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Romani nonprofits and civil society members of the Czech Govt Council on Roma Minority Affairs call on PM to hold a crisis meeting with them about aid to Romani Ukrainian refugees

11.5.2022 7:08
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (2022) (PHOTO:  vlada.cz)
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (2022) (PHOTO: vlada.cz)

Romani non-profit organizations associated in the Romanonet umbrella group and the civil society members of the Czech Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs have called on Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala to convene a crisis meeting of the Council to begin addressing the situation of Romani refugees from Ukraine. "As representatives of Romani civil society, we have undergone several negotiations with representatives of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry and the Interior Ministry to find an acceptable, cohesive procedure for helping Romani refugees from Ukraine," the civil society representatives write in their open letter.

"However, we are constantly encountering the anti-Roma attitudes of regional governors and mayors of towns and municipalities who simply do not want Romani refugees from Ukraine on their territory even though they are also refugees from the ongoing war. Such conduct shows all the signs of institutional racism against the Roma, which has a significant impact on the mood in society and, last but not least, is a threat to social reconciliation, as the local and regional politicians are using populist rhetoric," the letter says.

"Prime Minister, the situation is serious and requires action, so we are asking for a crisis meeting of the Czech Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs," ends the letter. News server Romea.cz is publishing it in full translation below.

Open letter to Prime Minister Petr Fiala

Prime Minister:

We are turning to you not just as the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, but at the moment primarily as the chair entrusted with the management of the Czech Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs to invite you to convene a crisis meeting of that Council.

As representatives of Romani civil society and members of the Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs, we are considerably concerned about the escalation of negative rhetoric with regard to resolving the refugee crisis and its impact on Romani people from Ukraine.

Prime Minister, although the current Government of the Czech Republic was appointed on 17.12.2021, its Council for Roma Minority Affairs has not met since 22 November 2021, and we are now approaching the third quarter of 2022; unfortunately, we must say that in the case of questions of Roma inclusion, your administration has gone limp. There is no dialogue with representatives of the Council for Roma Minority Affairs as an advisory body of the Government, or with representatives of Roma civil society, and there is also nobody to consult with on issues concerning the institutional security of this agenda, which applies to the design of the disbursal of the European Social Funds and other issues associated with the appointment of the Government's Commissioner for Human Rights and Commissioner for the Roma.

So far you have always directed us to meet with the head of the Office of the Czech Government, Ms. Kotalíková, and we appreciate both her enthusiasm to lead on this agenda and her work so far, but in the case of the question of Roma inclusion, and the obligations arising from the Government's approved Strategy for Roma Equality, Participation and Inclusion up to 2030, meeting just with her is insufficient. Given the absence of the necessary political will to address this agenda, the Office of the Government on its own does not have the needed powers to do so.

By calling for a crisis meeting of the Czech Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs, we are responding to the situation in relation to the Roma refugees from Ukraine here, which you also certainly must have noticed as it is associated with the Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Romani civil society has been and is actively involved with delivering the aid associated with this influx of citizens from Ukraine, including those Romani people who have also left their homes to save their lives and, as in the case of the majority-society inhabitants of Ukraine, these Romani refugees are also mainly children and women whose husbands and partners are giving their lives to defend their country. Unfortunately, after our experiences in recent days, we must inform you that in the case of receiving Romani refugees, there are non-standard procedures in place, assessments of these refugees on the basis of their skin color (a double standard), and in many cases displays of discrimination or racism that, in our opinion, rise to the level of breaching the international human rights conventions that have been ratified by the Czech Republic as a UN Member State.

We would like to emphasize in this respect that the discrimination against Romani refugees from Ukraine is not just being confirmed by Romani civil society, but also by other civic initiatives like Initiativa Hlavák (Main Station Initiative) as resulting in these children and women going hungry because they are unable to access enough food, which can lead to serious health problems including various pathological phenomena that could have immense consequences for our entire society.

As representatives of Romani civil society, we have undergone several negotiations with representatives of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry and the Interior Ministry so that we can find an acceptable, cohesive procedure for helping the Romani refugees from Ukraine.

However, we are constantly encountering the anti-Roma attitudes of regional governors and mayors of towns and municipalities who simply do not want Romani refugees from Ukraine on their territory even though they are also refugees from the ongoing war. Such conduct shows all the signs of institutional racism against the Roma, which has a significant impact on the mood in society and, last but not least, is a threat to social reconciliation, as the local and regional politicians are using populist rhetoric.

Prime Minister, the situation is serious and requires action, so we are asking for a crisis meeting of the Czech Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs

Respectfully,

Member organizations of RomanoNet, z. s.:

Romodrom, o. p. s.
Slovo 21, z. s.
Romano jasnica, z. s.
Kleja, z. s.
Khamoro, o. p. s.
Vzajemné soužití, o. p. s.
ROMEA, o. p. s.
Awen amenca, z. s.
Otevřena společnost, o. p. s.
IQ Roma servis, z. s.
Jekhetane – Společně, o. p. s.

Civil society members of the Czech Government Council on Roma Minority Affairs

Gwendolyn Albert
Tomáš Ščuka
Alena Drbohlavová Gronzíková
Jan Husák
Iveta Theuserová
Vladimír Červeňák
Zdeněk Guži
Štefan Oláh
Alica Sigmund Heráková
Petr Čáp
Simon Slanina
Josef Stojka
Martin Kaleja

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Discrimination, Government of the Czech Republic, Immigration, Racism



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