Michal Miko on the death of a Romani man in Žatec: What next?
Since yesterday evening I have not been able to sleep because of the situation that happened in Žatec this Tuesday. Was that act the beginning of something deeper in this society?
Should we, as Romani people, be concerned about our lives here? Are we returning to the 1990s, are we to anticipate that cases such as that of Tibor Berki will recur?
When I cast my mind back to this summer, to the incident that happened to the children at Ida Kelarová's camp, to the Czech man who went as far as firing a warning shot just because children were running past his home and whooping, I have to ask: How many other such "fed up" people are living in this country? How many such people are actually being protected from prosecution by the members of the security forces of the Czech Republic?
Doesn't this situation call for the restructuring of the Czech Police? What do we have local police forces for, why do we pay them when they don't have the same authority as the State Police anyway?
How much longer must we Roma face these attacks, this oppression, and all the rest of it? I'm tired of being unable to live freely in the country where I was born, and where I have lived all 31 years of my life, and where I still do not feel safe, and I do not believe we are alone in that feeling.
Certainly there are more of us who do not feel safe here. Drugs, other addictions and social exclusion are the scourge of Romani people in the Czech Republic - even though, wherever you go, you will find a couple of Romani people who are living like the so-called middle class, many must fight for their very existence.
Unemployment may have fallen in the Czech Republic by more than 2.5 % recently, but that fact has had no effect on the Romani community, because if it did, then people would not be sitting at home without jobs, or they would not succumb to drugs and other addictions. That was the case of the unfortunate young man in Žatec.
That man may have had a job, but certainly he had grappled his entire life with being Romani. He may have walked around decently dressed, but as can be seen from the video footage of the circumstances surrounding his death that has been published, aid or compassion from others was not something he could expect as a strangely-behaving man with dark skin.
Meanwhile, in the Ústecký Region alone, there are 28 different social services providers, including ones that provide aid to drug-dependent persons. The numbers of such people are constantly increasing - it is no problem for them to procure drugs.
What is the police doing to eliminate the drug trade, what are the people working in social services doing? The answer to that is easy: After all, this is just about the "GYPSIES", so why should those who administer the system make any effort to get it right?
To be Romani in the Czech Republic just means being a second-class citizen whose life is considered worthless. Where have our humanity, our solidarity, and all the other basic elements of our democracy disappeared to?
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