VIDEO: Roma Pride 2018 in the Czech Republic
This year's Roma Pride began just after 14:30 on Hradčanské náměstí, where Romani people and their friends protested the antigypsyist remarks of Czech President Zeman. The march had originally been planned to head down the hill to Palachovo náměstí, but given the persistent rain, organizers decided to stay put near Prague Castle, which is where the Office of the President is located.
A program was scheduled to follow the protest on the other side of river at Žižkostel and to close with a performance by the band Terne čhave. ROMEA TV, the first Romani Internet television channel in the Czech Republic, broadcast the assembly live and the video footage is available above (and here).
Roma Pride is annually organized in many countries throughout Europe under the rubric of the European Grassroots Antiracism Movement (EGAM) and this was its seventh annual repetition in the Czech Republic. "What has the Romani experience been like during the last 100 years in Czechoslovakia? Can they be proud of that time? What about the state? Can Czechoslovakia and its successor states be proud about the attitude they have held about Romani people over the last century?" Renata Berkyová read from the Roma Pride Manifesto 2018, which summarizes the last 100 years of Romani life in Czechoslovakia and, since 1993, in the Czech Republic.
"The first 100 years of an independent Czechoslovakia have not been an easy period for Romani people," Berkyová said. "The current situation of Romani people in the Czech Republic is not good. Romani people face ethnic discrimination in almost all areas of life, from housing to education. However, that discrimination is usually never investigated, never prosecuted, even through it contravenes the Czech legal code now in effect and the Constitution," the Manifesto states.
During the assembly speeches were also given by Josef Miker of the Konexe organization, Monika Mihaličková of the ROMEA organization, by the director of the RomanoNet organization, Michal Miko, by Emil Voráč of the Khamoro organization and Karel Karika, vice-mayor of a municipal department in the city of Ústí nad Labem. "I worked 31 years in the mines ... I am insulted. Nobody has the right, not even the President, to denounce others," said Miker, referring to Zeman's recent allegations that the vast majority of Romani people do not work.
Voráč, the director of the Khamoro association, called for mutual tolerance. "We should never pass judgment on any nation," he said.
The Khamoro director reminded those assembled that Romani people were also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Czech Republic. "Let's be proud of what we are. We are Romani, so let's be proud Roma, but we are also Czechs," he said.
Those attending were also greeted by Ivan Bartoš, chair of the Pirate Party. He promised to deliver the Romani Pride Manifesto to Zeman during a meeting at Prague Castle later in the day.
"I celebrated this holiday afternoon today with my friends at Roma Pride. I thank them for their trust. I received a manifesto from them and promised to deliver it to representatives of the Office of the President of the Republic on the occasion of my visit to the Castle during the state ceremony celebrating the creation of an independent Czechoslovakia. May the next 100 years involve the search for a common dialogue, work and mutual respect. Each of us can begin at any time with our own selves and those around us," the chair of the Pirates posted to his Facebook profile.
A program at Žižkostel was scheduled to follow the Prague Castle assembly at which visitors could look forward to traditional Romani food, a lecture about Romani music, the projection of documentary films with Romani subject matter, a photography exhibition and a concert by Romani bands. The main star of the evening was scheduled to be Terne čhave.
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