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September 23, 2018
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Vojtěch Pačan: The gadje turned out in person for the Prague demonstration, but Romani people only express their criticism on Facebook

22.3.2018 13:39
Vojtěch Pačan on 17. 3. 2018 at the demonstration in Prague against the dissemination of hatred and racism (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec).
Vojtěch Pačan on 17. 3. 2018 at the demonstration in Prague against the dissemination of hatred and racism (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec).

I regret that many Romani people on Facebook are criticizing the demonstration against racism that took place last weekend in Prague. That demonstration was about you, about us Roma.

That demonstration was about all of us. I am really sorry that these Romani people are criticizing the fact that so few of us were there, but each person who dislikes the low turnout should realize that if he or she had come to the demonstration, there would have been enough of us there.

I can't believe you all had to go to work on a Saturday. Morevoer, many people confirmed they were coming - and then didn't show up.

It was cold that day, but I went there with my children and we froze outside for the demonstration. We were freezing there for our freedom.

We were there because we want something to change. People came there all the way from Brno - Czech people, nobody gave them any money for that trip, they came on their own, by bus, and with their children.

How can you expect anything to change if you cannot manage to participate? I see all these posts on Facebook about all the parties you manage to go to.

That's fine, go have a good time, but take an interest in other things too. What kind of a life do you want for your children here?

You don't actually care about your children, or tomorrow, or the future, but about today and how you are enjoying yourselves right now. If you cared about tomorrow, about the future, then I believe a much larger number of us would have been standing there and we would have been heard.

This is the problem of the Romani people here, that we are not managing to stick together. The Slavia football fans walked past us during the demonstration and some of them asked us what we were doing there.

I told them we were fighting against racism, against Okamura. They paid us no mind, even if they probably don't like us, and our demonstration continued.

Moreover, people from the majority society came out to support us, because it's not all the same to them that somebody here is humiliating us. The gadje carried our Romani flag with pride and said "We are with you, we are Romani."

Those of you who didn't come probably don't even care what happens to you! The SPD party of Tomio Okamura, [Prime Minister] Andrej Babiš, Czech President Miloš Zeman and other politicians are publicly criticizing us Roma.

They are basing that criticism on claiming that it is we who are damaging the country, that we are a scourge that has no business being here. Through your lack of interest, you are actually proving them right, because you were not there, you did not come protest.

Why didn't you come express your opinion at the demonstration, express your disagreement with what is happening here today? You didn't manage to come support your own future or that of your children, and that's a shame.

Vojtěch Pačan, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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