Czech Agency for Social Inclusion accuses paper of anti-Romani campaign
"Almost 60 % of Romani people who are of productive age between 15 and 64 are not employed and not trying to find work." This sentence from an article by reporter Jindřich Ginter of the Czech newspaper Právo supposedly references information provided to him on this issue by the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, but Agency director Martin Šimáček says the information has been reported in a misleading way.
"This is not the first time that Mr Ginter has worked with our information in such a way. I don't know whether I should consider this a repeated effort to discredit the Agency, but it does seem to me like a targeted, anti-Romani campaign," Šimáček told news server Romea.cz.
"Roughly one month ago, we responded to several questions from Mr Ginter - which were rather tendentious, among other things. We drew most of our answers from a World Bank report entitled 'Czech Republic: Improving Employment Chances of the Roma.' We also referred the reporter to the report. In the end, our answers and citations from the report were taken out of context and construed as applying only to Romani people, not to the socially excluded in general. I absolutely disagree with the way this reporter works and consider this to be, as I said before, an anti-Romani campaign," Šimáček said.
The World Bank report at issue can be found in English at http://siteresources.worldbank.org/ECAEXT/Resources/258598-1224622402506/CZ_Roma_Employment_Full_Report.pdf
The World Bank performed its research solely in communities with excluded localities. At the most, only half of the Czech Republic's Romani population lives in such localities. "Employment levels are definitely significantly higher among those persons who do not live in those localities. To relate the results of that research to the entire Romani population in the Czech Republic is not only imprecise, it is very misleading," Šimáček said. Ginter's article has misinformed those reading it both online at Novinky.cz and in the print version of Právo.
Šimáček said data on the overall employment levels of all Romani people in the Czech Republic are difficult to collect because no one disaggregates such data by ethnicity. Ginter's article, on the other hand, makes it seem as if someone is in fact following ethnic employment trends, because he applies the data to all Romani people irrespective of their situations. "Because the article does not include the fact that this report was only about Romani people living in excluded localities, not about all Romani people in the Czech Republic, it is absolutely imprecise and untrue," the Agency director said.
The data presented in the article should only be applied to excluded localities. Romani people are not the sole occupants of such localities. One must also realize that a large part of the people living in those localities have been seeking work for a long time and have stopped seeking it after repeated failures.
"The loss of motivation to seek employment is closely connected to the overall situation of people in excluded localities - they repeatedly encounter failures when trying to find work and are often addressing many other problems simultaneously, such as difficult family situations, health impairments and indebtedness. Some of them encounter discrimination when trying to access the labor market, discrimination that is linked primarily to the place they live, not only to the fact that they may be Romani," Šimáček explains.
Šimáček went on to say: "Through social work and job counseling programs, employment can be found for these people. Social enterprises are being created which target persons with low qualifications for employment. The Agency helps introduce all of these support mechanisms in the towns with which it cooperates. It has repeatedly been proven that when people from excluded localities receive such social work and support, their motivation to find employment very quickly increases and they want to work once again."
This particular article is far from the first case of the daily Právo or its internet server Novinky.cz publishing an anti-Romani article. Manipulation of facts was committed, for example, in an article published by Novinky.cz on 28 June 2011 entitled " Mladé Čechy v Británii dřeli z kůže romští žadatelé o azyl" ("Romani asylum seekers worked young Czechs to the bone in Britain"). The British organization Equality, which has long been concerned with these problems, protested against this article at the time.
"In Great Britain, by all accounts, cases of exploitation and human trafficking are more frequently perpetrated by non-Romani Czechs and Slovaks than by Romani people. According to information which the Equality organization has at its disposal, there have only been ISOLATED incidents of Czech and Slovak citizens of Romani nationality exploiting others. At the same time, there is a large number of cases in which non-Romani perpetrators commit crimes against Romani victims, but you have not reported those cases at all," Equality wrote to the editors of Novinky.cz. In their response, the editors refused to accept obvious facts, made excuses, and displayed a total lack of comprehension of the issues involved. (For their full response in Czech, see http://www.romea.cz/cz/zpravy/frantisek-kostlan-denik-pravo-vydelava-na-protiromskem-populismu-co-to-udela-se-spolecnosti-jej-nezajima).
Both Právo and Novinky.cz also reported tendentiously about an incident in the town of Krupka in which a married non-Romani couple running as candidates on the ticket of the Workers' Social Justice Party (DSSS) engaged in physical confrontation with their Romani neighbors. Editors of the daily Právo interviewed Petr Kotáb, the vice-chair of the now-defunct (neo)Nazi Workers' Party and one of the leading candidates for the DSSS about this incident, and he augmented the short statement provided about it by the police spokesperson. None of the Romani people involved were given an opportunity to express their opinions.
Právo and Novinky.cz also published an article on alleged welfare abuse, describing the problem in exaggerated terms of unbelievable dimensions without offering a single piece of evidence. The entire content was based on the claims of various people contacted for their opinions and was written in a vocabulary that would have made pre-war Czech fascists and ultra-conservatives proud (the article, in Czech, is available here http://www.novinky.cz/finance/264171-socialni-davky-zneuzivaji-i-majetne-romske-rodiny.html).
Novinky.cz celebrated International Romani Day in typical fashion by publishing an article entitled "Radicals protest defenestration of police officer in Chanov" (Radikálové v Chanově protestovali kvůli policistovi vyhozenému z okna - in Czech at http://www.novinky.cz/krimi/264185-radikalove-v-chanove-protestovali-kvuli-policistovi-vyhozenemu-z-okna.html). The only persons cited in that article were right-wing extremists from the DSSS. Novinky.cz quoted verbatim the party's web server as to the alleged reason for their march through the Chanov housing estate, namely, that an allegedly Romani person had thrown a police officer out of a window there. However, the perpetrator of this incident was not in fact Romani, but was a non-Romani person addicted to drugs. The ethnicity of the perpetrator in this case is not relevant, as it has nothing to do with the content of the case.
This past June in the Slovak town of Hurbanovo, local police officer Milan Juhász shot three Romani people dead. This simple fact was enough for Novinky.cz to throw as much mud as possible on the victims while simultaneously praising the murderer, as we can see from the headline of their article reporting the incident, "Youngest Romani murder victim in Hurbanovo had robbed a junkyard" (original in Czech at http://www.novinky.cz/zahranicni/evropa/270970-nejmladsi-z-romu-zavrazdenych-v-hurbanovu-vykradl-sberne-suroviny.html). It is also worth noting the article's formulation that three Romani people "fell victim to Saturday's shooting". It would be hard to find a better euphemism for a premeditated triple murder. As for the murderer, Novinky.cz wrote the following: "Residents of the town of Juhász knew him as a decent person and a good police officer. 'They must have harmed him somehow for him to do something like that. He must have snapped,' one female resident said."
Novinky.cz also recently gave a great deal of coverage to the alleged victory of the ultra-right extremist DSSS in the Šluknov district elections in an article entitled "Angry Šluknov district elects DSSS radicals" (in Czech at http://www.novinky.cz/domaci/281661-nastvane-sluknovsko-volilo-radikaly-z-dsss.html). This information proved to be more than misleading, as Petr Koubek of the PRO! Kraj ("For the Region!") movement described in an article published on Romea.cz entitled "Workers' SS loses in Šluknov district, PRO! Kraj movement's strategy is a factor" (in Czech only at http://www.romea.cz/cz/publicistika/komentare/petr-koubek-delnici-ss-na-sluknovsku-prohrali-jednim-z-faktoru-byla-i-strategie-hnuti-pro-kraj).
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