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Roma News November 2021

Here are some stories regarding Roma human rights from the Czech Republic from November 2021. All the stories are taken from romea.cz/en

 

Romani people have faced discrimination and exclusion since Czechoslovakia first became a state

On 1st November, Romea.cz/en reported that the Czech Republic had just commemorated its 103rd anniversary of the creation of the independent Czechoslovak Republic in 1918 and events had been held to mark the anniversary country-wide.

Romea.cz/en asked: what was it like for Romani men and women during what is now called the First Czechoslovak Republic? It was argued trhat the democratic constitution had officially recognized many national minorities, but not Romani people.  

Indeed the period immediately following the birth of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918 had not yielded any essential change for Romani people initially, with the Austro-Hungarian legal norms still in effect in the new country continued to apply to them.  

 

Czech Museum of Romani Culture unveils bust of Jozef Kmeťo, Romani journalist who died one year ago

On 2nd November, Romea.cz/en reported that a concrete bust of the late Romani journalist Jozef Kmeťo had been unveiled at the Museum of Romani Culture. It was noted that he had passed away last year from COVID-19 and just before his death broadcast a video warning others against the virus and calling on them to follow counter-pandemic measures. 

It was said that until his very last moments of life, Mr Kmeťo had been an integral component of Romani-Slovak Internet journalism, just as he had been many years before. It was noted that the bust had been gifted to the museum by the Czechoslovak Romani Union.   

He was said to have written about burning subject matter that had frequently been unpleasant: Discrimination, racism, violence. It was argued that he had not been afraid to criticize his fellow Roma and also drew attention to iniquities within the Romani community itself. 

 

Greece: Romani youth was holding his hands above his head when police shot him dead, according to eyewitness

On 2nd November, Romea.cz/en reported that Vice.com was reporting that a friend of 20-year-old Nikos Sabanis, the Romani man who had been shot dead in Athens on Saturday, 23 October by police, was claiming that all three of the youths who had been arrested had given up resisting and had had their hands above their heads when police fired more than 30 rounds at them. Mr Sabanis was said to be driving a vehicle that had been reported to police as stolen and they had shot him dead, while the 16-year-old passenger in the vehicle had been severely injured and the 15-year-old passenger had managed to escape unharmed. 

It was noted that on Wednesday, 27 October, the 15-year-old had voluntarily given his testimony to the media and prosecutors. It was said that unlike the police officers' testimonies, the 15-year-old Romani youth had told investigators and the press that Sabanis had stopped the vehicle and that everybody inside had raised their hands above their heads according to the instructions of the police. 

"We were afraid they would kill us," the 15-year-old Romani youth was reported as saying. "The moment we stopped, we raised our hands above our heads and they fired at us," he wass aid to have alleged, directly contravening police claims that the teenagers had posed a threat to the officers' lives. 

 

Slovakia's Roma Spirit 2021: Finalists include fashion designer Pavel Berky, rapper Čavalenky, and activist Denisa Havrľová

On 3rd November, Romea.cz/en reported that the 13th Roma Spirit awards in Slovakia this year would tell the stories of 21 inspirational people who were this year's finalists. It was noted that the award expresses appreciation for the activities of individuals and organizations who advocated for spreading understanding and building respect between non-Roma and Roma in Slovakia, introducing them to the broader public.

It was said that this year the preparatory committee for the awards chose finalists from 130 nominations. It was noted that the public would soon have an opportunity to learn more about the extensive activities and projects of the successful NGOs Eduma n.o., Návrat o.z. 

 

European Parliament will discuss police brutality against Romani people in EU, on the basis of Czech case

On 3rd November, Romea.cz/en reported that police brutality against Romani people would be discussed on 23 November at the European Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg. It was said that the debate would reference the case of Stanislav Tomáš, who had died after police officers intervened against him at the end of June in Teplice  

It was reported that MEP Romeo Franz of Germany, who is Romani himself, had announced the agenda item through social media. "Finally, after more than three months of persuasion, after many telephone calls, reports, articles and protests, we have managed, by combining forces, to get the case of Stanislav Tomáš, a Romani man from the Czech Republic who died after two police officers kneeled on his back and neck while he was prone on the ground, on the program of a plenary session at the European Parliament," Franz, who is with the Green Party wass aid to have posted.  

