Roma, Gypsy and Traveller identity is misappropriated and misrepresented
every day for everything from profit to politics. The success of television
shows like “Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” — whose new series starts today in the
UK — highlights the need to intervene in this one-sided portrayal. Today the
Open Society Foundations, in conjunction with Damn Fine Media, launch a
three-minute animated film on the history of Roma, Gypsies and Travellers — an
important part of the rich identity of these groups and the story of Europe.
A court in Ostrava on Friday sentenced a 39-year-old man to ten years in
prison for killing a Romany man with a crossbow. The killing occurred in
the north-eastern town of Chotěbuz last April when four Romany men
searched for scrap metal outside the convicted man’s house. The man said
he though they were thieves; he told them to leave and fired a bolt at them
as they were getting in the car, hitting one of them in the head.
Around 500 people participated in an anti-Roma demonstration organized in
the north-Bohemian town of Duchcov on Wednesday evening in response to a
violent attack on a couple by a group of Romanies in the town a few days
prior. The demonstration drew a number of potentially-violent right-wing
extremists: during an inspection of vehicles entering the town, the police
confiscated 22 weapons including baseball bats, machetes and other items.
One man was detained during the demonstration itself for disorderly
A few hundred people gathered in the north Bohemian town of Duchcov on
Wednesday evening to protest against a rise in violence, specifically a
recent beating of a local couple by a group of Romanies. Although most
participants peacefully listened to the organizers and the town’s mayor
Jitka Bártová, a couple of hundred people staged an unannounced march
towards the neighborhood where most Roma reside, chanting racist slogans.
Around one-third of Czech 12- and 15-year-old children say they would never
have a Roma friend, while 40 percent of them would take part in an
anti-Roma rally in their town. These are some of the findings of a survey
conducted among more than 1,400 elementary school pupils in the Czech
Republic. The study also found a strong emphasis on conformity, says one of
its authors Štepán Pudlák from Scio, a Prague-based educational think
Cardinal Dominik Duka took part in a commemorative ceremony for Romany
victims of the Holocaust at the Lety memorial in southern Bohemia on Monday.
The event was attended by a number of foreign ambassadors, cultural
dignitaries and Roma representatives. Czech political leaders were notably
absent this year, with the exception of the deputy speaker of the Senate
The Czech government is going to back a motion in the lower house to
establish a remembrance day of the victims of Romany Holocaust, the news
agency ČTK reported on Saturday citing government documents. A group of
MPs from several parties want to introduce March 7 as the Remembrance Day
of the Victims of Romany Persecution during WWII; on that day in 1943, the
first transport of Bohemian and Moravian Romanies was sent to the Auschwitz
extermination camp. In total, nearly 9,000 Romanies were murdered in the
Holocaust, nearly 90 percent of their pre-war population.
All ministries have expressed consent with the idea; however, the Foreign
Ministry noted Holocaust victims are remembered on January 27.
The US State Department, in its annual human rights report, criticised the
Czech Republic for poor conditions suffered by ethnic Romanies, often
socially-excluded and pushed to the periphery. The report maintains,
similarly to previous years, that efforts by the government to try and
improve the situation have been insufficient.