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April 25, 2018
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Romani children from choir whose summer camp was shot at write to Czech PM, Police, seeking apology

6.4.2018 15:51
Romani children's choir director Ida Kelarová with participants at the summer camp in the Czech Republic that was attacked by a man firing warning shots in August 2016. (PHOTO:  Czech Philharmonic, blog.filharmonie)
Romani children's choir director Ida Kelarová with participants at the summer camp in the Czech Republic that was attacked by a man firing warning shots in August 2016. (PHOTO: Czech Philharmonic, blog.filharmonie)

Romani children from the Čhavorenge choral ensemble led by Ida Kelarová have written a letter to the Czech Police and to Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš in which they remind them of the incident they experienced during the summer of 2016 and the fact the Czech Police have not yet apologized to them for their response. "In August 2016 we were at the Romano drom summer school for the arts. As we returned from a treasure hunt, a gentlemen ran out of his house shouting racist abuse at us. He then fired a weapon. It was absolutely close by. We were all terrified. We were afraid somebody would assault us. There were some very young children among us," the children's letter reads.

"Two days later, during our morning exercises, that person fired his weapon again. He fired it three times, ran into the kitchen, and wanted to provoke Uncle Deža into a fight. We were afraid, and Auntie Ida called 158. We were most shocked when the police never came. Those who are supposed to protect us did not come when we called. Later we heard the recording from the police station in Varnsdorf, where the police officer says about the gunfire at our camp that 'We won't turn this into a Western'," the children's letter continues.

The children also ask in the letter whether they actually enjoy the same rights as other people in the Czech Republic: "For that reason we are asking: When we called the police because we were in danger, why did they not come? Can we rely on them?"

At the end of the letter the children call for the Police to apologize to them. "We are calling on the Police to explain this all to us and to apologize. [...] We really want the Police to promise that something like this will never happen again. Mainly not when children are involved," the children write.

News server Romea.cz is publishing the letter in full translation below:

Hello,

We are children from the Čhavorenge choral ensemble and we are writing this letter because we are not able to forget what happened to us the summer before last. We were in danger and those whom we believed would come to our aid did not. In August 2016 we were at the Romano drom summer school for the arts. As we returned from a treasure hunt, a gentlemen ran out of his house shouting racist abuse at us. He then fired a weapon. It was absolutely close by. We were all terrified. We were afraid somebody would assault us. There were some very young children among us. Two days later, during our morning exercises, that person fired his weapon again. He fired it three times, ran into the kitchen, and wanted to provoke Uncle Deža into a fight. We were afraid, and Auntie Ida called 158. We were most shocked when the police never came. Those who are supposed to protect us did not come when we called. Later we heard the recording from the police station in Varnsdorf, where the police officer says about the gunfire at our camp that 'We won't turn this into a Western.'

The Police should not have behaved this way. They must protect us, whether we are non-Roma or Roma. They are not supposed to look at the color of our skin, but at what kind of people we are. We want to ask the police officers if they would have behaved the same way if their own children had been in that situation? Wouldn't you have been afraid for them like our parents were afraid for us? If we had been in your place, we would not have had the heart NOT to respond, even if it had happened to Czechs. All people should aid each other when something bad happens.

We also believe the Police believed the Romani people would leave this be. We are speaking up, though, because it is important. We don't want to ignore what happened. We have rights like everybody else. For that reason we are asking: When we called the police because we were in danger, why did they not come? Can we rely on them? For more than a year we have been living in fear that the next time we call 158, nobody will protect us. Something far worse might happen. The Police have not apologized to this day and that makes us feel like we are in danger. We don't trust them anymore, but we need to.

We are calling on the Police to explain this all to us and to apologize. We don't want them to do this because they are obliged to. We don't want them to feel humiliated that Roma are asking them to apologize. We do not want to humiliate anybody, we want a sincere apology. We really want the Police to promise that something like this will never happen again. Mainly not when children are involved.

We also have something to say to all our fellow children. We all have rights, as children, but we know that many children do not know this. Maybe even adults don't know it. The fact that we are children does not mean that somebody can threaten us, or not take us seriously. If you have a problem, do not be afraid to speak up. Do not let yourself be intimidated. Be strong, under all circumstances. Even if you are afraid, you can overcome that fear. Mainly, don't give up.

Believe things will turn out well. Do not be afraid to say what's in your heart to somebody you love and trust. Do not be ashamed of who you are. You can do anything in the world you want!

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 381x

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Děti, Ida Kelarová, Police, shootings



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