 

David Beňák: The Czech state itself is cultivating professional welfare recipients, but education can be an enormous force for lifting people up

On 4th November, Romea.cz/en reported that as a child growing up in a Romani family, David Beňák said that he experienced discrimination frequently. It was noted that when he had been at university he established one of the first Romani information centers providing legal and social welfare system counseling. 

It wass aid that Beňák had worked for the Czech Government's Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs, then as a politically appointed Deputy Human Rights Minister, and currently is director of the Agency for Social Inclusion at the Czech Ministry for Regional Development. It was stated that no other Romani person had achieved a higher position within the state administration.

Q:  From your position as a citizen who is part of the Romani minority in the Czech Republic and a highly-placed state bureaucrat, do you believe the average Czech is racist?

A:  I don't think that label would be fair to Czech society, although a lot has been said about it in that context. However, I do believe most Czechs have a problem with Romani people, but that is more about antigypsyism, it's not primarily about racism. It has a basis in history, but I do not believe that the average Czech person is essentially racist. 

Q:  Do you see aversion on the side of the Roma toward the Czech majority?

A:  Certainly there is some. These two groups of people live alongside each other, but they don't live together, which creates entrenchment. Each then names what they see from their perspective. However, it is the case that just as a Czech person can be a racist, so too can a Romani person, that is not ruled out. In many Romani people it's more like a kind of animosity, a negative relationship.  

 

European Commissioners and MEPs visit Romani settlements in Slovakia

On 6th November, the Slovak wire service TASR had reported that Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) planned to directly investigate the accessibility of education and employment for those living in Romani settlements and the effectiveness with which EU money is being used to achieve improvements in the living situations of communities of marginalized Roma this week in Slovakia. It was noted that a six-member delegation, led by Slovak MEP Lucie Ďuriš Nicholsonová, had been slated to see for themselves the reality of four Romani settlements in the east of the country, including the Luník IX housing estate, where the working visit was to begin on 3 November and last through 5 November. 

"It's quite important that MEPs obtain an overview of how the money is being spent in the Member States, in reality, for communities of marginalized Roma and what kind of shift has happened in Romani settlements after the investment of EU resources into the projects that were implemented there," Ďuriš Nicholsonová had said. She wass aid to have recalled that in September 2020 the EP adopted a resolution asking that Romani people be given access to education, to healthcare services and to housing that is equal to the access enjoyed by the majority population.  “

 

Director of the Museum of Romani Culture schools Czech senator in debate

On 7th November, Romea.cz/en reported that onThursday, 4 November 2021, a debate had been held at the Slovak House in Prague called "Our Roma", held by the Iron Curtain Foundation and featuring Czech Senator Jaroslav Doubrava (center) and the director of the Museum of Romani Culture, Jana Horváthová.

It was noted that on Thursday, November 2021, a debate entitled "Our Roma" had been held at the Slovak House in Prague, organized by the Iron Curtain Foundation (Nadace železná opona). It was noted that the discussion with the controversial Czech Senator Jaroslav Doubrava had been originally meant to involve several panelists:  Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Helena Válková, Czech Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček, Czech MP Jaroslav Foldyna ("Freedom and Direct Democracy" - SPD), or Doc. PhDr. et PhDr. Martin Kaleja, Ph.D., who is a volunteer civil society member of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs.  

