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Coalition of Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region, Czech Republic responds to critique of one of their members' live broadcasts on social media

29.8.2021 6:27
Liberec, Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  Wikimedia Commons)
Liberec, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons)

News server Romea.cz recently published a statement by the Association of Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region, z.s., critiquing the behavior on social media of a member of the organization called the Coalition of Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region, z.s. (Koalice romských reprezentantů Libereckého kraje, z.s.). The Coalition, along with other individuals and organizations, has issued their response, which news server Romea.cz is publishing here in full translation. 

Statement by the Coalition of Romani Representatives of Liberec Region, z.s., (KRRLK, z.s.), and others

The runup to the elections creates room for the discussion of subjects about society as a whole throughout the republic. Political parties are reaching out to their potential voters in every way possible. Recently, they have done this through social media above all. Romani people are also affected by the elections. Different activists have organized themselves into small groups that are discussing whom to vote for and why, using live social media broadcasts, and they are also discussing topics that are of importance to all of society, such as social work, the rising incidence of racism, discrimination, etc. - subjects that create room for discussion. At the same time, however, such discussions are nothing new. 

Those of us who are undersigned here never interfere with such debates - we do not do so as individuals, and we do not do so as the organizations with which we are affiliated. Nobody should ever forget that live broadcasts on social media happen in the public space, where it is necessary to uphold the principles of decency and democracy. We condemn any violence or vulgar behavior that casts a bad light on Romani people in any public space.

One of our employees, who is also a longterm member of the Coalition of Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region, z.s., has also recently begun broadcasting live on social media. He did so without informing any other members of our organization or our leadership of his decision. This means we, as an organization, were unaware of his broadcasts.

When the information came to us that our colleague was live broadcasting on social media, and that viewers might consider the content of his broadcasts to be hateful, we immediately warned him to remedy the situation at once, as we condemn such behavior - it is not in keeping with the mission of our organization or the people involved in it. We told him this irrespective of the fact that he was broadcasting in his free time, not during the performance of his job or of his function as a member of our organization. 

KRRLK, z.s. has long honored the values of mutual deference, respect for others, reaching consensus and dialogue, and we do believe these values can move things in the right direction. Every indication of hatred, discrimination, racism or reverse racism is something we condemn and we consider such behaviour intolerable.

Of course, we consider the statement published by the Association of Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region, z.s., which news server Romea.cz has published, to be alarming and to discredit the many years of work done by many Romani people from the Liberec Region, work to which we have dedicated a great deal of effort, often at the expense of ourselves and our families - because the Association's statement says that our members, more than once, have attempted radical self-promotion to the detriment of Romani people, that our members have been lying, and that they have undermined the work of other organizations. 

We cannot identify with that statement. Neither our members nor our organization has ever supported any radicalism, we have never participated in anything similar and we never will. We consider that statement to be defamation, as its allegations are misleading and unfounded, they are not based on anything that is true, and they were not prompted by any prior events.

The Association presents itself in the public arena as if it represents all of the Romani inviduals and organizations from the Liberec Region. Unfortunately, the opposite is true - neither the community itself, across the region, nor many of its organizations know anything about the existence of the Association and they do not collaborate with it. The Coalition found this to be the case during our application of the community networking method in the region between 2019-2020.

An organization like the Association can only just speak for its own members, not on behalf of all Romani people or organizations living/working in the Liberec Region - due to the nature of its activity, the Association cannot know the conditions and situations in the socially excluded localities of the region, and therefore it cannot establish the systematic communication of the needs and requirements of the Roma through that organization to representatives of the state administration and local authorities. For that reason, we are concerned that the Association might be an effort to promote individual interests, not those of the community as a whole. This is something to think about.

It is up to the leadership of the Association to consider whether they should correct their public presentation of themselves to reflect their actual potential and scope.

These debates and statements have also raised other, broader questions for reflection and discussion, both within our region and nationwide. Where do the boundaries of our responsibility towards Romani society and towards our own opinions and activities lie? Who among us even has the right to assess other people, to condemn them, or to moralize about them in the first place? We can also ask why Romani organizations are publicly commenting on another Romani organization, one that helps the Roma, instead of publicly commenting on the people who abuse the Roma for their personal benefit at this time - such as Okamura, or Křeček the ombudsman and those like them?  

The entire team of the Coalition of Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region, z.s.
Amaro dzives, z.s. and all of its members,
RHRV and all of its members,
The "Romani activists of the Liberec Region" Working Group, comprisin activists from the districts of Liberec, Semily, Česká Lipa, Jablonec nad Nisou
Ján Lányi,
Eugen Kondáš,
Marie Pilátová,
Olina Fliťarová,
Marta Miková,
Tereza Lányiová,
Růžena Balogová,
Zdeněk Musil,
Nataša Čoňková,
Ivan Balog and others

press release of the Coalition of Romani Representatives of Liberec Region, z.s., translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Liberec, tiskové prohlášení, ultrapravice, vyjádření



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