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January 19, 2019
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Features and Commentary

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Parent of child with Down Syndrome writes open letter to Czech tabloid waging anti-inclusive education campaign

25.3.2016 18:46 Tomáš Hečko, the parent of a child with Down Syndrome, was approached by the tabloid daily Blesk in the Czech Republic for an interview on the topic of inclusive education and decided not to give them one. "Your newspaper has abandoned the pretense of even attempting to appear objective and instead of providing information is leading a campaign - a campaign against several thousand children with mild mental disability who are exercising their right to an inclusive education (or who want to do so in future) in the mainstream primary schools. You are also waging this campaign against us, the parents," he wrote in an open letter to the Blesk reporter.  full story

Yaron Matras, linguist at the University of Manchester specializing in Romani and other languages (PHOTO:

Yaron Matras: Do Roma need protection from themselves? The Council of Europe comes under fire from academics for reinforcing prejudice

24.3.2016 23:43 Almost one hundred academic researchers specialising in Romani studies have signed an open letter to the Council of Europe’s Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, expressing their concern about a recent Council of Europe communication announcing its new four-year Thematic Action Plan on Roma and Traveller Inclusion. They take issue with the statement’s depiction of Roma as having a pre-disposition to early marriage, violence, organised crime and begging, and say that such suggestions contribute to, rather than confront stigmatisation and prejudice.  full story

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Karel Holomek: Our children, Czech and Romani, need to go to school together now more than ever

9.2.2016 21:02 Here in the Czech Republic we have all been talking about the terminology being used to describe the education of children in the primary schools. Of course, it is the impact of these education programs that has such a basic, determining influence on all of society once the children educated in these programs grow up.  full story

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František Kostlán: Neo-Nazis and the "optimists" are not equivalents, all democrats should oppose extremism

9.2.2016 3:25 We have made a mistake. We have let a discussion arise in Czech society asserting that the followers of former Czech President Havel, the "optimists" or the "truth-lovers", are just one side of the same coin as the fascists, neo-Nazis and populists of this society.  full story

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Separate, Unequal and Hazardous: The essential guide to Roma housing in Slovakia

22.1.2016 11:14 The Slovak Anti-Poverty Network argues that “housing and the protection of the right to housing is the weakest component of public policies”.1 There is a shortage of affordable accommodation; despite the growing number of applicants for social housing, public authorities rarely build new flats, and the number of flats available for rent is low and falls way short of the demand. Programs promoting social mix (more affluent social classes living with the poorer) are entirely missing.  full story

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Inclusive education in Canada is a reality

5.12.2015 20:29 When Harland Sanders began selling fried chicken, he was no different from anyone else. What turned his efforts into the famous KFC restaurant was a few small details, among them the secret ingredients of his spice mix.  full story

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Papa bull? What the Pope said about Roma

10.11.2015 15:20 On Monday, October 26th, Pope Francis spoke to an audience of 7,000 members of the Roma and Sinti communities on the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul IV's meeting with Roma people in an informal settlement near Rome. While many were happy to receive his blessing, others were less impressed with what he had to say. In this guest blog, William Bila takes issue with the Pontiff’s message.  full story

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Address of His Holiness Pope Francis: Meeting with participants in the pilgrimage of Gypsies

27.10.2015 17:46 Dear Brothers and Sisters, I welcome and greet you all cordially. I thank Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò for his words and for having organized this event in collaboration with: the “Migrantes” Foundation of the Italian Episcopal Conference; the “Migrantes” Office of the Diocese of Rome and the Sant’Egidio Community.
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Gwendolyn Albert: The long train ride to justice for forcibly sterilized women

2.10.2015 16:36 It has been more than 10 years since I first learned of the forced sterilization of women in the former Czechoslovakia and how it was still continuing in the 21st century. It is now almost 10 years since I first met Elena Gorolová and many of the other women to whom this actually happened. When I imagine what their journey toward justice has been like, I picture them all on a train ride. Sometimes the train abruptly stops on the tracks, but no one never explains to the passengers - or the rest of us – when exactly the doors are going to open.  full story

Qristina Zavačková Cummings and T-shirt

Qristina Zavačková Cummings: Hunter to Hunted

23.9.2015 23:37 Yesterday, I discovered (via Facebook) that someone was attempting to sell a shirt via the popular website "Zazzle" (an online retailer that allows users to upload images and create their own merchandise, or buy merchandise created by other users, as well as use images from participating companies), that was extremely offensive.  full story

