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Civil society members of Czech Govt Roma Council call on Radek Banga to apologize for remarks undermining the dignity of Romani people

22.4.2021 11:54
Alena Gronzíková (2017).
Alena Gronzíková (2017).

The passionate debates in the Romani community on social media over the remarks made by Romani singer Radek Banga during a recent interview with DVTV are continuing. The volunteer civil society members of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs (RVZRM) have now weighed in through one of their members, Alena Gronzíková.  

"Mr Banga made many errors in that interview for DVTV when he alleged that some Romani people are parasites on the welfare system who, as parents, intentionally turn their own children into 'hostages' without presenting evidence for his claims," Gronzíková said in a statement that has been sent to news server Romea.cz.  "Through his remarks, Mr Banga is undermining not just the dignity of Romani people, but also the work being done by many Romani people to achieve systemic change and improve the lives of Romani people in the Czech Republic."

"For that reason, we are calling on Mr Radek Banga for an explanation that will lead to a correction of the record, and we recommend that he apologize for his remarks," says the statement. News server Romea.cz is publishing it here in full translation.

Statement by the volunteer civil society members of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs (RVZRM)

With the permission of my fellow members of the civil society section of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs, I am responding to the controversial and untrue remarks made by Mr Radek Banga in his interview for DVTV. 

Mr Banga certainly is fully entitled to describe his negative personal experiences and to reveal matters from his private life in his book, (Ne)pošli to dál. For that reason, I will not express any opinion about its content. 

However, Mr Banga made many errors in that interview for DVTV when he alleged that some Romani people are parasites on the welfare system who, as parents, intentionally turn their own children into "hostages" without presenting evidence for his claims. I do not doubt that in isolated cases what he alleges may be the case, but that is not the impression the interview makes, where he is depicting Romani people using rhetoric that is noticeably similar to the rhetoric of those with anti-Romani convictions, and when he has not backed up his conclusions with any reliable data.  

Mr Banga should know, as a prevention worker, as he said of himself, what the lawful procedures are that are meant to be applied in situations when children are victimized by their parents. He should also know that the problems within Romani communities have very deep roots and that it is not possible to describe them superficially, in a materially incorrect way, drawing conclusions that are misleading, just as it is not possible to pronounce cheap judgments about why things are as they are. This kind of analysis of the situation, as expressed by Mr Banga, is one that a significant proportion of Romani people here, including the volunteer civil society members of the RVZRM, cannot identify with.

Through his remarks, Mr Banga is undermining not just the dignity of Romani people, but also the work being done by many Romani people to achieve systemic change and improve the lives of Romani people in the Czech Republic, which has been reflected in the drafting of the Government Strategy for the Emancipation, Inclusion and Participation of Roma by 2030. That document is based above all on the experiences of NGOs working with Romani people and on the experiences of Romani people themselves.

For that reason we are calling on Mr Radek Banga for an explanation that will lead to a correction of the record, and we recommend that he apologize for his remarks.

On behalf of the members of the civil society section of the RVZRM,

Alena Gronzíková

lav, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Alena Gronzíková, DVTV, Rada vlády pro záležitosti romské menšiny, Radek Banga



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