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Romani civil society member of advisory body to Czech Government resigns over failure to remove pig farm from genocide site

15.7.2016 9:21
Miroslav Zima at the commemorative ceremony at Lety by Písek in 2016. (PHOTO:  Facebook page of Miroslav Zima)
Miroslav Zima at the commemorative ceremony at Lety by Písek in 2016. (PHOTO: Facebook page of Miroslav Zima)

Miroslav Zima, the director of Drom, a Romani Center, resigned last month from the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission on Roma Community Affairs. One of the reasons for his resignation is the fact that the pig farm has not yet been removed from the site of the WWII era "Gypsy camp" at Lety by Písek.

Zima said another reason was the fact that there are no Romani people involved in assessing the Government's Romani Integration Strategy. David Beňák also left the advisory body after joining the team of the Deputy Human Rights Minister, and former Czech Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb has also resigned from the body.

Beňák and Kocáb were replaced by Michal Mižigár and Monika Mihaličková. Another member, Lenka Balogová, has resigned for family reasons.

Replacements are now being sought for Balogová and Zima. "Until the pig farm is moved, I refuse to support the Government by participating in useless negotiations and I am resigning my position as a member of the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs," Zima said in his letter of resignation, which news server Romea.cz prints here in full translation.

Miroslav Zima's Letter of Resignation

I am hereby resigning my membership in the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Romani Community Affairs. I consider one of the key tasks of the "Romani Integration Strategy to 2020" to be the empowerment of the Romani community, but unfortunately that task is not at all reflected in the indicators submitted as part of the Government's methodology for monitoring and assessing the implementation of the Strategy.

I would really like to know how the Government plans - or whether it even actually wants - to involve Romani people in assessing those indicators at all, how Romani people are going to be able to express their views about what specifically has improved (or not) on the basis of this Government document. Once again, the Government is acting "about us without us".

I very much appreciate the work that is being done by our teachers, as well as the efforts in introduce inclusive measures into education - however, my personal opinon is that the Government mandates on this issue will not actually aid us Roma, but are just creating a basic framework for our access to education. Unfortunately, I cannot find an answer in any of the crucial documents to the question of how the Government intends to address situations where majority-society parents remove their children from the mainstream schools once the percentage of Romani children in them rises.

The schools in general, and especially teachers' pay, are currently significantly undervalued, and I believe the Government's highest priority should be creating conditions for the best possible preparation of the younger generation for life. I consider it most efficient and most important for each of us to be able to take care of our own children's education and upbringing.

Given the current state of indebtedness of many members of the Romani community, it is almost impossible for them to seek lawful, official employment. They are, therefore, forced to work illegally, because once they acquire a lawful, officially reported income, it is immediately subject to collections.

I presume you all know the reasons for this indebtedness - it certainly is not just due to consumer loans, but once again, it is due to the work of a previous administration to guarantee collections agents a lucrative profession, and there are many entrepreneurs (or rather hustlers) who have taken advantage of this situation. In this case as well, I unfortunately do not see any real measures being taken to improve this state of affairs.

This country has been in the process of closing the pig farm at Lety by Písek for more than 20 years. From the perspective of the difficult social problems facing us that can actually be resolved, I consider this problem to be the easiest one, and at the same time in principle we must start somewhere if we are to make progress.

All we have to do is acknowledge the crimes committed there and pay for the pig farm to be removed from the site. I propose that the Government reject the idea of paying a billion-crown subsidy to "reward the executives of the ODK mining company" and instead use that money to pay high-quality
teachers and move the pig farm.

I am of the opinion that each and every minute we spend with our children is much more beneficial and effective than sitting for three hours at a meeting of the CzechbGovernment Inter-ministerial Commission on Roma Community Affairs. Until the pig farm is moved, I refuse to support this Government by sitting in its useless meetings, and I therefore resign as a member of the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs.   

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Lety u Písku, Rada vlády pro záležitosti romské menšiny, rezignace, Strategie romské integrace do roku 2020



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