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June 26, 2022



Petr Torák: "I'm proud to be the first Romani man from the Czech Republic to receive the MBE"

24.4.2015 3:31
Petr Torák
Petr Torák

Petr Torák, a Romani émigré from the Czech Republic who serves with the British police, will be receiving an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). Queen Elizabeth II will present him with the high civilian honor next month for his service to the Romani community.

News server contacted Mr Torák with several questions about the honor. Here are his answers.

Q:  What does a major award of this kind mean to you?

A:  It means a great deal to me to be awarded the MBE. I greatly appreciate the fact that my efforts to improve the living conditions of the Czechs and Slovaks living in Peterborough and in other towns have been appreciated in this way. Naturally, I am aware that this could not have happened without the cooperation and support that I receive from my family and friends. First and foremost I would like to thank my father, whose visionary opinions have always led me in the right direction. I am also very grateful to my wife, without her aid and support I would never have been able to manage. I also thank my close friends who have worked hard on organizing community projects with me. I would like to mention Josef Kopečný, Denisa Luptáková and Kamila Laurynová, who deserve my thanks. I am very proud of the fact that I am probably one of only a few Czechs to ever receive such an appreciation and certainly the first Romani man to be given such an honor. My intention is to continue community work and to use my influence to improve the situation of Romani people not only in Great Britain, but also in other European countries.

Q:  Why do you think more Romani people haven't managed to apply themselves in the police forces of the Czech Republic? Can you compare the situations in the Czech Republic and Great Britain in this respect?

A:  I firmly hope that after members of Czech society read this article they will realize that if Romani people are given the chance to apply themselves, most of them will make use of it, and that will be a big benefit to all of society. The majority society must stop tarring all Romani people with the same brush, judging them on the basis of a few individuals who commit crime or who don't live according to the given social norms. I personally know many capable, educated Romani people in the Czech Republic who work in the state administration or are in business, but because of society's prejudice, those people do not publicly identify as Romani. I see a big difference between the Czech Republic and Great Britain in the fact that in the UK, society judges a person by his abilities, not by skin color, sexuality, or physical disability. A Romani person, just like other people from other minority groups, feels like a human being here, a person who can be proud of being Romani. When Romani people don't have to deal with hatred and racism every day - whether directly or just through the media and what comes out of the mouths of politicians - then they can fully concentrate on living a full-fledged life and contribute to the growth of society as a whole. 

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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