Committee of Roma Regional Representatives distances itself from Czech Human Rights Commissioner
The Committee of Roma Regional Representatives (Gremium romských regionálních představitelů - GRRP) is yet another civic initiative to object to the personnel who are meant to be in charge of human rights in important positions in the Czech Republic. The civil society members of the Czech Government Council on Roma Minority Affairs protested a couple of days ago against the fact that Czech President Miloš Zeman has nominated former Deputy Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček for the next holder of that office, and the GRRP is currently protesting against Helena Válková remaining in the job of Human Rights Commissioner.
Their objection is not just about the fact that during communism Válková's academic work made way for the discriminatory institution of "protective surveillance", but also about the attitude toward Romani people during the "normalization" era embodied by an anthology in which her co-authored contribution was published. As Romea.cz has reported previously, the consequence of that work was basically the allegation that Romani people are predestined to commit crime.
The GRRP is condemning that communist-era policy vis-a-vis Romani people, which it considers discriminatory, and is presenting it as the main cause of the current disastrous state of affairs in the area of human rights in the Czech Republic. News server Romea.cz presents their statement here in full.
Press release of the Committee of Roma Regional Representatives
Helena Válková has stirred up the political waters here. An article she co-authored that was published in 1979 has made it out of the dusty archives and into the light of day, describing the institution of protective surveillance, which was exploited by the communist apparatus against dissidents. The other author of the article was the infamous Josef Urválek. That communist prosecutor sent opponents of the regime to prison and to the gallows during the show trials of the 1950s. Válková is now Human Rights Commissioner. In addition, she led research for the Czech and Slovak Socialist Republic's Prosecutor-General aimed at the "delinquent population of juvenile cikáni". The conclusions of that research were published in an anthology. It follows from those conclusions that Roma "are predestined to commit crime."
Helena Válková is a tragic figure with a very shabby past. Despite that fact, she has become Justice Minister, is now Human Rights Commissioner, and until recently was also a hot possible candidate for the Public Defender of Rights post, which Czech President Miloš Zeman nominated her to be. She eventually recused herself from that candidacy. She is refusing calls for her to resign and step down as Human Rights Commissioner, and she is also remaining in office as an MP. She has the support of the governing Association of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) movement and of part of the Czech Government Human Rights Council.
The subject that has carried the most weight in this scandal has just been a single fact: The tandem of Josef Urválek - Helena Válková during communism and the persecution of dissidents. We are not calling into question the hardship endured by the people who opposed the Communist regime. However, the fact that Válková, at the highest level of the state, participated in the preparation of the methodology for addressing the so-called “cikánský question” does not bother anybody from either the political or the professional public. We have not yet noted a single condemnation or statement from any of them that would at least partially support the Roma.
After all, communist ideology bears the greatest share of the blame for the current state of the Roma in this country. It was that ideology that deprived the Roma of their freedom and for many decades prevented them from accessing education and economic, social and societal development. Communism divided the Roma away from the rest of society and assigned them to the absolute margins. Anthologies and handbooks for social workers, members of the public security forces and street committees on how to deal with “cikáni” and deal with the “cikánský question” by experts such as Válková arranged for the sterilization of Romani women and men, the forced dispersion and disintegration of Roma families, and the removal of children to orphanages. The Roma still feel the consequences of this policy today. They especially feel it when promoting human and civil rights and freedoms.
The maturity of any democracy is symbolized by the state's attitude to the human rights agenda. This means observing human rights, enforcing them, and punishing violations. The fight against communism was a fight for our human and civil rights. If politicians compromise on these basic principles because of their own interests, they accept a dangerous compromise. It is not possible to barter about human rights and freedoms in the style of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours". The attitudes of top politicians toward the Urválek-Válková case should be a warning signal for us. Our human rights and freedoms can become just empty phrases in the future.
Ladislav Bílý, Josef Duna, Ondrej Giňa st., Gremium romských regionálních představitelů
- Volunteer civil society member of Czech Govt Council on Roma Affairs resigns over Human Rights Commissioner affair
- Civil society members of the Czech Govt Council on Roma Minority Affairs differ on whether Human Rights Commissioner should remain in office
- Monika Mihaličková: The basis for institutional racism was laid by work of the kind the Czech Human Rights Commissioner did in the 1980s
- Czech media reports Human Rights Commissioner co-authored communist-era paper alleging Roma are predetermined to commit crimes
- Civil society members of the Czech Govt Council on Roma Minority Affairs say Křeček is unacceptable as Public Defender of Rights
- Czech Human Rights Commissioner to stay in office, most civil society members of Human Rights Council support her
- Romani politician Cyril Koky: Stanislav Křeček as Czech ombudsman would be absurd and ridiculous
- Outgoing Czech Public Defender of Rights says her former deputy is not a good choice to succeed her
- Czech Human Rights Commissioner says President supports her remaining in that position
- Czech President to nominate former Deputy Public Defender of Rights candidate for next Public Defender of Rights
- Czech Govt Human Rights Commissioner refuses to resign despite some Human Rights Council members calling for her to do so
- Czech Social Democratic Party has new candidate for President to nominate as ombudswoman after his first choice declines due to pressure over her past
- Czech Human Rights Commissioner accused of defending the persecution of dissidents during communism, she calls it a smear campaign
- Regional Roma association opposes housing benefit-free zones in yet another Czech city
- Here is the winning design for the new memorial to Holocaust victims of Roma and Sinti origin at the former concentration camp in Lety u Písku, Czech Republic
- Željko Jovanović: Roma Resistance Day as a Moral Compass
- Central European University offers stipend to Romani students for online summer school, deadline 13 May
- Emil Voráč: Czech Govt COVID-19 measures have not stopped our work, but the poorest are being forgotten
- Romanian chief of local police filmed beating handcuffed Romani men as they lie on the ground
- Milan Kotlár: Our Romani restaurant in Český Krumlov is closed, Czech state support will not rescue us
- Czech Agency for Social Inclusion: Those left out of distance learning could go to summer school
- Bulgaria: Educational assistants on the front line help Romani children during COVID-19 crisis
- Talented Romani pianist performs from his balcony in Czech town to thank medical workers
- Amnesty International criticizes Czech discrimination of Roma, Public Defender of Rights says AI is "biased"
- Vice-Chair of Czech Govt Council for Roma Minority Affairs wants to hear what Romani entrepreneurs need to respond to the effects of the pandemic
- Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe calls for Romani living conditions to be improved during the COVID-19 pandemic