Roma News October 2020

Here are some stories regarding Roma human rights from the Czech Republic from late September and October. All the stories are taken directly from romea.cz/en

 

Czech demolition of pig farm on former WWII-era concentration camp for Roma delayed one year, future new memorial said to be unaffected

The demolition of the former industrial pig farm in Lety u Písku, Czech Republic that stands on the site of a Protectorate-era concentration camp for Romani people has been delayed by one year. The work will begin next September.

The deadline for completing the new Memorial to the Holocaust of the Roma and Sinti that is meant to be created at the site will not, however, be affected by the delay, The ceremonial opening of that new memorial will still be held in May 2023.

 

Czech court sentences perpetrator to five years for racist assault on Romani man, both defence and prosecution considering appeal

 

The daily Novojičínský deník in the Czech Republic has reported that a 24-year-old man from Ostrava was sentenced to five years behind bars yesterday for assaulting another man in a bar in the Zábřeh quarter just because he was Romani. "He struck another person in the head with a beer glass just because that person was of Romani ethnicity," the presiding judge at the Regional Court in Ostrava said yesterday when announcing the verdict.

 

Romani candidate in Czech regional elections says politicians don't have to be corrupt

 

At least seven Romani candidates are running in the regional elections this year. News server Romea.cz will be publishing a series of interviews with them, beginning with Green Party candidate Emil Voráč.

Voráč is running in ninth place on the list in the Karlovy Vary Region. He is the director of the Khamoro public benefit corporation, a social services provider for the region.

The Green Party was the first larger majority-society party in the Czech Republic to offer room on its candidate lists to Romani people. In 2010 the leader of their candidate list in the Pardubice Region was Lucie Horváthová, and in 2013 the party ran nine Romani candidates during the early parliamentary elections.

Q: Why did you decide to run for the Green Party?

A: I would like to demonstrate to people that it is possible to be a politician and a respectable person at the same time who is not corrupt. Some politicians here are on the radical right and that is exactly the reason I decided to run. I must admit that in the past more than one party asked me to run for them, but that was at a time when I didn't want to enter politics, so I rejected their offers. Now that I have decided to go into politics, the Greens were the ones to reach out to me. However, the truth is that even before this I had said there are just two political parties I might run for, and they are the Greens and the Pirates.

Council of Europe says Czech Republic not doing enough to teach the Romani language

On Wednesday, 23 September, the Council of Europe called on the Czech Republic to continue improving its protection of minority languages and said that the country has taken steps in a positive direction toward the protection of the German, Moravian Croatian and Polish languages. However, the international body also reminded the authorities that not enough is being done to teach the Romani language in the primary and secondary schools.

"Romani continues to be taught on a very limited scale in mainstream primary and secondary education, and it is not used in pre-school. The situation is better in higher education as Romani can be studied at several universities," the Council of Europe's report states.

European Roma Rights Centre reports on human rights violations against Romani people during the pandemic this spring

 

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) released a report on 9 September about the human rights violations that were committed against Romani people in 12 European countries during the spring wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, entitled "Roma Rights in the Time of COVID", demonstrates the degree to which Romani people were affected by discrimination and institutional racism during the first half of 2020.

"From February to June 2020, when the attention of the world was focused on the COVID-19 illness, Romani people were being attacked and harassed by racist police officers, were being forcibly evicted, scapegoated by ultra-right political parties and denied access to health care," the ERRC says in the report, which describes the situation in Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Moldavia, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine. The report describes in detail how Romani children were denied access to education, how the quarantining of Romani people was undertaken in some countries, and how some media outlets used deceptive, exaggerated allegations that led to the demonization of Romani communities.

"This happens when they believe nobody is watching them," ERRC president Đorđe Jovanović said. "Generally speaking, it is the case that if a chaotic situation arises such as the one we are now in, those in power demonstrate how they actually want to behave toward minorities and those who are different, which means showing them no mercy. The lack of empathy and solidarity with Romani people that we have seen during this time is very disturbing."

Romani candidate for Czech Senate will not advance to the second round, but scores better than his extremist opponents

Cyril Koky, the Pirate Party's candidate in the Kolín precinct for this year's elections to a third of the Czech Senate, will not be advancing to the second round. With 100 % of the ballots cast counted, his results were reported as 4 173 voters, or 9.32 % of the electorate, a sixth-place finish.

Czech court upholds suspended sentence for man who called for non-white first-graders to be gassed to death

The suspended sentence for the author of hateful commentaries on social media posted beneath a photograph of first-graders attending a primary school in Teplice has now taken effect. The Regional Court in Ústí nad Labem has rejected the appeal of defendant Vítězslav Kroupa, who was sentenced for his hate speech on Facebook by the District Court in Teplice to 16 months in prison, suspended for three years.

The verdict has now taken effect and there is now only one other judicial option through which the defendant can complain about the outcome. "The appeals court reviewed the verdict in question and did not find the appeal justified," Judge Tomáš Plha said.

Miroslav Klempár: I do not believe the European Commission's new 10-year plan to support Roma will apply to the Czech Republic!

The European Commission (EC) has adopted a 10-year plan, including a proposal for a new EU Council Recommendation, on how to support Romani people EU-wide. Its aims and recommendations are meant to serve as important instruments through which it will be possible to measure the progress made and to ensure the EU improves its provision of the essential support that many Romani people living in the EU still need.

