Czech Republic: Eminent Romani activist says police, not Roma, must keep the peace
News server Prvnizpravy.cz has reported today that "those in the Czech Republic who worship the Nazi ideology have announced that they will continue yet another series of anti-Romani marches in various places around the country this year. Experience from recent years has shown us that the responsible authorities are incapable of implementing effective prevention so that such excesses do not take place."
Karel Holomek, the chair of the Romani Association of Moravia (Společenství Romů na Moravě - SRM), has now commented on this issue. For several years he has sharply criticized the fact that the Government and municipal administrations do not know how to effectively manage the issues in this area.
"Permit someone who is drawn toward these events but not drawn into them to say a few words. I frequently receive the following kind of response to my opinions: 'If you were worth anything you would get those bad guys of yours who terrorize the streets in line!" Holomek said.
"I have been responding to this for a very long time in the exact same way: 'They are not my bad guys and I thoroughly distance myself from them. We have the police to establish law and order here, that's what we pay them for!' Then I add, crossly, because I am as much a Czech as I am a Roma - 'If you all put yourselves in order, then I'll take it upon myself to do the same among the Roma,' " Holomek said.
"Of course, such a view of how violent problems should be solved is pretty stupid - it is a testament to the general incomprehension and inability to take a rational view of addressing such questions that prevails among those who participate in these marches. At the end of the day, the convening of marches by anyone is just proof of such incomprehension and inability to consider matters rationally. By saying that I don't mean to question the suitability of any of the civic protests that try to draw attention to something and force those responsible to address it, but a protest against any particular group always smells of unacceptable generalizations, because not every member of a group is a bad guy, and that goes for the Roma too," the SRM chair said.
Holomek stresses that the only possible solution here is prevention. "It's already known what [prevention] consists of and there are whole annals written about it that both the Government and many municipal administrations have on their desks. All of those manuals spurring them on to prevent neo-Nazi marches, or explaining how municipalities can reject such marches, reserve public places for long periods of time so nothing can take place there, etc. - all of that is just clear proof that we are incapable of implementing preventive activity," he said.
The SRM chair believes one good example is the "Brno Blocks" (Brno blokuje) initiative, which stands up against neo-Nazi marches together with everyone, Romani people included. "There is no need to rewrite the law on assembly - the example of České Budějovice proves that a 'stop' to such a march on the part of the town council can become a fact and could be an example for others. The town councils don't even need manuals if they have capable councilors supported by reasonable citizens. The freedom of people to announce a march or any other kind of event is not limitless, and you cannot state a reason for such an event that is a totally obvious cover for its actual purpose," Holomek wrote to Prvnizpravy.cz.
"We can draw the following conclusions from these events leading nowhere that keep repeating themselves over and over:
- Municipal administrations, in particular their councils, should finally open their eyes and begin introducing all of those well-known measures in the areas of education, housing, and social work, and they should also start getting rid of the 'ulcers' that are those excluded localities they succeeded in producing with the copious support of political populists and would-be entrepreneurs of the worst kind.
- The Government should encourage such conduct on the part of the town halls and should create conditions favorable to it, including legislatively.
- The police should concentrate more on preventive work in troubled localities, which we might then be able to justifiably call crime prevention," Holomek says.
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