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July 6, 2022

 

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Brno, Czech Republic: 50 people protest city's treatment of Romani refugees from Ukraine

22.6.2022 13:20
Musician and Romani community member Gejza Horváth speaking during the demonstration against the behavior of Brno City Hall toward Romani refugees from Ukraine - 21 June 2022. (PHOTO:  ROMEA TV)
Musician and Romani community member Gejza Horváth speaking during the demonstration against the behavior of Brno City Hall toward Romani refugees from Ukraine - 21 June 2022. (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

Yesterday approximately 50 people protested the approach being taken by the city leadership in Brno, Czech Republic toward Romani refugees from Ukraine by assembling in front of city hall; those speaking included local Romani community members and representatives of a Brno-based collective of feminists called SdruŽeny (Associated Women) and the Food Not Bombs initiative, both of which organized the event. Brno's leadership was criticized at the demonstration by the musician and Romani community member Gejza Horváth. 

"These people are fleeing a war and have just as much of a right to receive backup and support as do White Ukrainians, but they are not receiving it," Horváth said in his speech. "The Black mothers from Ukraine are sleeping at the railway station, on the ground, while the White mothers from Ukraine are staying in normal residential hotels."

"This is racism and discrimination," Horváth told those assembled. Brno was also criticized by a member of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs, Tomáš Ščuka

"It is not possible for democratic entities to proclaim that they have pro-European policies while tolerating the fact that a few hundred Romani people from Ukraine are not receiving the same protection as the rest of the refugees," Ščuka said. "Romani children and their mothers are the only ones sleeping outside in parks, at the railway station, or in tents without flooring, and when it rains, these infants and toddlers are sleeping in the wet mud."

Jana Hamrová, a representative of the Brno Team initiative, reminded those assembled that the Romani refugees from Ukraine had been separated from the rest of those leaving the country already at the Slovak-Ukrainian border. "The majority society here is surprised that Romani refugees have also appeared in Brno," said Hamrová who, together with the Brno Team initiative and the IQ Roma Servis NGO, has been regularly visiting the refugees of Romani origin there.

The Romani women and their children who have fled Russia's war on Ukraine and ended up in Brno were recently relocated by local officials from the area of the main railway station, where they had been living for weeks, to a strip of land between Benešova and Koliště Streets and are now living there in catastrophic conditions that independent initiatives and nonprofit organizations have long been criticizing. After relocating them, the city then fenced off the space near the main railway station where the Romani refugee families from Ukraine had originally been sleeping.

František Bikár, Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Brno, Demonstrace, Discrimination, Racism



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