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July 4, 2022



Czech Republic's second-largest city to see day of demonstrations tomorrow against treatment of Romani refugees and their children

20.6.2022 19:15
Romani children and their mothers fleeing Russia's aggression against Ukraine in Brno, Czech Republic. (2022) (PHOTO: Facebook page of the Native and Indigenous Film Festival)
Romani children and their mothers fleeing Russia's aggression against Ukraine in Brno, Czech Republic. (2022) (PHOTO: Facebook page of the Native and Indigenous Film Festival)

Tomorrow, Tuesday, 21 June 2022, a protest will be held in front of Brno City Hall against the approach taken by the city leadership toward Romani refugees from Ukraine. The protest will begin in the morning with the creation of an "alley of shame" for the members arriving for a meeting of Brno's local assembly.

In the afternoon a demonstration will be held that will be broadcast live by ROMEA TV. The protest is organized by a Brno-based collective of feminists that is informal (called Sdruženy - Associated) and the Food Not Bombs initiative. 

"The Czech Government is proud of its exemplary approach toward both female and male refugees, but there are some whom they do not consider to be fleeing the war and whom they are treating worse than criminals. Romani Ukrainian women with children, women whose partners, fathers and brothers are fighting side by side with their fellow citizens, male and female, are not welcome in the Czech Republic," the organizers posted to Facebook. 

"When in February the war of Russian aggression began in Ukraine, the Mayor of Brno, Markéta Vaňková, spoke of 'Voldemort' at a demonstration held in the city center. By 'Voldemort' she meant Putin. After Romani men and women fleeing the war arrived in Brno, nobody mentioned Voldemort again," the organizers point out. 

Sdruženy and the Food not Bombs initiative are also recalling that untrue information about the Romani women and their children is being spread by the media and politicians in the Czech Republic. "What began instead was talk of the Hungarian citizenship of most of these Romani women, when in actuality just 3% of the refugees had dual citizenship, which means about 150 people," the initiatives have posted.

"Hoaxes are being spread about these Romani men and women refusing aid here, or about their alleged inadaptability. It appears that we are able to invent any kind of excuse in order to be able to rationalize our selective solidarity," the initiatives write before going on to call the spaces that the city has prepared for the Romani women and their children a "concentration camp". 

"We want to make it clear that the humanitarian catastrophe that has arisen on the territory of this wealthy Central European city bothers us! For that reason we are holding a protest to support the Romani refugees," the social media post says. 

The Romani women and their children who fled the war in Ukraine were relocated by the Brno City Hall from the railway station, where they had been living for several weeks, to a small park at the intersection of Benešova and Koliště Streets where they have been living there in catastrophic conditions that have long been criticized by independent initiatives and nonprofit organizations. The city then fenced off the space near the railway station where the homeless refugees had originally been sleeping. 

PROGRAM - 21 June 2022

07:30 - 08:30: Alley of shame for the arriving city assembly members
08:30 - 09:00: Attendance at the city assembly meeting

16:00 - 17:30: Public Protest

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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