Chair of the Pirate Party in the Czech Republic stands up for Romani activist assaulted by hateful attackers
Ivan Bartoš, chair of the Pirate Party in the Czech Republic, has stood up for Romani activist Jožka Miker, who was assaulted in Teplice last weekend. Miker was walking past a pub near his home when he was attacked by several apparently drunken people.
According to remarks that Miker heard the assailants make, one of the reasons for the attack was the Pirate Party t-shirt he was wearing. "For many years, Jozef Miker has been our family friend, our brother and our companion. He is a person whom many people greatly respect, absolutely by rights. Life has not been kind to him, but despite that, he aids his neighbors selflessly, from bringing them material assistance to helping through political activity. He always stands up for and defends those people whom nobody else will aid against those who find it difficult to appreciate the values of humanism, equality and justice, and who trample on those values through their words and deeds," Bartoš posted to Facebook.
Racism, according to the Pirate Party chair, has no place in a modern society. "Nevertheless, many people in this beautiful country of ours have this monster sleeping inside them. This is, to a certain extent, inherited from our past, because our society has not been fair to minorities, especially to the Romani minority, since the very birth of our republic, but this is also the work of our modern preachers of nationalism, politicians and leaders who nurture hatred, thereby giving people an imaginary stick to wield - and sometimes they also wield a real one," the chair posted.
Miker had just attended a rally in the runup to the Senate elections when the assailants attacked him. "Dude, a Gypsy in a Pirate shirt, that's out of line, fucking Pirates!" he heard them say.
According to Miker, he defended the party by telling the passers-by that he believes the Pirates are the only party in the country that is free of corruption, scandal and theft. "Then they called the Pirates 'Bolshevik Jews'," Miker told news server Romea.cz.
After that one man grabbed him from behind and pinned his arms to his body while the other struck his face, breaking one of his teeth. Eventually the thugs stripped him of his Pirate t-shirt and tore it to shreds.
Miker said he does not want to "create a lot of hype" about the incident and originally did not even want to publicize what happened to him. In his view, this was mainly about his wearing the Pirate Party t-shirt.
"If I hadn't been wearing it, they most probably would not have noticed me," Miker told Romea.cz. Over the course of his life he worked for more than 30 years in a strip mine in northern Bohemia as a miner, working his way up to the position of the driver and head of the biggest heavy equipment used for that work in the country.
Miker then contracted Bechterew disease (a chronic inflammatory disease, especially of the spinal vertebrae, that leads to general stiffness). Ever since then he has been volunteering as an activist, appearing at demonstrations against Nazis and racists and working for many years to see the industrial pig farm on the site of the former WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people at Lety be removed.
Miker also takes care of Romani youth so they won't end up living on the street and aids impoverished people from the ghettos with their different problems as an informal "social worker", for example, by finding them jobs. He and his friends also assist homeless people by using their own money to buy food and deliver it to several locales around the entire region.
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