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Czech Interior Minister: Romani refugees from Ukraine are not a threat, they are the worst-afflicted by this crisis, we can atone for the hardship we have caused them

24.5.2022 8:59
Vít Rakušan (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)
Vít Rakušan (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

Romani refugees from Ukraine pose no danger to Czech citizens, it is necessary to reject the characterization of them as fraudsters - on the contrary, they are the worst affected by the current crisis. That statement comes from an article posted to his blog on Czech news server Aktualne.cz by Interior Minister Vít Rakušan.

"At the main railway station in Prague, mothers with young children have been sleeping there overnight. The vast majority of them are Romani refugees from Ukraine. While dozens of volunteers have been and are aiding them selflessly, steadily and with all their strength, shouts are resonating elsewhere in Czech society that these refugees are dangerous and, above all, that they have not fled the war, but have come to abuse our social system," the Interior Minister has written in his blog.

"Without downplaying all of the objective security risks, I can clearly say that no, these people pose no danger to our citizens. While I do not want to downplay the possibility of a certain unfairness, either, I basically must also reject - and I want to reject - the characterization of Romani refugees from Ukraine as fraudsters. If we must generalize about them, we should think about them as the worst-affected victims of this crisis as a whole," he added.

According to Rakušan, Romani refugees are not just direct victims of Russian aggression in its war on Ukraine, but have also been, for generations, victims of inherited prejudice, lack of interest, and sometimes the frustration of the majority society. "They have been victims of both the majority society's latent racism and its open racism," the Interior Minister writes, going on to state that some today are also the victims of Viktor Orbán's policy to distribute Hungarian citizenship to Hungarians in neighboring states for the past 10 years in order to strengthen his own power, which allegedly makes it impossible for many Romani refugees from Ukraine to obtain temporary protection in the Czech Republic.

"However, in our common crisis, when mothers and their children are sleeping on the cold ground, there is no way we can renounce our responsibility by saying we are proceeding correctly in terms of the law. Therefore, I am looking for ways to help those Romani refugees from Ukraine who have found themselves in the trap of geopolitical clashes and a legal vacuum through the interplay of many unfortunate circumstances. I consider it my obligation to help these victims. It is a manifestation of our humanity. Humanism," added the Interior Minister, who is convinced "that we owe it to the Roma."

The blog post then goes on to remind readers about the wave of racially-motivated attacks that happened in Czechoslovakia just after the Velvet Revolution. "Unfortunately, prejudice, resistance and hatred of people with a different skin color have remained part of our society," the Interior Minister writes, reminding readers of Czech society's years of unwillingness to remove the pig farm that had been built on the site of a WWII-era concentration camp at Lety, or the unwillingness to accept even a few dozen child refugees during the 2015 crisis in Europe.

"The last few parliamentary sessions have also shown us that Tomio Okamura has turned his intolerance toward various minorities into a comfortable living,” adds the Interior Minister. "Now we have the opportunity to at least partially undo the harms we have committed against the Roma. To prove that we have learned from our past mistakes, which all but imprisoned Romani people in excluded locations. To start - albeit slowly and with difficulty - to build an open society where it genuinely will not matter what color of  skin anybody was born with. I will do everything I can do for that." 

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Interior Ministry, pomoc, Racism, refugee



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