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Štefan Horvát: Should Romani residents of Duchcov be afraid now?

Duchcov, 12.11.2014 22:18, (ROMEA)
Štefan Horvát. (Photo: Personal archive)
Štefan Horvát. (Photo: Personal archive)

As everyone has probably noticed, the town of Duchcov is now a hot topic. Television news has reported on the local government coalition formed by the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) and the Workers' Social Justice Party (DSSS) here.  

The new mayor of Duchcov is now Zbyněk Šimbera, who was vice-mayor here for many years. Jindřich Svoboda, chair of the local DSSS cell, has become a councilor, which means he is now a respected citizen of the town.  

He was aided in winning this post by ex-mayor Jitka Bártová, who knows all his "boys" (as she calls them) and who decidedly agrees with most of their opinions. I don't know why the "boys" are now all against her, but maybe she is only now belatedly realizing what it is she has actually done.  

Romani concerns

I decided to write this commentary because we, the Romani residents of Duchcov, are concerned about the atmosphere that has dominated our town for quite some time now. It is evident that the situation here will not improve in future.

An October issue of the Duchcov local paper said the situation has improved, but the question is how, and for whom? Reportedly, crime is down.

Duchov is also reportedly currently safer than it was. I know this makes the situation sound like a scene from "Once Upon a Time in the West", but unfortunately, that is how several people from the majority part of society here view the situation.

The longtime violation of Romani residents' human rights in connection with the town's so-called "zero tolerance" policy is being facilitated by the vulnerability of the Romani minority in Duchcov. The situation, therefore, has not "improved" for us in that sense.

"Now you should be afraid"

I don't intend to make any guesses about what awaits us in the months to come. In my mind I keep hearing the sentence that was spoken by a gentleman who was standing in front of the cultural center after the mayoral election was over, and who declared, in my direction:  "Now you should be afraid, you'll see what will be done with you."

I ask, therefore:  What is going to be done with us? Who will guarantee and protect the rights of the Romani minority in Duchcov if a racist like Svoboda has the power to decide what happens to citizens here?

Will he make good on his threats? On Facebook he once wrote:  ""So finally it's out! The secret video of the assault in Duchcov! Those black fuckers! They should all be massacred! How much longer will we tolerate this? I propose that it is time to unite and fucking give them what for! I'm going to go throw up and then I'm going to sharpen my knives...."

Should we be afraid? What about the new mayor, Šimbera?

What can we expect from him now that an agreement has been reached between the ČSSD and DSSS in Duchcov? Svoboda is declaring that the "zero toelerance" against the Romani minority will continue to be strongly enforced.

Svoboda is saying he will personally see to it that the "zero tolerance" policy is thoroughly applied. He is telling everyone he will go after the Roma, and go after us hard.  

History repeats itself 

It is sad that now, in the year 2014, people have already forgotten about the atrocities of the Fascists. History is repeating itself.

Even today, people here are afraid for their lives and their futures because of those who have been marching through the streets of Duchcov. Those who have supported the idea of Fascism more indirectly, through their attitudes toward it, are also to blame.  

I believe we should all be concerned about what it is we have in common, and that is our quality of life, living well. In conclusion, I call on the Government of the Czech Republic and the Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs to provide the unequivocal support and moral assistance that we Romani residents of Duchcov are not receiving.

Štefan Horvát, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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