Czech, Slovak Romanies mentioned in United Nations
The position of Romanies in Czech society is most significantly depicted by the humiliating facilities and activities on the places of former Romany concentration camps, Cenek Ruzicka from the Czech Committee for the Compensation to Romany Holocaust said at a press conference in the United Nations headquarters in New York today.
"There is a pig farm in Lety near Pisek, which is still being operated, and in Hodonin, South Moravia, there is paradoxically a holiday resort," Ruzicka described the sites.
The press conference was held in connection with the appeal by European Romanies that the United Nations should establish the post of a special representative for Romany questions. The new office is to highlight the violation of their rights and seek practical measures with a view to improving the protection of this ethnic minority.
Ruzicka told journalists that there were over 300 Romany ghettoes in the Czech Republic, that over one half of Romany children had to attend schools for mentally backward children and that up to 90 percent of Romanies were jobless.
Ruzicka said that like other citizens, Romanies formally had human and civic rights, "but we know that in practice they cannot push them through."
"Or else there would be no sterilisation of Romany woman, which is quite paradoxical nowadays. Many Czech Romanies want to live in Canada, England and your country," he added.
Ruzicka said that most of Czech society was burdened with xenophobia and prejudices created by Nazi ideology during World War Two, "which have lost almost nothing of their strength and impact."
This is proved by public opinion polls showing that no fewer than 90 percent Czechs would not like to have a Romany as their neighbour.
Representative of Slovak Romanies Ladislav Richter praised the government of Prime Minister Robert Fico as it was trying to resolve the Romany problem.
Richter pointed to the existence of over 630 Romany ramshackle settlements without any basic infrastructure, drinking water or electricity.
There is almost 100-percent unemployment among adult Romanies and the progress in the education of Romany children is slow in coming, Richter said.
A similar situation is in Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine, representatives of Romanies from these countries told journalists.
There are an estimated twelve million Romanies in Europe.
According to historians, a total of 1,308 Romanies were interned in the Lety camp, out of whom 327 died there and more than 500 were transported to Auschwitz.
Out of a total of 1,375 Romanies interned in Hodonin, 207 died there and more than 800 were sent to Auschwitz.