Tag Archives: Czech Republic

Why Are Romas Leaving Czech Republic For Canada?

The decision by the Canadian government to again require visas for those in the Czech Republic to come to Canada is without question an effort to confront issues related to migration of Romas from their nation. Most Romany activists believe well-educated Czech Romanies who are integrated within the society may have decided it was wiser to leave before things become worse in a nation which contains a sizable number of right wing bigots who openly display hatred toward those who are “different.” It is also believed poor Romas are leaving for the simple reason they can not find good jobs and Canada appears to offer better economic opportunities for success.

Jozef Holek, who specializes in Roma issues, argues, “A common romany without education has almost zero chance to find a job and his position in society is completely frustrating in all aspects.” There is also the possible explanation that many Romas do not possess a deep patriotism for a society which regards them as inferior and they may well prefer seeking the patriotism of fellow countrymen who live in Canada. An unanswered question is whether or not key leaders of the Roma community are leaving.

Czech Republic And Romas Furious At Canada

The Czech Republic government is up in arms at recent decisions by Canada to re-impose visas for citizens from its country who wish to travel to their country. In Canada, the Roma community of Toronto is also angry because it believes re-introduction of visas was aimed at halting further influx of Romas who are fleeing from human rights abuses in the Czech Republic. Paul St. Clair, an activist from the Roma Community Center in Toronto accused Canada of shutting the door on people who are fleeing from terror. Human rights activists note the increase in neo-Nazi groups assaulting Romas in the Czech Republic, and discrimination in areas like education and jobs for those of Roma heritage.

The increase in neo-Nazi groups in eastern Europe has been stimulated by the presence of Romas who are treated like second class citizens in many nations. Romas flee to Canada seeking a new life free from persecution. Perhaps, the solution lies in addressing Czech Republic issues, not those of Canada.

Canada Decries Czech Republic Violence Towards Romas

Canada has witnessed a significant growth in the number of Roma immigrants from the Czech Republic and in the course of attempting to uncover reasons for their flight from Europe, it has become clear Romas face persecution and violence in their native country. The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board sent investigators to Europe to explore the situation of Romas in the Czech Republic. They found at times Romas are not protected by authorities and local police are frequently indifferent to attacks by racists on Romas. They more than often treat Romas as the criminals rather than victims when neo-Fascist groups attack Roma communities.

At a shelter in Toronto, Zaneta Gananova lifted her shirt to show two swastikas that had been carved into her skin by skin head fascists. As they cut into her body, they laughed and said, “Hey Gypsy, today you will die.” She did not, but there are reports of Romas who have been killed. The usual reaction of local police is to promise to “investigate the problem.”

Nearly 1,100 Czech Republic Romas claimed refugee status so far this year. Is anyone in the Czech Republic interested why people flee from your country?

What’s Best Education For Roma Children?

Romas in the Czech Republic encounter daily prejudice, they lack equal opportunity to access good jobs, and their children invariably struggle to survive in schools. As is so often the issue with children whose families are poor, educational authorities face complex issues. Should Roma children be provided separate classes in which teachers know all children have basically the same problems or should Roma children be integrated with other students. A primary school in the Czech Republic town of Valasske Mezirici decided to open two primary classes, one specifically for Roma children and the other for remaining town students.

The Ministry of Education decided segregation in the long run damaged opportunities for Roma children to succeed in school and ordered integration of all children in the community. This is a wise decision. Once children in school are placed in “special classes” the stigma lives with them for their entire educational experience. Teachers tend to “teach down” rather than expecting better performance. Roma children will have to live in a society containing those of various backgrounds and abilities, where best to begin the journey but in elementary school?

What To Do About Racist Political Groups?

A democracy inevitably confronts the issue of handling extremists who employ the media to spread hatred and fear of minorities, those who they seek to demonize, and the unknown in all its manifestations. People in the Czech Republic have been subjected to propaganda from racist political parties which seek to use the presence of a Roma minority as their wedge to secure support from the general populace. A recent poll reveals three fourths of the Czech people support the ban of all parties that use racist slogans in their election campaign. A recent anti-Roma video was used by the National Party in its quest for votes and even included a statement about “the final solution to the Roma question” which could have come from any Nazi statement concerning that group.

Over two-thirds of the population supports the request of the Interior Minister to seek a court order to dissolve the National Party. The Czech Radio has refused to play certain statements by the National Party. A strict adherence to democracy would argue the National Party has a right to be racist. Are there times when society has the right to halt speech? We believe there is a difference between “speech” and “action.” Any person has a right to utter words, but no one has the right to instigate violent action against other members of society.