It was reported that in the end, the only other participant besides the senator was the director of the Museum of Romani Culture, Jana Horváthová, who absolutely controlled the debate and explained immediately at the outset why she was participating in the discussion. "Let's first prevent any distortions of the facts from happening - I would like to say that I have accepted this invitation because I was informed that my participation and that of docent Kaleja was desired by Dr Helena Válková. She called me this morning to say that she does not agree with this event. I'm from Brno, I already had the trip planned, so that's why I am here," she said before presenting the history of the discrimination against Romani people and their rejection in the Czech lands. “  

 

Romani singer Bertík Girga overwhelms "Czechia Slovakia Has Talent" jurors, evoking tears, hugs, and a standing ovation

On 7th November Romea.cz/en reported that the well-known Romani singer Bertík Girga had absolutely overwhelmed the jurors of the television competition "Czechia Slovakia Has Talent", performing his own Czech lyrics to the melody of Marc Anthony's song "My Baby You". He was said to have dedicated his performance to his late son.

"I wrote the lyrics together with a friend of mine whose son died, just like mine did. Both died of an insidious disease, and this song brought us together," Girga said in the introduction.

"I would like to send this song to all of the children in the world," Girga said. Juror Marta Jandová had difficulty holding back tears during his performance, which received a standing ovation. 

 

Czech town sees doubling of social exclusion over five years, growth in loan sharking among Romani residents

On 8th November, Romea.cz/en reported that authorities were reporting that the number of people who are considered socially excluded or at risk of social exclusion in the town of Luže in the Chrudim district of the Czech Republic has had doubled over the last five years. It was noted that in the small town of about 2 500 residents there are currently living approximately 300 more people on the outskirts, some of whom do not have permanent residence there, according to data from the Pardubice Regional Authority that has been made available to the Czech News Agency.    

It was said that Luže had become a socially excluded locality in the region, and that the concentration of its most recent additions to the population was causing problems. "The expansion of the locality is happening because couples who have just had their first child are still living with their own parents. The community lifestyle and the closeness of the family influences this, but what especially has an impact is their lack of money and the decreasing opportunities for each family to house themselves," said Petra Šrámková of the Department of Social Affairs at the Regional Authority. 

It wass aid that the organisations providing social services that work in the locality are also pointing to a growth in loan sharking among the Romani residents, as well as the frequent issue of collections proceedings for debts held by the local population. It was also said to be difficult for locals to find employment. 

 

First Roma Library to open in Sweden, with literature in different dialects of Romanes by Romani authors and books on Romani culture in Swedish

On 9th November, Romea.cz/en reported that news server TheMayor.eu reported that the first-ever Roma Library was planning to open in Malmö, the third-largest city in Sweden, a new facility to introduce readers to the world of Romani literature and cultural production that will open to the public in the autumn of 2022. It was argued that the City of Malmö had thus taken an important step toward confirming its reputation as a safe haven for multiculturalism. 

It was noted that there are already several sections on Roma-related content in the main library of Malmö and in other libraries throughout Sweden, but this full-fledged library of Roma literature would be the first of its kind in the country. The library will contain literature produced in different dialects of Romanes, literature originally written by Romani authors in any language, and books about the culture of the Roma in Swedish.

It was noted that the literature would be acquired after consulting with individuals and organizations who have experience with cultural issues in the Romani world. "In Malmö we are going against the trend and investing in the activities of libraries, because we know that they have great significance for supporting reading and a democratic society, especially among children and youth," city councillor Frida Trollmyr, who is responsible for culture and recreation there, was reported as saying.

 

Czech activist on the investigation into the death of Stanislav Tomáš: Slowly but surely, it's moving forward, and it will be a marathon

It was reported by Romea.cz/en on 9th November that not quite five months had passed since the death of Romani community member Stanislav Tomáš shortly after police had intervened against him in Teplice, Czech Republic. The police were said to have recently published a brief press release in which they allege, just as they did right after this tragic incident, that the police officers' intervention was categorically unrelated to his death. 

It was noted that the European Parliament would be discussing police brutality against Romani people in the EU, including on the basis of this case, at a plenary session on 23 November. It was said that from the beginning, Miroslav Brož of the Konexe organization had been involved in this case and news server Romea.cz had interviewed him about how it is progressing.  

