Sunday, January 29, 2012


Romani activist to Czech Senate on Holocaust Remembrance Day: Look at North Bohemia and France



A gathering held in the Czech Senate today on the occasion of Holocaust Victims' Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity Day warned against being passive with respect to new forms of anti-Semitism and of the need to counteract wrongdoing. "The millions of victims of the monstrous Nazi regime could have a long series of successors at any time, because anti-Semitism, fanaticism and hatred have not yet disappeared from the world history of the incorrigible human race," said the Vice-Chair of the Czech Senate, Přemysl Sobotka (Civic Democrats - ODS).
Sobotka said anti-Semitism is taking on new forms and receiving new protectors or passive observers, and that religious fanatics are gaining ground. "Let's not be passive with respect to any new forms of the Munich mentality. Otherwise the honoring of the victims of the Holocaust will become a mere formality without achieving the necessary result," he said.

The chair of the Czech lower house, Miroslava Němcová (Civic Democrats - ODS) said six million Jewish people had not just been the victims of their Nazi murderers during WWII, but also the victims of those who "pretended not to see and not to know." Němcová said there would have been no way to avoid seeing one's Jewish fellow-citizens being deprived of their property and transported to the apocalypse of the concentration camps.

Němcová said she therefore considers it necessary "to raise children not to be passive, to know how to counteract wrongdoing, to be prepared to defend the freedom which seems so natural to them today." She said she had decided to advocate for the "Nicky's Family" (Nickyho rodina) education project in Czech schools, which commemorates the saving of several hundred Czech Jewish children from the Nazis by people who organized their escape to Great Britain.

The chair of the Terezín Initiative (Terezínská iniciativa), Dagmar Lieblová, noted that for the current generation, WWII and the Shoah (the Hebrew term for the genocide of Jewish people during WWII) could seem like ancient history. "The Holocaust already is - and we hope will always remain - in the past. However, there is still an ongoing need to prevent crimes against humanity," she emphasized.

Karel Holomek, the chair of the Romani Association of Moravia, followed up on that ongoing need by pointing out that crowds in North Bohemia have been chanting slogans against "inadaptables" and the French electoral campaign is talking about "undesirables". "It is remarkable how even democracies considered 'mature' can go as far as to restrict democratic principles in a moment of difficulty," he said.

Holocaust Victims' Remembrance Day commemorates the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in southern Poland 67 years ago. Between 1940 and 1945, 1.1 million people, most of them Jewish, perished there. As many as 50 000 Czechoslovak citizens were imprisoned at Auschwitz, of which about 6 000 survived.
Czech Press Agency, fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

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Friday, January 27, 2012


Join in and light a candle to commemorate the Romani and other victims of the Holocaust.

January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the U.N. designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era where over 1 million Romanies were killed along with millions of Jews. Every member nation of the U.N. has an obligation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and develop educational programs as part of an international resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide.
Romanies were the only other population besides the Jews who were targeted for extermination on racial grounds in the Final Solution.


During the 1920s the legal oppression of Romanies in Germany intensified considerably, despite the egalitarian statutes of the Weimar Republic. In 1920 they were for­bidden to enter parks and public baths; in 1925 a confer­ence on "The Gypsy Question" was held which resulted in laws requiring unemployed Romanies to be sent to work camps "for reasons of public security", and for all Romanies to be registered with the police.

After 1927, all Romanies, even children, had to carry identification cards, bearing fingerprints and photographs. In 1929, The Central Office for the Fight Against the Gypsies in Germany was established in Munich, and in 1933, just ten days before the Nazis came to power, government officials in Burgenland called for the withdrawal of all civil rights from the Romani people. In September 1935 Romanies became subject to the restrictions of the Nuremberg Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor, which forbade intermarriage between Germans and "non-Aryans," specifically Romanies, Jews and people of African descent. In 1937, the National Citizenship Law relegated Romanies and Jews to the status of second-class citizens, depriving them of their civil rights. Also in 1937, Heinrich Himmler issued a decree entitled "The Struggle Against the Gypsy Plague", which reiterated that Romanies of mixed blood were the most likely to engage in criminal activity, and which required that all information on Romanies be sent from the regional police departments to the Reich Central Office.

The first document referring to "the introduction of the total solution to the Gypsy problem on either a national or an international level" was issued under the direction of State Secretary Hans Pfundtner of the Reichs Ministry of the Interior in March, 1936, while the wording endgultige Losung der Zigeunerfrage, i.e. the "final (or `conclusive') solution of the Gypsy question", appeared in print in a directive signed by Himmler in May, 1938. Between June 12th and June 18th that same year, Gypsy Clean-Up Week took place throughout Germany which, like Kristallnacht for the Jewish people in November that year, marked the beginning of the end.

In January, 1940, the. first mass genocidal action of the Holocaust took place when 250 Romani children were murdered in Buchenwald, where they were used as guinea-pigs to test the efficacy of the Zyklon-B crystals. later used in the gas chambers. In June the same year. Hitler ordered the liquidation of "all Jews, Gypsies and communist political functionaries in the entire Soviet Union."

On July, 31st 1941, Heydrich, chief architect of the details of the Final Solution, issued his directive to the Einsatzkommandos to "kill all Jews, Gypsies and mental patients." A few days later Himmler issued his criteria for biological and racial evaluation, which determined that each Rom's family background was to be investigated going back three generations. On December 16th that same year, Himmler issued the order to have all Romanies remaining in Europe deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau for extermination. On December 24th, Lohse gave the addi­tional order that "The Gypsies should be given the same treatment as the Jews." At a party meeting on September 14th, 1942, Justice Minister Otto Thierack announced that "Jews and Gypsies must be unconditionally extermi­nated." On August 1st, 1944, four thousand Romanies were gassed and cremated in a single action at Auschwitz­Birkenau, in what is remembered as Zigeunernacht.

Extract from Ian Hancock's Afterword from the book, Settela.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Ukraine: Police brutally beat Romani people during a raid, tubercular man has died


The older man in this photo had long suffered from illness and passed away after the police raid. News server has been unable to confirm whether the raid was the immediate cause of his death or not.

On the morning of 11 January, a police intervention against Romani people took place in the Ukrainian town of Uzhhorod. The special police commando unit of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, "Berkut", broke into Romani dwellings in two localities, Radvanka and Telman, as well as other sites throughout Uzhhorod.
According to local Romani residents who witnessed the raid, police officers brutally beat men and women in their homes in front of their children while shouting racist insults and threats. Police are denying that any brutality occurred and have described the raid as a normal part of their investigation and prevention of crime. The Ukrainian media and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) have been discussing the incident recently.

