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May 17, 2022



ROMEA: Czech President has manipulated facts yet again - we can prove 70 % of Romani people in this country work

5.10.2018 14:22

Czech President Miloš Zeman is insisting on the accuracy of his remarks about unemployed Romani people. Responding to the hundreds of photographs posted to Facebook by Romani people from their workplaces, Zeman said today that the initiative represented just one-tenth of the Romani population.

"On the basis of my visits to the so-called excluded localities, I have arrived at the opinion, communicated to me by mayors and other local representatives, that 90 % of Romani residents of such areas do not work. I am glad to have received photographs of the 10 % who do work, thanks for those," he said.

The ROMEA organization says Zeman has manipulated information yet again with this statement. When asked why he couldn't be more positive in his remarks about Romani residents, Zeman said that to praise 10 % of Romani people was already a friendly response.

In recent days, Romani people from the broadest possible range of professions have posted hundreds of photographs to online social networks of themselves on the job. An estimated 250 000 Romani people live in the Czech Republic, a country of 10 million.

Half of the Romani population there lives in excluded ghettos. The other half comprises the Romani intelligentsia and middle class.

Many members of the Romani middle class, despite having achieved higher educations, success at work, sufficient incomes and financial solvency, encounter discrimination and intolerance just because of their Romani origins, various reports on the state of the Romani minority have found. Monika Mihaličková of the ROMEA organization says the President is lying and manipulating information yet again.

"In the Czech Republic there are an estimated 150 000 economically active Romani people. Among the socially excluded, 75 000 are economically active. If we were to use the most recent figures from the year 2015, then about 50 000 Romani people living in those localities are jobless. That means 70 % of the Romani people in the country work for a living," Mihaličková said in response to Zeman's most recent allegations.

There are currently 230 000 unemployed persons in the Czech Republic. "From this it follows that 80 % of the persons unemployed here are not Romani," Mihaličková said.

Speaking in the Olomouc Region last week, Zeman insinuated that the unemployed people in one of the communities he was visiting were members of the Romani community. "I am decidedly no friend of communism, but during communism Romani people had to work. Most of them worked as ditch- diggers, and if they refused to work, they were designated as work-shy and went to prison. The Romani labor platoons were led by Romani men who had natural authority. If somebody on their team didn't work, they slapped him around. It's a very humane method that worked most of the time," he was cited as saying.

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) has sharply criticized Zeman for the remarks. In their view, his statements are racist, are contributing to inciting fear and hatred, could endanger people's safety, and Zeman should resign as head of state for having decided to use such rhetoric.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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