 

MEPs who visited Romani settlements in Slovakia shocked to see such horrifying living conditions in the EU

On 11th November, Romea.cz/en reported that the Government of the Republic of Slovakia had to step up its efforts to include disadvantaged groups. It was noted that that was the conclusion of a delegation of MEPs from the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs that visited Romani settlements in eastern Slovakia. 

It was said that the delegation visited the housing estate of Luník IX, inhabited mostly by Romani people, and Romani settlements in Drienovec, Dobšiná and Trebišov. It was reported that according to the head of the delegation and chair of the committee, MEP Lucie Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Slovakia has a serious problem with upholding fundamental human rights in the Romani settlements.   

It was noted that the delegation head had reminded the press that in some countries, the failure to uphold the principles of the rule of law endangers their ability to draw EU funds in the future. It was said that according to her, the delegation saw examples of good practices, such as at Luník IX in Košice, where local authorities at all levels are collaborating with NGOs, but they also saw bad examples.   

 

Popular Romani musician Rytmus to box Gábor Boráros in Slovakia

On 12th November, Romea.cz.en reported that the popular musician Patrik Vrbovský, who performs under the name Rytmus, would be boxing for a new Slovak martial arts organization, Fight Night Challenge, against Gábor Boráros, according to the Czech-Slovak Mixed Martial Arts website ceskoslovenskemma.cz, at an event that would include another match featuring MMA celebrity Attila Végh. Rytmus last boxed three years ago. 

It was noted that the Romani-Slovak rapper had last sparred against the Czech rapper Marpo in a boxing match at the O2 arena in Prague. It was said that the Fight Night Challenge match would happen on 27 December, and Boráros and Rytmus would face off before another fight that evening featuring the actor Jakub Štáfek

 

Romani musician Tibor Žida advances to the next round of "Czechia Slovakia Has Talent" with his version of the Czechoslovak national anthem

On 13rh November, Romea.cz/en reported that the Romani singer Tibor Žida had surprised the jury of the "Czechia Slovakia Has Talent" (Česko Slovensko má talent) competition with his own arrangement of the full national anthem of the former Czechoslovakia, advancing to the next round. "I have the feeling that we have a musician among us," said juror Jaro Slávik after Žida described how he interprets music and that he had to be captivated by the harmonies, lyrics and melodies in order to perform a piece. 

It was noted that accompanying himself on guitar in Brazilian samba style, Žida had launched into his own lyrical and musical arrangement of the Czechoslovak anthem and the entire audience rose to their feet in response. "I love these performers who immediately create an atmosphere and bring us along with them wherever they are going," juror Diana Mórová was reported to have said before the unanimous decision was reached to advance Žida to the next round of the competition.

 

Czech MMA fighter exploits media attention of his win to insult Romani people, then claims he is "not a racist"

On 14th November, Romea.cz/en reported that the controversial Czech bodybuilder Filip Grznár had won his MMA match against Romani MMA newcomer Jaroslav Oláh, who is also a moderator of the online Roma Rádio station and a singer. It was noted that in an interview after the contest, Grznár had assaulted all Romani people with racist remarks and had then attempted to walk them back in a later Instagram post.

It was reported that the fight had been part of a tour sponsored by the I AM Fighter organization, the main promoter for which is a formerly active member of the neo-Nazi National Resistance (Národní odpor - NO) movement in the Czech Republic, Petr Píno Ondruš.

 

Slovak Defense Ministry gives Romani community member Richard Koky award for his contribution to fighting COVID-19, he calls on everyone to get vaccinated

On 16th November, Romea.cz/en reported that the Defense Ministry of the Slovak Republic had announced the winners of its 24th annual Military Deed of the Year ceremony. Defense Minister Jaroslav Naď (Ordinary People and Independent Personalities - OLANO) had said that the stories featured in this annual event had humanity and readiness to go above and beyond what is required in common. 

