Friday, April 8, is International Romani Day, celebrating Roma culture and
raising awareness about Roma issues. This week, organisers behind the Sobě
blíž (Closer Together) project for high school children – brought
interested kids to Lety, South Bohemia, to see performances by Roma groups,
but also to learn about a dark chapter in Czech history. Lety was the site
of a Romany internment camp in WWII where more than 300 people died and
many more were sent to the death camp Auschwitz.
The number of hate crimes registered in the Czech Republic increased to 86
in 2014, the legal organisation In Iustitia, which is helping the crime
victims, has reported. In 2011 the organisation registered 57 incidents.
Most of the attacks happened in relation to nationality, ethnic origin or
religion. Among the most frequent victims of hate attacks were Roma and
The human rights organisation Amnesty International has highlighted the
poor treatment of refugees in the Czech Republic and the high number of
Romany children in "practical" schools (former special schools)
in its annual report on the state of human rights around the world. The
document refers to anti-migration rallies held in the country last year and
the Czech Republic’s rejection of compulsory quotas of refugees imposed
by the European Union. On the positive side, the report praises legal
changes aimed at the integration of Romany children into mainstream schools
and a court decision to recognise adoption by a male couple..
A dentist has been ordered to apologise in writing to Roma family and pay
them CZK 30,000 in compensation for refusing to treat them because of their
skin colour, the news website Lidovky.cz reported on Sunday. Members of the
family had set up an appointment with the Brno dentist by telephone but
when they arrived at her surgery she refused to register them and denied
having agreed to treat two of them, who had acute problems with their
teeth. She had repeatedly denied discrimination before admitting to it in
court, Lidovky.cz said..
One of the most thought-provoking documentaries to hit local cinema screens
in recent months has been Czechs Against Czechs by Tomáš Kratochvíl. In
the highly personal film, the young director – a member of the majority
population – goes to live in a desperately poor Romany ghetto in north
Bohemia. Along the way, he also encounters far-right activists who organise
anti-Roma demonstrations, as well as members of the public who don’t hide
their hatred of the ethnic minority.
The government Agency for Social Inclusion, which is aimed at helping
integrate Roma and other deprived groups into mainstream society, has
selected nine municipalities from socially excluded localities to cooperate
with in the next three years. According to the agency’s spokesman,
Václav Zeman, the agency will help the local authorities to systematically
solve problems connected to social exclusion, such as increasing capacity
of asylum facilities, or raising the number of assistants helping to
prevent crime. The agency will also help the municipalities in reaching EU
funds for social inclusion..
Two suspects found guilty of firebombing a boarding house in Aš inhabited
mostly by Romanies more than three years ago have received sentences of
almost seven years in prison each. Twenty-five-year-old Tomáš Kopecký
and 35-year-old Michal Poláček were found guilty of attempted murder and
the court ruled that the attack had been racially-motivated. Each could
have received 20 years behind bars.
US Ambassador Andrew Shapiro has presented the 2015 Alice G. Masaryk Human
Rights Award to Marie Gottfriedová, headmistress of a primary school in
Trmice in the region of Ústí nad Labem, which is regarded as a socially
excluded locality. According to the US Embassy, the school effectively
promotes the idea of inclusive education, and is successful in integrating
the local Roma community.News archive