Several men beaten by the officers ended up in hospital, some with serious head injuries. Most were never charged with any crime and have since returned home. One man who had long suffered from tuberculosis passed away after the raid. News server was unable to learn whether the raid was the immediate cause of his death or not.

A resident of Uzhhorod who prefers to remain anonymous because he fears police reprisals confirmed the information reported by media outlets in the Zakarpattia region in a telephone interview with news server According to his testimony, a raid was also performed in the Shachta quarter: "Police officers were not as brutal there and the local men managed to hide from the commando unit."

The resident said he believed the purpose of the raid was to investigate a murder, but police did not apprehend the perpetrator: "The police collectively blamed all of the Romani people for the murder. This is their usual approach when such crimes are committed, even if no one Romani was necessarily involved."

News server Chas Zakarpattia, in an article entitled "Berkut attacks Romani settlement in Uzhhorod" (available in Ukrainian only at, quotes Miroslav Horvát, the leader of the local Romani youth organization, Romaňi čercheň, as saying this was no ordinary search as police have claimed. Horvát said Berkut used tear gas and truncheons against peaceful, unarmed people "irregardless of the fact that there were children, disabled people, elderly people, and pregnant women present."

Chas Zakarpattia has published a video online including testimony by residents of the settlement of Telman about the commando unit's actions. "The police invaded the settlement and beat up my brother in our home. The officers beat us up and pulled me by the hair. They said we should all be slaughtered. A Gypsy has no rights here," one of the residents of Telman says in the video footage.

Another witness in the video says: "It was 7:20 AM. I was sleeping and suddenly people started to shout that the police were there. They invaded our home, grabbed me and ordered me to lie or kneel on the ground. I told them I couldn't kneel because one of my legs is injured. They started shouting at me: 'We'll cut off your other one!' Then they beat me in the back and on the head." The Romani residents giving video testimony also said police threatened to perform such house searches every day if they ever spoke to the media about what Berkut was doing.

The police raid involved two busloads of Berkut commandos. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry claims the operation was a normal one tasked with "stabilizing the situation, improving prevention and work in the fight against crime, detecting and apprehending persons involved in theft and in the illegal trade of arms and drugs, and identifying criminal elements", according to news server Chas Zakarpattia.

Ukrainian Police say their analysis shows that "theft is mostly committed by persons of Romani nationality. In 2011 there were 14 thefts of cast-iron grills and manhole covers, 12 thefts of parts from elevators, three thefts of lights, and four thefts of parts from furnaces."

The police information also states that in 2011, "25 people of Romani nationality" were prosecuted in Uzhhorod. "The prosecutions were mainly for theft, 20 robberies, and one narcotics sale." Police add that the raid was "completely legitimate, ordinary, comprehensive detective work. Similar investigations are performed by police in other towns than Uzhhorod and not just in the Romani community," the police statement reads.

The Uzhhorod resident told news server that Romani residents are afraid and that it is inconceivable to them that they could seek justice for the raid from official institutions. "They are afraid police would find them and beat them up," he said.

Romani residents say that police harassment, wherein officers arrest people for no reason on the street and then beat them up at police stations, is very frequent. Those afflicted see no one in their environment to whom they might be able to turn with a demand for justice.

The European Roma Rights Center has issued reports on the situation in Ukraine in recent years which confirm this repeated police harassment of Romani people. According to these reports and testimony from the scene, the problem faced by Romani people in the Zakarpattia region is not neo-Nazi or ultra-right groups as it usually is elsewhere. Instead, Romani people in that region fear police the most. Another problem is that civil society is weak in the region, specifically, there is an absence of human rights counseling centers or functioning organizations for the protection of minorities that Romani people could trust enough to turn to.

After the police raid on 11 January, the ERRC wrote a letter to the Uzhhorod Police director and the state prosecutor (see In the letter, the organization urgently demands the relevant authorities officially investigate the "violent police raid" in Uzhhorod. The organization also points out that given the many testimonies as to what happened, it is likely that the officers violated regulations during the raid.

The ERRC is primarily protesting against the fact that the Ukrainian Interior Ministry and police are linking crimes committed by individuals to the entire Romani community in Uzhhorod. "This raises serious questions as to the impartiality and legality of the action," the ERRC says in its letter.
František Kostlán, Lukáš Houdek, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Tuesday, January 24, 2012





A little more than a year after the conservative-led state board of education in Texas approved massive changes to its school textbooks to put slavery in a more positive light, a group of Tea Party activists in Tennessee has renewed its push to whitewash school textbooks. The group is seeking to remove references to slavery and mentions of the country's founders being slave owners.

According to reports, Hal Rounds, the Fayette County attorney and spokesman for the group, said during a recent news conference that there has been "an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another."

"The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn't existed, to everybody -- not all equally instantly -- and it was their progress that we need to look at," Rounds said, according to The Commercial Appeal.

During the news conference more than two dozen Tea Party activists handed out material that said, "Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government."

And that further teaching would also include that "the Constitution created a Republic, not a Democracy."

The group demanded, as they had in January of last year, that Tennessee lawmakers change state laws governing school curricula. The group called for textbook selection criteria to include: "No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership."

The latest push comes a year after the Texas Board of Education approved revisions to its social studies curriculum that would put a conservative twist on history through revised textbooks and teaching standards.

The Texas revisions include the exploration of the positive aspects of American slavery, lifting the stature of Jefferson S. Davis to that of Abraham Lincoln, and amendments to teach the value of the separation of church and state were voted down by the conservative cadre. Among other controversial amendments that have been approved is the study of the "unintended consequences" of affirmative action.

The board approved more than 100 amendments affecting social studies, economics and history classes for Texas's 4.8 million students.

The influence of the amended textbooks will likely reach far beyond the state of Texas. The state is one of the largest purchasers of textbooks, and many other states adopt Texas's books and standards.
The curriculum changes were pushed through by a majority bloc of conservative Republicans on the Texas school board, who have said the changes were made to add balance to what they believe was a left-leaning and already-skewed reflection of American history.

"There is some method to the madness besides vindicating white privilege and making white students feel as though they are superior and privileged and that that it is the natural order of things," Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas State NAACP, told The Crisis magazine last year about this time. "The agenda being pushed and the ultimate impact intended is to make young people automatically identify with one political party."

A number of groups, including the NAACP, the Texas League of United Latin American Citizens and the Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education have joined forces to beat back the measures, which they said would have a negative impact on minority children.

