Participants of this year’s Roma Pride will be marching in opposition to the antiziganist statements of Milos Zeman. Organizers announced that the march is planned to take place on the national holiday on the 28th of October. At the end of September, in the region of Olomouc, Zeman had implied that the unemployed in one of the villages he visited were all Roma. Subsequently, the president’s words were criticized in an open letter by the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) and by some politicians.
The Roma Pride parade will begin on October 28th on Hradčanské Square in front of the Prague Castle gates. “We want to take a stand against the antiziganist lies that Milos Zeman is spreading. We do not like how he strengthens the hatred against the Roma. I, among many others, have worked my entire life, and in fact, I have suffered lifelong health consequences due to my hard work. Zeman’s anti-Roma statements offend us deeply.” said Jozef Miker, one of the organizers and a former miner. The march will continue to pass through the city center to the Old Town Square.
“I am certainly not a friend of Communism, but at least under Communism the Roma had to work, and when they refused to work, they were labeled as work-avoiders and went to jail,” Zeman had said in Kojetín.
He also pointed out that Roma are the only five percent who are unemployed in Kojetín. According to the ERRC, the President’s statement is an obvious manifestation of hatred and racism. The organization Romea are also protesting the president’s statements.
In response, the Roma people in the Czech Republic have been publishing hundreds of photos from their workplaces on Facebook. But Zeman is sticking by his original statements. He claimed that, based on his visits to so-called excluded locations and information from communal politicians, he was still of the opinion that 90 percent of Roma in these areas did not work. “I’m glad that the ten percent who are working have shared these pictures, and I thank them.” The president said.
The Roma Pride Accompanying Program is scheduled for next Sunday at the Žižkostel Community Center on Barikád Square. “Visitors can enjoy traditional Roma dishes, screenings of documentary films on Roma issues, a photo exhibition, and a concert featuring Roma bands, among many other things.” The organizers said.
The Roma Pride march will take place in the Czech Republic this year for the seventh time. “The Roma people claim their rights and protest against discrimination, segregation, and oppression,” states Miroslav Broz, Czech member of the EGAM and member of the organization Konex.
Author: Holly Webb