Photographs made public on Monday show people sunbathing on an Italian beach, just a few metres away from the bodies of two dead Roma children (photo, from aljazeera.net). On a popular beach near Naples, the bodies of the girls, laid out under towels.
“How could it be that no one helped? I hope God punishes you and I hope God curses you for the rest of your life”, said a female relative of the girls, who wished to remain anonymous.
The dead girls, later named as Vielletta and Kristina, are said to have drowned while they were out swimming. Two other girls who were swimming with them have been saved by rescuers.
Everyone who could did try to help the girls, but the sea was simply too rough, said the local mayor.
In Italy the Romas are a minority, that has been the target of a wave of racist attacks in recent months, as anger has spread among Italians, blaming them for rising crime and insecurity.
But the girls’ family were enraged at the apparent indifference of holiday makers who witnessed and continue to picnic and play volleyball near the bodies.
In the same time, a European human rights watchdog has travelled to Italy, in order to examine the situation of the Roma population there.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) starts its week-long trip to Milan, Naples and Rome after the Italian government announced a scheme to fingerprint all Roma, including children.
Some have compared the scheme to the Nazis treatment of the Jews, and it also has drawn criticism from human rights groups and European Union politicians.
The Italian government will receive the delegation’s conclusions in September, in a report.
The team includes experts from the OSCE’s high commissioner on national minorities, its Office for democratic institutions and human rights and the office of the Council of Europe human rights commissioner, as well as several Italian non-governmental organisations.
“The purpose of the visit is to work with the Italian authorities to identify issues of concern and develop recommendations on how to address them in line with Italy’s OSCE and other international commitments”, said Andrzej Mirga, the OSCE delegation leader.