Slovakia: Romani journalist accuses those involved in the Romani issue of careerism
"We must immediately stop holding these absurd conferences about Romani people in expensive luxury hotels," says Denisa Havrľová in an interview for the Slovak independent news server projektn.sk. The documentary filmmaker and journalist was once the Editor-in-Chief of the Romani newspaper Romano nevo ľil and works today as a video editor for the Press Agency of the Slovak Republic (Tisková agentury Slovenské republiky - TASR).
Several years ago, Havrľová openly acknowledged to the media that she was experiencing anxiety and isolation as the result of a sad accumulation of misfortunes. Not only had she lost her boss and protector, Daniela Hivešová–Šilanová, but she had come to realize that however much she did for Romani people, she would never receive the slightest recognition from them.
Havrľová says it took a long time for her to grasp that she was not obligated to address Romani issues. She then moved from eastern Slovakia to the capital, where she started from zero - without any backup, friends, or work.
Today she says she is finally happy. However, some matters continue to shock her.
Recently two Romani women beat her up and robbed her on public transport, and even though the bus was full of people, no one stopped them. "Could it have been because it was just Gypsies robbing a Gypsy?" she asks with incredulity.
Havrľová believes the "Romani question" is unsolvable. She says that as long as people are involved in the issue without reflecting on their own behavior, solutions will remain elusive.
She says she sees the cause of this, among other things, in the fact that people are sitting in places of power who are objectively unqualified and are pursuing their own interests instead of basic solutions to problems. "I even see apathy among many of those who once were the first in line to aid the Roma. It's as if, over time, they have concluded that there is no point. They have gradually resigned themselves to that conclusion, which is basically the worst message they could send," she says.
Havrľová does not spare Romani elites her criticism. She is most angered by the fact that they are silent when she believes they should speak up.
She points to a case of Romani people who reportedly brutally attacked a non-Romani pensioner in eastern Slovakia. "Where are the so-called Romani intellectuals and the would-be Romani political parties? Shouldn't they, by any chance, be dramatically, loudly condemning this? There have been too many cases over the years where they should not have kept silent. Are they just keeping quiet because these things are done by 'our guys'? When something like this happens, the decent Roma must immediately send the clear signal that they do not tolerate this, that they condemn it," she says.
Havrľová believes the first clear signal of how far things can go if those in positions of responsibility fail to function in their offices as they are supposed to is the recent election of right-wing extremist Marián Kotleba to the position of Regional Governor. "At first I was laughing that it was impossible for such a person to win. I was convinced that no one intelligent could vote for him. However, the number of votes he received was absurd," she says.
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