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October 23, 2021



Jan Horvát: Romani people must unite over the death in Žatec. We can't ignore it!

24.10.2016 16:42
A memorial event was held in Žatec, Czech Republic on 20 October 2016 for a young Romani man who died on 18 October under circumstances that have yet to be clarified. (PHOTO:
A memorial event was held in Žatec, Czech Republic on 20 October 2016 for a young Romani man who died on 18 October under circumstances that have yet to be clarified. (PHOTO:

I, too, am following the situation around the death of our Romani brother - it is cruel and horrible. I haven't written anything for a long time, but like the rest of you, I cannot remain calm after this incident.

However, fortunately, I see a new phenomenon here: Articles are being written, the social networking sites are full of news of the death of this Romani man in Žatec. Romani people are taking interest in their fellow Roma.

This is not about one or even 10 Romani activists - there are hundreds of us who are not indifferent to this incident. When we watch the video footage recorded by a bystander in the pizzeria, our hearts ache.

We feel for the family of the deceased and our emotions are strong. The Roma are back.

Yes, it is necessary to stick together, to follow this issue closely, to support the family, at least by attending a memorial demonstration. The authorities and the majority society need to notice that we disagree with this, that we can't ignore it - next time they might be beating us, or maybe even our own children?!

This situation is the worst nightmare of any parent. Speaking for myself, I run a pub, and I have experienced many conflicts with customers.

Some customers are garrulous, some are intrusive, some are rude, but most are just seeking attention. Naturallly you can find aggressors among them as well, I have experienced those too, but I have certainly never needed a barman who was also a martial arts master or a commando of police officers to handle them.

It was not necessary to lie down on top of this aggressor, to kick him with the assistance of the police, to stomp on his neck! To say nothing of doing all of that to the troublemaker for so long that he dies!

I know it's sometimes difficult, but police officers are not supposed to be judges and executioners too. They should have turned the guy over to the relevant authorities, eventually to stand trial - but instead, he has died under strange circumstances.

May he rest in peace. Again, I say to you:  We can't ignore this!

This is not the first suspicious death of a Romani man on the territory of the Czech Republic for which it is possible that nobody will ever be punished. The first step for us should be for us Roma to hold the biggest possible, quiet, reverent demonstration.

I don't mean hundreds of people - I mean thousands. Let's join forces and organize a gigantic reverent demonstration, the likes of which has never been seen before, because this is the only way that anybody will listen to us!

I have a simple idea for how to get that many of us to such an assembly. Each Romani civic association should send at least one bus full of Romani people and cover the costs of hiring it.

Any association should be able to bear such a cost. We must do this.

I believe there is strength in numbers. People need to see that this bothers thousands of Romani people, not just hundreds.

This is the only way they will ever take us seriously. They cannot teach each other to kill our children with impunity, we've already lived through that, since the days when the aristocracy and the wealthy gentlemen used to hunt us through the forests like animals.

I firmly believe you all will read this message, take it into consideration, and that many leaders of associations will make the necessary arrangements. I believe it is worth taking such action.

Jan Horvát, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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