Czech Republic: Experts discuss forms of intolerance against Romani people, fabricated case in Břeclav
A two-day seminar began yesterday in Prague on the various forms of intolerance against Romani people in Europe. The international meeting of experts is happening as part of the 14th Annual World Roma Festival "Khamoro" (Sun), which is taking place in Prague through 6 June. Organizers say the program of the seminar will focus on "everyday manifestations of anti-Gypsyism" in various countries around Europe, as well as the historical roots of this intolerance and its economic and social basis.
According to many experts, physical and verbal attacks on Romani people in many European countries are increasing and the media often pours oil onto the fire. Romani representatives sitting on the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Romani Community Affairs complained of this recently in the Czech Republic, especially with respect to crime reporting. Media outlets are said to directly label suspected perpetrators as Romani without any evidence that the persons concerned actually are Romani. The situation is also being worsened by fabricated reports of Romani assaults.
The most recent such case was that of a 15-year-old boy from Břeclav who invented a story about having been assaulted by Romani men. A large demonstration was then held in the town to show support for him. It later turned out that the boy had caused his own injuries. Another recent incident involved a 15-year-old girl claiming that Romani men had attacked her and sliced her up with a knife, demanding money. That incident was also revealed to have never occurred. Another report about a new Romani political party being robbed by its own treasurer was also a fabrication.
The Statewide Association of Romani People in the Czech Republic (Celostátní asociace Romů ČR) has stated that the Břeclav case in particular has done serious harm to the reputation of Romani people in the Czech Republic. The Czech Press Agency has reported that the leaders of that organization were to have met yesterday with the Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner to discuss the security situation, Romani education and employment, and further possible cooperation. The press department of the Office of the Government has said it is not planning to release any specific statement after the working meeting.
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