Czech Roma group asks Equal Opportunities Party to recall chair after handshake with ultra-right
The Committee of Romani Regional Representatives (Grémium romských regionálních představitelů - GRRP) and members of its Facebook group have called on members of the Equal Opportunities Party (Strana rovných příležitostí - SRP), to recall party chair Štefan Tišer from his post. They are bothered by the fact that, following an emotional discussion during the 1 May demonstration in Ústí nad Labem, Tišer shook hands with the chair of the anti-Romani Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) Tomáš Vandas.
Tišer has also been criticized by the Europe Roma Network (ERN), a Europe-wide association, over the handshake. He rejects the criticism, saying he behaved like a polite person and a politician.
News server Romea.cz publishes the GRRP statement in full translation below:
Challenge to the members of the SRP to change their chair
Since 1997, our civic association, the Committee of Romani Regional Representatives (GRRP), has been defending the civil and human rights of Romani people living in the Czech Republic. Our membership base is comprised of elder, experienced Romani people who have also been active on the political scene, as well as younger, educated Romani people.
We have participated in many pilot programs that have proven to be some of the most successful, time-tested methods for social work with the Romani community today. A professional approach to communication is our priority, not just inside our organization, but also with the broader public, and whenever one of our members does not behave according to our moral rules, we see to it that there are consequences for that behavior.
We are very disturbed by the approach taken by the Equal Opportunities Party (SRP) which, instead of enacting a minimal form of sanctions against its chair by removing him, has instead published an article by one its members claiming this incident was about "reconciliation". We were quite shocked to see that, in addition to asking SRP party member Ms Horáčková to be quiet, the chair of the SRP apologized for her behavior to the DSSS chair and shook his hand before leaving the scene.
So many hateful words have been spoken against us Roma, so many of our Romani people have fallen victim to racially-motivated crimes, and one of the leading, self-appointed representatives of the Roma apologizes to one of the main representatives of the "Hitlerite" ideology by shaking his hand! Many Romani people perceive this as a betrayal.
The GRRP perceives this incident to have been proof of a very unprofessional approach, one which the leadership of the SRP has taken many times prior to this. Six months ago, they met with Czech MP Otta Chaloupka (who is no longer in office today) and he then, with their support, wanted to make absurd legislative proposals that would have negatively affected the education of Romani children.
Next time the party could be involved in a much more serious matter, one that might affect all Romani families, not just those living in the Czech Republic, but anywhere in Europe! We, the members of the GRRP, believe the SRP leadership to be well-intentioned, but it is clear that through their amateurism and lack of professionalism, all they can do us is harm.
We therefore call upon the members of the SRP to remove their party chair and find a new, more educated face for their party. If that is not possible, the party should stop its activities.
Committee of Romani Regional Representatives (GRRP)
Members of the GRRP Facebook group
GRRP spokesperson Josef Duna
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