Romani NGOs in Czech Republic's Liberec Region issue statement on events in the runup to the October elections, warn against ultra-right violence
Several Romani NGOs issued a statement on 12 August assessing the developments in the Liberec Region of the Czech Republic ahead of the October elections, the discussion within the Romani community there, and took a stand regarding other NGOs and state institutions. News server Romea.cz is publishing the statement in full translation.
Statement by Romani organizations working in the Liberec Region
The runup to the elections is creating a great deal of room for raising different subjects for discussion in society. The political parties are reaching out to their (potential) voters in different ways - rallies, meetings, and recently, making ever more frequent use of social media. During these pre-election battles, the opinions of their adherents and opponents clash. Friction over economic and social themes is generated. In short, this is a component of the runup to the vote. Eventually, the winner will decide how to run this country for the next four years.
The fact of the elections naturally also concerns the lives of Romani people, including how the governing set will approach the process of integrating us into society. For that reason, different small groups of Romani people organize themselves to discuss which candidates and parties to vote for, and they do so ever more frequently through social media, the new public space. We should all remember this and uphold the basic ethical and social rules for such discussions in a public space.
In recent weeks, our colleagues have noticed different political discussions among Romani people related to the vision of how the integration of Romani people into society should transpire in the years to come and who should play a key role in that process. Our colleagues have nothing against such debates; however, we do stand for the need to follow ethics rules during these discussions.
We condemn all incitement to violence and the exploitation of political rallies to violently advocate for political opinions, ethnic intolerance, or racism - including reverse racism. It is necessary to warn against those who support such behavior and who are convening and organizing "Romani" resistance groups.
We therefore absolutely categorically condemn the behavior of one of the members of the Coalition of Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region and others affiliated with that person. More than once, some members of that organization have radically strived to promote themselves at others' expense by lying, by absolutely undermining any collaboration among the Romani organizations in the Liberec Region, and by exploiting socially sensitive subjects for their own self-promotion.
It is up to that association's board and its founders to decide whether it is appropriate to distance themselves from such members and to no longer collaborate with them, mainly because that association concentrates on community work and recreational activities, which means the children and youth with whom they work could be influenced by such behavior.
The Liberec Region has long endeavored to enforce clear measures to integrate Romani people both socially and societally so that this process will continually be perfected and involve more Romani people. In the city of Liberec and throughout the Liberec Region, Romani people live relatively well. This is an industrial part of the country where Romani people have opportunities for a good quality of life in terms of employment, housing, and education. That situation also applies in other towns throughout the region.
The Association of Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region welcomes this collaboration with crucial partners in the integration process for Romani people and is not interested in supporting those who are doing their best to disrupt that process. These individuals are shattering the groups of Romani people living in the Liberec Region, undermining the position of the authorities, and such individuals, who are attempting to get publicity through their live broadcats on social media, who are endeavoring to attract radically-inclined Romani people to their side, who do not honor the principles of ROMIPEN and who humiliate the Romani nation - such individuals will not be tolerated. They do not fully realize what they are doing - they are placing Romani people in a situation of the imminent danger that could arise through the influence of extremist groups who are nationalists or neo-Nazis.
The Association of Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region also will not support those who are trying to advocate for their own self-interest, unjustifiably, to the detriment of the Romani people living here. We are also calling on Romani people themselves who live in the Liberec Region, on political representatives, and on public institutions of both non-Romani and Romani life to distance themselves from such individuals and to sharply condemn their behavior.
All of the representatives of the Association of Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region and the other representatives of the undersigned groups are for rational dialogue between those involved with associations, with politically active groups, and with the public. We unequivocally condemn all violence, hatred, and irrational dialogue. For that reason, we use the slogan of our friends and supporters: "HATRED IS NO SOLUTION, RATIONAL DIALOGUE IS".
Asociace romských představitelů Libereckého kraje z.s. [Association of the Romani Representatives of the Liberec Region]
Roma Tanvald z.s.
Romany art workshop z.s.
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