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June 24, 2018
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Civil society members of Czech Govt Roma Council call on voters not to re-elect Zeman

13.11.2017 11:45
The Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs (23 October 2014 session). (PHOTO:  František Bikár)
The Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs (23 October 2014 session). (PHOTO: František Bikár)

Some Romani civil society members of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs released an open letter on 11 November to the citizens of the Czech Republic calling on them not to re-elect Czech President Miloš Zeman. The letter was their response to Zeman's most recent verbal assault on Romani people, in which he claimed that "90 % of inadaptable citizens" in the country are Romani.

"The President of a country cannot afford to make a public allegation of this sort without backing it up with data and facts. He is negating the status of a legally-recognized national minority and supporting citizens' negative attitudes," reads the letter, which news server Romea.cz is publishing here in full translation.

Open Letter to Voters in the Czech Republic

Dear Voters, Dear Citizens of the Czech Republic of all nationalities,

We are calling upon you not to re-elect Miloš Zeman in the 2018 presidential elections! The President of the republic is supposed to be the President of all citizens, and we should not have to be ashamed of his behavior or remarks.

President Zeman, however, constantly crosses the line of respectability, does not fulfill the expectations citizens have of him, and his service to the state has been counter-productive and poor. In the past we have responded to his remarks about the removal of the pig farm at Lety u Písku [from the site of a former concentration camp for Romani people], which he said seemed "uneconomical" to him because it would mean the land would go unused.

We reminded him on that occasion that remembrance, in such cases, is superior to any practical uses. Now on the "Week with the President" program on TV Barrandov, Zeman is continuing his campaign for re-election, and we are witnesses, every week, to his remarks attacking basic human values.

His most recent appearance on that program has further added to our awareness of how incompetent our current President is in the area of human rights. He has admitted to using the term "inadaptables", who, in his definition, are those "... who refuse jobs offered to them even though they are absolutely healthy...", and of whom he believes 90 % are Romani and 10 % are "white slobs".

Setting aside the absolute absence of empathy displayed by such an allegation, which may be caused by the fact that as a healthy, successful white man and member of the majority society Mr Zeman has had just a limited opportunity to cultivate any empathy (beyond that with which he might have been born), we remain convinced that the President of a country cannot afford to make a public allegation of this sort without backing it up with data and facts. By making this statement, he is negating the status of a legally-recognized national minority and supporting citizens' negative attitudes.

Not just as members of the Government Council, but also as responsible citizens of this country, we are publicly calling on voters not to cast their vote for President Zeman. This country needs an absolutely different type of figure leading it.

Martina Horváthová, civil society member of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs

Čeněk Růžička, civil society member of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs

Jan Kudry, civil society member of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs

Michal Mižigár, civil society member of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs

 

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Miloš Zeman, Prezident, Prezidentské volby, Racism



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