(JTA) — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum condemned an attack on Roma villagers in southern Ukraine.
Dozens of Roma, also known as Gypsies, fled their homes in the village of Loshchynivka, after a mob of local villagers destroyed their property and set fire to at least one home on Sunday night. The mob attack came after a local man was arrested on Saturday in connection with the rape and killing of a 9-year-old girl.
While villagers believed the arrested man was Roma, Ukraine’s Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group said that he was not Roma, the New York Times reported. Tensions between non-Roma and Roma in the village already were running high before the arrest.
Hundreds of residents reportedly demanded that the Roma be expelled, according to the report. The Roma are now seeking a safe place to live.
“The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum strongly condemns these outrageous acts. It urges the government of Ukraine and local authorities to provide protections for the Roma and other threatened minorities, and to develop educational and community programs that will help build respect for cultural diversity,” the museum said in a statement.
“Between 1933 and 1945, Roma and Sinti suffered greatly as victims of the Nazis and their allies. Ultimately, between 220,000 and 500,000 died in the genocide of the Roma and Sinti peoples,” said Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “Sadly, the recent pogrom in Loshchynivka, Ukraine, is but one of many acts of violence and forced evictions visited upon the Roma in Europe since 1945.”