Jesse Jackson to attend Roma Genocide Remembrance Day in Poland

TANNEN MAURY/PAP/EPA

The American civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and politician Jesse Jackson will be the guest of honor at ceremonies marking Roma Genocide Remembrance Day, which will take place on August 2 at the former Nazi German Auschwitz II-Birkenau death camp.

The announcement was made by the organisers, the Association of Roma in Poland.

Roma Genocide Remembrance Day is marked on the anniversary of the liquidation of the so-called "Gypsy family camp" which existed in the Auschwitz II-Birkenau Nazi German extermination camp. On August 2, 1944 following the evening roll call, Nazis killed 2,897 Roma prisoners, including women and children, in the gas chambers.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the tragic day. Every year, the observance gathers survivors, who attend together with their families, Roma and Sinti representatives from various countries, government officials and diplomats.

"In the person of Rev. Jackson, we welcome not only an important figure in American political and social life but, above all, a world-renowned activist for civil rights, and the equality and emancipation of national and ethnic minorities," said Roman Kwiatkowski, the president of the association.

Jesse Jackson became involved in civil rights activities during his student years in the 1960s. He collaborated with Martin Luther King in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Jackson was also a candidate for the 1984 and 1988 Democratic presidential nominations.

In Poland, the Roma have the status of an ethnic minority. There are between 20,000 and 30,000 Roma in the country.