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Czech senator may lose post due to statements about Romanies

Prague, 17.7.2007 16:19, (CTK)

Czech senator Liana Janackova (for the Independents, SNK) should leave her post of deputy chairwoman of Senate committee for human rights over her statements about Romanies, some call racist, representatives of most senators' groups told CTK today.

"Unfortunately, I am a racist, I disagree with the integration of Gypsies so that they would live across the area. Unfortunately, we have chosen the (settlement) Bedriska and so they will stay there, with a high fence, with electricity," Janackova, who is also mayor of a district of the third largest Czech city of Ostrava, north Moravia, allegedly said.

She also allegedly spoke about Romanies having many children and about dynamite.

Janackova first challenged the authenticity of the recording and said it is a political attack on her.

She then said that the sentences were pronounced by another woman with the same voice, but later she admitted she did say some of the sentences.

Later, Janackova told CTK that she should not have probably reacted this way and that it was careless and stupid of her.
Sona Paukrtova, chairwoman of the Open Democracy Group, said she wanted Janackova to reconsider her staying in her post.
"I may have some understanding for Janackova as she was speaking emotively, but such statements must not be said by the deputy chairwoman of the human rights committee," Paukrtova said.

The same view is held by Josef Vaculik, a deputy chairman of senators for the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
"The demand is rightful as the deputy chairwoman of the human rights committee should not speak like this," Vaculik said.
"She should be more tolerant when speaking about ethnic minorities whatever their behaviour," Vaculik told CTK.

Alena Gajduskova, chairwoman of the Social Democrats (CSSD) senators, said Janackova should leave her post.

Senate deputy chairman Jan Rakusan (CSSD) said Janackova should first have the right to explain her behaviour at a session of the upper house.

Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka said the senators were waiting for the position of the SNK group and of Janackova.
Jaroslav Kubera, a deputy chairman of the Senate constitutional and legal committee and mayor of the North Bohemian town of Teplice, said Janackova had spoken resolutely and she had made her statements under a tremendous pressure.
"In my view the problem is not as serious as to demand that she resign," Kubera said.

Kubera also pointed to the attitude of the majority society to Romanies.

"The reason why so many people tell me they do not want to have them as neighbours is absolutely human and clear: they do not want to have any disorder near their homes," Kubera said.

"This is not connected with any racism," he added.

There is a mistake that "we are unable to give work" to unemployed Romanies due to the valid legislation, Kubera said, adding that he would support the linking of welfare payment with public works.

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