Romani community members Karel Karika and David Tišer will receive the František Kriegel Award in the Czech Republic
The Charter 77 Foundation in the Czech Republic is giving the František Kriegel Award this year to Karel Karika and David Tišer. Both men, according to the Foundation, are fighting for equality and human rights and for homeless people, members of the Romani community and socially excluded people to access those rights.
The award is named after a Communist politician who was the only political leader in Czechoslovakia not to sign the Moscow Protocol in 1968 after the Warsaw Pact invasion. The Foundation gives the award for demonstrations of civic bravery.
Tišer is a founder of the ART ART organization, which raises awareness about the LGBT community and its Romani members and supports Romani art. "He was the first Romani man, not just in our country, but anywhere, to become a human rights defender and representative of LGBT minorities," the Foundation said when announcing this year's laureates.
"He combats stereotypes both within majority society and inside Romani communities, where a sexual orientation other than heterosexuality is perceived in a way that is significantly more conservative and harsh way than it is in the majority society," the Foundation noted. As for Karika, he is a local assembly member in the city of Ústí nad Labem, where he aided impoverished residents with avoiding homelessness after the residential hotel they were living in was closed.
Karika had to face hateful attacks as a consequence of providing that assistance. The award itself was established in Stockholm in 1987.
The award is meant to commemorate the brave stance taken by the Czechoslovak politician František Kriegel, who was the only political representative after the Warsaw Pact troops occupied the republic in August 1968 to refuse to sign the disgraceful Moscow Protocol , a dictated statement featuring promises to "protect socialism", to restrain critical Czechoslovak media outlets, and to reject any "interference" in the Eastern Bloc by the United Nations Security Council. The award's mission today is to bring attention to examples of bravery demonstrated during the previous year by either civic institutions or individuals in their efforts to uphold civil liberties, human rights, and political tolerance.
The award is always announced on 10 April, František Kriegel's birthday. Several figures associated with combating racism or with the Romani community in the Czech Republic have received the award in the past.
In 1994 the award was granted to the Romani Studies scholar Milena Hübschmannová, in 1998 to the activist Kumar Vishwanathan, in 2000 to the activsit Jakub Polák, in 2007 to the activist Ondřej Cakl, and in the year 2017 to the Romani musician Radek Banga. Figures such as the dissident folk singer Karel Kryl, the priest František Lizna and the politician Jaroslav Šabata have also received the award.
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