Czech Romany activists alarmed by attack

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Prague, Czech Republic - Czech Romany activists are deeply concerned about the Molotov cocktail attack on a Romany family in Vitkov, north Moravia, during the night in which a two-year-old girl was severely burnt, and called for Romany guards to be formed and for emigration to Canada.

Many of us in the Romany community worldwide will, I am sure, share the concern and the outrage as to the attacks that we see happening not just in the Czech Republic and Hungary but also in other places and which often go more or less unreported, bar in local media – if we are lucky.

While the idea of Romany guards has been suggested by this writer and some others before it has also inherent problems and that is that those on the outside will then blame the Rom for the problems. Not that they do not do so already.

A protection “force” should be considered, nevertheless, I think, but bow things are to be done must be considered very carefully here.

On the other hand to call for immigration to Canada is, certainly, not the way to go; or immigration to any foreign land. The only thing thins will do is create more problems, namely in the country to which the escape is being made. In many of those countries, the UK for example, there are people who would use such immigrations as a signal to start their own Anti-Gypsy actions, of that we can be sure.

"The movement of Romany Resistance calls on Romanies to be watchful against terrorist attacks by Czechs," the movement says in a press statement.

The statement was joined by the organisations Roma Realia - north Bohemia, Romani Alliance - west Bohemia and Futurum Roma - central Bohemia.

The movements says Romanies should not rely on the "failing state apparatus" and reminds that arson attacks on Romany homes are not unique in the Czech Republic.

We, the Rom, should have notices by now, in fact we should have notices long ago, that no state apparatus would ever protect us, despite all the laws that may state, on paper, that the Romany are a minority protected under this and that legislation, whether in the country, e.g. Czech Republic, or wherever, or in the EU as a whole.

Unknown perpetrators threw Molotov cocktails into a family house inhabited by a Romany family. Three people, including the child, were injured in the consequent fire.

The attack has been sharply denounced by outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and President Vaclav Klaus.

While both the Czech Prime Minister and the President may have condemned this attack this is but rhetoric and for the media and the rest of the world; a fact that we have to face.

The movement has called on Romany communities to prepare possible escape routes from where they live or stay. They should not leave old people, women and children alone without "a strong Romany protection."

"This is the sole that Romanies can do within their possibilities, " the movement says.

The old way used to be “roving camp guards” and maybe those need to be considered, even if the place where one lives is not a camp. In addition to that what might be needed – and I know people will attack me for saying this – is to actually set up Romany communities, Gypsy settlements.

The movement also told possible critics of the call for emigration that no one has the right to keep Romanies at a place of danger where they are the possible targets of neo-Nazis, the statement says.

Kumar Vishwanathan, who has devoted himself to work with Romanies in north Moravia for many years, said that the attack was an expression of cowardice and that the the situation in the Czech Republic for the Romany starts to be intolerable.

He said that he could personally see Romany families having machetes and axes prepared at the door to defend themselves in case of an extremist attack.

"Unless our elected representatives and courts awake and unless they do something about the situation, disturbances will follow," Vishwanathan said.

The problem, as I have indicated already, is that if the Rom arm themselves they will get blamed. It is a vicious circle for our People and I know that only too well.

© 2009