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Roma asylum seekers undaunted
02-08-1999
Radio Prague, August 2nd - The number of Czech Roma families seeking political asylum in Britain has exceeded 180. According to Roma Civic Initiative chairman Rudolf Zajda, the reason is unemployment which borders on 90 percent among the country's gypsy or Roma population.

There is high unemployment, there is Czech racism and many other things. Czechs employ Ukrainian workers at the expense of their own folk including the Romanies...

The government's human rights commissioner Petr Uhl warns that Britain still could re-impose the visa requirement on Czech citizens - waived a few years ago...

If the Roma exodus should continue, Uhl fears, and the number of asylum seekers exceeds 200 and will not drop below 100 in September and October, London will re-impose the visa requirement on all Czechs. According to Petr Uhl, this could happen in November or in December at the latest.

National Gallery Director Milan Knizak - who is a political animal as well as a controversial artist noted for his rather unusually destructive public performances, believes that Czech gypsies are trying to leave the country not because of racist harassment but simply because of economic considerations.

"They - the gypsy asylum seekers - will see for themselves what conditions they would live in out there in Britain. They keep their property in the Czech Republic - which means they will eventually return back home," Knizak says. And he thinks the Roma exodus is an unfair thing to do to their country, because if and when Britain re-imposes the visa requirement on Czechs, the whole nation, including the gypsies, will come to grief.



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