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Czech Republic: Romani group publishes Facebook petition against collective blame

Ústí nad Labem, 23.11.2011 1:33, (ROMEA)

A group of Romani residents of Ústí nad Labem and the surrounding area has set up a Facebook page with as many as 400 members. The group has put together a petition expressing their dissatisfaction with the application of the principle of collective blame in the Czech Republic and with the lack of action on the part of state bodies with respect to current events. News server Romea.cz publishes the petition in full below.

PETITION AGAINST GENERALIZING ABOUT THE ROMANI PROBLEM

We, Romani people who are citizens of the Czech Republic, resolutely reject any and all forms of racial and other violence no matter which side or population group commits it.

We, respectable Romani people, hereby condemn the extremely tense situation between the majority society and members of the Romani minority, a situation which has resulted in the principle of collective blame being applied.

We realize that the generalizations about the Romani problem have escalated to a positively dizzying degree when our majority-society acquaintances, co-workers, and neighbors are turning their backs on us, the respectable Romani people, solely because we are Roma. The principle of collective blame being applied to the Romani problem is preventing us, the respectable Romani people, from full-fledged participation in society. It is also preventing our children from prosperous development. The indifference of the government, hand in hand with an "anti-Gypsy" campaign being run by the media, is just adding fuel to the fire. Through taking such a position, the government and media are labeling us, the respectable Romani people, as "inadaptables".

Maximum efforts must be made to ensure that Romani children receive a full-fledged education, primarily so Romani parents will not fear sending their children to normal schools. Romani parents do their best to protect their children from the various racial frictions they experience in mainstream education - this is why they prefer to send their children to the "special" schools, where it is usually customary for Romani children to enroll.

It is clear that the systematic publicizing of negative actions allegedly committed by Romani people has become a lucrative item in political parties' campaign business. Government officials are quietly overlooking the public identification of the nationalities of alleged perpetrators of crimes in the media, a phenomenon for which there should be no room in a developed democratic state. We are living in a free state, but we have to hide!

Romani people in the Czech Republic are able to call certain behaviors discriminatory, and this is an essential step toward addressing discrimination in the first place. When someone from the majority society attends a demonstration to espouse racism and xenophobia and shout hateful insults against the Romani ethnicity, he or she should be held criminally responsible. The Anti-Discrimination Act in the Czech Republic currently only applies when some deem it handy. The reality of the situation is truly very different.

The currently rising tendency among the majority population to report invented muggings that have allegedly been committed by Romani people is having a multiplier effect on anti-Roma hatred and sentiment. Neither the police nor the Government of the Czech Republic are addressing this.... Everything is being given free rein, just like all the other problems experienced by socially disadvantaged people.

This inaction with respect to improving this hellish (and mainly very dangerous) situation has now become distaste for addressing the problem and a lack of political will to address it. On the contrary, whoever is against Romani people is "in". On camera, politicians are tearing their hair out claiming they don't know what to do, but the problem is over for them once they go home. We, the hardworking and respectable Romani people, live with this problem day and night.

ANTI-ROMA DEMONSTRATIONS ARE CURRENTLY TAKING PLACE ACROSS THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

It is amazing to see some Czechs in North Bohemia demonstrating against "Romani crime", people who would like most of all to take the law into their own hands - and then to realize they are being led by a person with a criminal reputation, Mr. Kohout. This segment of the public degrades the work of the Government of the Czech Republic, the police, and of us, the hardworking and respectable Romani people. This segment of the public makes it impossible for us to fulfill our everyday obligations even as our children's fear increases. In our view, the worst possible aspect of all of this is the fact that our neighbors are participating in these anti-Roma marches, leading their own children by the hand.... These people are not the so-called "Nazis", they are ordinary people teaching their children hatred.

The Government's policy in this area should be run according to the Romani Integration Concept for 2010-2013 which was approved during the term of Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer. That Concept not only proposes concrete solutions, but has tasked the individual government ministries with deadlines and tasks which the Government is not fulfilling!

The priority tasks include the areas of education, employment and entrepreneurship, as well as crime prevention, prevention of excessive debts in respect of housing, and social security. These points require immeasurable expertise to address and we can all discuss whether or not they are necessary, but to pretend that everything is in order when a Concept exists and is not being fulfilled is unbelievable. At the very least, it shows this Government's lack of professionalism and its laxity. We, Romani people in the Czech Republic, directly suspect that this inaction on the part of the Government is intentional!

We, the respectable Romani people, are starting to be very strongly convinced by all of the foregoing that the current anti-Roma actions and sentiment might in fact be organized from the highest places in the executive branch of the Czech state. For some of us, this is a sign that we should leave the Czech Republic. In other countries, Romani people have found not just equal opportunities for a dignified life, but mainly protection under the law as guaranteed by the Constitution.

The petition can be signed here (Czech only): http://www.petice24.com/petice_proti_pausalizaci_romskeho_problemu

Gwendolyn Albert, Petra Geciova, Alena Conk Sendreiova, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 1617x

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