JAKHALIPEN

Starting on the 23rd of November, and lasting three days, we organized an workshop for journalists,
with the support of Roma Initiatives Office, OSF at MACAZ – Bar Theatre Cooperative, Bucharest
on the topic of eviction and the way this subject is reported in the press.
The three day workshop was part of “JAKHALIPEN” project, as the first part of the project. In the
second part of the project, the film director Leonore Kaspar together with LUFT Film Production
produced a short film, with a script based on the discussions which had taken place between the
journalists and the representatives of the evicted communities present at the workshop. The main
characters of the film are played by Nicoleta Vișan, as her own, and by actress Mihaela Drăgan, as
a journalist.
Participating in the workshop were journalists from different independent media publications but also a number of journalists from mainstream press: Diana Meseșan, independent journalist, Diana
Oncioiu – dela0, Florinela Iosip – Adevărul, Ionuț Dulămiță – Scena9, Ionuț Sociu, independent journalist, Oana Dorobanțu – brrlog, Oana Moisil – Casa Jurnalistului,  Zita Moldovan, the host of
the tv show ”Și eu m-am născut în România” (“I am also born in Romania”), Național TV. From the communities who faced evictions we had as guests: Nicoleta Vișan, Nelu Vișan, Adriana Felicia

Diaconu, Timotei Georgescu, from the community of evicted people from Vulturilor 50 street and
Claudia Moldoveanu with Gabriela Dumitru from the community of evicted people from Rahova-
Uranus. The coordonators of the workshop were Mihaela Drăgan, the president of Roma Actors
Association and co-founder of Giuvlipen and Veda Popovici, artist and activist, member of Frontului
Comun pentru Dreptul la Locuire and member of MACAZ Cooperative.

Day one – The movement for housing justice and the contribution of the press

The first day of the workshop started with a short introduction into the topic, than the objectives of
the workshop had been outlined:
the role of the media in the way it’s reported on the subject (mass-media and alternative media).
How to better understand the media perspective on the subject and what can be improved?
Can the press have a meaningful contribution to a social movement? Can the press be an ally to the anti-eviction movement?

FCDL movement for housing justice – which began in 2013, following the eviction experience of
Rahova-Uranus community, started from the premise that the evictions are not an exceptional case,
isolated events, but part of a phenomenon which reflects deep aspects of the society.
an attempt to create a „network” of people affected by evictions.
The specific cases are the result of structural effects of poverty, racism and the precarity of the state
institutions. The focus was on mobilization and political self- representation.
defectuoasă a instituţiilor statului. Accentul este pus pe mobilizare și auto-reprezentare politică.
FCDL is part of the European structure who support the right for housing, ”Coalition for the Right to
to Housing and to the city” and its formed by 35 politically non-affiliated organizations  but who are
also not NGO’s.

We discussed with the members of the community of evicted people from Vulturilor 50,
the ways their community organized and the tactics they used to find justice, in their two years
of struggle as a protest camp. Nicoleta Vișan spoke to us about the Jurnalul de pe Vulturilor 
(Vulturilor Street Journal), a blog on which she documented the everyday life of living in improvised
shelters they built in front of the buildings from which they were evacuated and the way this was portrayed in the press.

With the representatives of the Rahova-Uranus community, Gabriela Dumitru and Claudia
Moldoveanu, we talked about the impact of theatrical representations of the problems generated by
the abusive evictions.
The theater show ”La Harneală” (“Razzing”), produced by Mihaela Drăgan together with the evicted
people and their children, investigates the process of losing one’s home and profitability on the
real estate market of such process.
The evictees are caught in the process of „cleaning” the city centers from poor or Roma ethnics,
the process of gentrification.
They organize and protest, and aim desperately to be heard by the ones who have the obligation to
guarantee the right to housing and decent life, no matter of ethnicity or social status.

How were these events reported in the press? How the journalistic method chosen at the time
influenced the public opinion?  How do present a case/ story about eviction in order to reach
to more people?
How to avoid exploitation of a subject and how to document and correctly inform the
public?  How to address the subject in a correct manner, that doesn’t do more harm to an already
precarious community?

