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Czech/Romani NGO tells Public Defender of Rights his remarks on Human Rights Day are a disgrace

11.12.2020 6:34
A protest against the investiture of Stanislav Křeček as ombudsman in Brno, Czech Republic, 20 February 2020. The name Křeček means
A protest against the investiture of Stanislav Křeček as ombudsman in Brno, Czech Republic, 20 February 2020. The name Křeček means "hamster", and the protester's sign reads "A white Křeček/hamster goes through the darkness", a reference to the contemporary song "White Rider" by a controversial neo-Nazi band. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

The organizace Vzájemné soužití (Life Together), led by Kumar Vishwanathan, has published an open letter to the Czech Public Defender of Rights (the ombudsman), Stanislav Křeček, indirectly calling for his resignation. The letter, which Romea.cz is publishing in full translation below, is a reaction to remarks the ombudsman posted to social media on Human Rights Day.    

"The rhetoric you espouse gives us the impression of the complex of being a well-to-do, white, heterosexual man of a respectable age who lives inside a lair of certainties created by the majority society and who does not show the slightest generosity of spirit when it comes to looking beyond the borders of that lair at the people whom you will never consider part of 'us'..." the letter reads, stating elsewhere that "We believe you will get the support you seek on Facebook and other social media platforms, but human rights are not based on Facebook 'likes', human rights are a given. If the honorable gentleman does not comprehend these matters then he should not remain in an office that is based on understanding that fact."  

Open Letter from Life Together responding to the Czech Public Defender of Rights

Dear Mr Ombudsman,

We are writing to you in association with Human Rights Day, an occasion you have used to publish a statement to your Facebook profile. The rhetoric you espouse gives us the impression of the complex of being a well-to-do, white, heterosexual man of a respectable age who lives inside a lair of certainties created by the majority society and who does not show the slightest generosity of spirit when it comes to looking beyond the borders of that lair at the people whom you will never consider part of "us" - for example, when you write that "On the other hand, perhaps even in the name of those same rights, that same European Union currently is not preventing the creation or the growing activity of a society of those who do not acknowledge our concept of human rights, who do not respect them, and who clearly declare their idea of a different ordering for all of European society," and many other statements that define some ambiguous "us" against all the rest who are different.     

We believe you will get the support you seek on Facebook and other social media platforms, but human rights are not based on Facebook 'likes', human rights are a given. If the honorable gentleman does not comprehend these matters then he should not remain in an office that is based on understanding that fact.    

This is not the first time you have spoken about Romani people without them. [Note: A large part of the ombudsman's post, not reproduced here, discusses the "issue of the Roma", makes several inaccurate statements and reminisces about how his previous remarks about Roma have been, in his view, misunderstood.

Romani people are prepared to meet with you, but people like you do not give them the opportunity to do so. We would be interested to know how many times you have actually met Romani people and what the context was, given the fact that you mention them in almost every post or tweet. 

In that regard we were also quite taken with your remark about entrepreneurs during an interview you gave to Rádio Svobodné univerzum [Radio Free Universe] in September. At one point you said the following: "Among the entrepreneurs who do not want a Rom [as an employee] because he'll show up on Monday but not on Wednesday, that's what their experience has been." 

Later in that interview, you returned to that same example once again, this time directly quoting these "entrepreneurs", whom you did not further identify:  "The entrepreneurs say: 'I won't employ you because you're a Rom and I know by the time Wednesday rolls around, Romani people won't make to to work'." By making these remarks (and others) you have deeply offended our Romani employees and friends (and not just them) and we are of the opinion that this kind of rhetoric is disgraceful coming from the ombudsman. 

We do fully agree with the statement you made at the beginning of your debate about employing Romani people, namely, that all citizens are equal in terms of their rights and responsibilities. We regret that in your role as the Public Defender of Rights you are resorting to these kinds of generalizations, and we are of the opinion that such rhetoric is unsuitable given the post you hold.   

Sincerely,

Kumar Vishwanathan
Renata Gažiová
Magdaléna Michlová

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Kumar Vishwanathan, lidská práva, Ombud, Stanislav Křeček



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