Throughout a long career devoted to legal advocacy in the fight to protect the rights of Roma across the European continent, Robert Kushen has become a witness to the relentless discrimination within nations that paradoxically claim their systems to be democratic, and thus committed to the principle of political and social equality for all. Having navigated within the full spectrum of politics and having seen small triumphs of human dignity as well as huge defeats, Kushen began gathering quotations from people he encountered on all sides and perspectives of the Roma “issue.” The source of the quotations varies: ordinary Roma, who share their aspirations or successes; official reports and court cases; blog postings by ranting racists (often in response to Kushen’s editorials, which regularly appear in key international media); others come from Romani staff at the European Roma Rights Centre; excerpts from old laws restricting the rights of Roma; anti-Roma graffiti; or various public figures—Viviane Reding, Livia Jaroka, Nicolas Sarkozy, Teodor Baconschi, Gabor Vona, Adolf Hitler. Kushen delivers this range of quotations in a sort of pastiche through a flow of a speech, disclosing the politics upon which the world as we know it stands. Testing the possibility of speaking in a different mode than he would normally do in the realm of advocacy and politics, through this testimony the desire for another world comes through poetically. (Robert Kushen & Maria Hlavajova)
ROBERT KUSHEN (born 1962) is a human rights advocate. Currently he is the Executive Director of the European Roma Rights Centre, Budapest, which engages in legal advocacy on behalf of Roma throughout Europe. He also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Board of the Roma Education Fund and the Chair of the Board of the Roma Initiatives program at the Open Society Foundations. Kushen has been active in the field of human rights in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union for over twenty years, beginning in 1988 when he helped the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights by leading research and reporting on human rights abuses in the Soviet Union. Kushen lives and works in New Jersey.