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Roma take to the streets to show political preferences on Czech state holiday

21.11.2017 8:06
Mário Rusenko and Miroslav Tancoš of the Rmoani Democratic Party on 17 November 2017 at the memorial to the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Prague. (PHOTO:  still from video)
Mário Rusenko and Miroslav Tancoš of the Rmoani Democratic Party on 17 November 2017 at the memorial to the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Prague. (PHOTO: still from video)

The celebrations of the Velvet Revolution last Friday, 17 November were joined in Prague by a small group of Romani people from the Buči organization and the Romani Democratic Party. The memorial to the events of 1989 was visited by Czech presidential candidate Jiří Drahoš, among other politicians.

The Romani group expressed their support for Drahoš and sang the Czech national anthem together with him and his wife. Romani figures who turned out were Štěpán Kavúr for the Buči organization, Josef Holý, the chair of the PRO organization, and Mário Rusenko and Miroslav Tancoš of the Romani Democratic Party.

Drahoš was welcomed to the memorial with applause and recounted how he had been with a chamber music choir in which he sings at a festival in Jihlava during the Prague events of 17 November 1989, which meant he joined the demonstrations there the next day. He added that the only time we lose democracy and freedom is when we allow others to deprive us of them.

The presidential candidate also expressed appreciation for the role played by former President Václav Havel in that regard. "Truth and love, which some today are casting doubt on by using the word 'truth-lovers' as an epithet against a certain group of people - well, I don't get that. Each of us probably wants to live in truth, and each of us wants to experience love," he said.

Drahoš briefly commented on the current political situation, stating that if he were President he would require a majority vote of confidence by Parliament after the forming of the next possible Government. Those present expressed their support for him by shouting "Drahoš na Hrad!" ("Drahoš to the Castle!")

A less welcoming reception was given to the chair of the Freedom and Direct Democracy movement (SPD), Tomio Okamura, who arrived at the memorial before Drahoš. Some of those present greeted him with whistles and shouts of "Shame!"

Mário Rusenko and the other Romani people present protested against Okamura's presence very loudly. "It is a disgrace for you to bring flowers to this place of democracy and freedom," PRO organization chair Josef Holý told Okamura.

A woman attempted to prevent Okamura from accessing the memorial, shouting "You should be ashamed of yourself!" "Down with Fascists!" others began shouting, and Okamura left the scene to more whistling.

The secretary for Okamura's party has allegedly repeatedly showed up drunk to the Czech lower house and in one of the most recent incidents called for the murder of minorities after insulting the outgoing Labor Minister in front of many eyewitnesses. Okamura responded by alleging that the minister had been drunk herself and that her account of the incident was a fabrication.


ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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17 November, democracy, Demonstrace, RDS, Tomio Okamura, ultra-right


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