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Karel Holomek is first Romani figure featured on Czech TV's "Gallery of the Elite of the Nation" show

25.7.2017 6:48
Karel Holomek during the filming of an episode of the
Karel Holomek during the filming of an episode of the "Gallery of the Elite of the Nation" program in the Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Czech Television)

Czech Television broadcast on Sunday an episode of its cycle called "GEN", which means "gene" in Czech and is said to stand for "Gallery of the Elite of the Nation", featuring the portrait of the Romani activist, journalist, and mechanical engineering graduate Karel Holomek. Direction of the episode was done by the famous documentary filmmaker, actor and college educator Břetislav Rychlík.

In the program Holomek tells the story of his life, reveals the fate of his family during the Second World War, describes his journey through studying, and talks about his work and his life philosophy. He is the first Romani person to be featured.

"For me personally it is absolutely all the same if I am Romani or Czech, I am just a much Czech as I am Romani," Holomek says when informed of that fact. He also says that he hesitated to participate in the project because he does not believe in elitism, but ultimately he agreed to do it.

"Young people like you frequently say to me that we should leave politics out of things. I say you are making an error, the bread you eat and the beer you drink depend on politics. Let's not forget about what is going on in society, you should not let things that seem bad to you have free reign," Holomek says during the program, where he is shown speaking to Romani students at a meeting in Brno convened by the ROMEA organization as part of one of the scholarship programs they administer. 

Holomek also gave an interview to the Radiožurnál station of Czech Radio ahead of the broadcast of the "GEN" episode in which he speaks about Romani integration. "In the Czech Republic the prerequisites do exist for this, but first the populism being supported by some politicians has to calm down here, and then it would be a question of one generation," said Holomek, whose father was the first Romani man to graduate from college in Czechoslovakia. 

First and foremost, in his view, it is necessary to return to the past. Czech and Moravian Romani people had the opportunity to work prior to the Second World War and many of them were traders selling door-to-door.

That social process was interrupted by the war and their previous experiences could no longer be applied after the postwar transition to communism. "The Government has now established, thanks to a group of Roman intellectuals, a program for integration, for including Romani people in society, but it cannot be 100 % fulfilled if it is not supported by society. As is well-known, this society does not like Romani people," Holomek said in the interview, adding that a certain group of Romani people exists who will never join the rest of society.

dm, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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