Sarkozy And The Imperial Presidency

Alexandr Vondra, former Czech deputy PM for European Affairs, blasted French President Ncolas Sarkozy for his a bsence from the EU Eastern Partnership Summit. “He has not made our EU presidency easier,” he told the French newspaper, Le Monde. In particular, what upset the Czech diplomat was “his imperial style has complicated the team presidency. When he wakes up in the morning, no one knows what his mood is like.” However, in addition to the absence of Sarkozy, neither the prime ministers of Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom or Austria was at the summit meeting.

Most probably, Sarkozy regards an eastern thrust as a counter weight to his favorite project of constructing a Union for the Mediterranean which Sarkozy believes is a way to integrate regional nations and keep Turkey from entering the European Union. At the meeting Sarkozy called to discuss this project, no representative from the Czech Republic was present. Is there a connection between the two events?

Romas –Convenient Scapegoats In East Europe

A crowd of fans from the soccer club, 1.FC Brno, marched through a square in Brno shouting vulgarities at Romas and blacks while imitating monkeys. In the town of Chomutov, they fired a rocket in the air while shouting, “Czech Land To Czechs.” Even as the ignorant displayed their ignorance, hundreds of Romas throughout the Czech Republic were holding demonstrations to express their frustration at failure of the government to take a pro-active stance in the fight for Roma rights. There were Romas present in at least fourteen towns to make known their concerns at recent murders of their fellow countrymen and the need for action to foster respect for the dignity of all humans.

In Hungary, a recent survey indicated that 84% of respondents said that Roma people disliked working and that is why they encounter economic problems. Nearly 80% said it was hopeless trying to help build good relations between Romas and other Hungarian citizens. And, over seventy percent rejected any ideas about affirmative action programs.

The United States learned years ago that change begins with new laws that protect the rights of those subject to bigotry and prejudice. Eventually, if laws are enforced, most humans will grow accustomed to change in their views. They need to work and live with people who are different.

Right Wing Nationalists In Czech Republic Confronted

In the 1930s, Czechoslovakia was among the first nations seized by the Nazis and during the war its citizens were subject to brutal treatment including the destruction of an entire village after the assassination of a Nazi leader. The horrors of Nazism have disappeared from the minds of nationalists in the country and been replaced by images of a benign Adolf Hitler and good days before the communists came to power. Nationalist groups demonstrated in April supposedly to mark the anniversary of an American bombing in Czechoslovakia but most probably to celebrate the 120th birthday of Hitler. This time they were met be determined people who refused to allow their town to become associated with the kooks of nationalism.

The people met the challenge of Nazism by talking openly against these groups, holding concerts, placing billboard signs with “Smile, Not Heil” expressions of derision of the nationalists. People stood up to the thugs and were faced with having their names and addresses listed on Nazi web sites. The best manner of handling Nazism is to confront them in public and not be cowed by their threats.

David Duke Doesn’t Duke It Out In Czech Republic

Over ten years ago, a nondescript little white man from the state of Louisiana got his fifteen minutes of fame by going around talking in neo-Nazi language, boasted he was in the KKK, tried his hand at politics, and soon vanished from the scene into the dustbin of history. However, for some strange reason, Charles University in Prague and other Czech universities believe this man of meager intelligence is worth of being invited to address their students and faculty. He originally was invited by local neo-Nazis, but why would any university in the world believe Duke has anything of significance to say to anyone who had a modicum of intelligence? They decided to ban him after news of his appearance created an uproar.

The only uproar is who in these universities thought Duke had the intelligence to engage in a rational discussion with people of intelligence.

Romas Worry About Racist Attacks In Czech Republic

Omas in the Czech Republic are concerned by recent attacks including fire bombing a home which resulted in injuries to children. Members of the Romany communities are considering development of plans for quick escape in case there are other such assaults. There is also a growing feeling that emigration might be the only solution in dealing with the ongoing prejudice against Romas in the Czech Republic. About 570 Czech Romas applied for emigration to Canada in January and February which contrasts with the total of 853 for the entire year of 2008.

There is something sad when hundreds of people who have spent their lives in a nation believe they must leave in order to ensure personal safety. Undoubtedly, they will find homes in Canada and opportunities for their children to obtain a decent education. But, their departure is also a loss for the Czech people because it means something is missing in a society which forces people to flee for their lives.