Česky English Deutsch Francais
Vsetín faces Roma exodus
09-11-2011 - Pavla Horakova
In late 2006, Jiří Čunek, then mayor of the eastern town of Vsetín and later Christian Democrat chairman, made a controversial decision to move several hundred Romany rent-defaulters out of a dilapidated block of flats in the town centre and relocate them in a complex of portacabins on the outskirts of Vsetín. Now, five years on, most of them are choosing to move even further – as far as the United Kingdom.

Photo: the town of Vsetín According to the Vsetín municipal authority, a hundred and thirty Roma have left the town for Great Britain and another hundred say they want to follow suit, such as this young woman interviewed by Czech Television.

“I am thinking about leaving. But we will wait and see what happens in January. There will be a lot of new laws in January, so we will wait until January. I myself would go happily.”

Members of the local Roma community say they hope not to face racial prejudice in Britain and to find a job. Many of them are unemployed and their debts are soaring. Local community coordinator Marian Tulej says it is easy to condemn the Roma for not working and living on state welfare but according to him finding a job is hard.

“It happens that we arrange a job interview for someone, but when they turn up they are told the position is no longer vacant.”

Illustrative photo Those leaving are hoping to create a better life for themselves in Britain, seeing the example of Irena Grunzová, a relative of one of the families, who moved to London 12 years ago and works for a cleaning service. Speaking over Skype, she told Czech Television that she, too, could not find a job back in the Czech Republic.

“When a company here advertises vacancies and needs people, they don’t care whether you are Roma, Pakistani or black. But it’s not what some people think – that they will come here and immediately receive social benefits and welfare. Here, one has to work. And when you do work, the state will provide you with help and support.”

Christian Democrat Senator and former Mayor of Vsetín Jiří Čunek who was behind the move of the Roma families to the portacabins five years ago says those leaving now are just using their right to free movement.

“I hear they are seeking jobs. That surprises me, but it also makes me happy at the same time.”

Jiří Čunek According to the head of the government’s Agency for Social Inclusion in Romany Localities Martin Šimáček, this kind of rhetoric only increases tension in society. At the moment, the Vsetín exodus is one of several areas of friction between the Roma community and the majority population. Ethnic unrest has been troubling the northern district of Šluknov following a number of violent attacks in the summer, which the locals blame on members of the Roma minority. Most recently, the site quoted the Hindu statesman Rajan Zed calling for the immediate withdrawal of a Czech primary school textbook, which reportedly stereotypes Roma and is offensive.

Related articles
25.08.2016Roma-inspired fashion line helps fight prejudice and social exclusionNews
28.11.2013Government’s agency for social inclusion issues grim report on the situation of the Roma minorityNews
17.10.2013Canada confirms lifting of visas for Czechs 'imminent'News
01.08.2012Snappy campaign challenges prejudice that Roma 'avoid' workNews
16.09.2010PM Nečas embroiled in row over Romany repatriationsNews
15.09.2010Nečas to raise question of Canadian visas for Czechs at EU summitNews
10.09.2010Schwarzenberg: French likely to take more sensitive approach after furore over Roma expulsionsNews
29.08.2010Prime Minister says ‘racist’ comments of Foreign Minister were rashNews
28.08.2010Foreign Minister says French expulsions appear racistNews
All related articles
Format for printing
Send as e-mail

Also in section "News"
31.10.19  Roma children’s choir Chavorenge and members of the Czech Philharmonic to perform in UK
13.09.19  Archaeologists discover graves of Roma persecuted during WWII in Lety camp
02.06.19  Ida Kelarová and her Romany children’s choir Chavorenge
29.05.19  Two Roma activists to receive Charter 77’s František Kriegel Award
07.04.19  Romany music from the Czech Republic
13.03.19  Czech singer Věra Bílá, dubbed the Ella Fitzgerald of Gypsy music, dies days before her comeback tour
21.11.18  Roma social worker from Ostrava listed on BBC 100 Women list
12.10.18  Why are there so few Roma politicians?
17.09.18  Virtuoso pianist Tomáš Kačo: When I tell somebody I’m a Gypsy in the US, they’re excited about it
06.06.18  Study indicates ethnic hate is contagious
Archive of the section

Most popular articles
3153053   26.02.00 Some Basic Information about the Roma Population in the Czech Republic
290319   27.01.05 The 'Devouring': A look at the Romani Holocaust
184516   26.02.00 The History and Origin of the Roma
141463   26.02.02 The Language of the Roma
107706   13.06.00 The History of the Roma Minority in the Czech Republic
105260   26.02.00 The Traditional Family Life of the Czech Roma
103929   02.06.03 The Roma Holocaust
88238    World famous Roma Personalities
88174   21.02.04 Extreme right activists demonstrate for skinhead in jail
74801    Photographs by Romani Children
Copyright © Český rozhlas / Czech Radio, 1997-2023
Vinohradská 12, 120 99 Praha 2, Czech Republic