The EC Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová has clearly declared that “Simply put, over the last 10 years we have not done enough to support the Roma population in the EU. This is inexcusable. Many continue to face discrimination and racism. We cannot accept it. Today we are relaunching our efforts to correct this situation, with clear targets and a renewed commitment to achieve real change over the next decade."

Miroslav Klempár,

Czech Senate elections won by "Mayors" party, xenophobic rhetoric scored no votes, owner of disinformation tabloid not reseated

The second round of voting for a third of the seats in the Czech Senate has delivered victory to the "Mayors and Independents" (Starostové a nezavislí - STAN) party who, in tandem with the "Mayors for the Liberec Region" (SLK) party won 11 out of 27 possible seats, and party chair Vít Rakušan said his movement is prepared to propose a candidate to lead the upper chamber. Five Senators were elected for the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and three for the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL). 

Two candidates attempted to play the anti-Romani or the xenophobia card during in the second round, but neither of them ended up winning their contest. Petr Bendl (ODS) was defeated by Adéla

Local councillor in Czech Republic sparks outrage and petition against installation of "container housing" in Romani neighbourhood

A petition against the building of "container housing" is making the rounds of the Chanov housing estate in Most, Czech Republic. The city wants to allow the modular housing units to be installed there.

Several uninhabitable prefabricated apartment buildings in the locality have already been demolished by the municipality. The authors of the petition will be collecting signatures through the end of the month. 

"Residents of the Chanov housing estate have been working for several years now to improve conditions at the housing estate overall and to get rid of its reputation as a ghetto. We are convinced that the City of Most's local assembly plans to relocate problematic residents of problematic streets elsewhere in the city into the tin-can settlements ("container" housing units) being planned for the Chanov housing estate," the petition reads.

Slovak politician gets 4 months and 4 years for establishing a movement to suppress human rights, he appeals

The Slovak politician Marián Kotleba has been found guilty of having distributed checks made out for EUR 1488 in his role as Governor of Banská Bystrica and chair of the "People's Party Our Slovakia" (ĽSNS) where the numbers "14" and "88" were used as neo-Nazi codes. The specialized criminal court in Pezinok has sentenced him to four years and four months in prison

 

Civil society sceptical as to whether EU Member States will align with European Commission's 10-year Roma Strategy

The European Commission (EC) has adopted a new 10-year plan, including a proposal for an EU Council Recommendation, on how to support Romani people in the European Union. According to the EC, it is necessary to focus on seven key areas:  equality, inclusion, participation, education, employment, health care and housing.

Many pro-Romani organizations see certain gaps in the EU Roma Strategy and believe it may not resolve the bad situation in which Romani people find themselves in Europe. They are most concerned about how the Member States intend to uphold their own national strategies, which are meant to be developed by September 2021. 

Slovak court says school, not state, is responsible for segregating Romani children

According to the Prešov Regional Court in Slovakia, accountability for educating Romani children in segregated settings rests with individual schools, not with the state. Such a decision has been handed down in a case concerning a primary school in the village of Terňa.

The aim of those bringing the lawsuit was for the court to require the state bodies sued, i.e., the Education Ministry of the Slovak Republic and the District Authority in Prešov, to adopt effective measures to eliminate the state of unlawfulness at the school and to prevent segregation in future. The Regional Court's decision has upheld a February judgement from a District Court that rejected the lawsuit.  

New volunteer civil society member of Czech Govt Roma Council says it does not communicate with the Romani public enough

Vladimír Čermák is a recent graduate in economics and a Romani community member who became one of the four new members of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs appointed on 21 September 2020. He wants to focus on the competitiveness of Romani firms on the labour market, on employment, and would also like to be involved as an analyst monitoring the flow of EU financing and assessing the impacts of projects associated with the Romani minority, as well as the impacts of the Regional Coordinators and other persons contributing to the integration of Romani people who are financed with public money

Czech Romani group objects to reading names of Holocaust victims who were Romani, those organizing commemorations disagree

The informal Dikhas group in the Czech Republic, which is represented by Libuše Martínková and František Lacko, is claiming that the public reading of the names of Holocaust victims from the Romani community during commemorative gatherings organized by the Terezín Initiative Institute (ITI) is displeasing and embarrassing Romani people. The director of the ITI, Tereza Štěpková, says she believes the group is making the statement because they hold a grudge against her personally and that she has not yet heard a convincing argument as to why it would be disrespectful or inappropriate to read aloud the names of those who were murdered for no reason in the absolutely barbaric way that the Holocaust involved.  

Czech bodybuilder fined for approving of murder of Romani man, he appeals

News server iDNES.cz reports that Filip Grznár, a bodybuilder, fitness trainer, MMA fighter and YouTuber, has been fined CZK 15 000 [EUR 550] by the District Court in Chomutov. The court has found him guilty of committing violence against a group and its individual members and of approving of a felony.   

According to the indictment, Grznár made a video of himself in Plzeň in June 2017 in which he expresses approval for a murder that took place in May 2017 in Chomutov. In court he immediately appealed the conviction and sentence against him. 

Stories collated directly from romea.cz/en by Peter Sagar October 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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