The groups sought a federal review of the state's public education and have raised claims that the Texas State Board of Education has violated federal civil rights laws. In a formal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education, the groups charge that the new curriculum was devised to "discriminate."

The measures went as far as to replace instances of the trans-Atlantic slave trade with "Atlantic triangular trade."

"It is going to be extremely psychologically harmful to African-American young people because they are marginalized in the curriculum," Bledsoe said. "It will require them to be taught things such as the benevolence of slavery and the problems with affirmative action rather than the good and the bad."

"They voted down a motion that requires students to be taught about the terrorism brought about by the Ku Klux Klan and what they did to ethnic and racial minorities, but they turn around and pass a provision that requires the teaching of the violence of the Black Panther Party."





The European Union on Tuesday is expected to announce legal action against Hungary because of government measures that critics say move the country toward dictatorship. But, the EU anticipated measure is fueling far right calls for Hungary to leave the European Union.

Officials of a Hungarian far-right political party known for its perceived anti-Semitic rhetoric and threats against Gypsies, or Roma, recently burned a European Union flag at a rally in front of the European Union offices in Budapest.

Up to 2,000 demonstrators demanded that the country withdraw from the EU during a protest of the Movement for a Better Hungary party, or Jobbik. Some wore uniforms and others waved flags of Hungary's pro-Nazi regime during World War II.

Shouting anti-EU slogans and "Ria, Ria, Hungaria," demonstrators compared the EU with the Soviet occupation of Hungary decades ago.

Saturday's demonstration came after the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said Hungary would face legal action as early as Tuesday unless it modifies a series of economic and legislative measures that critics say have moved the country toward dictatorship.

The European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Olli Rehn, says Hungary has not done enough to keep its budget deficits within European Union limits. There is concern that Hungary's center-right government has been balancing its books by imposing a tax on predominantly foreign companies, while nationalizing private pensions.

Rehn says these actions do not translate into a permanent improvement in Hungary's budget and that the European Commission might suspend massive subsidies destined for Budapest.

"It could, nevertheless, face a suspension of commitments from the cohesion fund from next year from January 2013 onwards," said Rehn. "In the absence of [a budgetary] correction from Hungary, I will coordinate any further step in that direction."

That could cost Hungary as much $1.5 billion a year in EU subsidies. The European Commission has also expressed concern about the perceived autocratic style of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz political party. They used their two-thirds parliamentary majority to adopt a constitution and related laws that critics say move this once communist nation toward dictatorship.

European Commission Spokeswoman, Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen:

"The concerns relate to a number of issues, including the independence of the national central bank, the measures concerning the judiciary and particular mandatory early retirement of judges and prosecutors at the age of 62 instead of 70, and finally, the independence of the national data protection authority," said Hansen.

The Hungarian government says it is “committed to universal European values” and that it is “ready for negotiations and to find solutions” with the European Commission about its concerns.

But Prime Minister Orban says differences remain on issues such as the independence of Hungary's central bank and that he will listen to "arguments, not political opinions."

Analysts say his comments are meant to win voters from the far-right Jobbik party - the second largest political force in Hungary.

Jobbik leader Gabor Vona recently told reporters that there is an EU attack against Hungary.

"What the Hungarian government got from Brussels and the European Commission is not a little knock or a smack, but a kick in the head, while Hungarians are on the ground," said Vona.

At the other side of the debate are moderate Hungarians who welcome the EU's pressure. Among them are television reporter Aranka Szavuly and her supporters who are camped outside the headquarters of state-run Hungarian television.

Szavuly says they are particularly concerned about legislation and other measures that allow government allies to influence the content of news programs.

"We kept a hunger strike in front of the building of the television because in the past few months and weeks, there were lot's of stories when the staff was manipulating the news," said Szavuly. "And we all knew that was not right."

Szavuly and fellow TV journalist Balazs Nagy Navarro recently were fired for participating in the hunger strike. And a Budapest radio station, Klubradio, which has been critical of the government, faces closure because authorities say its license will not be renewed.

Navarro says his struggle goes beyond party politics and that in the two decades since the collapse of communism, the real issue is how to preserve press freedom and other democratic values for future generations.

"We are at a crossroads and I think we still have time to restore democracy, which is threatened; restore constitutionality, which is threatened by the new basic law which is an odd constitution," said Navarro. "We should stop this because when somebody has a two-thirds majority, they think they can do whatever [they want]."

Analysts say there might not be much time left as Hungary seeks as much as $26 billion in financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. The IMF has told Hungary's chief negotiator that talks about the country's request will resume only if the country changes contested legislation.  



International Holocaust Memorial Day
Brussels, 23 January 2012
The 27 January marks the International Holocaust Memorial Day to remember the millions of Holocaust victims and to celebrate the lives of survivors. Throughout the Third Reich Roma and other minority groups were subjected to persecution and genocide. Approximately 220.000 and 1.500.000 Roma faced extermination during the Holocaust simply because they did not fit ‘the norm’.
It is fundamental for ERIO to remember the Roma victims of the Holocaust. This day provides an opportunity to learn from the European past of intolerance, racism and xenophobia and to seek determination to never allow the repetition of that past. Such future has not yet arrived. Even after the Holocaust Roma currently still remain the most hated and discriminated minority in Europe. Living primarily on the margins of society, they remain uniquely marginalised across the continent and their rights are denied in education, employment, housing and healthcare. Europe is witnessing rising trends in anti-Roma sentiment, anti-Gypsyism, xenophobia and far-right extremism across the continent. ERIO calls on the EU to strengthen their efforts to combat racial and ethnic hatred. The EU must defend the values of human rights and tolerance it advocates and send a strong message that these racist acts are not acceptable and are punishable.
Ivan Ivanov, ERIO’s Executive Director stated: “Nazis tried to eliminate Romani people from the European map with forced sterilisation, mass executions and by sending them to gas chambers. This is something Europeans should be aware and should not forget. The Holocaust has reinforced strong prejudices against Roma as a different and inferior race. Unfortunately these prejudices still exist today. Roma continue to be the most unwanted and hated community in Europe. The EU has enough instruments to take some measures to ensure the equal treatment of Roma and protect its largest minority. This should be done as soon as possible to confront the anti-Roma sentiments generated lately by some Nazi-oriented groups and extreme right-wing political parties.”
ERIO stresses the importance to remember the history of the Roma Holocaust which is relatively unknown. As such, it will hold a conference “Remembering the Forgotten Roma Holocaust” on 25 January, in Brussels as part of a wider project funded by the European Commission under the Europe for Citizens programme which aims to rediscover the forgotten history of Roma victims of Nazi persecutions.

