The 4th World Roma Festival - Khamoro 2002 - is now well underway in Prague with concerts by Gypsy Jazz bands and traditional Roma groups being held in some of Prague's top clubs every evening. But the festival isn't only about music. Representatives of Roma communities from 19 countries - mainly in Europe and South America - have come to the Czech capital to present their traditions, cultures, and life experiences.
The site of a former concentration camp for Roma
near the village of Lety in southern Bohemia is again attracting
attention: while some time ago a call by the Roma community to close
down a nearby pig farm came to nothing, it has emerged that the memory
of those who suffered at the Lety camp has been poorly honoured in another
way - the English version of the official inscription is in
absolutely awful English. Alena Skodova reports:
On Monday, the Czech Helsinki Committee presented its report on Human Rights in the Czech Republic in 2001. According to the report, government efforts to improve the living conditions of the Roma community had failed. In total, some 70,000 Roma have apparently left the country, feeling that the rest of Czech society was not interested in accepting its Roma minority. The Helsinki Committee also pointed out that officials were not qualified to deal with the growing number of asylum seekers - the number has doubled in the course of last year - and that
The Czech Helsinki Committee has released a new survey on human rights, which criticises government efforts to help improve living conditions for the Czech Republic's Roma minority. The Committee also said the number of successful requests for asylum had dropped, and corruption within the Czech police force remained a problem. Domestic violence involving mainly women and the aged has also not received enough attention, the report said. A representative of the Committee said Czech officials were poorly qualified, and claimed many turned a blind eye to human rights violations.
The European Centre for Roma Rights has again criticised the situation of the Czech Republic's large Roma minority. The Budapest-based organisation said Czech Roma faced "racial discrimination in almost all areas of economic and social rights." The organisation said there was no political will in the Czech Republic to address the problem.
Last week the government approved the setting up of pre-school classes for children in areas with large Roma populations. The move is a bid to eradicate the huge gap in education between the Roma and majority Czech society. But as Rob Cameron reports now, not everyone believes it will have any great effect.
Amid the debate about the millions of ethnic Germans who were expelled from the countries of Central Europe after World War Two, it's easy to forget that there are also many hundreds of thousands of Germans who for various reasons remained in the region. It would be impossible to talk of a concrete figure - sociologists agree that national identity is something that shifts with time and circumstances. In the Czech census of 2001 some forty thousand Czech citizens described their nationality as German, a little under half a percent of the population,
Romany leaders in the north Moravian city of Ostrava have confirmed that Slovak Romanies bought false Czech passports in the city. A Slovak daily reported on Monday that Slovak Romanies were using the false passports to get into the United Kingdom and Ireland. Unlike Czech citizens, Slovaks need a visa to enter the two countries. The chairman of the Democratic Centre of Romanies Josef Facuna said the Slovak Romanies had bought the fake Czech passports for between two and five hundred dollars.
The Czech government is planning another campaign against racism and xenophobia. The campaign should be focused on high-school students who sociologists say are susceptible to propaganda from various racist and xenophobic groups. The campaign which is to be launched in May, will besides other things include discussions with representatives of ethnic minorities and refugees. The government will also provide money to public libraries for publications on ethnic minorities and human rights.
The cabinet has approved the setting up of special pre-school classes for Roma children in a bid to eradicate the large gap between them and other pupils. Under the Education Ministry proposal nurseries and primary schools with large numbers of Roma children will provide pre-school classes. Critics say Roma children are at an automatic disadvantage when they enter the Czech school system, because of language, cultural and social differences. Many end up in special schools for the mentally handicapped. The cabinet also approved the establishment of special educational facilities for children of asylum seekers.
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