An exhibition in Prague has found an unusual way of countering the negative stereotype that members of the Roma community are often unemployed and live off state benefits. The exhibition of contemporary and forgotten Roma crafts highlights the fact that Roma on the Czech and Slovak lands made a living of hard manual labour.
This week Prague plays host to the ninth annual Khamoro Roma Festival, one of the largest festivals of Roma arts and culture in Europe. For the next five days the Czech capital will reverberate to sounds from all over the world, from Macedonia's Orkestrar Strumica to the Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan. At the same time, there will be a number of discussions examining the issues facing contemporary Roma communities. Barbora Subertova is one of Khamoro's organisers.
According to official estimates there are now around 40,000 Vietnamese living in the Czech Republic. Many of these immigrants first came to this country in the Communist era, when Vietnam sought to bolster its skilled workforce by sending thousands of students and guest workers to socialist Czechoslovakia for training and experience. When the Iron Curtain disappeared, a large number of the Vietnamese here decided to stay rather than return to communist Vietnam.
Tady a Ted (Here & Now) is an association that has worked to help children from marginalised families in the city of Pilsen, West Bohemia since 2004. Not long ago, together with People in Need, it launched a successful project entitled Cesta z Ghetta - Out of the Ghetto, a board game designed for high schools and social workers focusing on the difficulty of life in poorer areas. Following the association's success Tady a Ted are now working on a videogame version with the hopes of reaching an even broader audience.
A group of nine alleged people-smugglers were arrested in Prague on Tuesday. The group, led by a Lebanese national, are accused of helping Egyptians and Iraqis enter other European Union states from the Czech Republic. Foreign passports, automatic rifle, ammunition and a bullet-proof vest were among the items seized during police raids on the gang members' homes.
If anybody can be described as a born poet, then Tera Fabianova must be a strong candidate. Although she left school at just eleven, she was fluent in four languages, and her poetry and stories are unmatched in the way they take the rhythms of the spoken word and draw out their lyrical potential - whether in Czech, Hungarian or her native tongue: Tera, who died in March at the age of 76, was a Romany, and much of her work was written in the Romany language, spoken in various dialects by Europe's Roma communities for many centuries.
The European Women's Lobby has asked Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek for a public apology for remarks he made about gender equality. Speaking at an event launching the European Year of Equal Opportunities, he said women can freely decide whether to have children or not, which means they have the same opportunities as men. In a letter to Mr Topolanek the president of the European Women's Lobby, Kirsti Kolthoff, described his comments as shameful and degrading to women, adding that it was unacceptable for a senior representative of a European Union state to make such remarks.
The EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal opportunities, Vladimir Spidla, said in Prague on Wednesday that the European Commission was preparing a strategy to combat discrimination of women at the workplace. Mr Spidla, who is a former Czech prime minister, said that in the European Union women earned on average 15 percent less than men, even when they shouldered the same responsibilities. The situation in the Czech Republic is reported to be even worse with women earning one fifth less money than men.
A new poll released by the STEM agency has suggested that two-thirds of Czechs take a negative stance towards Romany citizens with only 1 in 20 taking a positive view. The poll's authors say that the results of the survey have confirmed the negative attitude has been stable for a number of years. Roma groups and human rights activists have criticised what they see as an "anti-Roma mood" recently fuelled by statements made by Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek alluding to the Roma as troublemakers. Mr Cunek apologised but maintained his words had been misunderstood.
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