Wednesday, June 30, 2021

“We are just Roma,”

 The Roma in the Czech Republic makes up just 2 percent of the country’s 10 million. The community struggles with discrimination in education, housing and employment. Ghettos, rife with rubbish and disease, scar towns and cities.

Stanislav Tomas,  a 46-year-old Roma man, in Teplice, a small city close to the Czech Republic’s northern border with Germany,  died after police knelt on his neck for more than six minutes. Many see similarities with the murder of George Floyd. The incident has shone a light once more on the plight of the large Roma communities that live in Central Europe, who face deep discrimination, and often abuse, at the hands of police and authorities. Reports of casual mistreatment by police and other authorities are common across the country. The Council of Europe and Amnesty International have called for an independent investigation into the incident

“The Czech police are racist,” said 38-year-old Milan. “We don’t believe anything they say.”

“This isn’t the first time the police have killed Roma,” said Jan Cervenak. “No one believes them about what happened here.”

There has been a deafening silence from across the political spectrum. Several political parties did not respond to questions from Al Jazeera.

“There’s no political advantage to be gained by supporting the Roma community,” suggested activist Gwendolyn Albert.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis certainly sees little potential. Within two days of Tomas’s death, he expressed his full support for the police.

One local woman, echoing claims made to Czech media, says that police have made witnesses sign agreements not to discuss the incident. She says people in the neighbourhood are scared of the police.

Police forced several witnesses to delete videos of the incident from their phones.

Roma see little hope as they mourn ‘Czech George Floyd’ | Roma News | Al Jazeera

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