Over two million Roma live in Romania, making up more than 10% of the country’s total population. Many of them live in poverty, suffering from material deprivation and often subjected to abuse by state authorities. In 2013, Amnesty International, a human rights organization, asked us for help in making known cases of forced evictions of Roma, gathered in the “Exiled to the outskirts: five cases of forced evictions of Roma in Romania” report.

Studies and official statistics, as well as interviews with experts and opinion leaders concluded that state institutions prefer to ignore the issue of forced evictions of Roma, all the while banishing them to the outskirts of cities, near landfills, in disused buildings of chemical factories. Moreover, the guaranteed right to adequate housing faces strong public prejudices about its justifiability when applied to Roma people.

To bring the issue of forced evictions and the right to adequate housing onto the public agenda, the agency developed a strong emotional idea, impossible to ignore by the media, to explain the legislative changes proposed in the Amnesty International report. This is how the “the House of Cards” concept was born – a symbol of the feeble solutions adopted by authorities –, whose characters were replaced with actual pictures of those subjected to abuse through forced evictions.

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On June 18, 2013, Amnesty International volunteers inaugurated the House of Cards. Located in the University Square, near historical buildings like the University of Bucharest and the National Theater, the House of Cards revealed to visitors the story of the characters in the Amnesty International report. Journalists from TV channels, radio stations, newspapers and bloggers attended a conference in the House of Cards, living the experience of a forced eviction. For three days, thousands of people signed the petition addressed to the Prime Minister of Romania on ceasing forced evictions of Roma, a petition later sent to the authorities along with the Amnesty International report and a pack of cards, the figures of which had been replaced with the pictures of people abused.

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Campaign Results

  • 8,000 visitors during the time when the House of Cards stood erected in the University Square;
  • 25,000 signatories of the petition addressed to the Prime Minister;
  • Over 70 newspaper stories, with a total audience of 7,400,500 people;
  • In October 2013, the Ministry of Labor, Family and Welfare issued a public statement, acknowledging that the issue of forced evictions must be included on the list of legislative changes needed for 2014.