Sunday, January 22, 2012



Machala Gay Pride March, Machala, Ecuador 2008. Photo by vesselthefilm.

In the country of Ecuador, nestled among tropical rainforests, sandy beaches, and cosmopolitan cities, there are more than 200 clinics where LGBT men and women are sent to be "cured" of their homosexuality. The clinics claim this "cure" is accomplished through "intense rehabilitation." But Ecuadorians are telling a different story -- that widespread physical torture and psychological abuse are part of the treatment.

Ecuadorian activists are using online advocacy platform to speak out against the 200 remaining torture clinics that exist throughout Ecuador. Activists launched a campaign on earlier this month and have already garnered support from over 80,000 people in 124 countries.
While these clinics operate under the guise of drug rehabilitation centers, the public is generally aware of their existence, and it is unfortunately not uncommon for conservative families to send their children to the clinics in an effort to reverse their homosexuality. What is not publicly known, however, is that these clinics practice torture and sexual abuse in order to cure homsexuality.

The silence is being broken as victims are beginning to speak out. In the past six months, numerous patients have escaped clinics and are coming forward to press charges and speak publicly about their experience. One such prominent voice is that of 24-year-old Paola Ziritti. Paola's parents knew they were sending her to a forced-confinement clinic, but they had no idea how awful it would be. Once Paola's mother realized what she'd done, she tried to get her daughter back, but the clinic said no. The process to free Paola took a year. "I spent two years in one such facility and for three months was shackled in handcuffs while guards threw water and urine on me," said Paola, who describes numerous accounts of physical and sexual abuse during her "rehabilitation." "Why is the clinic where I suffered still open?"

Ziritti was the first to speak out and also to file a formal complaint against the treatment centers. Since she went public with her story, it has encouraged others to do the same, and in September two other victims came forward. Fundación Causana hopes that these women's stories will encourage others to speak out.

But it is not just former victims who are speaking out. A coalition of leading Ecuadorian women's rights organizations, such as Fundación Causana, Taller de Comunicación Mujer, and Artikulación Esporádika, are standing up against these clinics. They launched a campaign on, demanding that the Ecuadorian government investigate reports of abuse. They say that the time has come to stop the torture of LGBT people under the guise of treatment, and for Ecuador to start respecting the basic human rights of all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Since the campaign was launched a little over a week ago, it has gained international attention and widespread support. Over 80,000 supporters from 124 countries have signed their name to the petition, calling Ecuadorian Minister of Health Dr. David Chirboga Allnut to investigate and close the clinics.

Fundación Causana's leading advocate, Karen Barba, is speaking up about the clinics. "The Ecuadoran government must stop turning a blind eye and wake up to the horrific reality of these torture clinics," says Barba. "There are estimates of 200 clinics or more still in business. That means that there are likely hundreds of thousands of women and men being tortured and sexually abused on a daily basis. The perpetrators of these clinics are not only getting away with obscene human rights abuses; they are actually profiting off them. We are inspired to see over 80,000 people support the campaign on, and we will not stop until each and every clinics has been closed."

Fundación Causana believes that we are making progress. What used to be a dark secret has now become a rallying cry for an international call to action. Ecuador has demonstrated its sensitivity to international pressure and has already closed 30 torture clinics. With the backing of 80,000 people on, Fundación Causana has international support in calling for the closure of all remaining clinics. The international LGBT community is waiting for Ecuador to protect LGBT rights at home and, in doing so, take a positive step forward for LGBT rights worldwide.

Support Fundación Causana, Taller de Comunicación Mujer, and Artikulación Esporádika and add you voice to the growing number of people worldwide calling on Ecuador to investigate and close all remaining torture clinics.
Similar atrocities still go on in the United States.
Just ask Michele Bachmann.  Or Gay teens.
The more things change the more they remain the same.  The names change.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Dear Colleagues
This short and disturbing film was made by Anthony Butts, a dedicated film maker who is committed to raising awareness of the plight of Roma families deported back to Kosovo to a very uncertain and precarious future.

Latest Information:

Anthony Butts is now making a feature length observational documentary on Roma children deported from Germany in conjunction with the Guardian newspaper. Despite numerous media campaigns in Germany, children are still being deported into conditions like in this video. It must be stopped. The aim of this film is to create a powerful advocacy film as well as an emotionally searing documentary to be pitched at channels like ARTE.

The film will follow a family with children who he will meet in Germany and then follow their deportation to Kosovo, filming with the children for a period of about a year. As this will be filmed over a long period of time, this will be the first film to really show how deportation affects the children.

For more information or to help with this project, please contact:

-- Bernard Sullivan
Tel: 01747 841307


As Bernard said, this film is very disturbing.
Bernard Sullivan has been a tireless ally of the Romani of Kosovo.



Police in Hungary have now been formally instructed by the Chief of National Police to pay specific attention to minorities in their work, referring to what some have called ‘ethnic criminality’. The National Police were issued the instructions on December 30.
The special rules for “working in a multicultural environment” refer to officers handling immigration issues with the advice being issued by National Police Chief, Joseph Hatala.

The developments have received a mixed response from police officers and criminologists. Some believe that the new law will actually help the police to identify criminals while others have criticized the measure, claiming that it will only deepen the already existing prejudice within the force.
The main role of the police’s minority liaison division in dealing with minorities is to forge relationships with different cultural communities, youth organizations, refugee organizations as well as realigning minority leaders of social organizations.

Ultimately, the information gathered in the process is shared with the National Bureau of Investigation, the Alert Police Department, the Airport Police Directorate and regular police officers.
Furthermore, the instructions allow the chief of police to use the minority liaison to investigate any crime in which he thinks a minority group may have been involved. The assumption of innocence is put to one side.

Prejudiced police

Law enforcement and investigative bodies have been under pressure to reduce feelings of prejudice within the National Police. A decade ago, there was great controversy at the national Police Academy where an investigation found that its students were widely anti-Roma.

Research carried out by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee in 2007-2008 found that “Roma people are three times more likely to be stopped by police than non-Roma persons”.

The police and Hungarian state in general, were under serious pressure when in April 2010 Amnesty International issued a report “highlighting the shortcomings of the Hungarian criminal justice system in identifying and addressing hate crimes, in particular racist violence that mostly affects Roma people in Hungary.”

In October 2011, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg expressed concern about police behavior against Roma communities.

The Commissioner stated: “Patterns of discrimination and ill-treatment by police towards Roma are widely reported. Roma have been subjected to police violence in detention facilities and public spaces, such as Roma settlements during police raids. When investigations have been carried out, they frequently appear to have been biased or discriminatory.”

