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Last Updated: Monday, 4 April, 2005, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
Roma in Slovenia school boycott
The parents of 86 Roma (Gypsy) children in Slovenia are keeping them away from school in protest at moves to segregate them from ethnic Slovene children.

The boycott began on Monday at Brsljin school in the southern town of Novo Mesto, on the first day of segregation.

The row erupted a month ago when non-Roma parents complained of bullying by Roma boys at the school.

The education ministry suggested segregation after the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

Some 400 Slovene parents have signed an appeal for the Roma children to be dispersed to schools throughout the town.

"Instead of our children learning, they had to make sure that there was order among Roma children in the school. Their rights to learn were violated," said one parent, Niko Padevski.

A Roma official on the city council, Zoran Tasic, rejected the segregation idea, calling it "humiliating".

Roma form less than 1% of Slovenia's population of two million.

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