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June 26, 2022



Tomáš Ščuka: City of Brno's rhetoric toward the Romani refugees from Ukraine is shameful - are the local politicians really so shameless themselves?

10.6.2022 10:58
Tomáš Ščuka
Tomáš Ščuka

Ignoring the most vulnerable groups of refugees (babies, children and their mothers of Romani origin) is a clear manifestation of the City of Brno's very different approach toward these incoming refugees from Ukraine. Since the beginning of the crisis, the city management has been proud of how it has been providing aid to and welcoming refugees from Ukraine. 

However, this is not the case for the darker-skinned people among them. For a third month in a row now, Brno City Hall has been fine with Romani mothers and their children who are refugees living at the railway station. 

Untrue allegations are being made about these refugees that they "refused" accommodation in the former barracks in the neighborhood of Židenice. Yes, some of the Romani refugees were relocated from the train station at the end of April (after a great deal of media coverage).

That effort lasted just two days, though! The group was housed in the former barracks in what used to be its dining room, without access to bathrooms of any kind, while non-Romani refugees from Ukraine are living in rooms with hot running water right next door.

We are now witnessing the fact that approximately 30 families have been moved by the city a few hundred meters away from the railway station into military tents without floors. These people have no food, no medicine, no opportunity to bathe, and have even been left without drinking water (even in the current hot weather, the cistern provided to them has not been refilled since last week). 

The portable toilets there are also already completely full and nobody is coming to empty them. Our local politicians, led by Mayor Markéta Vaňková, are still not ashamed to defend this discriminatory approach, though.

Here are some examples of what city officials are alleging about these refugees: "Those people want to live on the grass", "We put a toilet there but we do not know whether they will use it", "They are nomads", "They want to live this way", "95% of them speak Hungarian", "They are not from Ukraine", etc. The Czech Republic will soon assume the EU Presidency, the country has been an EU Member State since 2004, but we are capable of allowing our publicly-elected representatives and our officials to engage in this disgraceful rhetoric? 

None of those allegations are factually substantiated, they depict the clichés and myths about Romani people from which we as a society still cannot extricate ourselves. This is despite the fact that for the fourth year in a row, we have a coalition composed of democratic movements and parties in power here in Brno. 

Is it actually the case that none of them are ashamed of these practices towards these women (and children) fleeing the war? Although I am an active, regular voter, as a result of these speeches by our municipal politicians I am now wondering whether it would not be better for me to boycott the elections this fall!

Tomáš Ščuka, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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