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Renata Berkyová: Slovak party wants to take Romani children from their families to counter public fears

16.9.2015 22:50 One might think that the state removing children from the care of their own parents in order to re-educate them is an historical phenomenon only. In Slovakia, though, Ms Nicholsonová of the "Freedom and Solidarity" Party has said she believes such a concept could spare Romani children from "inhuman treatment" in the settlements.  full story

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Czech pizzeria has the answer: It won't serve immigrants and wants to "Stop Islam"

16.9.2015 2:50 The Grand Italia Ristorante Pizzeria in the Czech town of Hrušovany nad Jevišovkou posted the slogans "We don't serve immigrants" and "Stop Islam" to its Facebook profile at the start of September. After members of the public responded to his messaging, restaurant manager Tomáš Ševčík then posted the following: "Yesterday I was called a Nazi because I expressed my opinion about the problem with refugees - we got 200 negative reviews, insults and threats. When I looked at the profiles of those posting I couldn't believe it. They either work for a 'nonprofit' or are foreigners and don't understand at all what is going on - this is just a gimmick so we'll be afraid of them. I don't mind foreigners, what I mind is this invasion OF ILLEGAL REFUGEES WHO BELIEVE THEY ARE ENTITLED TO ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING."  full story

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Czech town's "zero tolerance" policy generates police abuse

1.9.2015 1:12 A reporter for news server is mapping the current situation at the Janov housing estate in the town of Litvínov. The estate is an excluded locality that experienced one of the first big anti-Romani actions organized in the Czech Republic by right-wing extremists seven years ago.  full story

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Petra Gelbart: "Black Mugs" in the Prague metro

27.8.2015 18:53 I was on my way home from a successful Romani event here recently at the Prague Pride festival, full of impressions, feeling happy and proud. My own children and some others whom I had taken there, including a girlfriend in a long colorful skirt, had participated in a program organized by the ARA ART association.  full story

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Czech scandal of pig farm on Holocaust site has a precedent - in Germany

15.8.2015 19:28 For 20 years, domestic and foreign organizations have been protesting against the operation of an industrial pig farm on the territory of the former concentration camp at Lety by Písek, Czech Republic. Few in the Czech Republic know, however, that a similar problem existed for decades in Germany.  full story

Violeta Naydenova (PHOTO:

Bulgaria Must Stop Its Anti-Roma Attacks

5.8.2015 0:12 Since May, anti-Roma protests in Bulgaria have led to Roma families being attacked and beaten. Riots escalated after tensions rose between Roma and non-Roma in Garmen, in southwest Bulgaria, and Orlandovzi in Sofia. Dozens have been injured.  full story

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Andrzej Mirga, Roma Education Fund's new chair, on the European Roma Institute and more

25.7.2015 19:40 Andrzej Mirga, previously Senior Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues at the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE, has recently been appointed chair of the Roma Education Fund. Mr Mirga has a long record as a civic and human rights activist, having co-founded Poland's first Romani association after the fall of communism.  full story

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Czech management professional on hiring of Roma

21.6.2015 2:36 Right at the start of my work with the Civil Society Studies Department at Charles University in Prague I became involved in a new area in which I had not done much research, that of disadvantaged candidates and minorities on the labor market. My specialization is personnel management, and here I must state that the issue of employing people from these groups is not focused on by many experts, with the exception of those social enterprises that specifically target the employment of the disadvantaged or minorities.  full story

Zeljko Jovanovic, director, Roma Initiatives Office

Interview with Zeljko Jovanovic, Director of the Roma Initiatives Office at the Open Society Foundations

18.5.2015 13:53 Zeljko Jovanovic is director of the Roma Initiatives Office (RIO), which aims to strengthen the voices and leadership of Roma with respect to improving public policies and services in Europe. Since the fall of the socialist regimes in Europe, Zeljko says he has witnessed "new claims for justice" being made in the context of those emerging democracies. He has published several articles in a variety of media such as The Guardian, La Repubblica, Foreign Policy Blogs, and on the RIO blog and is the co-author of the book From Victimhood to Citizenship: The path of Roma integration (2013, CEU Press).  full story

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Democratic education - where every child can find his or her own way

14.5.2015 9:49 When he was going to nursery school, little Yaacov Hecht was frequently naughty. His teacher punished him more than once by locking him into an adjacent room, which was dark.  full story

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