The Czech government is going to back a motion in the lower house to
establish a remembrance day of the victims of Romany Holocaust, the news
agency ČTK reported on Saturday citing government documents. A group of
MPs from several parties want to introduce March 7 as the Remembrance Day
of the Victims of Romany Persecution during WWII; on that day in 1943, the
first transport of Bohemian and Moravian Romanies was sent to the Auschwitz
extermination camp. In total, nearly 9,000 Romanies were murdered in the
Holocaust, nearly 90 percent of their pre-war population.
All ministries have expressed consent with the idea; however, the Foreign Ministry noted Holocaust victims are remembered on January 27. Should a special day be established to honour Romany victims, the ministry said, it might be necessary to also remember victims from other ethnic or social groups persecuted during the war.
A draft agreement on transferring prisoners between the Czech Republic and Vietnam is being discussed by Czech government ministries, a spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry said. Under the bilateral agreement, Vietnamese national sentenced to jail in the Czech Republic would serve their sentences in Vietnam while Czechs imprisoned in Vietnam would be transferred to the Czech Republic. After the document is reviewed by relevant ministries, it will be discussed by the Czech government, the spokeswoman said.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has criticized Switzerland’s decision to
extend the validity of quotas for long-term residence permits granted to
citizens from eight EU countries including the Czech Republic. In a
statement issued on Thursday the Czech Foreign Ministry said the move was
discriminatory and called for the matter to be addressed on a European
level. The Swiss authorities announced the decision on Wednesday, bowing to
growing unease about immigration from poorer neighbours.
The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also said she regretted the Swiss action, adding that it was contrary to the 1999 treaty signed with Switzerland on the free movement of people since the quotas differentiate between countries. Under the terms of the treaty non-EU Switzerland may invoke a "safeguard clause" which allows temporary caps on work permits if the annual influx exceeds a certain number.
The US State Department, in its annual human rights report, criticised the Czech Republic for poor conditions suffered by ethnic Romanies, often socially-excluded and pushed to the periphery. The report maintains, similarly to previous years, that efforts by the government to try and improve the situation have been insufficient. Other problems highlighted in the report, concerning the Czech Republic, include corruption, prison overcrowding, domestic violence, and anti-Semitism.
Probably the first generation of Vietnamese who have grown up in the Czech Republic is now coming of age. Although students and immigrants from Vietnam have been coming to this country since the 1970’s, the face and lifestyle of the Vietnamese minority is changing, with the younger generation helping to build a cultural bridge. A Prague studio called Družina is hosting a month-long series of events entitled “Czech Vietnam” that tries to bridge the gap between Czechs and their Vietnamese neighbours.
A survey out this week has put Romanies at the bottom of the ladder as the least popular minority in the Czech Republic. It is not for the first time that they hold this unenviable position, nor is it likely to be the last. So what makes the Romany minority so unacceptable in the eyes of the majority white population? According to the Czech government agency for social inclusion the media is partly to blame.
Czechs find Slovaks most “likable” and Romanies least “likable”, suggests an opinion poll released by the CVVM agency. More than four-fifths of Czechs questioned in last month’s survey said they found their Slovak neighbours and former federal partners “likable”, while around the same percentage expressed antipathy to Romanies. The results were in line with findings in a similar study last year of attitudes to 16 “national groups” living in the Czech Republic, the Czech News Agency reported.
The Czech media often stereotype Romanies and portray them in a negative light thus worsening their public image, according to an analysis conducted by the government agency for social integration and released on Monday, International Roma Day. According to the analysis, three fifths of all the items on Romanies which appeared in the media between September 2011 and May 2012 concerned crime in which Romanies were named as the perpetrators. The analysis says media output on the Romany minority shows little variety and focuses largely on crime followed by extremism and housing problems. There were substantially fewer reports on Roma culture, history and traditions.
Marking International Roma Day on Monday, Amnesty International has just launched a Europe-wide campaign entitled Human Rights Here, Roma Rights Now. It aims to end persisting discrimination and segregation that an estimated six million Roma face in many European countries, including the Czech Republic. Mark Martin, the head of Amnesty International’s Czech branch, explains what the campaign hopes to achieve.
The number of apartment buildings and districts inhabited by the poor in the Czech Republic is on the rise, the Czech News Agency quoted the head of the government’s social integration agency, Martin Šimáček, as saying on Sunday. While there were an estimated 330 ghettos in the country in 2006 and 400 in 2011, that number is now higher, said Mr. Šimáček, adding, however, that precise figures will not be available until next year. He said many poor people have been forced to move from apartments to hostel-style accommodation due to indebtedness.
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