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August 17, 2018
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Edita Stejskalová calls on Czech Govt to create the position of Commissioner for Romani Affairs

1.8.2018 6:48
Edita Stejskalová speaking on 31 July 2018 at the demonstration in Prague against the violence targeting Romani people in Italy and Ukraine. (PHOTO:  Zdeněk Ryšavý, Romea.cz)
Edita Stejskalová speaking on 31 July 2018 at the demonstration in Prague against the violence targeting Romani people in Italy and Ukraine. (PHOTO: Zdeněk Ryšavý, Romea.cz)

Speaking yesterday at a demonstration in Prague, Edita Stejskalová, a civil society member of the Czech Government Council on Romani Minority Affairs, called for the Czech Government to immediately create the position of a Commissioner for Romani Affairs. "Romani people do not live in poverty and social exclusion by choice! Romani people are entitled to equal, fair treatment! Romani people do not want to live on the fringes of society! Romani people are demanding that EU institutions and their own Governments educate society to respect the rights of all citizens, and we ask the courts to thoroughly punish advocacy of political opinions based on theories of racial superiority! Romani people demand adequate protection of their lives and personal security, as is guaranteed to all citizens! Romani people demand active, seriously-conceived participation from the national to the international level in decision-making processes," she called on the authorities in a speech that news server Romea.cz. is publishing in full translation below.

Speech made on 31 July 2018 by Edita Stejskalová at the demonstration in Prague

European Governments and European society are convinced that Romani people represent primarily an economic and a social problem. It is time we make sure the word problem and the word Roma no longer appear together in the general discourse.

I am convinced that the wave of brutality, violence, and other forms of oppression, the victims of which are Romani people in different parts of Europe, demonstrates to us beyond the shadow of a doubt that for European societies and states the Roma represent a political and societal problem. This problem will be solved in much worse ways if the basic prerequisite of accepting and recognizing Romani people as citizens is lacking.

It is impossible to speak of the civic equality or freedom of Romani people in such a situation. This lack is the reason why all European and governmental strategic documents about the integration of Romani people have been and currently are condemned to failure.

If conditions for addressing the issues connected with Romani people according to what is or is not morally correct do not exist, then it is impossible to achieve Romani people’s social advancement and to work on improving the majority society’s opinions of Romani people. It is exactly this public opinion that politicians are exploiting so as to avoid addressing the issues of Romani people in a MORALLY CORRECT way.

Politicians must be guided by the philosophy that they protect and represent the interests of all citizens. The dignity of all citizens is not something to be bought and sold, it cannot even be negotiated about. Dignity either exists, or it does not.

Instead, the European governments are expending enormous efforts, with the aid of the European Structural Funds and the discriminatory laws in effect in each sovereign state, to systematically defend the expulsion of Romani people to the fringes of society or even beyond the existing state system. To this we must clearly say ENOUGH!

Segregation and social exclusion, as demonstrated by the examples of Slovakia or Ukraine, represent a serious security risk, including the threat of terrorism, to allresidents. The Governments and high representatives of the EU Member States must recognize Romani people as citizens of their states, and Romani people must behave like citizens – thoroughly exercising their civil rights and making those rights, not just cultural or social rights, their priority.

It is time to send this message to all authorities:

  • Romani people do not live in poverty and social exclusion by choice!
  • Romani people are entitled to equal, fair treatment!
  • Romani people do not want to live on the fringes of society!
  • Romani people are demanding that EU institutions and their own Governments educate society to respect the rights of all citizens, and we ask the courts to thoroughly punish advocacy of political opinions based on theories of racial superiority!
  • Romani people demand adequate protection of their lives and personal security, as is guaranteed to all citizens!
  • Romani people demand active, seriously-conceived participation from the national to the international level in decision-making processes.

Our challenge:

For the Government of the Czech Republic we are proposing the following:

  • Create the position of a Commissioner for Romani Affairs

For the European institutions we are proposing the following:

  • We ask that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe immediately conduct an investigation among all participating States as to how they are providing security to their citizens living in socially excluded localities.
  • We ask that the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights create ad hoc observer missions to supervise all the police investigations of violence currently underway in various states, because the degree of faith in the governments of the OSCE participating States to properly conduct  investigations is low among Romani communities.
  • We ask the Council of the EU, the European Commission, and the responsible Member State ministries for a thorough audit of the content of projects funded to deliver the integration of Romani people as to how such projects will directly support Romani people. Generally speaking, it is a fact that despite such EU subsidies, the number of such excluded localities has grown, and the number of persons finding themselves in material distress has also grown. 
Edita Stejskalová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Edita Pišojová-Stejskalová, Rada vlády pro záležitosti romské menšiny, Vláda, Zmocněnec



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