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Czech Labor Minister praises container housing in Romani ghetto

17.3.2018 6:46
The exit from one of  the
The exit from one of the "Čunek houses" destroyed by a fire on 31 March 2015. (Source: pozary.cz)

Czech Radio reports that outgoing Czech Labor Minister Jaroslava Němcová of the ANO movement likes the container type of housing in the Poschla locality of the town of Vsetín into which former Mayor Jiří Čunek removed Romani residents from the town center in 2006. The minister said the dislocation of the Romani residents had been the correct "solution".

"I was just now inside and the apartments seem to be the customary standard and I am surprised how well they are maintained," she said in an interview for Czech Radio. Currently there are 160 Romani people living in the units, according to Mayor Jiří Růžička of the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL).

"It leaks here and there are bedbugs. The town is doing its best to repair things, but the effect is momentary. There are people here with vision who want to improve themselves. There are families who live orderly lives, they send their children to school, and they would like to get out of here," Marián Tulej, the administrator of the apartment units who works as a field social worker and lives in the neighborhood himself, said in 2016.

Tulej said that residents of the neighborhood take care of the area around the container housing, not just of their own units, and that they maintain common services according to a schedule. He also said the residents are doing their best to find different housing.

To live in containers the residents pay between CZK 10 000 [EUR 400] and CZK 12 000 [EUR 470] including their high electricity bills due to all the heating in the units being electric. It is not easy, however, for the Romani tenants to move out, as not every landlord wants to lease to Roma, Tulej said in 2016.

Čunek's "deportation" of the Roma from Vsetín

Vsetín evicted Romani tenants from a dilapidated apartment building in the center of town in 2006 and the local council bought old properties in the Jeseniky district for them to be relocated to through a real estate agent, arranging loans to the Romani evictees to buy the properties sight unseen, which they have been contractually obligated to spend 20 years paying back to the very town that evicted them. Forty Romani families were also moved by the town to the periphery into the metal container units the Labor Minister has just praised.

When the local council moved some families into villages in the Jeseniky and Prostějov districts, the houses they were coerced into assuming ownership of were uninhabitable. The case of the displacement of the Roma was investigated by the Czech Police, the state prosecutor, and by then-ombudsman Otakar Motejl.

While according to police Čunek did not break the law when he evicted the tenants, Motejl said the local council had committed procedural errors and violated the rights of the Romani residents to respect for their family and private life. Legislators  on the Czech Senate's human rights committee supported that assessment.

The Romani families reported being forcibly "deported" from the town. "They intimidated us and said we would end up on the streets and our children would be taken into state care [if we didn't move]," Vsetín resident Jolana Tulejová described the pressure to which they had been subjected back in 2006 to news server iDNES.cz.

th, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Deportace Romů ze Vsetína, Housing, Jiří Čunek, Romové



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