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Czech senator leaves club over fellow lawmakers' antigypsyism

Brno, 7.11.2012 19:05, (ROMEA)
The anti-Romani views of Czech Senator Jiří Čunek (left) and Czech Senator Tomi Okamura (right) are the reason Czech Senator Eliška Wagnerová has left the Czech Senate's
The anti-Romani views of Czech Senator Jiří Čunek (left) and Czech Senator Tomi Okamura (right) are the reason Czech Senator Eliška Wagnerová has left the Czech Senate's "Club for the Renewal of Democracy".

Newly-elected senator and former Constitutional Court Justice Eliška Wagnerová is no longer a member of the Senate's "Club for the Renewal of Democracy" (Klub pro obnovenou demokracii). The opinions of club members Jiří Čunek and Tomio Okamura about Romani people bother her too greatly for her to stay.

Wagnerová won election to the Senate from Brno. She ran as an independent candidate supported by the Green Party.

"Jiří Čunek's opinions on how to address Romani issues and the practical steps he has taken in that regard in local politics are an insurmountable barrier to my accepting the fact that the club has nominated him for the post of Senate vice-chair. Such a nomination signals the club's position on such opinions," Wagnerová announced.

Wagnerová said she had long considered it would be best to be an unaffiliated senator. When she learned that another member of the club, Tomio Okamura, has similar opinions about Romani people, it helped her decision.

"My constituents recently familiarized me with the writings of another member of that Senate club, Tomio Okamura, which correspond ideologically to the opinions of Senator Čunek. I have come to the opinion that it is not possible for me to remain in the Senate Club for the Renewal of Democracy without risking the credibility of the program I received such massive support for at the polls," Wagnerová argued.

Wagnerová is charging the club with hypocrisy because it does not treat all people equally in practice even though it has the word "democracy" in its name. Several other members of the club have also expressed their doubts about it recently, but did not want to go on the record with them.

Čunek's infamous statements about Romani people:

"You'll have to go get a suntan somewhere, then you and your family should start making a mess and light a campfire on the town square - only then will some politicians stand up for you and say 'the poor guy'."

"There are people in every society whom you couldn't force to work even if they died of hunger."

"I'm just getting rid of the ulcers. Like a doctor gets rid of ulcers."[Translator's Note:  Comments made in the context of the forced eviction of Romani tenants from a municipally-owned property].

"This is not a problem of nationality, but a problem of social exclusion, which predominantly affects members of the Romani community first and foremost because their traditional culture is incompatible with the culture of a modern society."

A selection of Okamura's opinions:

"We write of the Workers' Party that it is extreme, but what really makes it extreme? For example, why is it considered extreme to believe the Gypsies should establish their own state and the Czech Republic should support their emigration back to the country from which their ancestors came?"

"The National Party, for which the ill-fated Mr Bátora once ran as a non-member candidate, is not a party I have ever voted for, but in any event it is a legitimate political entity registered with the Interior Ministry and meeting the legal requirement that its program not contravene the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and not promote violence against individuals or population groups. The National Party was properly registered and no court proceedings to halt its activities have been initiated against it."

Senator Okamura has repeatedly defended Vlastimil Pechanec, who is serving prison time for racially motivated murder:

"I remind you that any of us might one day become a Bátora, a Hilsner, or a Pechanec, condemned a priori and for the rest of our lives, without any opportunity to defend ourselves. Without being guilty." (When he included this quotation in a book later, Okamura left out the "Without being guilty" part).

On Pechanec yet again, in another article:

"I continue to recall the even more terrible crime committed by the judge against Vlastimil Pechanec. He, too, was convicted in spite of the evidence that he was innocent."

brf, iDNES.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Aktuality, Deportace Romů ze Vsetína, Osobnosti, Pechanec, Svitavy, Vsetín, Xenofobní výroky Jiřího Čunka, Cigáni, Senátní volby, Czech republic, National party, Workers Party



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