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Czech actors send greetings to Romani people for 8 April, World Roma Day

8.4.2021 12:10
Czech actors Václav Neužil (left) and Halka Třešňáková (right). (PHOTO:  collage by ROMEA)
Czech actors Václav Neužil (left) and Halka Třešňáková (right). (PHOTO: collage by ROMEA)

The well-known Czech actors Halka Třešňáková and Václav Neužil are sending their greetings for World Roma Day to all Romani people in a message sent through Romano voďi [Romani Soul] magazine in Prague. Třešňáková is a choreographer and film and theater actor who has previously publicly joined the 8 April celebrations in the Czech Republic by performing in a video with David Ištok and the ARA ART organization.

What are her memories of that today? "For me it was natural to accept their offer. Relations with Romani people here are actually quite important to me. I sometimes feel like a Romani woman myself. My father spent his childhood in the Karlín neighborhood of Prague on Pernerova Street, and when he lost both his parents, the Roma there practically raised him. They taught him, among other things, how to play guitar," she relates [Editor's Note: her father is the guitarist and musician Vlastimil Třešňák].  

In the video clip, she and Romani actor David Ištok pointed out the frequent stereotypes that cause non-Romani people to behave in certain ways, such as guarding their personal property if they believe a Romani person is around. "I grew up in Germany, in Heidelberg, on a housing estate, and there were many of us migrants there. In primary and secondary school no discrimination against minorities would have ever been allowed. Here in Bohemia I am quite sensitive to the omnipresent jokes told about Romani people, Jews, women or disabled people. In Germany there was none of that. My husband says it's because the Germans have no sense of humor, but I don't like it and I believe this is not how it should be," she says.  

What does she wish for Romani people on their holiday? "I hope they continue to preserve their humanity and that the pandemic does not have a bad impact on them, since very often they are a socially weaker group, I hope it does not financially impact them too much. I want to say that I look forward to when we will all be able to meet in person again. Maybe we can get together in Karlín, by the benches in front of the church there, and sing together," she says. 

Václav Neužil is a comedian and a film and theater actor who joined the ROMEA organization's 2014 campaign against hatred online called "I don't masturhate". He voiced the following sentiment in that video message:  "People, don't do it. All of your hatred will eventually come back to haunt you." 

"For me it's a clear choice to object to hatred, whether online or in the real world. From my own experience I know that hatred solves nothing. Hate just incites more hate," Neužil says when recalling his participation in the video clip. 

The actor says he himself encounters hate speech, including in response to his participation in that campaign. He does not respond in kind.

"Racism is a consequence of the fact that our society is incapable of coping with longstanding problems. For example, supporting Romani people in education, motivating them, improving their conditions for studying. If somebody grows up in a disdavantaged environemnt where the parents are unemployed or don't have a lot of financial resources, it's much more difficult for them to find a different path, the road to prosperity. The consequence is that many Romani people work in positions that don't require qualifications or are unemployed. If it were common for Romani people to be doctors, teachers, or plumbers who come to your house to repair your boiler, then everybody else would being to see Romani people differently, they would recognize that Roma are the same as they are," he believes. 

"I wish Romani people a lot of joy in life and, like everybody else, that this pandemic ends soon so we can breathe easier and socialize. A lot of hate comes from ignorance and fear, and it frequently happens that when we meet each other and get to know each other, we learn that everything is different than we expected. My wish for Romani people is not hate, but love and openness," the actor says.  

First published by Romano voďi magazine. 

Jana Donovan, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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International Roma Day, Romano voďi, social issues, society



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