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August 11, 2022



Jaroslav Miko: How long will the Czech ombudsman keep exploiting anti-Romani sentiment?

10.2.2022 17:24
Stanislav Křeček (left) and Jaroslav Miko (right) (2022). (Collage:  ROMEA)
Stanislav Křeček (left) and Jaroslav Miko (right) (2022). (Collage: ROMEA)

Regarding the most recent public statement by Czech ombudsman Stanislav Křeček about excluded Romani people, I would very much like to go on the record as saying I am horrified to know that he is such an incompetent, unwise person, and furthermore, I have the justifiably strong impression that he has decided to dedicate his entire time in office to his efforts to strengthen stereotypical thinking and a negative view of the Czech Republic's Roma, building his public popularity on this negative attitude towards the Roma and presenting it as if he is somebody who is "not afraid to call things by their real names". Friends, Romani people living on the periphery of society in the so-called socially excluded localities are definitely not to blame for their problems as Křeček claims. 

Even those Romani people did not choose their difficult fates voluntarily. In the 21st century, no modern society in the world features any erudite experts who would doubt that if one is born into a ghetto, getting out of it is basically a superhuman task. 

To do so, one necessarily needs to have exceptional personal abilities and qualities - and also to be very lucky. Nobody is automatically born with such exceptional abilities and qualities, though, whether they are non-Roma or Romani. 

Mr. Křeček, in a completely simplified, stupid way, is releasing into the public air the nonsense, refuted a thousand times before, that a person living in a ghetto just has to have enough will power and suddenly he or she will become an ordinary, successful person. A child born in an environment as socially excluded and unsuitable as the ghetto does not have the same starting line in life as children born outside the ghetto do, though. 

That unsuitable environment negatively shapes these people - but that does not automatically mean they are "inferior" as human beings. Children from the ghetto are just much less likely to be allowed to enter the mainstream education system. 

In many Czech regions, Romani children have been illegally recommended for enrolment into schools for children with special educational needs, which has led to segregation in their access to an education, which of course will negatively affect these individuals for the rest of their lives, especially on the labor market, and thus affects their overall social status. People from these isolated locations are the system's victims. 

This is not my subjective view at all, the Czech state's practices in this regard have been constantly, repeatedly criticized by human rights organizations, the EU and the UN. In this context, I ask who Mr. Křeček is to question the conclusions of those institutions? 

Who is Mr. Křeček to explicitly question the work of renowned experts from the ranks of sociologists or psychologists on this phenomenon? How much longer does he intend to exploit the sad fact that in the Czech Republic, a large part of the majority society is negative about the Roma? 

The politicians responsible for oversight of the Office of the Public Defender of Rights should seriously consider what the benefit is of keeping Mr Křeček on as ombudsman and should call for his resignation. He is not just harming Romani people in a systematic way, he is also doing everything he can to dig the ditch dividing non-Roma from Romani people in this state as deep as possible, and thus to ultimately harm us all without distinction.

Jaroslav Miko, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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