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June 26, 2022



Emil Voráč: Institutional racism? Does the Czech Republic just want to aid a certain segment of the refugees endangered by the war on Ukraine?

7.6.2022 16:55
Emil Voráč
Emil Voráč

The institutional racism that I face every single day is the worst, and these days, more and more, it is because I am aiding refugees from Ukraine - wonders never cease. From several institutions, from all sides - such as the Regional Authority, the police, or the Refugee Facilities Administration - I am being asked questions about whether our organization has ceased its operations overnight. 

I don't have the time to refute this "rumor". I am being sent complaints that, for example, "your Roma are begging in our city", or that such children cannot be allowed onto a public playground, and even complaints that refugees are playing music between 14:00 and 16:00 in the afternoon. 

I also hear that "your refugees travel by train and don't want to pay the fare." None of these accusations or complaints has ever been based in fact - for example, the allegation that Romani refugees are trying to travel by train for free is nonsense. 

None of "our" Romani refugees from Ukraine have been taking any train trips. There have been more such complaints, so I need to say that, for the time being, our cooperation with the police and even with some of the social workers in our region is smooth, as well as with the Refugee Facilities Administration. 

I do feel pressure on our organization, though, as if somebody is trying to tell us that we "don't know whom we are playing with", that we should stop defending and paying attention to the Roma from Ukraine. The Governor of the Karlovy Vary Region is constantly being informed by the mayor of the city, and it is as if I am hearing all the institutions speaking with one voice - the mayor's opinion.

When Romani people are doing all right then believe me, that is also a problem, and an excuse for it needs to be sought, right? Since we are aiding children and their mothers in particular (in addition to two men), I cannot get my mind around the provocateurs who have been daring to invade their personal space by shoving cameras 30 centimeters away from their faces, or the provocateurs who shine their car headlights onto the windows of the refugees' homes at night. 

Apparently this pressure is targeted, a reason is being sought to get these children and their mothers who fled the war out of this city. What's going on here? 

Is it necessary to prove at all costs that Roma are "inadaptable"? This situation makes me sick to my stomach, but I'm not going to make anybody happy - I will not stop doing this work. 

I think that since I've gone my own way so far, there's no point in changing and submitting to racism in my old age. Should I contact the Regional Governor, or perhaps some ministers, and ask them if the Czech Republic actually wants to aid just certain segments of the refugees fleeing the war? 

Are they in favor of homelessness for Romani people only? I have more questions to ask, and I am actually determined to learn what the opinion is of some of these institutions.

Emil Voráč, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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