Štefan Pongo, founder of the Czechoslovak Romani Union, has passed away
After a brief, difficult illness, Štefan Pongo, the founder of the Czechoslovak Romani Union, passed away today, his family members have confirmed to news server Romea.cz. Mr Pongo first significantly drew attention in 2018 when he organized a protest against Czech President Miloš Zeman.
In response to insulting, racist remarks made by Zeman about Romani people avoiding work, Pongo called on Romani men and women to post selfies to social media from their workplaces. Within just a couple of hours, hundreds of photographs had been posted from the broadest possible range of places in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe where Romani people work.
In 2019, Pongo organized a demonstration by Romani people in Brussels and established the Czechoslovak Romani Union. He was born in February 1972 in Chomutov, Czechoslovakia, but considered himself to be from Kadaň, where his father came from.
His mother is from eastern Slovakia's Zemplín area. His father worked in the energy industry as a laborer and his mother worked in health care.
After finishing primary school in Kadaň in 1986, Mr Pongo entered the Czechoslovak Army's educational process at the Military Secondary Vocational School in Martin, Slovakia to become an artillery unit commander. He was on active duty in West Bohemia in the Karlovy Vary division's combat unit.
In 1993, after the breakup of Czechoslovakia, Mr Pongo went into the reserves. He then worked as a head of transport and went into business importing used vehicles from abroad, marrying Iveta and raising two sons and a daughter with her.
In 2006, he and his family emigrated to Great Britain, where he acquired British citizenship in 2015. He worked as a truck driver in Great Britain and dedicated himself to civic activism.
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