Day two – What are the stereotypes projected by the media onto the evicted

We’ve started the second day with outlining the historical context of local evictions. Far from be it a
random event or an „unlucky” situation, the evictions are part of an historical process, which
continues the racist agenda of the communist regime. The „low ranked” workers, a lot of socially
precarious Roma people, were moved to old houses and villas, which were regarded by the
communist regime to be inferior to the newly build blocks of flats into which upper class workers
lived. This is how distribution works, hand in hand with institutionalized racism. The state doesn’t
invest in this houses, so they become even harder to sustain and the result is that Roma
neighborhoods get even more precarious. After 1989 , the law 85/1992 (which resulted in mass
privatization of houses), the law 112/1995 ( which brought compensations to pre-communist era
owners of the houses) and the law 10/ 2001 – the law of Retrocession, resulted in an even worse
situation for an already precarious and vulnerable part of the population. The eviction is a
traumatizing event, which takes a big toll on a person’s energy and emotional resources. So fighting
with the system as an evicted person becomes a very big challenge.

The stereotypes propagated by the media about the evicted support a biased discourse and
legitimize the institutionalization of racism. We tried shedding some light on to the clichés that
persist about this topic and made a critique of common journalistic practices. Our guest speakers
from the evicted communities shared their view about how these stereotypes from the media affect
their lives and their struggle to organize in the society. Then we analyzed, in a thorough manner, a
number of press materials published about the subject matter.

The critique of the „legality” argument, of illegal living

The state had a paramount role in the exclusion and precarization of the communities confronted
with poverty and it was the same state that generated the evictions and the retrocessions. The
illegality in the terms of eviction doesn’t mean criminality, how it is often interpreted. Instead of
illegal, it is preferable that the term „without forms/documentation” to be used.

The charitable approach

Charity kills social movement. The evicted become victims, they are infantilized, their real needs
aren’t recognized. When the press and the new media emphasize the emotional aspects in order to
get awareness, when they underline the situation of the children of the evicted, they do a great
disservice, because, beside losing their home and dignity,  the evicted risk also to loose custody to
their children – if child protection organizations get involved.

Dis-acknowledgment of the protesting action

At the same time, we must acknowledge that the evicted camps are organized protest camps. The
exploration of typical protest strategies and tactics is the basis of an organized action, realized in
order to regain the housing right of the evicted. Understanding the act of refusing these so called
“solutions” advanced by the state, which don’t actually offer a viable alternative to the evicted
people, are also means of understanding how a protesting action for housing rights is working.

The exceptional character: in a way or another is the evicted fault

When an article or a coverage don’t raise awareness of the historical, social and political  context,
through which the people lost their homes and the guilt is assign to the individuals, and not to the
corrupt institutions, and also, when the structural aspect of the racism and discrimination is not
brought out, than the danger of making the responsibility a private and personal manner are
imminent.

The cultural argument

The „this is their culture” argument generates a daisy chain of stereotypes regarding the Roma
culture and poverty. Oftentimes they go hand in hand in a racist society.

The heroising

The “hero-ising” represents a sensationalist technique of journalist representation of underprivileged
people „success” stories.
They become „heroes” of an unfair system, but only their power of standing up is emphasized, putting
a shadow on the injustice of the system. Thus, a friction installs between the powerful, who managed
to get over poverty and precariousness in their own rights, and the powerless, who remain stuck
in their environments. Once again, the responsibility is put on the victims of the system, instead of the corruption of the system. As a result, their precarity intensifies.

Day three – Housing Manifesto

Scenes from scenario of the short film „Deochiul” (“The evil eye”) were presented. They were
written by Mihaela Drăgan, following the discussions from the days before the workshop. The forum
theatre method was used (is a type of theatre created as a forum for teaching people how to
change their world, which offers the opportunity for interaction and debate; it is a social intervention
instrument) and all the guests were participating.  Following the forum theatre workshop, a part of
the scenario was modified, and it will be used in the making of “Abuziv” short film, in the next days.

After the workshop, we started to outline the guide „How can the press depict evictions in order to
support the housing justice movement?”, which is meant to become a basis for a more „correct”
deontological position of the journalists interested in evictions.  In few days we will post some pictures from the filming. Keep in touch!

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