Suspicions of racism among the police intensified further when an internal police internet forum was found to contain officers exchanging derogatory opinions on the Roma. However, similar discoveries have been made across Hungarian society, not only within the police, leading to a growing sense of unease and alienation among Hungarian Roma.

The head of the police had aimed to address these issues and tried several ways to tackle this widespread prejudice. He announced a record number of Romani officers, and encouraged police officer candidates among Roma children entering secondary schools. In addition to this, cooperation agreements with Roma minority self-governments, and a special rapporteur on the Roma were ready to be launched.

However, such measures were not warmly welcomed within the police force as leaders continually stressed that social issues could not be solved by police alone..

One police officer, wishing to remain anonymous, claimed that as a district agent with a good relationship with local residents, he could not understand the purpose minorities being given special attention and found the new regulations to be vaguely worded.

Results will take time

The new instructions were paved with good intentions according to National Institute of Criminology Fellow, Finszter Geza. The scholar insisted that it was a necessary means to encourage cooperation from minorities and bring them closer to the police.

“This type of instruction in Hungary has not yet been undertaken, even though in almost all European countries with multi-cultural societies, there are such solutions” – said Finszter.

He cited Holland as an example where, he explained, there are lots of immigrants from a variety of cultures, so each police officer is obliged to partake in an educational program in which the officer becomes acquainted with an ethnic group’s traditions and habits.

Finszter continued, and outlined that the solution to the problem was clearly handed down to every police service by the Declaration of Human Rights.

“Every police organization will answer to a centralized bureaucratic element, so the problem is more complicated. A professional attitude and cultural change is required, these things do not happen immediately, but over many years.” stressed Finszter, who hopes that the chief provision will have a positive impact on the police.

However the criminologist also found it important to note that the instructions had an introductory section, attempting to explain the need for the new measures. “Thus the statement is a bit of a self-criticism as well. For example, the prejudice reported among the police must exist for this to be made clear. “

Nothing new

Further anonymous officers claimed that the instructions do not say anything new. ”It would be nice to know why the command was issued. Last spring we were already provided instructions on how to be a police officer and to keep in touch with the minorities’ – he said. They said the objective is not new, because the police’s role was still to prevent crime above anything else.

The impact of the latest police guidelines will be seen in the coming months. However, from the outset, in a country which is no stranger to ethnic or racial tension, paying specific attention to minorities may be sending the wrong message to the Hungarian people.

Many will take this as an assumption of criminality within Roma communities, and particularly volatile sections of society may take this as justification for persecution. It certainly won’t discourage the extremist right wing groups and their paramilitary wings in their anti-Roma activities.

Having said that, in an article of January 10, the extreme right media portal has actually criticized the instructions for which the title read “Pintér (Minister of Interior) protects Gypsy criminals again: “special attention” has to be paid to them from now on”.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Czech MP Chaloupka (VV) makes xenophobic remarks about Roma


Yesterday the Czech newspaper Parlamentní listy published an interview with Czech MP Otta Chaloupka (Public Affairs - VV), who has previously made it into the public eye with his verbal attacks against Romani people. Yesterday's interview was no different and included an entire constellation of generalizing, xenophobic statements.
To start, Chaloupka labeled most Romani people as troublemakers and a burden on society. In his view, Romani people contribute nothing useful to society even though the state invests a great deal of money into them.

"What is problematic is that they cost a lot of money and don't contribute anything, and that's how it is with them from one generation to the next and they are making no effort to change that. They cost us hundreds of millions of crowns and what do we get for it? Physical attacks, robberies, shoplifting, etc," Chaloupka said.

Chaloupka then went on to complain about human rights defenders, whom he labels "pseudohumanists" and says are preventing the solution of a wide variety of problems. On the other hand, he reportedly understands the efforts of the Czech Human Rights Commissioner, who is planning to abolish the "practical" schools so children will attend mainstream elementary schools together. Nevertheless, he doesn't see much success in those efforts:

"That will be a problem because there are well-known cases of children from decent families having problems with the children from the inadaptable families because they really are inadaptable. I understand the effort to do something about this and to try to include them, to re-educate a generation of the inadaptables and give them all the conditions needed to become decent people who won't cause difficulties and won't be despised but how many years has it been going on that we have been doing our best to include them somehow and it has had no effect?"

At the end of the interview, the MP also gave his view of the recent conflict in Tanvald during which a Romani youth was shot dead. The MP unequivocally labeled the shooting victim the aggressor in the conflict and had no time for any other arguments. The shooter's response seems the best to him:

"If a 13-year-old Gypsy attacks me with a knife, I have the right to shoot him in the head."

Convicted con artist Lukáš Kohout, the infamous organizer of the anti-Romani demonstrations in Varnsdorf last year, has responded to Chaloupka's statements

in a surprisingly hypocritical way. Kohout said he has decided to file criminal charges against the MP on suspicion of the felony crime of defamation of a group based on ethnicity, nationality, race or other characteristics. Yesterday evening Kohout sent a copy of the charges to Parlamentní listy, which published them on its website.
Parlamentní listy, lh, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Tuesday, January 17, 2012





Locked up for life at 16. No possibility of parole. Christi Cheramie is living a nightmare.

When Christi was 16 years old, back in 1994, she couldn't vote, drink alcohol, serve on a jury, or buy lottery tickets. She was considered a minor -- a child. But that didn't stop the state of Louisiana from giving this 16-year-old a sentence of life without parole.

Ask Louisiana's governor and the state Board of Pardons to grant clemency to Christi Cheramie.

Only in the U.S. -- where children as young as 11 have faced life in prison -- are such harsh sentences against juveniles allowed. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits life without parole for offenses committed under the age of 18. This is not about excusing or minimizing the consequences of crimes committed by children, but about recognizing that children are not yet fully responsible for their actions and have special potential for rehabilitation and change.

Christi, now 33 years old, has spent more than half of her young life in prison. She's earned her high school equivalency diploma and an associate's degree in Agriculture Studies, and teaches classes to her fellow inmates. A prison warden who oversaw Christi considers her a "model inmate" who has grown into a "remarkable young woman" deserving of "a second chance in society."

But if we don't act, a mandatory sentence of life without parole means that Christi will die in prison. A victim of sexual abuse and depression, and caught in the web of an aggressive and controlling older fiancé, Christi found herself at the grisly murder scene of her fiancé's great aunt. She was charged with murder just for being there -- even though it was her fiancé who wielded the knife.

