WASHINGTON — An American Gypsy representative charged today that his people are being excluded from Days of Remembrance observances even though 500,000 Gypsies were exterminated by the Nazis.
James Marks, vice president of the U.S. Romanie Memorial Council, said Gypsies were not allowed to participate in Thursday's Days of Remembrance ceremony in the Capitol rotunda. Six candles were lit in memory of 6 million Jewish Holocaust victims.
"We wanted to light the candle alongside the Jews," Marks said.
Micah Naftalin, acting executive director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, said Gypsies "tried to disrupt our Days of Remembrance ceremony" after having declined an invitation to participate.
He said Gypsies were invited to the ceremonies. But a Gypsy clergyman declined an invitation to deliver the invocation, he said, and the council rejected a proposal that a Gypsy light one of the six candles.
A delegation of Gypsies invited to the ceremony asked to participate about five minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, Naftalin said.
"They wanted to bring a bucket and some wine to pour into the bucket. This was their symbolic way comparable to lighting a candle of mourning," Naftalin said.
"We just felt at that late moment it was just mind-boggling. . . . It just didn't seem feasible."