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Romani LGBT activist David Tišer on Czech state holiday: Hatemongers are representing us

18.11.2018 11:42

Yesterday an event called "Concert for the Future" was held on Wenceslas Square in Prague to mark the state holiday of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day. During the evening many music groups performed and public figures appeared to comment on contemporary and historical events.

One such figure was David Tišer, director of the ARA ART organization. The event, which is part of the Festival of Freedom organized by civil society on this holiday over the last few years. was followed on the upper part of the square by thousands of people.

The moderators for the Concert for the Future 2018 were the political commentator Jindřich Šídlo and the actress Iva Pazderková. "Romani people were also signatories of Charter 77, Romani people contributed to the revolution and back then, Romani people also believed that changing the political system would deliver better living conditions. Great expectations often bring disappointment. We all know that during the last almost three decades there have been more than enough disappointments," Tišer said in his speech.

"We have allowed ourselves to be represented by people who instead of supporting civic discussion and the building of bridges, are disseminating hatred and widening the gulfs between different groups in our society," the activist added. A total of 17 music groups and 20 speakers took to the stage over the course of the event.

Those speaking primarily discussed freedom and criticized the current Government. Those who addressed the assembly were, for example, Czech economist Tomáš Sedláček, People in Need director Šimon Pánek, director of the Václav Havel Library Michael Žantovský, actress Barbora Poláková, Catholic theologian Václav Malý, actress Tereza Voříšková, journalist Adam Černý, journalist Mikuláš Kroupa, journalist Marek Wollner and the actress Eva Holubová. The musical part of the program was offered by Prago Union, Ondřej Ruml, Republic of Two, minus123minut, Ghost of You, Jakub Ondra and many other performers.

"I'd like to recall one interesting thing: The dissatisfaction demonstrated this 17 November was here 29 years ago too. The communist Government supported 17 November as a holiday back then because of what happened on that day in 1939. Today's Government is supporting it because of what happened in 1939 and 1989. However, that does not mean that just because today's Government espouses this holiday they also won't find their own tuxedos muddied if the last straw breaks the camel's back. I think that happened back then and is happening today," activist Michael Kocáb told the Czech News Agency.

The aim of the Festival of Freedom, according to the organizers, is to recall the events associated with 17 November 1989. The intention of the festival is not just to celebrate the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, but also "to promote democratic principles and the values of civil society together".

FULL TRANSLATION OF THE 17 NOVEMBER SPEECH BY DAVID TIŠER ON WENCESLAS SQUARE

Lačhi rat tumenge savorenge, I wish you a good holiday evening, ladies and gentlemen, good evening Czech Republic! It is a great honor for me to be here with you this evening.

I am very well aware that I am one of a very few Romani people who has ever had the opportunity to appear and to speak on the occasion of the Day of Freedom and Democracy. Romani people have been part of the essential milestones in our history too, Romani people were also signatories of Charter 77, Romani people contributed to the revolution and back then, Romani people also believed that changing the political system would deliver better living conditions.

Great expectations often bring disappointment. We all know that during the last almost three decades there have been more than enough disappointments.

We have allowed ourselves to be represented by people who instead of supporting civic discussion and the building of bridges, are disseminating hatred and widening the gulfs between different groups in our society. November 1989, however, taught us that if we unify, we have power.

We have the power to change what we don’t like and together to stand for humanity, openness, pluralism, solidarity, tolerance, freedom and other values. 17 November is now a state holiday.

Holidays are occasions for us to wish each other well, and so allow me to wish us all common sense, so we will be able to distinguish facts from populist manipulations that divide us as a society, the bravery to be open, tolerance and respect, which teach us, among other things, to accept difference as something that can enrich our lives, the strength to stand under all circumstances on the side of truth and love, but also on the side of those who necessarily need to feel our support and solidarity, in other words, for us to manage to take the concept of decency and to restore its original meaning. In closing, allow me one quote.

Yesterday I followed in the media the protest in Bratislava called "For a Decent Slovakia", where Fedor Gál said, among other things: "Let’s not forget those who do not sit down to full tables, they are also us." I wish you a good evening and good luck to us!

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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17 November, David Tišer, democracy, Festival



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