The victim's closest family members are sympathetic to Christi's case. But Christi's fate is now in the hands of Louisiana's governor and Board of Pardons.

Our 2011 Write for Rights campaign highlighted Christi's case, and thousands of letters have already poured into Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's office. Next week, the Board of Pardons will meet to decide whether or not to move forward with Christi's clemency application -- a decision that the governor can influence. We must keep the momentum going from Write for Rights -- and the time to act is now!

Christi has already changed people's lives through her work at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, but she will never be able to realize her full potential — and society won't benefit from her potential contributions — if she spends the rest of her life behind bars.

It's time for the U.S. to join the rest of the world and end the cruel and unusual punishment of juvenile life without parole. People convicted of crimes while still children -- like Christi Cheramie -- should be given a chance at rehabilitation. They shouldn't be left to grow old in a jail cell.

You can make a difference in Christi's case.

Sign our petition now calling for clemency for Christi Cheramie.

Thank You,

Michael O'Reilly
Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign
Amnesty International USA

On this day:
1893----Queen Lili'uoklani was forced to abdicate the throne in Hawaii, after being overthrown by United States businessmen and sugar planters.  With the support of the U.S. government of course.
1945---Soviet and Polish forces liberated Warsaw during World War II.

Sunday, January 15, 2012




Join in and light a candle to commemorate the Romani and other victims of the holocaust.

January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the U.N. designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era where over 1 million Romanies were killed along with millions of Jews.

Every member nation of the U.N. has an obligation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and develop educational programs as part of an international resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide.

Yvonne Slee

I encourage everyone to visit this site.  It very good, chock full of information. We thank you Yvonne.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


FROM DEUTSCHE WELLE,,15665087,00.html

Berlin's Roma community have been in the capital for a long time, but many continue to live in limbo. Deutsche Welle's Stuart Braun details their search for acceptance.


I see her almost daily out front of the supermarket, holding up the newspaper sold by the homeless, hoping as much for a donation as a sale. Middle-aged, slight, wearing a headscarf and thick coat, she looks to be freezing and forlorn, but strains a smile when some rare change arrives in her hand.
"I come from Romania," she says in very broken German. "There was no work, no food for my children."
Berlin was supposed to be the land of opportunity. It seems not. She is nodding her head, ruing her situation. Her husband has no job. Tonight she'll likely spend most of her earnings on overpriced accommodation, sharing one room with her entire family. Even in Berlin, the vulnerable are easily exploited.
This woman is Roma, a people labeled - with the Sinti - the 'gypsies' of Europe and the continent's largest minority. She left a country, like most in Eastern Europe, where Roma are heavily marginalized, often living in ghettos where unemployment is 70-80 percent. But heading west, little changes for these people, as I began to find out.
I started to notice Roma, women mostly, across the poorer south-eastern districts of Berlin, some waiting patiently for spare change out front of stores. One girl of about 14 daily plays the accordion for money on my street, her gypsy lament a kind of theme song that drifts with the winter wind on this busy Neukölln boulevard.
I tried talking to her but she has no German, and obviously no time for school. But at least she's helping to keep the family alive, as are the Roma boys that play tunes for tips among the alfresco diners in the warmer months.
This is only part of Berlin's Roma story, and I don't want to reinforce gypsy stereotypes, the cliché of the wandering vagrant, the musician, the beggar (and sometimes thief), or peddler of fake train tickets in the Berlin subway. It's an image the local media love to project, crystallizing ancient xenophobia against Roma.
This minority of minorities is more integral to the capital than one might think.
Roma roots
Roma have been in Berlin since the Middle Ages. It's often forgotten that they were nearly annihilated in the Nazi death camps, Hitler pejoratively labeling them Zigeuner (from the Greek, “untouchable”), before ordering their extermination with the Jews as part of the Final Solution. Even when Roma had full citizenship rights under the Weimar Constitution, they were soon subject to special laws "Combating Gypsies, Vagabonds, and the Work Shy."
Roma returned to Berlin as post-war guest workers and then, when the Iron Curtain folded, thousands arrived after fleeing the Bosnian War. Many stayed, despite efforts to have them deported.
It was only recently, when I attended an exhibition on Europe's Roma and Sinti population (entitled "Reconsidering Roma"), that I realized the long hard Roma reality in Berlin.
Appropriately held in a former squat where Roma lived during 2009 before they were evicted, the exhibition shocked me with artworks depicting Roma suffering during the Holocaust - which wasn't officially acknowledged by the German government until 1982.
Then I noticed contemporary photographs of young Roma in Berlin, and in Kosovo, documentation of a Berlin-bred generation facing constant repatriation to the Balkans under their temporary Duldung or 'toleration' status. Of those already deported to a place where they face persecution, many try and do return, if illegally. Berlin is their home.
I later met the Bosnian photographer responsible for the images, Nihad Nino Pusija, who has lived in Berlin since the early 1990s, when he began documenting the Roma coming into the city.
"They can't work, they can't go to school, they can't do anything," says Nino of people often born in the city who want to engage but are merely tolerated. He calls it "a status of suffering."
Nino, an artist with some Roma in his mixed Bosnian heritage, describes how of all the refugees that fled the Bosnian war, adaptable Roma best integrated into Berlin. Some became doctors, building contractors, and some have residency. But many have been unable to follow through their talent for assimilation due, it seems, to the recurring view that 'gypsies' can't be trusted.
Since 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union, fear of an impending Roma peril in Berlin has grown. Last summer, when some Roma families camped in Kreuzberg's Görlitzer Park, the scale of the media frenzy caused the government to send families back East via the lure of cash.
Even the liberal Der Spiegel magazine 'investigated' Berlin apartment blocks overrun by Roma who allegedly live on welfare while vandalizing their homes. It reminded me how Aboriginal people are portrayed back in my native Australia.
I've walked past the apartment blocks in question and noticed parents responsibly walking their children home from the nearby school - which now has Romanian speaking teachers, a kernel of hope for young Roma. The apartments seem overcrowded, laundry hanging in the open hallways for want of space, but it's far from a ghetto.
Berlin's Roma are getting organized and have representation though advocacy groups like Amaro Drom - a youth organization committed to Roma self-empowerment with the message alle bleiben ("all stay") - located in Berlin's Roma heartland, the Neukölln disctrict. Around the corner is the Rroma Aether Klub Theater, a venue and meeting place founded by two Serbian Roma in 2006. Amaro Drom organize a yearly Roma street festival (happening again this May) outside, allowing Berlin's Roma to celebrate and share their culture. Nearby in Kreuzberg, the Kai Dikhas gallery is a unique forum for Roma and Sinti artists.
As Nino says, Roma can become integral to the city when given the chance.
A Berlin memorial to the Roma and Sinti murdered during the Holocaust was approved in 1992 and construction started four years ago, directly across the road from the Reichstag. Perusing the site this week, it appears, after ongoing delays, to be long-neglected, all fenced up as if, like the actual Roma, waiting in limbo for sanction from the federal parliament beyond.
Could it be, when the site is finally complete, that Berlin's Roma will start to enjoy tolerance and not mere toleration?
Author: Stuart Braun
Editor: Kate Bowen






Brussels, 13/01/2012 -

Another 100 hundred days and the French presidential campaign will come to a head. Never far away from the political disputes among the top contenders is immigration. And the Roma, along with irregular migrants, are once again centre stage.
On Tuesday (10 January), France's interior minister Claude Gueant boasted to reporters France had surpassed its deportation quota for 2010 by 4,000.