It was noted that for his contribution to building civilian-military relations, spreading the good name of the armed forces of the Slovak Republic and raising awareness about military history, retired professional soldier Richard Koky had been given an award in the "Friend of the Army" category. It was said that the award recognised his exceptional aid to and collaboration with military personnel who have been on the front line of combating the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on the territory of marginalized Romani settlements, where he worked as a field expert for the national "Healthy Communities" project and as a staffer of the Health Ministry's "Healthy Regions" organization.  

 

Czechoslovakia's 1989 Velvet Revolution: 800 000 people in Prague chanted "Long live the Roma"

On 17th November Romea.cz/en reported that on 25 November 1989, Romani community members Emil Ščuka and Jan Rusenko addressed a crowd of hundreds of thousands on the Letná Plain in Prague and their remarks had been televized to most households throughout Czechoslovakia. It was also noted that at the same time, a Romani group unfurled a Romani flag on the Letna Plain, and a large crowd chanted "Long live the Roma." (PHOTO: Czech Television)

 

Romani NGO director tells thousands in Czech capital that he wants non-Roma and Romani people to find a common language and path forward

On 18th November, Romea.cz/en reported that Prague's Wenceslas Square had seen the traditional "Concert for the Future" (Koncert pro budoucnost) the previous day on Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day, and that thousands of people had attended. It was said that dozens of performers and speakers had been involved.

It was noted that part of the five-hour programme had been dedicated to the memory of the first President of a democratic Czech Republic, Václav Havel, who passed away a decade ago. It was also reported that the crowd had also been addressed by the director of the Romodrom organization, Romani community member Nikola Taragoš.  

"If I could wish anything at all for our common future, I would very much wish that Romani people and the majority could find a common language and a common path forward," Taragoš said. He then quoted Havel:  "To comprehend one another does not mean adapting ourselves to each other, but mutually understanding each other's identities." 

"I assess the Velvet Revolution today as an opportunity, not a one-time event, more something of an abiding nature. At the same time, it's a challenge, a challenge that can aid us with creating a society that is based on mutual respect and on solidarity. Dear friends, I would like to communicate to you all that this feeling, the solidarity and the transformation that I experienced back then, has awakened again and greatly resonates in me," Taragoš was reported as saying. 

 

Czech MMA fighter Cverna challenges bodybuilder who insulted Romani people

On 20th November, Romea.cz/en reported that the racist remarks by the non-Romani bodybuilder Filip Grznár after his recent MMA match with the Romani celebrity Jaroslav Oláh continued to spark strong emotions due to his use of the word "gyppo" ("cigoš"). It was noted that Oláh himself had made a video for news server Romea.cz where he said  there was no point in responding to such remarks, but Alexander Cverna, who competes in the MMA organization Oktagon, had criticized Grznár for them.  

It was noted that Grznár had also previously been criticized by the rapper Refew. Cverna, who competes in the Oktagon fights in the heavyweight category, posted a video of himself practicing his MMS moves against a punching bag along with this message: "Grznár, this is for the guys you've insulted. They aren't 'gyppos', they're human beings like you and me. Get ready, this challenge is for you, come on over, I want to revenge everybody who is not a racist. You'll see what MMA is like because I'll show it to you, and then you can give your speeches, if you're still able."

 

Romani kickboxer Václav Sivák of the Czech Republic wins again, holds the international WAKO Pro title a second time

On 21st November, Romea.cz/en reported that yesterday evening in Liberec, Czech Republic, Romani kickboxer Václav Sivák had won the much-prized international belt as world champion of the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) Pro match in the 65 kg and under category. It was noted that he scored more points than his competitor, Fouad Djebari. 

 

Pope Francis receives Romani footballers, including Jaroslav Horváth and Lukáš Pulko of the Czech Republic, ahead of friendly match

On 21st November, Romea.cz/en reported that the previous day Pope Francis had met with the football teams of the World Roma Federation, the Vatican itself, and representatives of Lazio Roma. Today the "Romani representation" would compete with the Vatican team in Lazio Roma's training center.

