Czech ombudsman attacks volunteer members of the Government's Council on Roma, alleges the Romani minority is "inactive" and "just anybody" speaks for them
"All of your listeners know which minority is claiming they should be treated differently than the rest," said newly-appointed ombudsman Stanislav Křeček in an interview with Zuzana Tvarůžková for public broadcaster Czech Television's ČT24 channel, after which he alleged Romani people are "inactive" and that "just anybody around" is speaking for their rights. Křeček also criticized the volunteer civil society members of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs, saying he allegedly doesn't even know who they are and that they are also allegedly "inactive".
The nomination and selection of Křeček for the post of Public Defender of Rights has sparked significant agitation. On the one hand, his supporters agree with his election, and on the other hand his opponents are demonstrating against him, expressing their disagreement with him in the media, and even using their own bodies to blockade his access to the office.
"Romani people are, unfortunately, an inactive minority. It bothers me that they do not claim their rights themselves and that anybody at all can speak for their rights," Křeček responded when asked whether Romani people are part of the group of "active minorities".
"I don't know any Romani representatives who have organized themselves, who say what coexistence is meant to be like with the majority society, under what conditions we will get rid of the excluded localities," the ombudsman said. Later in the interview he reiterated that he does not know the volunteer civil society members of the "Roma Council" and has never encountered any of them during what he alleged was his own "aid to Romani people".
He made similar remarks in an interview for the tabloid Blesk.cz in which he responded to an article by Alica Heráková, a Romani civil society member of the Council, written for the news server Deník referendum in which she charged that Křeček does not understand the agenda of human rights. "I have represented many more Romani people than that lady has ever seen in her life, so I certainly do not reject anything [from that agenda]," the ombudsman said in that interview.
"I recommend that she read all the articles I have written, there are dozens of them. Moreover, the Council [on Romani Minority Affairs] has called on me to meet with them," Křeček told the tabloid.
"I would very much like to do so and I assume we will clarify some of the misunderstandings that have arisen in the media," the ombudsman told Blesk.cz. During the Czech Television interview he also commented on same-sex marriage and on the wearing of Muslim headscarves in the schools.
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