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October 19, 2021



Former Czech Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb calls on Gejza Horváth to attend the Roma Spirit ceremony

24.10.2016 18:47
Former Czech Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb (PHOTO: archive)
Former Czech Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb (PHOTO: archive)

Michael Kocáb, the former Czech Human Rights Minister and head of the Roma Spirit project in the Czech Republic responded yesterday to the open letter published by Gejza Horváth, who has renounced his nomination for the Roma Spirit Award in the category of Romani Culture. Horváth published the letter two days ago through his Facebook profile in response to the death of a 27-year-old Romani man in a pizzeria in the Czech town of Žatec.

In his letter, the Romani musician expresses his indignation at the silence of what he refers to as "the Czech 'democratic' Republic", justifying his decision by saying that he refuses to celebrate in a society where racism is rampant. Kocáb said yesterday that he understands Horváth's indignation and has also been affected by the young man's death, but asked that Horváth reconsider his decision.

"Roma Spirit is not a celebration," the former Human Rights Minister said, describing it as just an attempt "to express appreciation for the work of dedicated, honest people who are striving for what you are calling for, better coexistence between the Czech majority and Romani people." Moreover, Kocáb said the event is not organized by the state, but is the work of nonprofit organizations attempting to fill in the blank spaces that currently exist in Government policy.

Kocáb, who is also a musician, said he would greatly regret it if Horváth were to question the value of his many years of work by insisting on his position. He therefore proposes that Horváth "dedicate a song to the deceased young man and share his sorrow with the citizens who will watch the awards ceremony on Czech Television". 

Die, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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