The Romani footballers included Jaroslav Horváth and Lukáš Pulko of the Czech Republic. "An unbelievable journey, two Romani guys from the street meeting Pope Francis, who shook our hands and blessed the Romani nation," Horváth posted to Facebook.

 

Czech popular music awards show returns, Romani singer Monika Bagárová schools racist rapper on live television

On 22nd November Romea.cz/en reported that the annual popular music poll in the Czech Republic called the "Czech Nightingale" (Český slavík) had been revived after a hiatus of several years and featured several Romani performers. It was said that Monika Bagárová was placed 12th in the category of female vocalist and had been the Romani performer to earn the most votes in the nationwide poll. 

It was aalso noted that the next most popular Romani performer in the survey had been Jan Bendig, who had come in 14th overall in the male vocalist category, while Jan Cina had been the Romani performer who enjoyed the the third-highest ranking after that. 

It was noted that Romani performers had dominated during the awards show this year.and that the lineup had included Bagárová, Patrik Bartko (guitarist for Marek Ztracený), Bendig, Zdeněk Godla, the rapper Rytmus and the Salut Roma dance group. 

 

Czech campaign online in support of LGBT+ members of the Romani community says life is "too short for us to hate our own children"

On 23rd November Romea.cz/en reported that "I did a terrible thing" (Udělal jsem hroznou věc) is the name of a campaign that has been launched by the  ARA ART organization in the Czech Republic. It was noted that for quite some time the group had been raising the issue of the multiple discrimination of LGBT+ minority members who are Romani.

It was further treported that the purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about the subject of multiple discrimination, as it is not addressed by Czech legislation andat the same time, the campaign targets the Romani community itself, for whom sexual minorities remain a taboo topic.

It was said that the campaign discusses stories from real life and presents one of them through a dramatic mini-film (subtitles in several languages are available for it online). It was also noted that the organization also offers counseling to LGBT+ members of the Romani community and their parents through this online site.

 

Case of Stanislav Tomáš discussed during plenary session of the European Parliament

On 24th November, Romea.cz/en reported that the previous day’s plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg had included a debate about police brutality against Romani people, scheduled to begin after 17:00 CET and to last approximately half an hour, to discuss the case of Stanislav Tomáš, who had died after police intervened against him at the close of June in Teplice, Czech Republic. It was noted that news server Romea.cz had carried the live feed of the debate, during which Romani MEPs Romeo Franz of Germany (Greens) and Peter Pollák of Slovakia (OLANO) spoke. 

"Finally, after more than three months of persuading people, after many phone calls, reports, articles and protests, we have managed to combine our forces to get the case of Stanislav Tomáš, the young Romani man in the Czech Republic who died after two officers kneeled on his back and neck as he was prone on the ground, included on the program of the plenary session in the European Parliament," Franz was said to have posted to Facebook at the start of November. On 19 June 2021, officers used force to handcuff Mr Tomáš and he passed away later that day. 

 

MEPs compare death of Stanislav Tomáš in the Czech Republic to that of George Floyd in the USA

On 25th November, Romea.cz/en reported that during Tuesday's plenary session of the European Parliament, many MEPs had compared the case of the Romani man Stanislav Tomáš of Teplice, Czech Republic, who died in June after police intervened against him, to the case of George Floyd in the USA, a Black man was murdered by police under similar circumstances, and several recalled that while the death of Floyd after the intervention by police sparked a media storm and extensive protests, especially in the USA, the fate of the Czech Romani man is being discussed by almost nobody today. It was noted that the Czech Police had stated that there had been no association between their intervention and the death, according to the final autopsy, but the lawyer for the family of Mr Tomáš disagreed with that assessment. 

It was noted that on 19 June 2021, police had used force to handcuff Mr Tomáš while arresting him in Teplice and he had died later that day. It was said that bystander video footage of the incident had been posted to social media and then saved and published by news server Romea.cz, leading to broad criticism of the incident by both Czech and international activists and organizations and sparking Europe-wide protests by Romani people and their allies. 

