The hardships of Roma survivors
The majority of Roma survivors are vulnerable, old (in their eighties), sick, poor, illiterate, they do not know their rights, they are not able to go to the authorities, to write and file applications, to find out about their rights, etc.
In addition, although Law 189/2000 seems generous at first glance, as it provides various ways for survivors to prove that they were deported, in reality the Pension Chambers apply the law arbitrarily, making it difficult for Roma survivors to exercise their rights.
Although Law 189/2000 allows for affidavits (without specifying the number of witnesses or prescribing a particular type of witness), in practice pension boards prefer archival documents, and applications based on affidavits of witnesses are usually rejected. Pension offices assume that Roma affidavits are unlikely to be truthful and that they will end up with many applications for the allowances provided for in Law 189/2000. In fact, the number of potential Roma benefit recipients throughout the country is very small: 73 years after the deportation to Transnistria, very few of the 25,000 deported Roma are still alive (half of them died in Transnistria, the rest in the following 70 years). Today, in 2015, we estimate the number of surviving Roma to be about 200 people (most of them were children when they were deported 73 years ago), and some of them already benefit from Law 189/2000.
Some regional pension offices have conditions that are proving increasingly difficult to meet: There must be at least two witnesses (preferably beneficiaries of Law 189/2000, who must have been relatively old at the time of deportation to Transnistria). These practices make it very difficult for these people to assert their rights (and these people belong to a very vulnerable group: Roma, illiterate, old, poor, often seriously ill and unable to move).
During the project, we found settlements where there were only 1-2 surviving Roma who, even if deported, did not necessarily benefit from Law 189/2000 or who were still children when they were sent to Transnistria. How can we help these people if we maintain these conditions?
The Pension Chambers have a habit of considering as credible only the documents presented by an authority (the Red Cross and the National Archives). But the pension chambers do not know the condition of the archives and request documents that the archives cannot provide: the Red Cross does not have lists of names of deported Roma or Jews and therefore cannot provide such documents; many branches of the national archives do not have the lists with the names of the people deported from their region (this is the case with some archives: from Sibiu, Galaţi, Vrancea, Ialomiţa, etc.). moreover, very often in 1942 the police did not record the names of all deported persons; very often, especially among the former nomads, only the head of the family was named. An example: "From Vadu Pasii, Buzau, were deported: Stanescu Dumitru, a wife, 3 children, 2 mules". How can the old illiterate of today (the child who was not recorded) prove that he belonged to this family? And since the parents were usually not married, the birth certificate mentions only the mother (who was also not recorded by the police in 1942). Many Roma, especially children, were registered only under their nicknames: Genovica, Paulina, Jandarica, etc., not with their real names.