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Czech Republic: Memorial assembly this Thursday in Ostrava over Romani man's death in Žatec

23.10.2016 21:26
Members of the Romani community of Ostrava decided to hold a commemorative assembly on Thursday, 27 October 2016 in Ostrava as an expression of solidarity with a similar event in the town of Žatec, where a young Romani man died on 18 October under circumstances that the authorities have yet to fully explain. Josef Stojka is standing at the center here.
Members of the Romani community of Ostrava decided to hold a commemorative assembly on Thursday, 27 October 2016 in Ostrava as an expression of solidarity with a similar event in the town of Žatec, where a young Romani man died on 18 October under circumstances that the authorities have yet to fully explain. Josef Stojka is standing at the center here.

Romani residents of Ostrava have decided to hold a memorial assembly on Thursday, 27 October 2016 in solidarity with another such event in Žatec. The gatherings are being held because of the death of a young Romani man at a pizzeria in Žatec last Tuesday.

"The Roma of Ostrava call on all Roma and on all decent people to stop being indifferent to murders, to violence, and to the public espousal of racial hatred during demonstrations by nationalist radicals," reads their statement, which was provided to news server Romea.cz by Josef Stojka. A full translation is published below.

Press release by the Roma of Ostrava about the memorial demonstration on 27 October 2016 in Ostrava

On 27 October, the Roma of Ostrava have decided they will show their solidarity with the memorial demonstration that will be held in the town of Žatec to commemorate the killing and death of a young Romani man, M.D., age 27. We probably all have heard by now that the young father of two died there under very strange circumstances.

We believe the only thing that can stop a wave of antigypsyist violence being perpetrated against our Romani fellow citizens here in the Czech Republic is a big civic demonstration, a common demonstration by majority-society members and Romani people, with the support of leading figures and politicians, especially from local authorities. The Roma of Ostrava call on all Roma and on all decent people to stop being indifferent to murders, to violence, and to the public espousal of racial hatred during demonstrations by nationalist radicals.

We Roma are calling on the half-hearted politicians in the Government and the representatives of local authorities to finally stop pretending that those antigypsyist marches and calls for violence against citizens of the Czech Republic are not their concern. We Roma understand this demonstration on 27 October to be a first step toward fulfilling our aim of preventing more violence.

We Roma are also aware that there is still a lot of work ahead of us in today's difficult social situation, and not just in Ostrava. The attitudes of some majority-society members towards Romani people are motivated primarily by their own fear and social insecurity, and the capacity and willingness of citizens of all skin colors to solve their own problems in a cultured, peaceful, self-confident way is beginning to disappear entirely.

The official investigation of the entire case in Žatec is just beginning, and therefore we are still doing our best to believe the police will come up with a more credible version of what happened, based on evidence. The criminal justice authorities should work for everybody here.

That work, which is supposed to be impartial, is paid by all taxpayers, Romani ones included! Romani people contribute to this society, are a part of it, and want to feel that they are citizens of this country and that they are safe here.

We become scared when we picture the increasing antigypsyism in Czech society becoming part of the common practice of its institutions and the state bodies that are supposed to impartially, professionally serve the citizens and the people. That is why we must all insist, together, on an objective investigation of this entire case and demand justice!

It is worth it to fight for equality, for human rights, and to publicly raise our voices! Only our common solidarity can change this injustice.

More indifference to such cases will only increase the likelihood that they will become commonplace and will be tolerated by society in the future. For us Roma, that idea is alarming!

The gravity of the situation requires the leading representatives of this country actually begin concerning themselves with human rights and that they ensure the safety of us Roma and our families. The leaders must ensure us access to education, jobs, housing and a dignified civic life.

To be a Romani person in the Czech Republic today means being a second-class citizen whose life is worthless. Where have our humanity, our solidarity, and all the other basic elements of our democracy disappeared to?

In our opinion, all human life is of the same value. What is not mine does not belong to me and I cannot make decisions about it.

The life of the young man who died in that restaurant did not belong either to the "kickboxers" who were there or to the police officers. Nobody can own the life of another human being.

It's all the same whether he was a drug addict, or whether he had a job or not. Somebody deprived that young man of his life, or contributed to his loss of life.

Whoever caused this should bear responsibility, and if the culprit is a friend or a member of the security forces, that should not play any role in holding that person accountable. We Roma are peacefully standing up in defense of our fundamental human rights, the right to life and to security for ourselves and our children.

We express our sincere condolences to the entire family of the deceased! All of the Romani people of Ostrava mourn the death of your son with you. 

VIDEO

press release by the Roma of Ostrava, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Demonstrace, Pietní akce, pietní akt, shromáždění, Smrt Roma v Žatci



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