Around 32,000 people were forced to leave last year. Among them were a couple thousand Roma, rounded up and shipped primarily to Romania and Bulgaria.

The Roma round-up drew fire from the United Nations and EU justice and fundamental rights commissioner Viviane Reding - "Discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin or race has no place in Europe," she said at the time.

France, however, is quietly continuing its deportation policy of the disenfranchised EU citizens.
President Sarkozy's hard-line against one of Europe's most maltreated minorities appeals to the sensibilities of the country's far right voters.

Socialist contender Francois Hollande's poll lead in the presidential elections has dropped from around 35 percent in December to 27 percent, just four points ahead of Sarkozy. Always a menace, Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate is at a steady 17 percent.

Along with Gueant, Sarkozy decided last year to ban begging throughout the more affluent Parisian neighbourhoods. The ban was supposed to end this January. It has since been extended to the summer, reports The Guardian newspaper.

Paris' socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, called the ban a PR stunt designed to stigmatise a part of the population.

Sarkozy has also promised to stamp out illegal Roma camps and deport them. He also drew a direct correlation between crime and immigration.

Most of France's 15,000 Roma eek out desperate lives in the Paris and Marseille outskirts. At the Paris North Station, Romanian police officers stroll the tarmacs alongside their French counter-parts. In Marseille, some entire Roma families live on the streets. Elsewhere, Roma camps are being bulldozed with no alternative shelter given.

Many are turned away from homeless shelters and denied access to basic medical attention, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres.

"The situation of the Roma in Marseille is desperate," Jean Francois Corty, the director of the NGO's French mission told this website, adding that the French government is prioritising security over public health.

France, along with all other EU states, has agreed to set up an EU framework designed to facilitate Roma access to education, employment, health care, housing and basic related services.

"There is a real violence against the Roma in France," continued Corty.
"The political class do not consider the impact of their actions on the public health. The access to public health care is severely restricted not only to the Roma but also to immigrants without papers. It has made their lives unbearable."


Friday, January 13, 2012





The Equal Opportunity Party (Strana rovných příležitostí - SRP) was registered with the Czech Interior Ministry last month. The party wants to present itself as one defending the interests of the socially vulnerable, not primarily as a Romani party. SRP definitely intends to participate in the regional elections but has not yet decided about the elections to the Czech Senate.

The party, which Romani citizens of the Czech Republic have been calling for since last fall, was registered on 19 December 2011. The founders are putting the finishing touches on the party's program and arranging its founding convention, which should take place soon in Prague.

The new party was originally meant to be called Adaj ("here we are" in Romanes), but in the end the founders decided to be more conservative. "We chose the name Equal Opportunity Party because we believe there is not equal opportunity for everyone in the Czech Republic as there should be," explained Čeněk Růžička, who is one of the members of the party's preparation committee.

Růžička, who chairs the Committee for the Redress of the Romani Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění romského holocaustu - VPORH) also said the party does not want to present itself first and foremost as a Romani party. "We want to present ourselves as a party that advocates for the interests of socially vulnerable people. It is obvious that Romani people are part of that," he said.

It has not yet been announced who will sit in the party's leadership. The only thing clear is that the candidates will not be drawn from famous personalities, but from natural authority figures in the regions.

If the SRP succeeds in attracting a sufficient number of voters, their representatives could replace some of the existing regional representatives or even senators this fall. "We will definitely run in the regional elections. Whether we run in the Senate elections depends on whether we find high-quality candidates. We're not joking around," Růžička said.

Romani activists announced their intention to found their own party on 28 September 2012 at the memorial to Romani victims of the Holocaust at Lety by Písek. Near the site of the WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people, the activists remembered the names of Romani people who had been murdered in the Czech Republic since 1989 whose deaths had been ruled racially motivated.
ih, TÝDEN.CZ, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


12:46 p.m. CST, January 10, 2012

In the first instance of a state moving to compensate  victims of forced sterilization, a gubernatorial panel in North Carolina voted Tuesday to pay victims of a state eugenics program that forcibly sterilized more than 7,500 people.

The Governor's Eugenics Compensation Task Force, established by Gov. Beverly Perdue in March, voted to pay verified victims $50,000. The payments must still be approved by the Legislature.

At least seven of 33 states that carried out eugenics programs have acknowledged or apologized for the policies, but North Carolina is the first to propose paying compensation. The state's forced-sterilization program, designed to weed out the mentally disabled, criminals and other "undesirables," was in effect from 1929 to 1974. North Carolina formally shut down its discredited Eugenics Board in 1977.

The rate of sterilizations in North Carolina picked up after World War II despite unfavorable comparisons to Nazi eugenics, and peaked in the 1950s. The task force has estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 sterilization victims are still alive. The state has verified 72 victims.

Impoverished or uneducated African Americans were victimized by many eugenics programs, especially in the South. But the task force found that, although many victims of the North Carolina program were African Americans, the number of Caucasians who were sterilized was even higher.

If the payments are approved, victims would have three years to apply for compensation.

The sterilizations were supervised by a state Eugenics Board that included the chief medical officers of the state hospital and the Institution for the Feeble-Minded, the state attorney general and the secretary of the state board of health. Of the 7,528 documented cases of forced sterilization, nearly 3,000 were carried out in the 1950s and more than 1,600 between 1960 and 1968.

Involuntary-sterilization laws remained on the books in North Carolina until 2003, the task force reported. The five-member task force is made up of a former judge and journalist, a historian, a physician and a lawyer.

Task force Chairwoman Laura Gerald told the Associated Press that the panel has sought to strike a balance between victims’ rights and political realities.

