U.S. Embassy Prague participated in International Roma Day Celebrations|
On April 8, U.S. Embassy Prague participated in celebrations marking
International Roma Day in two cities in Northern Bohemia, Chomutov and Most.
U.S. Embassy delegation brought a videotaped message of Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton marking International Roma Day.
The message was shown with a Czech voice over it at a gathering of Roma
citizens. The U.S. Embassy delegation then moved to the city of Most where
the message was presented at the opening of an exhibition called “Lost
World” showing pictures of the original Czech Roma before WW II.
Full text of Secretary Clinton's message
“International Roma Day is an opportunity for us to call attention to the
history, experiences, and human rights of Europe,s largest ethnic minority.
Promoting and protecting the rights of Roma has long been of personal
interest to me, because I saw firsthand the plight of the Roma -
particularly Romani women and children -when I visited Roma communities in
Central and Eastern Europe as our country,s First Lady. As a member of the
Helsinki Commission, I urged governments to do more to protect and promote
the 10 million Roma who live in Europe.
Despite important progress that has been made in the past decade, many Roma
still live on the margins of society. They continue to experience racial
profiling, violence, discrimination, and other human rights abuses. Too
often, they lack identity documents or citizenship papers, which excludes
them from voting or social services and education - even employment
opportunities that would enable them to participate more fully in the
countries in which they live.
The United States is committed to protecting and promoting the human rights
of Roma throughout our bilateral relations and our involvement in
organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe. We believe governments do have a special
responsibility to ensure that minority communities have the tools of
opportunity that they need to succeed as productive and responsible members
of society. So I urge governments throughout Europe to continue their
efforts to address the plight of Roma, to end discrimination and ensure
equality of opportunity in education and employment.
I am particularly concerned about Roma children being able to grow up and
fulfill their own God-given potential. You know, Roma have a rich artistic
and cultural heritage, which has left an indelible mark across Europe and
It is in the interest of the larger European and global community to create
conditions that maximize success for all of the people within our borders
and beyond. I hope that events taking place at our embassies and missions
around the world on International Roma Day will be one more step on the path
to helping Roma reach a better and brighter future. And the United States
stands ready to help make that a reality.
Thank you very much.”
International Roma Day
International Roma Day celebrates Romani culture and raises awareness of the
issues facing the Romani people. April 8 has been set aside for the yearly
observance since the time of the fourth World Romani Congress, held in
Poland in 1990. The United States on this day also calls for respect of the
human rights of Roma.
Professor Ian Hancock of the University of Texas at Austin, a leading
American Roma scholar, says there have been Roma in North America since
colonial days, when small numbers were brought from Britain to work in the
plantations of Virginia, Barbados and Jamaica. Large numbers of Roma
immigrants began coming to America in the late 19th century, propelled by
wars and social turmoil in Europe.