 

Slovak Government apologizes for illegal sterilizations, lawyer and Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community say compensation must follow

On 26th November, Romea.cz/en reported thsat illegally sterilized women from the Czech Republic and Slovakia had launched an online petition seeking recognition of their right to compensation with the support of the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Slovakia. (PHOTO: www.kampan.poradna-prava.sk)

It was noted that the Government of Slovakia had apologized for the illegal sterilizations of women. A resolution to that effect wass aid to have been adopted by the cabinet of Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger. 

It was noted that unlike the Czech Republic, Slovakia has yet to adopt a law on compensating such women, who frequently come from the Romani minority and were sterilized without their informed consent not just during communist rule when the country was still part of Czechoslovakia, but also in subsequent years under democratic rule in a sovereign state. It was pointed put that the Slovak Government declaration states that it apologizes for the unlawfully performed sterilizations of Romani women and condemns the violation of their human rights.

"The practice of the previous regime from 1966 to 1989 related to the reproductive behavior of women from socially disadvantaged environments is assessed by the Government as unacceptable. The Government condemns the performance of sterilizations as a means of regulating the birth rate of socially vulnerable layers of society, which was undertaken especially among Romani women," the accompanying material to the resolution was said to read.

 

Robert Gabris: The digital world just reproduces the real world, including its exclusion of otherness and its racism

On 27th November Romea.cz/en featured Robert Gabris (1986) who graduated in scenography from Bratislava's College of Performing Arts and continued his Master's studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. It was noted that in his predominantly autobiographical work, the subject of identity politics appears frequently.  

It was said that the artist is interested in excluded groups or queer physicality in confrontation with the limits and norms of mainstream society. His drawings, which are experimental in nature, are a form of resistance to racism and various forms of (social) exclusion.

It was noted that he does not want to be labeled as an artist who is Romani, but his Romaniness is one of the pivotal subjects of his work. It was argued that he is a brilliant draftsman  but claims he doesn't care about that, that he doesn't even like art, and that what is most important about his works are his ideas and how they overlap with the discussion in society.   

 

Czech court gives suspended sentence to woman who threatened to burn down police station in the aftermath of the death of Stanislav Tomáš

On 28th November, Romea.cz/en reported that News server iDNES.cz had reported that the District Court in Teplice had given a suspended prison sentence to a woman who had made threats against police officers in association with the death of Stanislav Tomáš, who had died shortly after police intervened against him in June there, finding her guilty of calling the police station and threatening to set it on fire a couple of days after Mr Tomáš died. It was noted that according to the court decision, which iDNES.cz had seen, the woman had made the threat to "burn down the building where you all are" in a profanity-laced phone call.

It was reported that the court had found her guilty of making threats with the aim of interfering with a public authority. There was no public hearing of the case, but the woman was notified that she has been sentenced to six months in prison, conditionally suspended for a probationary period of 18 months.

 

DNA samples of Romani people taken to ascertain their ethnic origin were handled unethically and the data was misused

On 29th November, Romea.cz/en reported that for decades, geneticists had been collecting blood samples from thousands of Romani people and uploading their DNA to public databases. It was noted that some of the studies involved claimed their purpose was to learn more about the genetics and the history of the Roma.

It was noted that that the New York Times had published an article on this issue about an editorial in the journal Nature calling for higher ethical standards to apply to the analysis and use of genetic information about Romani people, who live predominantly in Europe. It was said that the journal mentioned many examples of clear misuse or of dubious ethics in such surveys involving Romani people.

Further to this, it was said that, “in the editorial, a group of scientists argues that the Roma are the population in Europe to have been most intensively studied over the past 30 years in forensic genetic journals, studies that are fraught with ethical issues and may harm Romani people. For five years, a team of researchers in Germany and the United Kingdom pored over more than 450 papers that used the DNA of Romani people to understand how geneticists and other scholars acquired, interpreted and shared that genetic information.“

 

Collated by Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC November 2021

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