Singer Ida Kelarová is a singer, musician and choirmaster who performs
some of the best Romany music to come out of the Czech Republic. But,
ironically it was many years before she learnt of her Romany origin and was
able to fully connect with her legacy.
The poet, playwright and novelist Irena Eliášová spent her early
childhood in a Romany village in south-western Slovakia. The memory of this
time has become the defining experience in her writing. But Irena does not
write just about the lost world of her childhood in the 1950s and 60s. She
has also written powerfully and poignantly about the life of Roma in the
Czech Republic today. Yet even when she writes about the present, her work
is permeated with a sense of family and community that also draws us back
to an older world of Roma tradition. David Vaughan meets one of the Czech
Republic’s foremost Romany writers.
A number of NGOs active in the field of human rights and minorities have
issued a joint declaration which points to what they call persisting
discrimination of Romany children in the Czech education system. The
declaration, initiated by the Open Society Fund Prague, was released on the
seventh anniversary of a verdict by the European Court of Human Rights
which ruled in favour of a group of Czech Romanies who claimed their
children were discriminated against by the state because they had
automatically been placed in special schools. The NGOs, among them Amnesty
International, the League of Human Rights, IQ Roma and Coexistence, point
out that seven years after this verdict was passed Romany children make up
a third of all pupils at schools for children with special needs..
Singer Ida Kelarová gets her Romany children’s choir to the most
prestigious concert venue in the country –Prague’s famous Rudolfinum
where they will perform with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra on the 25th
anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.
Heightened ethnic tensions in some regions of the Czech Republic are the
biggest threat for Czech democracy, according to an annual report for 2013
by the BIS, the country’s intelligence service. Anti-Romany sentiments
harboured by sections of the Czech public could be a bigger threat for the
security of the state than more extreme but less numerous groups of
far-right radicals, the report says. Last year saw another series of often
violent anti-Romany rallies, fuelled by frustration felt by inhabitants of
areas with strong Romany presence.
Renowned Romany musician Eugen Horváth died on Friday at the age of 74,
the Museum of Romany Culture in Brno said. The Slovak-born Horváth, known
as Janko, came from a musical family, and learned the play the violin at an
early age. In 1969, he formed his own cimbalom band which recorded several
albums including the 1992 record Gypsy Weeping..
Hundreds of people joined the Roma Pride 2014 march leading from Prague’s
Old Town Square through the historic city centre on Saturday afternoon. The
event is a celebration of Romany culture and identity and aims to draw
attention to the discrimination of Romanies in the Czech Republic, be it in
the sphere of housing, education or on the job market. Similar Romany Pride
marches are taking place in 15 European countries..
The EC has sent the Czech Republic a formal request for information
regarding the alleged discrimination of Romany children in the Czech
education system. The Czech authorities have two months in which to provide
the information. Amnesty International has welcomed the move saying that
the Czech Republic has for years failed to take effective measures to
secure equal access to education for Romany children who are very often
placed in special schools for children with learning disabilities.News archive