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Sweden: History of the persecution of Roma in the Czech lands is published

30.3.2016 16:05
Hynek Pallas, (Photo:  Alexander Mahmoud)
Hynek Pallas, (Photo: Alexander Mahmoud)

In April 2016 a book about the persecution of Romani people in Bohemia and Moravia will be published in Stockholm for Swedish readers, entitled "Inadaptable Citizens:  A History of the Persecution of Roma in the Czech Lands". Swedish publishing house Atlas has informed news server Romea.cz of the release.

The book documents the life of Romani people during times of dramatic change in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic during the 20th century. The story begins with the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and ends with the populist, xenophobic speech given by Czech President Miloš Zeman on 17 November 2015.

In that appearance, Zeman legitimized the fascisizing speeches by those with whom he shared the podium, primarily the leader of the "Bloc against Islam", Martin Konvička. That figure is known for having posted on Facebook that Muslims should be ground into a flour of meat and bone or shut up in concentration camps.

"More than half a million foreign nationals are living in this country and are managing to find coexistence with our culture, they are accepted in a friendly way, and there are no problems with them - on the contrary, they benefit our society. However, their culture is fully compatible with European values. It is not the culture of murderers and it is not the culture of religious hatred," Zeman said at the end of his November speech.

On the basis of a mosaic of interviews conducted with Romani families and with activists, testimonies from the Nazi and communist eras, visits to Romani ghettos, research in archives and museums, and also visits with the Romani football team in the Czech town of Děčín, journalist Hynek Pallas describes how the "builders" of the state in the four separate state units to have occupied the territory of what is today the Czech Republic have treated Romani people as anomalies and what the consequences of that are today. The Swedish author, film director and journalist was born in 1975 in Prague and studied film in Sweden.

In recent decades he has written for most of the Swedish statewide dailies and collaborates today primarily with the biggest Swedish daily, Dagens Nyeter. He also appears on radio and television.

News server Romea.cz published a piece last November by Pallas about the Romani author and fighter for the rights of Romani people to equal treatment before the law, Katarina Taikonová. Pallas compared her efforts to the struggle led by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in the USA and reminded readers that she had personally met King.

The two human rights activists met in 1964 when the African-American pastor received the Nobel Peace Prize. In addition to writing for Romea.cz, Pallas has also contributed to RESPEKT magazine in the Czech Republic more than once.

An extensive interview with him has also been published by journalist Saša Uhlová in the Czech online daily "Deník referendum". In that year-old interview, Pallas compared the situations in the Czech Republic and Sweden as follows:

"Comparison is always difficult, but it's possible to say that the Swedes are less inward-looking than the Czechs are, Swedish media takes an interest in what is happening abroad, you can tell that democracy here is 100 years old, not 25. During the past year many Romani people have come to Sweden from Romania, for example, and they are begging here. Even though there is a discussion about whether to ban begging, most people are friendly toward them. The churches offer them a bed for the night and other aid."

Pallas wrote a dissertation entitled "Whiteness in Swedish Film 1989-2010", released in 2011, which was a ground-breaking work in the field of "Critical Whiteness Studies" in Sweden. In 2012 he was the co-creator of a television series called "Bergman's Video", based on the video collection of the legendary Ingmar Bergman.

The series was filmed in large part at Bergman's home on the island of Farö and many leading cinematographers and film directors contributed to it. That material was then used to create a feature-length film, directed by Pallas and Jane Magnusson, which was premiered at the Venice Film Festival.

That film has now been released worldwide. "Inadaptable Citizens" is the author's third book. 

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Knihy, Romani people, Sweden, Xenophobia



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