Independent Romani candidate collecting signatures to run for Czech Senate
Petr Jano wants to become a senator representing the district of Chomutov. Like all other independent candidates, he needs to collect 1 000 petition signatures by 31 July 2018 to qualify for applying to be listed on the ballot.
If Jano succeeds, he will run for the Senate in the elections that take place on 5 and 6 October. Who is he and what are his plans?
Petr Jano (age 59) was born in Děčín, is married and has two daughters. In 1990 he began working as a social curator in the town of Rychnov nad Kněžnou.
Currently he is on a disability pension. He resides in Great Britain, where he is active as a religious studies teacher.
Q: Why are you running for the Chomutov district?
A: The district of Chomutov and the surrounding communities like Kadaň, Klášterec nad Ohří or Jirkov are some of the electoral precincts where elections to the Senate will take place, and for that reason I decided to attempt my candidacy here.
Q: Currently you reside in Great Britain, are you planning to relocate to Chomutov?
A: Yes, I live in Margate, in Kent, and I am in contact with other Czech citizens and with our Roma. I am active there as a religious studies teacher and I have come here to apply all of my practical experience from England, which involves a comprehension of democracy at a high level, here in the Czech Republic because people here are afraid of democracy, even though they wanted it, and I will do my best to change that. My daughter and my wife have come to Chomutov to support me and if I succeed I intend to relocate here.
Q: For what reason did you emigrate to Great Britain?
A: I went to visit my daughter and my religious education brought me in touch with local clergy in the Salvation Army. I became a teacher and began to teach religious studies and I remained there. I also became an adviser to various authorities and I worked in communities as an independent adviser in the human rights area.
Q: You are collecting petition signatures right now all over Chomutov district, how is it going?
A: Local people are responding to me very positively and I already have about 300 signatures - and we're just at the beginning. I'm very glad to have visited Romani people in Kadaň and in Prunéřov and to have also spoken with the Christian community, which was a very strong experience for me as a clergyman. I met with three socially vulnerable families in need of understanding. Nobody should ever believe, if somebody is impoverished, that it means they are not sad because they can be glad to draw welfare. On the contrary, these people are depressed, and different health complications grow from that state of mind.
Q: What is your electoral program?
A: The program I have is excellent but for the time being I do not much want to speak about it because my competitors might borrow my ideas about how to do things correctly. My program reaches out to all people democratically and freely, without differentiation or discrimination.
Q: Romani people are frequently either exploited during elections or do not vote at all. What is your plan to get them to the polls?
A: I am now active throughout the entire community here in Chomutov and I have exact knowledge about the discrimination that is happening in all spheres of these people's lives. I have come here as a person with a mission in the Czech Republic, to work among people as a clergyman, and I want to apply myself to that here too, but it will involve a universal approach to all. Romani people have their own relationships developed with God to a great degree already, and I want to guide them toward politics, so I will be directly in contact with these families, I will visit all the families in the Chomutov district. There are many of them here, it's a difficult task, but I want each of them to look me in the eye and to get to know my heart, to recognize that I know what they need. I have come to bring people together, that's my intention. I will want to reach an agreement with the majority about our common coexistence and peaceful life here, about respecting each other.
Q: Why are people intolerant of each other here, in your view?
A: In the Czech Republic, extremist and populist parties are getting into power. For example, Mr Okamura [chair of the SPD party] has very educated people around him who have calculated for him, analytically and statistically, how many citizens in Czech society are xenophobic, prejudiced, and inclined to this populism that is so primitive. Their repugnance for ethics and morality is displayed mainly in their public statements and in their treatment of those who are socially vulnerable. Their own voters basically do not comprehend the fact that they are supporting populists who use them to gain political power. It is clear the populists want to destroy Czech democracy if people like Okamura are calling socially vulnerable people "parasites". The first person to use that term was Adolf Hitler.
Q: How do we get out of this situation?
A: For me, for my work and for my future vision, the way out is to take advantage as best I can of the opportunity to prepare to cooperate with the local authorities, with their representatives, with the municipal bureaucrats who, first and foremost, should actually be doing much more to uphpld the Constitution for all citizens irrespective of their differences. As an expert and a worker in spiritual services I know how to recognize when a person can be aided spiritually and how to raise their morale and their spirits.
Q: What will happen once you gain 1 000 signatures?
A: I will demonstrate to you all in the Czech Republic what an English politics free of racism is like.
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