Romani celebrity addresses Czech Senate on International Day of Holocaust Remembrance
On Friday 27 January 2017 the Czech Senate held its traditional commemorative gathering to mark the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity. The composer and singer Radek Banga gave a speech there in which he stated that he is unable to ignore any of the displays of hatred and xenophobia in today's world.
Banga said those making such displays must believe the Second World War was neither global enough nor monstrous enough and that it did not take enough victims. News server Romea.cz publishes his speech here in full translation.
Speech by Radek Banga in the Senate of the Czech Republic on the occasion of the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity
My name is Radek Banga and I am a Romani musician. My grandfather, Ernest Haluška, was in the resistance together with his three brothers.
Ernest and two of his brothers were Partisans and the third brother was in the Army. My grandfather was the only one to survive.
The concentration camp changed his entire life and that of our family. You know, when you hear about the horrors of the Second World War, and you have somebody in your family who experienced them personally, then out of respect for those people you are unable to ignore any displays of hatred and xenophobia.
I was fortunate that the family of my wife, Veronika, has accepted me without being bothered by the fact that I am different, that I am a Rom. My ethnic origin was never a problem for any of them.
They were interested in what kind of a person I am. Maybe that was also because a grandfather in her ordinary Czech family, a member of the Sokol organization, spent almost the entire war in German prisons and the concentration camp at Terezín.
He always emphasized to his children that nations are not important, people are. He met brave Czechs, and he met Czechs who were traitors.
Because those Czechs were afraid, they sent their own friends to their deaths. He also spoke of monstrous Germans, and of Germans who aided the Czech prisoners despite the fact that to do so meant risking their own lives.
So sometimes I reflect on why there are still people in the 21st century who are able to hate you just because of the color of your skin, or because you are a Jew, a Muslim or a homosexual. Was the Second World War not global enough for them?
Does it seem to them that what happened back then was not monstrous enough for us to always remember it? Were there not enough victims of that war?
So many families experienced that war personally. You can walk from one village to the next and in each one there will be a memorial to it, and sometimes even a living witness still.
The Holocaust was a horrible consequence of the dissemination of hatred against others. Today, I hear so many people saying they don't want a multicultural world.
Unfortunately, the numbers are rising of politicians and various movements disseminating hatred and the ideology of a world that will be protected by barbed wire or walls, and those inside them will just be all the same. Do these people even know what they are saying, though?
Let's think a bit about today's world. The vast majority of all technology, including mobile telephones, comes from Asia.
If it weren't for Asians, we might not have anything to wear. What about Italian pizza?
Or our favorite American fast food restaurants, which nobody admits to frequenting but which are constantly full anyway? What about Brazilian or Turkish coffee?
German automobiles with Japanese motors? If there were no Swedes, the vast majority of Czech families would have no furniture, and our military pilots would have nothing to fly.
We love Mexican food, Cuban rum, Dutch yogurt, and we put it all into our Slovenian refrigerators. Even the microphone that I am speaking into now certainly is not a Czech product.
Who doesn't know the songs of the American Indian Elvis Presley? Who has not been touched by the Arabian Tales of a Thousand and One Nights, or laughed at the films of the Romani artist Charlie Chaplin?
Nobody doubts the fundamental scientific contribution of that scientist of Jewish origin, Albert Einstein. All of this is the consequence of the multicultural world, i.e., that we are different, not the same.
Would we actually want to lose all of that? I am convinced that we people of the 21st century have to do more than mutually hate each other.
This world has never been just black and white. What has mutually enriched us for thousands of years is difference, not sameness.
Mutually tolerating each other, seeking the good, the way we can mutually prosper - that is the only logical way to maintain a world without war. We all know how it will end if we choose intolerance, fundamentalism, or radical nationalism.
It is not possible to control hatred, it cannot be satisfied by anything. History has demonstrated that to us many times already.
That is why it is very important that we never forget our history. We must not be doomed to repeat it.
- Czech Republic: Romani Holocaust Memorial at Hodonín to open this summer
- Germany: Researchers find there were more victims of the Holocaust than previously believed
- Czech Human Rights Minister to focus on buying pig farm on Romani Holocaust site and employment of ghetto residents in 2017
- Analysis: The Lety Romani Holocaust site as a "Gestapo concentration camp"
- Radoslav Banga: I walked out of the Czech music awards because Nazism does not belong in public life
- Romani celebrity walks out in protest after neo-Nazi singer and his band win second place in Czech music awards
- Patrik Banga: We Roma must not lower ourselves to the racists' level! Racism and threats are what we criticize
- Patrik Banga: Dear Czech Police, 27-year-olds do not just up and die
- Czech town to see exhibition by pro-Romani and Romani artists referencing the Black Lives Matter movement
- COMMENTARY: Even if the Czech Public Defender of Rights repeats the same lie about Roma a thousand times, that won't make it true
- Czech school claims it's "random" that white children are segregated from Romani children in separate first-grade class
- Holocaust survivors and remembrance organizations object to how younger generation is using TikTok to commemorate victims
- Newest Czech party tries to exploit altercations between Vlax Romani families as part of its election campaign
- Czech ceremony commemorating Romani prisoners sent to Auschwitz on 20 August attended by more than 150 people
- Czech commentator expected stronger condemnation by politicians of the racist reactions to the worst arson attack since 1990
- Slovak Prime Minister says the Holocaust and its Romani victims must be remembered so that its "bloody history" will never be repeated
- More Czech towns and villages announce they are flying the Romani flag to honor European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day
- Romani activists called on Czech mayors to fly the Romani flag for 2 August, some of their refusals were textbook racism
- European Romani Holocaust Memorial Day marks the murder of more than 4 200 Roma and Sinti by the Nazis on 2-3 August 1944, a death they resisted
- Czech MP who said she "understood" racist death threats against Romani and other non-white children switches parties