoergy in March 2009

 The social-liberal coalition, which was in office at the time of the killings, is responsible for the failure of the authorities in the murder investigation. No one from the coalition has apologized to the victims. Even the national-conservative Orban government don’t seem to be interested in a resolution. Secret investigations into further accomplices and sloppiness in the intelligence agencies during the Roma murders have been delayed.

Second Class Roma citizens

“In Hungary, Romany affairs and Romany victims are second-class-citizen matters,” says Jozsef Gulyas, a former liberal member of parliament, who led an inquiry into the murders in 2009. “The state doesn’t address racist crimes enough and there are no harsh statements from political leaders against these crimes.”

Among Hungarian politicians, there’s only a little opposition to such statements; for example, against public anti-Romany outbursts. Calvinis pastor, Zoltan Balog, who is also the current Minister for Human Resources in the Orban government, is one of the few Hungarian politicians who has made a gesture to the victims of the Roma murders. Every year he holds a memorial service and invites survivors and family of the victims.      

Photo of Roma murder trial in August 2013

 “Symbolism is important,” says Balog, emphasizing that as a consequence of racist crimes, the education curriculum needs to be changed. “We must awaken more understanding in the next generations than there is at the moment. We have a lot of work to do.”       

 Zoltan Balog also established financial support for the survivors and relatives of the murder victims. The fund recently received a pay-out of between four and seven thousand euros from the government. Some families were therefore able to modernize their humble dwellings by having gas or running water installed. Others wanted to move into better housing. Many of the survivors and their families need regular support to cover the costs of medication and treatment.

 Many ruined lives

That’s also the case for Tibor Nagy. After the death of his wife and brother he was diagnosed with diabetes, and as a result has become blind in one eye. He doesn’t have money for diabetic food and medication. In winter, Nagy and his daughter are often left without firewood and have only the bare necessities of food.

Photo of the Nagy family in their current home

 Like the other surviving victims of the Roma murders, Nagy could have regularly applied for compensation from the state – if not a final judgment against the perpetrators. Last August three of the Roma murderers were sentenced to life imprisonment and an accomplice to 13 years. All four have since appealed. When the second trial will begin remains unclear.

Tibor Nagy wishes that the perpetrators could be imprisoned to the end of their days. In a resigned voice, he says he can’t expect much more from life. “The murderers killed my wife and brother and they destroyed my life. I won’t have much happiness in this life anymore.”