Patrik Banga: We Roma must not lower ourselves to the racists' level! Racism and threats are what we criticize
Journalist Patrik Banga has posted to the Facebook page of the ROMEA organization calling on his fellow Romani comunity members not to lower themselves to the level of racists and to stop writing their own racist posts and calling for revenge in connection with the death of a Romani man in the town of Žatec last week. "Romale ... I am reading your posts on all of the discussion forums and on Facebook and I am sad. Many of us are calling for revenge, but you must remember that violence just breeds more violence. All of us want the same thing, and that is for there to be a proper investigation of what happened in Žatec. However, if we insult people, if we make threats, if we say racist things, if we use vulgar language, then we are just doing what we criticize others for doing. Please, let's not lower ourselves to the level of the racists," his message says.
Banga is responding to the calls for revenge and other posts that have appeared on Facebook and that were also heard at last Thursday's spontaneous event in honor of the deceased Romani man. After getting into a scuffle with customers in a restaurant to which local police were called and in which they intervened, the young man died on 18 October 2016 shortly after 19:00.
Among Romani people, the case has sparked an enormous wave of solidarity, but at the same time a feeling of having been wronged, as police have not yet charged anybody in connection with those events and subsequently announced, according to the initial autopsy results, that the man died without any third party being to blame. News server iDNES.cz reports that in various online discussion forums some people are accusing an employee of the pizzeria, Petr Provazník, of "murdering" the man.
However, at the time the unfortunate incident happened, Provazník was apparently not even at work. "His shift was the next day," Pizzeria Panamera operations manager Milan Bočkai confirmed to the news server.
"I was at home. I didn't learn that anything had happened that evening until around 22:00. They are accusing me of something that I did not do, in a place where I was not at the time. If this was just about me, I could cope, but threats are being made against my entire family," Provazník said.
Romani people are planning several assemblies to mourn the deceased over the next few days. The biggest one should take place in Žatec.
"Thousands of us should gather in Žatec so that those in charge will know we care about this, and so they will do all they can to actually find out what basically happened in that pizzeria. However, we must show them that we are not the band of primitives that many majority-society people take us for. Let's demonstrate that we are human beings who are on their same level, that nobody gets to walk all over us just because we are Romani, but let's do it in a cultivated, decent way, because that is exactly what the racists do not want. We will not support their prejudices!" Banga has emotionally posted to Facebook.
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