Czech/Romani NGO tells Public Defender of Rights his remarks on Human Rights Day are a disgrace
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.
- Czech Govt Human Rights Commissioner expects new Roma strategy to be adopted by the end of January
- Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights calls on Czech lower house to adopt law to compensate illegally sterilized people, first reading scheduled for today
- European Roma Rights Centre reports on human rights violations against Romani people during the pandemic this spring
- VIDEO: Commemoration at former concentration camp in Czech Republic remembers Romani victims of Auschwitz, Human Rights Commissioner expresses support for a Romani Commissioner
- Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner: I support the creation of a Government Commissioner for Romani Minority Affairs
- Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Secretary General issue statements honoring 2 August
- Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe calls for Romani living conditions to be improved during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Czech Govt Human Rights Commissioner thanks Roma for their aid during COVID-19 and wishes them well on International Romani Day
- Czech Govt Human Rights Commissioner: Nonprofits are irreplaceable in combating COVID-19
- Director of EU FRA: Racism has no place in combating coronavirus, human rights limitations must be proportionate
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights to take up human rights agenda, discrimination still an issue
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights wants to investigate human rights, new Public Defender is downplaying that aspect of the office
- Czech Government Commissioner for Human Rights files report of crime over media coverage of her past
- Czech public health officials asking whether those testing positive for COVID-19 are Czech or Romani - but questions about nationality not being asked systematically
- Synodal Council of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren calls on ombudsman to apologize for anti-Romani remarks
- Czech ombudsman attacks ROMEA organization for criticizing racist joke by incoming Chief Public Health Officer
- Czech NGO director tells ombudsman he should resign for refusing to acknowledge discrimination against Roma
- Czech organizations insist the lower house and Prime Minister reject the anti-Romani remarks of the ombudsman
- Czech Public Defender of Rights meets Romani community member Štěpán Kavur of the Buči association
- Czech Deputy Public Defender of Rights says Public Defender of Rights is publicly misrepresenting what she said to him
- Czech Govt Human Rights Commissioner tells ROMEA TV ombudsman is wrong to say Roma not involved with Strategy, removal of his deputy from councils makes no sense
- Czech ombudsman claims his deputy was not appointed to Govt councils, Romea.cz has proof that is not true
- Czech ombudsman removes his deputy from Govt councils after she disagrees with his official comments on the Roma Strategy
- Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion informs ombudsman that 82 % of communities where they work are satisfied
- Volunteer civil society members of Czech Govt Roma Council: ombudsman intentionally undermining the dignity of Romani people