One lane of Prague’s Vinohradská street was closed for three hours from
midday Friday for the funeral of Jan Kočka junior, a member of the
influential Kočka family clan.
The opulent funeral attended by thousands of people took place in the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord at Jiřího z Poděbrad square in Prague.
The funeral procession then moved to Prague’s Olšany Cemetery, with the massive coffin placed in an ornate carriage drawn by three pairs of black horses.
The funeral procession severely restricted traffic, including city transport, which elicited criticism from the local authorities. Jan Kočka junior was killed in a car crash that he caused speeding two weeks ago.
Whereas in 1990 there were eight Roma MPs in the Czechoslovak Parliment, today there are none and candidates who belong to the minority have not had much success in the recent communal elections either. Although individual cases of success exist, they are extremely rare. Reasons behind the lack of Roma representation in politics include negative cononations with the minority among majority voters, a lack of popular candidates and low election participation among members of the Roma minority themselves.
The Czech Interior Ministry has proposed sending 50 million crowns in aid
to Iraq, Mali, Nigeria and Chad as part of the country’s policy of
helping countries of migrant origin.
The money is to be used to improve the countries’ infrastructure, build houses for migrants who wish to return home, clean water facilities and health care.
The projects are to be overseen by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the NGO Caritas Internationalis.
The government is to debate the proposal at its regular session on Wednesday.
The Office of President Miloš Zeman has rejected a complaint by the
European Roma Rights Centre that the Czech head of state’s recent
statements about the work ethic of Romania people was racist and undermines
Zeman said last week that while he was no fan of communism, at least under that system “the Roma were forced to work”.
In response, thousands of Romani people have posted pictures of themselves at their jobs as part of a social media campaign initiated by community member Štefan Pongo and supported by the Romea organisation.
Zeman said on Friday that he was happy to have “received photos from some of the 10 percent of Roma who work”.
Having served as US secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, Madeleine Albright ranks as one of the most accomplished of all Czech-Americans. I got to speak to the Prague-born politician recently when she was special guest at the Reality Czech evening in New York, organised by the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association and the Václav Havel Library Foundation to mark the centenary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. Our conversation eventually turned to that landmark anniversary – but it began with Secretary Albright’s recently published book Fascism:
Prominent ethnographer and sociologist Eva Davidová, who studied Romani
culture, has died at the age of 85.
She had begun documenting the lives and traditions of Romani communities in what is today Slovakia in the 1950s and 1960s.
Over the four decades, Dr. Davidová collected thousands of photographs and sound recordings of Romani songs, traditional narratives and fairy tales.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has tasked Czech NGOs with selecting 50 Syrian
orphans which the country could help. Following widespread criticism of his
refusal to accept 50 child migrants, Babis met with Czech MEP Michaela
Šojdrová, who first floated the idea, and agreed to look into the
However both the prime minister and the MEP interpret the outcome of the meeting differently. Šojdrová says that Babiš promised to take in 50 Syrian child migrants if there were no bureaucratic hurdles on the road and if Czech families were willing to give them a home.
The prime minister maintains that if the MEP manages to produce such a list, it would be best to help the selected children in their home country.
Babiš has accused Šojdrová of leading a smear campaign against him ahead of the local and Senate elections due to take place in two weeks’ time.
As Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš defended his government’s decision not to accept even a single migrant at the EU summit in Salzburg, trouble was brewing for him at home. A proposal for the Czech Republic to take in 50 Syrian orphans, has gained increasing support, and the prime minister is being showered with requests to break from his policy and make a humanitarian gesture.
An exhibition about the Roma in Czechoslovakia has opened in the New Town
Hall in Prague. Sections of it examine the life of the Romani minority
during the First Republic, the Nazi occupation, under the communist regime,
and after Velvet Revolution of 1989.
The travelling exhibition will be on display in Prague until November 10th, after which it will be shown in other big Czech and Slovak cities.
The opposition TOP 09 party plan to submit a resolution calling on the
government to take in 50 Syrian orphans from refugee camps. They will put
the matter to the lower house on Wednesday. The party’s Markéta
Pekarová Adamová said a civilised country should be capable of making
such a symbolic humanitarian gesture.
The move comes after Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said he was not prepared to take in any such orphans, arguing that children should be helped in the places they come from. Mr. Babiš recently said he would not accept “a single refugee”.
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