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July 23, 2019
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Czech candidate for party that used racist slogan now works for new group aiding Roma

17.2.2019 9:50
The Čonoro group's Facebook page (2019).
The Čonoro group's Facebook page (2019).

Pavel Pöschl was a candidate for the "Open Town Hall Most" (Otevřená radnice Most) party which, in last year's local elections, used the slogan "Poison alone isn't good enough for these pests!" in its promotional materials. He posted that advertisement to online social networks with the tagline "Zero tolerance for the inadaptables".

One month after that party failed to win local seats in the elections, Pöschl became the representative of a newly-created organization, Čonoro, that says it wants to aid Romani people in Most. "Nonprofit organizations may be functioning here already, but they're not actually doing anything because they don't know how to go about it," Pöschl,  the statutory representative of the organization, which has been running for less than half a year, told Czech Radio.

"The problem is that a Romani person must communicate with the Romani community, that's the key to it all," Pöschl said. During the grand opening of their Community Center, Čonoro said the organization has designed a project to "address" the situation at the Chanov housing estate.

"Currently the situation is very tense, the town is advocating the idea of demolishing the prefabricated apartment buildings there and replacing them with container housing. Nobody from Chanov wants that," Pöschl said, adding that the group has designed an alternative option in collaboration with the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion.

The founders of the group include Petr Račič and the entrepreneur Roman Šindelka, who represents the Romani community, is the chair of the organization, and who, according to Pöschl, will be the person doing outreach to local Romani residents. Speaking to news server irozhlas.cz, Šindelka said the Romani residents at Chanov will have no problem cooperating with him and listening to him.

As an entrepreneur, Šindelka says he currently employs several dozen Romani residents of Chanov. Čonoro says it provides social counseling, listing roughly 30 clients since the beginning of the year, and stores non-perishable groceries in the back of the Community Center for delivery to the needy both at Chanov and at the Janov housing estate in the town of Litvínov.

According to Pöschl, the organization is self-funding and has yet to draw on public subsidies. The group says it intends to address the fact that tenants living in some of the devastated apartment buildings on the Chanov housing estate have not paid their water bills in full by installing special water meters.

The town leadership dislikes that idea. "Those apartment buildings are owned by the town and no third party has the right to offer a service like that to the tenants," Mayor of Most Jan Paparega of the "For Most" (Pro Most) movement told irozhlas.cz.

Pöschl's involvement with this group claiming to support local Roma has been commented on by the civic activist Tereza Dvořáková. "I don't understand this 180 degree about-face, although I guess [Pöschl] could have met people who changed his mind," she said.

"His face and his name were publicly associated with those slogans," the activist said. The election poster of "Open Town Hall Most" has been assessed by police as a misdemeanor.

bau, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Chanov, Most, Politika, Romové



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