"Compensation has been on the table now for nearly 10 years, but the state has lacked the political will to do anything other than offer an apology," Gerald said.

This article first appeared at

Monday, January 9, 2012




The Together to School ("Společně do školy") Coalition of domestic and international nonprofit organizations has joined the motion sent recently by human rights activists Anna Šabatová and Petr Uhl to the Council on Radio and Television Broadcasting (Rada pro rozhlasové a televizní vysílání - RRTV) regarding the use of the concept of "inadaptables" ("nepřizpůsobiví") in the Czech media. News server was the first to report on the motion.

In the context of the recent debate about unrest in the Šluknov foothills, there is every reason to believe the term "inadaptables" (which is usually used in the plural) is being used to label Romani people living in great poverty in excluded localities and that such labeling is serving as a key concept in anti-Gypsy, prejudiced discourse. The Coalition believes it is unacceptable for the media to uncritically use this degrading term and to contribute thereby to the stigmatization of Romani people and to reproducing and strengthening prejudice against them in Czech society. News server publishes the text of Together to School's open letter in full below.

Together to School Coalition joins the motion filed by A. Šabatová and P. Uhl with the RRTV on the use of the concept of "inadaptables" by the media
The Together to School Coalition hereby officially joins the motion filed by Anna Šabatová and Petr Uhl with the Council on Radio and Television Broadcasting (RRTV) requesting that organization concern itself with the fact that both private and public radio and television media are using the degrading label "inadaptables" to refer to part of the population.

In their motion, the authors point out that this label is often used without news anchors distancing themselves from the term at all, as if it were a neutral designation. Šabatová and Uhl argue that in the context of the recent debate about unrest in the Šluknov foothills, there is every reason to believe the term "inadaptables" is being used to label Romani people living in great poverty in excluded localities and that such labeling is a key concept in anti-Gypsy, prejudiced discourse. The authors also point out that because Czech Television and other media have taken up this concept uncritically, they are contributing in a fundamental way to the stigmatization of Romani people and to the reproduction and strengthening of prejudices against them in Czech society.

The Together to School Coalition officially joins the motion as filed by Šabatová and Uhl. The Coalition also considers the response to the motion that was released by Michal Heldenburg, the acting director of Czech Television's legal department, to be so inappropriate as to be offensive. In his statement on the use of the concept of "inadaptables", Heldenberg said the term "essentially could be used to label anyone who does not uphold the laws of the country, who does not behave as he should according to generally recognized rules, and that could be any minority unable or unwilling to adapt to the majority society. There is nothing racist about it. Human society functions in such a way that the minority adapts to the majority. Anyone who does not grasp that is inadapatable, irrespective of ethnic origin or skin color."

We consider this statement unacceptable. It proves that Mr Heldenburg does not sufficiently understand the issue of the blanket use of the term "inadaptables" and that he is therefore unaware of the results of the uncritical reproduction of this term in the media.

We also appreciate the approach to this issue taken by the chair of the board of Czech Television, Milan Uhde, who called Heldenburg's statement "monstrous" and expressed the opinion that "the expression 'inadaptables' unequivocally implies that the person who is so labeled intends to be inadaptable. This simply does not describe the situation of the people whom the media are labeling with this expression. A socially excluded person has not chosen his situation, but has been forced into it by circumstances and ended up in social exclusion for concrete reasons. A criminal who intentionally does not adapt his behavior to the rules is inadaptable, not a socially excluded person."

In addition to radio and television media, the concept of "inadaptables" is also sometimes used in this problematic way by popular news servers, such as the country's most-read news server, (such as in an article on 4 September 2011 entitled "Ústí Region wants to address inadaptables, proposes legislative changes"), or news server (in an article on 12 September 2011 entitled "Housing estate in Cheb to get center for inadaptable families") or (in an article on 10 October 2011 entitled "Opava REINFORCING POLICE! Inadaptables are the reason"). We consider such media practices to be neither objective nor professional.

In our opinion, a broader societal debate on the meaning and use of the concept of "inadaptables" is currently more than necessary. The purpose of such a debate is not to hold an academic polemic to achieve a linguistic definition, or to institute corrections by creating some new concept after difficult negotiations, the use of which would have to be forced or promoted through the media. The purpose of such a debate is rather to draw attention to this issue and to the pitfalls associated with this term, which is frequently used not in an objective way, but as an imprecise shortcut which does not always constitute an actual, justifiable description of a particular group of people.

While such "labeling" is not always necessarily done with ill intent, it can have markedly negative impacts on the social climate and on society's attitude toward the persons who are being generalized about and uncritically labeled "inadaptables." By taking an individual approach to the reporting of each case and situation, this label can be simply replaced with more precise descriptions. The influence of the media on public opinion and the public intake of information and opinions from the media is so enormous that we gave no choice but to make a strong appeal to journalistic ethics, particularly in cases which have a significant influence on the creation and strengthening of negative prejudices and stereotypes.

Society's prejudicial opinions in relation to various population groups naturally result in intensifying those groups' social exclusion. This has a significant influence not only on the life and social position of entire groups of people, but also on the lives of specific individuals. The Czech Republic is, in comparison to other countries, a country with one of the strongest correlations between family background and educational achievements. Czech society, however, generally does not perceive this fact to be a problem.

The Together to School Coalition is an umbrella institution for 17 non-governmental, non-profit organizations working in the field of educating socially disadvantaged children. Its mission is to advocate for equal opportunity in education for Romani children and to implement the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which ruled in the case of "D.H. and others vs. Czech Republic" in 2007 that discrimination against Romani children in their access to education on the basis of their ethnicity was happening in the Czech Republic. A more general intention of the Coalition, whose member organizations perform analyses, educational projects, and research, is to contribute to the desegregation of the Czech educational system and to thereby contribute to seeing the principle of equal opportunity applied for all children irrespective of their origins, social position, or skin color.

On behalf of the Together to School Coalition,
Mgr. Anna Pechová, Coordinator

Coalition members:
Český helsinský výbor (Czech Helsinki Committee)
DROM romské středisko (DROM Romani Center)
European Roma Rights Centre
IQ Roma Servis
Liberecké romské sdružení (Liberec Romani Association)
LIGA - Bruntál
Liga lidských práv (League of Human Rights)
Open Society Fund Praha
Romské sdružení Čačipen (Romani Association Čačipen)
Sdružení Romano Jasnica (Association Romano Jasnica)
Slovo 21
Step by Step ČR
Vzájemné soužití, o.s. (Life Together)
Z§vůle práva
Open letter from the Together to School Coalition (Koalice Společně do škol), translated by Gwendolyn Albert