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May 25, 2022



Commentary: Arrogant behavior of Czech Railways staff toward Romani refugees from Ukraine and absurd police proposals

11.5.2022 11:37
Adam Pospíšil
Adam Pospíšil

Right now [10.5], on the train to Plzeň, the conductor and the manager of the train are trying to tell four Romani mothers, with two girls about five years old and one newborn, that they will throw them off of the train if they do not buy a ticket. The women don't have any money. 

Where they want to go to is Munich, Germany - they were issued a "zero value" ticket in Prague by Czech Railways and they have Ukrainian passports, but they lack a stamp in them from the Regional Assistance Center for Aid to Ukraine (KACPU). I engage the conductor and manager in a debate about their treatment of these passengers that is simply terrible.

My intervention is not welcome. After 20 minutes of a disgusting discussion as to whether the women are refugees (they were carrying one plastic bag), the conductor said he would be so tolerant as to allow them to reach Plzeň, where I could go with them to the KACPU, they could receive the stamp they need, and then they could continue the last 60 km of their journey with Czech Railways to Germany.

Wow... That man would rather have thrown them out in Beroun because of one missing stamp than let them go on to Germany.

We arrive in Plzeň and go to the KACPU. There they inform us that if the refugees get their passports stamped as part of the Czech system, they will receive temporary protection here and will not be able to get protection in Germany, which is where they want to be.

That means the women should buy a ticket, like normal passengers. Money for such tickets is not handled by KACPU, but the nonprofit people there are able to solve problems with diapers, food, etc.

Those people are great, as are the interpreters! However, I overhear a cop say nobody can expect him "to support these gypsies".

I gave him what for until his subordinates started laughing. In the pub, he can say whatever he wants, but here he is on duty!

A [non-Romani] Ukrainian volunteer then begins to muse about how such people keep on demanding things and want to abuse the system. Another great debate.

In the end, the police officer in charge there suggested that it would be best for us to get on a train, ride until we get thrown off, get on again and go as far as we can until we are thrown off again. That's how such people have to travel to Germany.

Great, I think, the system "works"! Meanwhile, I learn from a friend that it has been set up so that if these people would have caught an international connection, they would not need any stamp, what they have would be enough for them to pass through the Czech Republic.

The train we had been on was going to Cheb, not to Munich, so the problem was that they just got on the wrong train. However, neither the conductor nor the manager of the train ever told us that, not during all that time.

The Czech Railways staff just insisted on the refugees either paying or being escorted from the train at the cost of making an extraordinary stop with assistance from the police. Likewise, nobody at the KACPU ever explained this information to us - but all turned out well, as I checked in the afternoon.

The girls got a new ticket and went to Domažlice by bus. They won't be far from the German border there.

Adam Pospíšil, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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