Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Czech Roma

Recent news has been very depressing. There was a march by 500 far-right demonstrators through the predominantly Roma (gypsy) area of Prirov early this month, followed by others in other towns. Then a Roma family had their house firebombed, both mother and father were badly burnt but the worst injuries were incurred by their daughter of 22 months who has 80% wounds.

These incidents reveal a dark side to the country that I love. The racism against the Roma minority (they make up less than 3% of the population) is widespread. It came as a great shock to hear middle-class educated Czechs talk about the Roma in a way that would be unacceptable among similar people in multi-cultural Britain. Indeed the comments and anti-Roma jokes were similar to those that I heard in my youth in the 1970s Britain and even then were considered dodgy. Then there is the presence of the far-right, something I realised when a local proudly showed me a fascist tattoo on his arm. It is the acceptance of racism at all levels of society that allows such attitudes to thrive.

Amnesty International has just released a report on the plight of European Roma and highlighted the educational discrimination against Roma children, who despite it being unconstitutional are sometimes sent to special schools for children with mental difficulties. This really goes to the heart of the problem. While Roma children are segregated and educationally deprived, then there is little hope of improving the situation .


Anonymous said...

This is a very complex issue. You'd be well advised to research more into the subject before you take reports at their face value. It's not an easy subject, but its complexity needs to be addressed.

potok said...

As a professional in this area I am aware of its complexity. But the report IS from Amnesty International and so not easily dismissed.

This blog supports the work of Amnesty International, through the feed which is at the right hand bottom of the site.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Hear, hear. I believe that the educational situation is crucial. Educate Roma children in the same schools and classes as the rest and there's some hope that the groups will grow up understanding each other and there will be the beginnings of an improvement.

Shirley Draeger said...

What isn't complex is understanding that this is fueled by hate and ignorance, two very dangerous drives. Children learn to hate from the adults that they are surrounded by. What a sad legacy for parents, the government or a school to pass on their own prejudice or ignorance to innocent children.


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