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May 21, 2022



Commentary: The dictatorship in a hostile Russia is criticizing the Czechs about human rights over the death of Stanislav Tomáš

2.7.2021 17:21
Miroslav Brož speaking at the Lety Cultural Heritage Memorial at the site where Romani prisoners of the WWII-era concentration camp at Lety were buried in unmarked graves, 13 May 2013. (PHOTO:  ROMEA TV)
Miroslav Brož speaking at the Lety Cultural Heritage Memorial at the site where Romani prisoners of the WWII-era concentration camp at Lety were buried in unmarked graves, 13 May 2013. (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

This is bad. The authoritarian regime in Russia has joined those criticizing the Czech Republic for violating the rights of Romani people and is calling for a thorough investigation of the death of Stanislav Tomáš

It bothers me greatly that the Czech Republic is now in a situation where a dictatorship that is hostile to us thinks it has something to teach us about upholding human rights. The situation of Romani people in Russia is just as bad as it is here, to say nothing of the arrests and other methods police use in Russia. 

The worst thing is that this is about applying pressure to a live case and that there is actually something to criticize here - the rights of individual Romani people and the minority as a whole are indeed violated in the Czech Republic on a daily basis, Romani people face discrimination or outright segregation in just about every area of life. No administration has ever genuinely addressed this problem.  

Antigypsyism is such a mainstream, majority, "normal" opinion here that most people are incapable of recognizing or even seeing it in their own behavior and mindset or that of others. The Czech Republic has actually been criticized for years, over and over, for this sad state of affairs in reports by various European and international insitutions and has been called upon to correct the situation, but no steps to remedy it are being taken - on the contrary, the stituation continues to deteriorate, the exclusion and poverty of Romani communities is intensifying.

I will not reanalyze here how scandalous it is that the Czech Police and politicians have publicly stated that everything about the police intervention against Stanislav Tomáš was just fine, that the officers proceeded absolutely correctly, that basically nothing wrong happened - and that they are making these claims before the investigation is even finished. Some made those claims before it had even begun. 

The fact that the Prime Minister and others are saying on television that they already know how an ongoing investigation will turn out, that they are thanking police for undertaking an intervention during which somebody died, naturally undermines the faith of Romani men and women (and probably not just them) in the rule of law here. As a citizen and as a voter, it angers me that we have not found a single politician, neither female nor male, who would visit the bereaved, bring them flowers, express sincere condolences, and offer aid and support. 

What the family of Mr Tomáš is going through right now is something I wouldn't wish on anybody. Be that as it may, we have been informed that next week several European politicians will come to do what the Czech politicians are failing to do, given that the elections are coming up and that they fear the antigypsyist majority voters won't cast their ballots for them if they do the right thing.  

That visit is still a week away, though. I really hope this does not end up with the biggest possible embarrassment, that Russian President Putin sends flowers and makes humane gestures of condolence toward the bereaved family through the Russian Ambassador.  

I also believe this media statement by Russia was not made for the Czech public, because it is just angering Czechs and their fans, but it has been made for international public opinion and the international Romani community. The Czech media is not reporting on it much, but the scandal of Mr Tomáš has resonated abroad to a great extent, and rather big demonstrations have been held in front of Czech consulates and embassies across Europe almost every day since the news of the circumstances of his death broke. 

The author is with the Konexe organization.

Miroslav Brož, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Czech Republic, death after police intervention, human rights, Konexe, o. s., Roma, Russia


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